Businesses today do not just thrive on a brick-and-mortar store. They need a strong online presence to be able to reach out to a wider range of customers. To achieve this larger customer reach, businesses must have their own professional websites.
But it can be daunting to create a professional business website from scratch. Entrepreneurs might find it hard to create and manage a website on top of all other activities they are doing for their businesses. In this case, a website builder service would be of huge help to them.
There is a plethora of website builder services available on the Internet today. So how does an entrepreneur choose which one to buy to start creating his professional websites?
This guide will cover a definition of website builder services, people who need this service, features and pricing types, and useful tips to help entrepreneurs select their providers wisely.
A website builder is defined as a tool that creates a website without the use of manual codes. Website builders often come in the form of programs that let users construct websites even without heavy knowledge of coding.
There are two basic types of website builder tools:
These tools are actual software that can be bought, downloaded, and installed on a computer. The user can create his website using these programs, and upload all relevant files on his computer. When he completes his website, he simply needs to upload his website files to his web hosting provider.
The main advantage of using such software is that users can work on constructing their websites even without Internet connection, as the program is installed and runs directly on their computers.
However, users must purchase a separate web hosting provider and must have a little technical knowledge when the time to upload his website files comes.
Examples of these builders include Mobirise, Adobe Muse, and Rapid Weaver.
As the name implies, these tools run on the web and are based on a provider’s online service. Web hosting services are also often included in these website builders.
Online website builders require a web browser and an internet connection to get going. No need to download and install programs directly to your computer.
Online website builders are widely used today, as opposed to its offline counterparts. That’s because these builders allow users to work on their websites on any device, as long as it’s connected to the Internet. The web hosting services that often come with these builders are an added bonus, as users need not purchase and set it up separately from the website builder itself.
Examples of online website builders include Wix, Shopify, and Squarespace.
In general, website builders work in the following sequence:
To start off, users are asked to select their preferred website template or theme. Most builders come with an extensive library of design templates and themes.
Users may now proceed to the editing area where they can change the default elements (text, images, and other media) in the template they’ve selected. They can now add their desired content by typing in their texts and uploading their media content as well.
Widgets may now be added to the website. Widgets enhance the site by adding functionality that is otherwise not included by default on the website builder’s features. Some widgets that are often used in sites include photo galleries, contact forms, social media sharing buttons, and shopping cart widgets for online selling sites.
Content layout can now be arranged once all desired site elements are already added. Most builders allow users to see how their website will look like once it goes live as they edit the layout manually.
A website builder is essential for the non-technical entrepreneur who wants to create a professional website from scratch.
Business owners who are not skilled in the technical aspects of coding and website designing will benefit greatly from a website builder. This is because they can easily and quickly create stunning business websites for their brands in a few clicks, without having to create and manipulate tricky website codes.
Website builders allow its users to construct websites via WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) and drag-and-drop techniques. Most of these builders have an editing area where the user can seamlessly add, edit, and format their desired text and media content without having to resort to coding techniques. That is why these builders are perfect for non-technical business owners.
Also, website builders are perfect for people who would hire a web designer to initially prepare the site’s build, but would like someone else to take care of the site updates later on.
Choosing a website builder can be tricky because of the numerous features each builder presents. However, the following features are key in selecting the most appropriate website builder for business needs:
Website builders ought to take the difficulty out of site creation. They must allow average users to create websites seamlessly. Hence, a good website builder must be both user-friendly and beginner-friendly.
The website builder’s interface must be easy to navigate to avoid confusing the user. Tools and features must clearly be laid out in the interface so that the user can quickly access them with ease.
A website builder with a crammed platform and interface will only confuse the user and would potentially discourage him from using the service, since a steep learning curve is required to use the complicated builder.
Furthermore, a busy entrepreneur who wants to build his own website simply doesn’t have the time to squeeze lots of learning sessions about a website builder that works in a complicated way. He’d rather use this time to do other business-related activities that will improve his brand. That’s why easy-to-use builders are a necessity.
Business websites require a high level of quality when it comes to the themes and/or templates that they use. Entrepreneurs and customers like a website that looks crisp and clean, screaming “Business is business” in every part of the site.
Hence, a good website builder must carry an extensive array of quality themes and templates. Users must be able to select a clean-looking template that jives with their brands’ individual tone and quality.
Apart from the template’s look, it must also be customizable and should be responsive if the site is loaded in different devices. The template should not alter the site’s functionality wherever it is opened, be it on a laptop or on a smartphone.
Entrepreneurs often want a website that can be customized to fit their brand’s taste. They would like their websites to reflect the uniqueness and individuality of their brand. This is why a website builder must have flexible customization options.
