Building a website, if you’ve never had the pleasure, can seem daunting. Well I am here to tell you, yes you are correct. For newbies that have never tried building a website, there is going to be a learning curve. I am also here to tell you, it’s not an impossible task either. Website builders like: WordPress / Wix.com / Sitebuilder / and Squarespace all have fantastic programs with 1000s of FREE website templates to choose from. Most of these website builders are intuitive and they are getting better all the time. Even so, this is YOUR website and therefore you are going to need specific things that you very likely have no prior knowledge about and will have to do some researching to figure things out.
To make things easier on you, here’s a quick list of what you will need ahead of time:
- Monetizing your site (Am I wrong in assuming you would like your site to make money?)
- Getting People to pay you through your website: You need a merchant account, through a real bank. However, a way around getting your bank involved, is to link PayPal or Stripe to your website. – You’ll need to set up a business account with one of these companies (I recommend Stripe, it’s easier).
- Creating a member forum (This can be a difficult task with certain web builders) – Recommend WordPress if you want to create a membership program. WordPress comes virtually ready to go for this.
- Opt-in email capture (why are emails so important?)
- Create a form to capture the emails of your hard earned traffic. linking the email capture to an Autoresponder like (Aweber or Mailchimp) – I recommend Aweber. Simple integration
- Web Hosting – **You don’t need to host with the website builder. For example you can host with BlueHost (see my post on web hosting services) and forward the DNS (Domain Name Server) to point to the website builder. Way easier than it sounds! Less than 5 min to watch the tutorial and set it up. GoDaddy has great video tutorials too, and support to help you do exactly what you need. I have been impressed with some of their services. Their tutorials are easy and updated. Also, their servers are almost never down, so that’s kind of a big deal. I have used them and I never had a bad experience. If you are unsure about choosing a web hosting company, you an always change them later. But be careful!!! – Some web hosters will not allow you to transfer your domain for a certain amount of time or ever! All of the companies in this post are easy to deal with.
In reality, these are not huge deals if you have gone through the process once or twice in the past. That said, it can become overwhelming when trying to make a decision on which company to use and how to integrate the systems so they communicate properly with each other.
Hopefully, I have saved you MUCHO time by getting you ahead of what to expect. Since knowing is half the battle, this should greatly reduce the amount of stress you may endure when presented with these future decisions. Each aforementioned company has great step by step videos and how-to pages that will walk you through the process.
**Warning… It’s vital you choose the right Web Host PRIOR to choosing a website builder. Often the site builder wants to be your host as well. This is NOT necessary. Many Host Services do offer Site Builders. Web Hosting and Web Host Review are a must read before settling. You want to ensure you get the best price and service***
Before I go into site reviews and provide you with my opinions for each of the web builders, the last thing I want to address are the add-ons. Every website will require add-ons known as Plug-Ins. These plug-ins are like apps for your phone. They help you do the things you want for your website without having to worry about code or hiring a developer. That said, not all plug-ins are alike and there are literally thousands of them. This will take some time for you to browse, read, and without a lot of information about the plug-in decide if that plug-in is right for you. Most will offer a free or lite version of its more powerful self. However, there are a lot of terrible plug-ins out there. I usually base my choices on the number of downloads (some have never been downloaded while others have been downloaded close to a million times).
Here’s a quick list of some free plug-ins I recommend: (So you don’t have to spend hours upon hours sifting through them)
- JetPack: JetPack is exactly that, a package of plugins or rather an optimized plugin. This is a must and will keep you from having to download additional plugins. The additional features help with site traffic and performance, but it much more than that. Jetpack includes other features that help you customize your site including Custom CSS, Contact Forms, Galleries and Carousels, Notifications and Subscriptions, Configurable Widgets, and many more.
- All In One SEO: Amazing plugin that helps with SEO optimizing, XML sitemapping (a must if you wish Google to ever know you exist), Social Meta integration, as well as Security and many others. Similar to JetPack, All In One SEO is optimized with many additional features. (You will need to activate all features individually – very quick process). Helps with site performance as well.
- Hustle: Used to easily collect emails (Opt-In form). Has exit pop-ups, slide-in (which I use on this site – bottom right), and middle of the page annoying email opt-in Pop-ups (if you’re into that…you can do it – Free)
- Easy Profile Widget: Awesome to easily put your Gravatar or picture along with any details about yourself you’d like to communicate to your audience
This all you need to get you started. You can add / take away more plug-ins as you expand your site, but these are the bare essentials. (Quick Tip: the more plug-ins the slower your site will open…)
So let’s get into the options you have for choosing a website builder. I am only going to discuss web builders I have used and recommend. There is no sense in looking much further as these are the best… unless you have a lot time to kill.
