Getting your message out these days requires good helpings of Facebook and Twitter, with maybe a dash of Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Tumblr. But that's not enough: if you want an internet presence that truly represents you or your organization, you also need a website that sets you apart from the crowd. A real website, as opposed to a social media page, gives you complete control over design and content. This lends credibility to your business, organization, or personal brand. Facebook pages all look alike in terms of design, but on your own website, you can realize a brand image, offer products for sale, and integrate third-party web services.
If you prefer a more traditional URL, you'll need to purchase one from the likes of GoDaddy or Namecheap. Domain name pricing can range from extremely cheap to extremely expensive, depending on whether or not domain squatters are looking to flip a valuable piece of online real estate. You'll want to get something short but evocative and catchy, and depending on what you do, you may find that many of your first choices are taken by either other legit domains, or by squatters who've scooped up the names as an investment. For more, please read How to Register a Domain Name.
GoCentral is a website product that lets you create a website that fits your personal or business needs, regardless of your skill set. You no longer have to choose between a website or an online store – now you can have both. Whether you want an online store, a pop-up site or a professional website to attract new customers, you get to choose how simple or dynamic you want your site to be. Just pick a design and go create your website with GoCentral.
Hey Xylvia, The website builders that we suggested above aren't built specifically to stream videos for a price (sort of like Netflix). However, that's not to say it's not possible with a few simple workarounds. What you can do is set up a membership access only area (Wix and Weebly has this feature). You'll have to manually insert a payment button of some sort (such as using PayPal). Once your customer pays you, you can then email them links to pages that are "locked" behind the membership gateway, so they can access the videos. It's a bit manual and not as smooth as multi-billion dollar companies like Netflix, but it will work in concept. Alternatively, take a look at Sentry Login, which is a membership widget that works with Wix, Squarespace and Weebly. With Sentry, I think you can unlock a membership area once your customer pays. So it connects the payment system with the membership access system for you, which streamlines the process so you don't have to manually grant access to pages. Another thing you should consider is how big are the videos you want to upload. While you can upload pretty large movie / video files into the website builders, there are certain reasonable limits. For instance, if you're going to have 1,000 people viewing your HD movie that's 3 GB large all at the same time, that might be problematic. A workaround might be to get your own hosting solution for such large videos, then embed the videos into your membership only pages. It goes without saying that make sure you have distribution rights for the movies! But I'm not a lawyer, so best to consult proper advice in that regards! Jeremy
Most of the products here can tell you about site traffic, though the amount of detail varies greatly among them, and it's often tied to premium account levels. For example, Weebly can not only show you page views and unique visitors for each day of the month, but also search terms used to get to the site, referring sites, and top-visited pages. Wix and uKit, at the other end, have nothing in the way of built-in site stats, instead requiring you to create your own Google Analytics account, and even that requires a paid account. Another drawback of that approach is that you can only see traffic from the preceding day and earlier; it's not up-to-the-minute, or even the hour.
WordPress is a big name when it comes to creating websites. But you should know that WordPress.com, which is linked to in the table above, is not what most people are talking about when they mention WordPress. What most internet-savvy people mean by the term WordPress is the free, open-source blogging platform that comes from WordPress.org. Using this requires you to find your own website hosting service. The WordPress.org software is such a popular site-building platform that many web hosting services even offer managed WordPress hosting plans. WordPress.com, on the other hand, is a service that deploys and hosts that software for you, so you don't have to go out and find your own hosting service.
My name is Steve Benjamins and I’ve designed and coded websites for the last 20 years (since I was 10 years old). My websites have been featured in Wired, The Next Web, Smashing Magazine, The Huffington Post and Forbes. I am the sole developer, designer and reviewer at Site Builder Report— you can read more about my story in my interview with IndieHackers.
Even if you don't sign up for those web hosts, you should look for services that offer similar features. You'll want a WYSIWYG editor that lets you adjust every page and add images, video, and social links. Plunking down a few extra bucks typically nets you robust ecommerce and search engine optimization (SEO) packages for improved Bing, Google, and Yahoo placement. Most advanced web hosting services include at least one domain name, free of charge, when you sign up.
