Even if you outsource some parts of your business, you still have to keep a watchful eye on the business structure. Just because it’s online doesn’t mean that it’s run any different than a traditional business. In short, be prepared to spend a lot of time improving and adjusting your site. I would personally make a list of everything you should do and start checking off this list as they are completed.
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.
Getting your brand messaging right (such as explaining what your business does and the essence of your brand) can be a lot harder than it seems. You may wish to hire a copywriter to ensure the main copy of your site really hits the mark with users, especially on the Home Page and the About Us page. As mentioned in Stage #1, you will also need to decide whether the remaining content (such as blog articles or a description of your products/services) will be written by you or by a professional writer.

I’m pretty new to the whole web development/design aspect of things. I’ve tinkered before with free things but more specifically with forum design. I’m very interested in building a website but aside from having a main traditional website feel I’m looking to incorporate a forum to it. Would it be possible to do this with this WordPress/BlueHost tutorial here? Or would there be something you recommend for that sort of thing?


Hi Mike, Interactive map building is something I have very little experience with - I haven't ventured much beyond embedding google maps in iframes such as yourself. I would suggest browsing the app market and 3rd party plugins available on builders like Wix and Weebly, who both offer a huge amount of additional features. It would surprise me if there wasn't a plugin that could help get you on your way. Similarly, you can also find membership area functionality through these app markets. I believe Wix also offers the ability to add member areas and logins though its editor too. Hope that points you in the right direction, - Tom

Above all, make sure your domain’s spelling is very easy to get correct for someone just sounding it out. This way, you’ll be able to mention your domain easily in casual conversation, and the person you’re talking to will be able to find it without worrying about the spelling. This tip really applies to everything – for instance, it’s a lot easier to tell people my Twitter handle, @TomFrankly, than it is to tell them the username I used to use for everything in middle school, electrick_eye. The goal is to make it easy for people to find you.
Michael Muchmore is PC Magazine's lead analyst for software and web applications. A native New Yorker, he has at various times headed up PC Magazine's coverage of Web development, enterprise software, and display technologies. Michael cowrote one of the first overviews of web services for a general audience. Before that he worked on PC Magazine's S... See Full Bio

In the end, you are likely to find one or two that can provide the services you need. At that point, you can compare pricing models and see which one works for you over the long-term. And, if it ever stops being the right solution for you, don’t be afraid to look into transitioning to a different format because, even though you signed up for a specific website builder today, that doesn’t mean you have to use it forever.
Hey Ben, thank you for all the information. I think web site builders in general are a great tool for novice computer users such as myself. I started my own website and it took me only a few hours to do so! I know I might sound childish, but this is unheard of for me. I used the Wix website builder software which was free of charge, and I am contemplating upgrading to the 2nd plan in order to remove the banner ads.
After all the work you put into it, I feel not a little stupid, in need to ask you anything else. The truth is I am a slightly long in the tooth septuagenarian with about as much nous as someone dropping in on a day trip from the fourteenth century. I want to promote (tell as many people as possible) about my new book, and hopefully, sell one or two.

Great Article jeremy! VERY informative!! I'm working on making a job-board type of site. Where users can post jobs and and possible create profiles to frequently post job vacancies. The applicants should be able to filter through and search for jobs, so some sort of filteration system would be useful. If possible, I'd like for the job posters and the people searching for jobs to be able to create a profile on the website. What web-builder would you suggest? So far word press with cetains plug-ins seems to be the best bet but I'd appreciate your advice on this. Thank You

Hi Jamie. I am not a web developer (yet) but I am aspiring to become one some day. I am using Django Framwork for the backend. But for the frontend , I am confused. Should I study HTML , CSS and javascript and then build a website (frontend) from scratch? Or should I not waste time , and just get a theme from wordpress? How much control over the look and feel of the website do we have, when we use these themes pre-tailored for us?


