As an individual or a small business, it is always a plus if you can build your website as opposed to hiring developers who either do not understand your vision or might be too expensive. Creating your website can prove to be a challenge if you lack know-how and knowledge. Fortunately, many different web hosting providers provide access to free tools that you can use to learn with.
Some of the best website builders are products you might have seen advertisements on TV for. These include products like Wix and Squarespace. Others, however, are just as powerful – if not more so – but like to play behind the scenes. We’ll get into more details of them later.
Choosing the right tool is not a simple decision. There are two key things to keep in mind:
- First and foremost, you should consider what you want to do with the website. This is one of the critical things to look at as it will determine the site you wish to build and as a result, the company that matches your requirements most closely. In case, however, you have no idea what you want, you can always look for samples of other similar business websites to help you make a decision.
- Secondly, the website builder you select should be one that can grow with you and your ambitions. Many website builders are great for small companies or companies that only want to offer eCommerce services. If your overall goals are not large, these template-driven sites might be perfect. However, if your companies ambitions include global dominance, you want to look for a solution that will offer those capabilities.
Website Building From Scratch
Now I’ve talked about website builders already. There is however, another way to create a website, and that is by coding it yourself. If you learn HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), you can create a basic WordPress really quickly and easily. HTML is a really easy language and is nothing like other computer languages. It is very intuitive and easy to understand and there are even simple WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors that will let you write the code in a simple word document format.
So if HTML is so easy, why am I not recommending it? Well even if you create your website in HTML, you’ll still need to find a host for it so comparing different web hosting providers might be something you need to do regardless. Also it won’t really offer integrations with social media sites and creating a blog and comments section is substantially more difficult and will require actual Java or C+ coding. Basically any of the features we’ve all come to take for granted on websites today are created using website builders. The capabilities provided by these tools can substantially improve the site that you build.
Wix is a great platform for individuals looking for true drag and drops functionality. With Wix, you get hundreds of built-in templates that you can pick and choose from for your site so that each site is truly unique.
Wix offers a free plan for you to trial its features, and when you are happy with it you can upgrade to the paid plan with a custom domain name. Wix includes website hosting with the plan, so you do not need to pay extra for this. In addition you also get access to a small library of paid and free apps that you can add to your website to further personalize it.
Wix offers four different tiers of service. The first as already mentioned is free and is great to test out features and learn how to use the website builder. After that the first tier starts at under $10/month for a branded website. The most expensive plan offers a fully hosted site with full ecommerce capabilities.
Self-hosted WordPress (WordPress.org) is undeniably the market leader today as far market share is concerned with over 30% of all websites online utilizing the software. Many of the largest sites on the internet are built on WordPress and it has the ability to grow with a business of any size.
WordPress.org is possibly the best website builder due to its widespread nature, great features, and ease of use. It is also scalable, free, and above all, an open-source website builder. Open source means that you as the user, have the highest level of control of your website. However, if you choose to use self-hosted WordPress as a website building platform, you will have to acquire a WordPress hosting account where you host your website.
On pricing, WordPress is a free website builder. You will, however, need to purchase a domain name as well as pay for web hosting, which can cost anywhere between $8-$15/year, which is relatively affordable.
Shopify is a popular website builder that is focused on eCommerce websites. It’s built explicitly around shopping websites and online stores and currently boasts close to 820,000 different merchants on the platform. On Shopify merchants made over $41 billion in total sales in 2018 and that number is only increasing year on year.
Shopify like Wix, is a fully hosted offering. With Shopify, you use Shopify payments for all of your purchases and you can also add additional third party payments gateways to expand your offerings.
By default ecommerce website builders need to offer some key criteria like:
- Inventory management
- Statistics and data management on clients and interests
- Marketing capabilities
Shopify shines in all of these areas and adds hundreds of different templates and website designs to pick and choose from also. One interesting fact is that you can actually integrate Shopify into WordPress which could possibly be the best solution of them all.
With all of these features, you’d expect to pay a pretty penny and sadly, Shopify is one of the more expensive solutions we’re going to be considering. The basic plan starts at $29 a month and additional packages are priced at $79 a month and $299 a month based on the volume of transactions and expected traffic.
As you can see, each of these different website builders have different pluses and minuses. Many of them are designed specifically for smaller organizations just getting started while others are built for ecommerce giants. Before making a choice, it’s important to consider your options and requirements as well as your target audience.