It’s important your template is responsive, so your site will look the same on all devices. When considering templates, you also need to decide whether you want a static header or slideshow header, and how many pages you’ll need to fit in your menu bar. Stay away from hard-to-read fonts or flashy backgrounds that could distract a consumer from understanding your core message.
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Use 99Designs.com: 99Designs.com runs contests where multiple designers compete for your logo and other design business. This is a great option because you get to see many different professional and creative designs (It’s how we found our logo at Fit Small Business!), yet only pay for the one you wind up choosing. The price on 99designs ranges from $299 to $799 depending on how many designers you want competing and the quality of those designers.
All of the web services listed here have you start by choosing from a selection of templates for your site. The better ones, such as Duda, Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix, use templates that automatically reformat your site for viewing on mobile devices. They also offer specifically targeted templates based on your site's purpose, such as for promoting a bakery's sales, getting gigs for a musician, or keeping wedding guests informed.
A website builder is an online content management system that enables users to plan and build their own websites without need for the advanced designing and technical coding skills that would otherwise be required to create one. One would generally feature a step-by-step guide that assists users with everything from choosing a domain name to selecting a template that suits their needs.
Hey Grant, Glad you're finding our discussions helpful! GoDaddy is a pretty good website builder and we've discussed it in more details here. In general, while using website builders with hosts does give you access to a broader range of services, at times, their support teams may not be the best in terms of answering very specific website builder related questions. For instance, Weebly offers really good website building services, and you can reach them by going to Weebly.com. You can also use Weebly through hosts such as Bluehost. Both will work and enable you to build your website, but when it comes to support, if you are using Weebly through Weebly.com directly, you get Weebly's direct customer / technical support team. If you reach out for help through Bluehost, you get Bluehost's support team. We have a much deeper discussion about this specific scenario here. While some of the website builders don't provide you with email accounts, you can also easily sign up for Google Business App's email services for a few dollars a month. This way, you can take advantage of having your own custom domain email addresses, a familiar Gmail interface, and also that your email is stored on Google's servers which is probably a lot safer / reliable / accessible. - Jeremy
For example, if you’re creating a site for a restaurant, you might have a Home page, a Menu page, a Reservation page and an Access page. If you’re creating a fan site for your favorite soccer team you might have a Home page, a Players page, a Results page and a Blog page. If you take a look at your current site, you should see two pages already in the menu bar – Home and Sample Page.
Hey Jeremy, Awesome article. I especially like the flow and the logical approach that you took to educate people. This is the article I point clients to, to get them up to speed before starting projects. I think it's important for them to know how their products work. While they aren't making their own sites, it definitely still fits the bill. Also, I'm curious as to what you think about WooCommerce these days. I didn't seem them on the list in the other article you wrote "Best Ecommerce Software". Anyways, I've been sending my clients here for a while now and just want to give you a shout out at a job well done! If you are able to send me an email, I do have a question I'd like to ask if you have the time.
You've got the site, now you need some visitors. How are they going to find you? Search engines, naturally — and where your site ranks can have a huge impact on your business. GoCentral Website Builder helps improve your rank on Google, Yahoo and Bing by automatically reviewing your site and adding relevant, high-value keywords and phrases. And a higher rank means more visitors.
Thanks so much for this awesome article :) I had literally no experience in building a website when I started using Weebly and I was surprised at how easy it was to make! I'm interested in looking into other platforms now that I'm up and running, particularly Wordpress? But I'll probably be sticking with Weebly for a long time until I'm ready, it really was super easy to use. Thanks again :)
Even if your site’s primary purpose is not to function as a blog, you may find yourself requiring one at some point (Be sure to read the how to start a blog guide for a complete overview), either to keep your visitors updated or to use as a marketing tool. SEO, for example, is something that requires the creation of content to get your website noticed by search engines. Most website builders have built-in content management systems that allow you to write and edit blog posts in your browser. These systems make it easy to create rich content on the fly.
The best place to find themes is through WordPress’s own Theme Directory. Search for the types of themes you’d be interested in. If you’re setting up a newspaper search ‘newspaper’, if you need a site for your café search ‘cafe’. There’ll be dozens, if not hundreds, of contenders. Clicking on a theme takes you to its own page where you can see user reviews and preview the theme in action.