Website Builder Reviews and Comparison
WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System) which means it is not really website builder. However, WP links to thousands of free website templates. With WP you can set up a quick and basic website to get you going right away. You can use a CMS (unlike with traditional web builders) to enter in your own code. Many programmers use this CMS and you can find a lot of professional help if you need something unique or custom. (You do NOT need to know code. It just has this option)
- This depends on your host provider. The WP download is free. (choose a host that has a 1-click or download wizard for WP. Do not attempt to manually download if you have no programming background)
- Tons of themes (templates) to choose from
- Ease and simplicity of use for the newbie
- Free to download (Hosting and Premium templates are additional)
- Great for Bloggers
- Excellent for Membership Websites (Both Free and Subscription Membership Sites)
- Excellent use of SEO features
- Can use code to make any custom changes you desire
- Unless your hosting provider is set up to install WP automatically, a manual setup requires basic code
- Too many updates. Your plug-ins may cause issues with the new WP updates as your plug-ins may need to be updated to properly integrate with WP
- Limited in terms of design. Branding your site (to your liking) using WP may require code. No drag and drop webpage features. Makes injecting your personality or flare into the design of the site impossible.
Wix offers visually impressive layouts for many types of business. They have a ton of templates to choose from which can be fully customized without the need for code.
- Free: $0
- Connect Domain:$5/Month
- Combo: $8.25/Month
- Unlimited: $14/Month
- eCommerce: $17/Month
- VIP: $25/Month
- Beautiful Templates offering outstanding pre-built layouts for just about any business
- Ease of use: You can drag, drop, remove with ease. Anything you want to change, you can change. If you like to do it yourself, you can start with a clean slate. If you want their Intelligent Design to build out your website based on your needs and a few questions, you can let it do the work for you
- Tons of plug-ins to choose from to suit just about any business
- Ability to add HTML code and Access to Source Code
- New access to source code is cumbersome
- Once you choose a template, that’s it. No going back. That said, most templates are easy to manipulate into the same final site. Also, if you haven’t gone too far, you can delete the template and choose another… starting from the beginning. (with Artificial Design Intelligence you can have it done for you easily)
- A little on the pricey side. But you do get a lot. I suppose it depends on what your needs are.
As with any website builder, it is important to have an idea of what you need the website for, prior to choosing the right web builder. While Wix.com and WordPress allow for various degrees of platforms, SiteBuilder is quite limited. Ex. it is great for Blogging, BUT these days, if you are going to be a successful Blogger, you need to incorporate videos. SiteBuilder may not be the greatest platform for videos.
- Free: $0 (Warning: Not worth the Free version. You will have to pay eventually to use the site)
- Premium: $8/Month
- Business: $10/Month
- eCommerce: $18/Month
- Ease of use. Similar web building style to Wix.com. Drag and drop. No need for code.
- Over 1000 templates to choose from
- SEO features: SiteBuilder provides good information on how its SEO works so you can use that information when building the site.
- Good Customer Service and Support
- Limitations on where you can and cannot add content
- No access to source code. (WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace have this option) – WordPress is the easiest to manage code
- Limited for a growing website
- No app store to add new apps as you grow
- Unable to move (or migrate) your site to another platform if you outgrow SiteBuilder
- Poor for eCommerce sites
Squarespace positions themselves as THE website builder for blogs, portfolio sites, and online stores. It has a unique web building tool that allows you to edit content live without toggling back and forth between the site manager and preview page. Squarespace seems to be leading the pack when it comes to compatibility and power for both the newbie as well as the professional developer.
Pricing Plans (Annualized)
- 14 day Trial: Free
- Personal: $12/Month
- Business: $18/Month
- Basic eCommerce: $26
- Advanced eCommerce: $40
- Lots of Beautiful Templates to choose from
- Access to source code
- Excellent SEO Tools
- Excellent for Bloggers (Similar to WordPress)
- Video Tutorials
- Expensive as when compared to its competitors
- You get only 20 pages instead of Unlimited like its competitors
- If you want more $18/Month
- eCommerce way too pricey. Go to Shopify if this is your main business
- You get only 20 pages instead of Unlimited like its competitors
- Slow page speed = poos user experience = no bueno for owner
- Limited if your desire a deep website requiring a deep menu hierarchy
- Source Code: Website Editor is not easy to use
- Not great for a growing website
Choosing the right web builder for your business starts with understanding what you want to accomplish with your site and where you see your site in the future. Web builders are for regular dudes and very small businesses. If you are planning on growing at some point and want to get serious, it is best to start with a WordPress website. This will provide you with the most flexibility for the future. My second best recommendation is Wix.com. This site has a lot of flexibility if you are considering growing. You can also add HTML code into your Wix website!
If you are looking for a really quick way to build a website, you can use the free version at wealthyaffiliate.com. Here’s a quick video that shows the setup process. There are other free tutorials on the site as well.
Build-On My Dudes!
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