And while I don’t limit the modification period, if they aren’t actively working on the website (which I define as sending me change requests within 3 weeks of me completing the last round of changes), the modification period ends and the only thing remaining in scope is migration. So if they disappear for 6 months, then have changes they want done, those are all out-of-scope and billed separately.
Great article. I have been assigned to build a wesite for the High Energy Physics group at my campus. At least i now have a starting point and a rough idea of what to do. Thanks very much. I will take any ideas though. I have been told to use graphical editors so that modification of site content will be easier rather tahn use HTML5 and JS or CSS3.
I used to use Microsoft’s FrontPage to do my web design stuff to make it easier for my family and I to keep in touch when I was stationed overseas. I liked FrontPage because it did it all for me. I’d design the page like I was using Word or Publisher, stick in my pictures, and FrontPage would make sure everything matched. Layout, colors, fonts, graphics, etc. Then I’d just hit a button and FrontPage would ship everything to my web server.
Hi ify, The best advice I could offer is to give the free trials a go on Wix, Weebly and Squarespace and see how you get on with each builder. This will give you a chance to explore their functionalities and see how feasible your ideas are. Squarespace is highly regarded as a portfolio website builder and that sounds like it may be something in line with your ambitions (e.g. showcasing make up examples). Hope that helps, - Tom

I would like to launch an online platform where people can leave reviews. Think of Yelp. In the future I’d like my users to be able to upload data as well. You can imagine this will be a complex platform long-term. Do you recommend to start with an online website builder like WordPress, Wix, etc or to have actual developers start from scratch? Looking forward to your response! Thanks!

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The first thing to do when building your website is to develop a plan. Before you move forward, think about what you want your website to do, and decide what success looks like for your website. When you look back at your results a few months after your website is complete, how will you know it was worth it? Make sure you are planning your site to match your goals.

If you’re just selling one or two products, Weebly has the capability to handle this. However, if the primary purpose of your website is to sell products, you may want to choose a website builder that specializes in creating an online store. Volusion is an all-in-one ecommerce software that helps you to create and manage your online store, sell your products, and market your business. It’s pricing is comparable to Weebly’s ecommerce plan at $15 per month and you can try it out for free for 14 days, no credit card required.
This is great article for anyone who is planning a website to those of us who create them. The modification process time frame was enlightening as I had never thought to allow that kind of time for clients to look through their site. You said you don’t limit the time, but I am sure that you would like to finish a site and get final payment at some point. How do you motivate clients towards completion? Particularly when all the site needs is content?
The first thing to do when building your website is to develop a plan. Before you move forward, think about what you want your website to do, and decide what success looks like for your website. When you look back at your results a few months after your website is complete, how will you know it was worth it? Make sure you are planning your site to match your goals.
Hi Gertrudes, I think if you want to build a simpler website, then Squarespace, Weebly and Wix are good candidates for you to test and see which one suits you better. Weebly has the lowest learning curve, then Wix and Squarespace. But from a design perspective, I think Squarespace will give you the most professional and beautiful looking website. All of them are mobile device friendly and so your visitors will be able to find more information about your website through their mobile devices. I think the best way forward is to sign up for them for free, then invest some time to play around with their tools and see for yourself which one you prefer. It's a very personal choice when it comes to which builder interface you prefer, so investing a bit of time in testing them out is well worth it. - Jeremy
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.
A little while ago, I left you a message asking for help figuring out some basics about website design and hosting. I think I’ve got the answer I was looking for. I contacted TotalChoice Hosting and they do only hosting, no web design help. So, I am going to read your articles about WIX and SquareSpace again and go with one of them to develop and host the website for my new domain name. Sorry to waste your time. I just had to realized that domain registration, website hosting and website development are all 3 totally separate things, even though some companies combine some or all of these services. Thanks again.
With all that being said, I want to share some things you can do to improve your website’s SEO. To keep things simple, we’ll take an 80/20 approach here – as in 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts. Yes, there are lots of tiny little tweaks you can make to marginally improve SEO – and if you’re curious about them, you might want to check out this set of tutorials.
I manage a running club. On the advice of a pal, we used Drupal to develop the club website. This went well enough when my pal managed the Drupal site, but when he got too busy, the thing became a nightmare. Our club management (a handful of runners) ended up spending an inordinate amount of time and money addressing Drupal updates and hacks and technical stuff that was far removed from doing what we loved and were good with (managing a running club.)
The templates are high quality, but nobody wants to have a website which looks like another. While that might be hard to avoid with the number of websites on the internet (tens of billions), giving it your best will surely pay off. A quality theme is surely a great start for a website, but the extensive admin panel gives you a lot of creative freedom to express yourself in your website, whether it is a personal blog or an online store.
The industry has changed to the point where WYSIWYG editors are common. Every one of the applications on our list utilizes a drag-and-drop format. The best website builders have a walk-through that shows you how to make a website quickly and effectively. Surprisingly, though, not every program on our list has a setup wizard. Jimdo lacked any kind of setup wizard.
Hello Vivy, I was in the same situation some time ago, so I tested the free hosting providers, the ones you mentioned above and even a few more. Took some time, yet saved me money. If you want to start from free plan, my favorite was Hostinger. I believe it will match your requests: the cPanel is "(very!) user friendly" - you'll be able to install WordPress with only a click of a button and it also provides many great plugins, don't be afrait to experiment! Since you're a beginner, having customer support is a great bonus and theirs will definitely help if you have any issues (sure helped me), don't be shy to contact them. Good luck with your blog! Hope I could help.