Website creators must be free to change various site elements to fit the business’s unique needs. A good website builder has an editor that lets users freely change backgrounds, layouts, fonts, and colors to suit the site creator’s preferences.
Some builders even go the extra mile by letting its users customize their site pages using HTML and CSS codes. This might be a little advanced, but it is nonetheless a powerful option that gives greater editing flexibility and provides a more personalized website design result.
Good website builders allow users to add a buying and selling platform to their websites. This platform may come in the following forms:
Simple built-in online stores (shopping carts, checkout options, etc.)
Full-function online stores (with options for taxes, shipping, tracking, discount coupons, etc.)
Business websites are often created to facilitate online selling of goods and services. This is where an e-Commerce solution comes in handy.
Monitoring a website’s performance is crucial in determining if it meets its goal of reaching out to as many possible customers as possible. Hence, it’s a good thing that most notable website builders have built-in analytics and SEO tools available.
Google Analytics might be a good choice to monitor site performance, but some site builders have far better analytical systems that truly deliver superior site monitoring. Similarly, SEO tools such as keyword analyzers are integrated to these systems to improve the efficiency of a website’s content and make it more attractive to both people and search engine crawlers.
One of the reasons why entrepreneurs create websites is to promote their brands to as many people on the Internet as possible. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are powerful tools that brands can use to reach out to people.
A good website builder should enable entrepreneurs to add social media sharing buttons on their website. This will help improve the site’s visibility and will make people on social media aware of the brand, turning them into potential and actual customers.
The typical cost of creating a website ranges from about $100 to $500. This will depend on the themes, templates, and additional features that are included in the website.
Most website builders offer subscription plans with prices that go higher as more features are unlocked. Some of them start off as free plans, then progress to paid plans with better features added at every level. Other builders offer free trials as well.
Basic plans range from approximately $2 -$5 per month. Highest levels of premium builder plans may cost $30 or higher. Costs can even soar up to $300 for a few premium site builders.
Domains and web hosting are typically included in a website builder’s subscription plans. These may not be available if one chooses to use a free plan or free trial.
Entrepreneurs are overwhelmed with the array of website builders they can choose from. To make it easier to decide which service to buy, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Budget is a huge factor in determining which website builder service to purchase. Apart from the actual website creation costs, entrepreneurs must consider other related expenses that may include:
Entrepreneurs who are on a tight budget may consider website builders that offer plans bundling up the various related services to the actual site creation. Even those who have a generous budget allotted for a site builder may take advantage of these bundles to save on their expenses.
What is the primary reason for creating a website? Is it to sell (online store) or just to represent the brand on the web? Business owners should assess the need to open a website for their brand. Becoming aware of the main reason why a website must be put up sets the tone for choosing a website builder that is most compatible with the brand’s priorities and needs.
For instance, if the brand needs an online store, they can choose a site builder that offers excellent eCommerce functionalities. If the brand simply needs a basic site, a builder that has good blogging functions would be a better choice.
User-friendliness cannot be stressed enough – a website builder should be easy to use for the average non-technical entrepreneur. This will avoid time wasted on learning the ropes of a complicated website builder, enabling the entrepreneur to focus more on his business rather than on his website creation process.
A website that has gone live is worth nothing if no one knows about the site and no one visits it. SEO will greatly help in cementing a business website’s visibility on the Internet. SEO also does wonders in building up the brand’s reputation as an expert in its industry or niche.
Entrepreneurs must select a website builder that has SEO features enough to make their websites known to search engines such as Google. The builder must ideally include features such as these to make on-site optimization easy:
Website builders armed with these SEO tools can help entrepreneurs improve their return of investment (ROI) rates and score a higher number of potential customers.
Any website builder will require a certain learning period before someone gets comfortable at using it. Hence, entrepreneurs must choose a builder that has tutorials and other learning resources to aid them in quickly learning the builder’s ropes.
Entrepreneurs must also choose a provider that has a trusted support team (preferably one with 24/7 chat support) so that they can quickly contact them in case a problem that’s out of the user’s capabilities occurs.
A website builder is an indispensable tool for entrepreneurs who want to create business websites on their own. These services are mostly do-it-yourself in nature so that entrepreneurs do not have to go through the hassle of hiring an actual website design and creation team.
There are lots of factors to consider when choosing a good site builder. Such factors include the builder’s features, cost, ease of use, support, learning resources, and relevance to the entrepreneur’s goals of creating a website.
To end this post, it is recommended to sift through the various website builder tools or services first before jumping to a purchase. Not all website builders are created the same, so picking one that reflects the business’s needs and priorities is truly a must. There is surely one website builder service out there that perfectly matches each entrepreneur’s goals and needs.