We’re fans of how easy the simple drag and drop interfaces on Wix, Weebly and the like, make creating a great website for non-techy users so my concern would be that once you’ve created a theme or template for WordPress or Magento, etc. you would still need to understand and be able to use the CMS in order to fully tweak the theme exactly how you want it.
However, there are number of issues surrounding free hosts. For starters, a lot of people will not take you seriously if you don’t own your domain name (yoursite.com). Furthermore, certain functions, such as connecting with social media platforms, are not available. The biggest disadvantage, however, is that you don’t own the site or content. Suddenly spending the $5-$10 per month for host doesn’t send like a bad investment, does it
Beta testing. Launching your website is an exciting process and people eager to get it live as soon as possible. With all the excitement, often people ignore the testing step. It’s critical you test your website before it goes live. The testing process can seem overwhelming, and you are not sure where to start. We are here to tell you that it’s not that complicated, you just have to check the following points carefully:
Hello Amanda, I'd suggest you take a look at Squarespace. With Squarespace, you can create blogs, sell services, upload images / videos, sell digital products (ebooks). They also allow you to export most of your content into WordPress (a very powerful and popular website builder) later if you want that option. The benefit of using Squarespace now is that you can build a website without knowing how to edit codes. You can literally have your site up in quite a short period of time. With WordPress, it's much more advanced and technical so it's not as user-friendly compared to Squarespace. You can see our comparison between them here. So Squarespace is much easier to get setup and will give you what you need. Once you're established and want a much more advanced platform down the road, WordPress is worth considering. Jeremy
Some people assume that creating a store online is well out of reach of web design amateurs. However, eCommerce website builders can make that process just as simple as a purely informational website. Often, the design concepts are similar, in regards to entering headings, text, and images. The only real difference is the ability to operate a shopping cart through the site, and website builders that cater to eCommerce businesses make that a breeze.
Hi wbs, Getting started is definitely the easy part - no doubt about that! And I take your point that it can be challenging to make a design that you're 100% happy with. So, I guess we're pretty lucky that website builders like Wix and Squarespace offer such eye-catching templates that we can edit to our liking or use as jumping off point! (Our 3-step guide can help you pick the right template too..) Not having to work with a blank canvas certainly makes things much easier and gets the creative juices flowing. I think the best thing we (as amateur designers!) can take from sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc is the simplicity of their design. Your users want to find what they need quickly and easily, so the key lesson is to keep designs eye-catching but user-friendly (oh and don't forget the importance of color on a website!). Thanks for joining the conversation, - Tom
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