It used to be that if you didn’t know any programming languages, you needed to fork over serious money to get even a half-decent websites up and running. Those days are a thing of the past. Nowadays, you can get a website up in an hour or less without typing in a single bit of code. And that’s good news.
The bad news, however, is the number of choices. There are just so many! How do you figure out what’s right for you? Well, in this article we’re going to cover some of the big things that you need to think about in order to know which website builder is the right one for you.
How much can you pay?
It always seems to start with the money, doesn’t it? The more restricted your budget, the more restricted your choices (and by extension) your website. Think about how much you want to fork over per year and work back from there.
An average payment seems to be a little below $10 USD per month, which isn’t that much if you consider those professional websites will often put you back thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. You’d need your website to be up for decades before you’re going to have to fork over that much money.
Note that some Website builders require that you pay a lump sum right at the start, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding which service to use. Can you pay the whole amount in one go?
Also, an important question to think about: Does this mean you’re committed to these guys for the whole year? Sometimes as you go along you might find that you actually want something that the website builders you’ve chosen don’t provide. If in that case, you can’t switch your website to a new location or a new service, that can put a real crimp in your expansion plans. So always read the small print.
Will they allow you to export the site?
One of the things that many services won’t let you do is export your site. That means that if you want to move away from the Website builder you’re using you’re going to have to start from scratch. This is obviously an attempt to lock you in.
If you’re sure you’re going to be happy with what they’re offering, then good for you. If, however, you want to be able to change things over somewhere down the line, then look for one of the few that actually allows you to export what you’ve built and take it with you to another provider.
Two sites that do allow you to export are Squarespace and Weebly – so if this is important for you, take a look there.
What do you want from your website
Of course, if you know exactly what you want and what you will want in the future, that is less of a concern. Then you can really explore which website builder can actually deliver everything that you want.
The best thing to do is to actually sit down and look at what other people have done. Find websites that you really like and that you think would work well for your business and take note of everything they’ve got going on their website.
Do this with a couple of different websites. Divide your list up into those things you absolutely must have (e.g. credit card payment) those things that you really want to have and those things that can wait.
This list you can then compare against those providers out there that are actually in your budget. Now you’ll be able to put them in a list from those that come the closest to having everything you need right down to the ones that are the furthest away.
Is it mobile compatible?
This is a question that you always have to ask. When they build you your website, how will it look on mobile devices? Because if it doesn’t look good (to not even talk about whether it works or not) then you are going to lose a big slice of your audience.
Something that’s only going to get worse down the line as millennials overwhelmingly access the internet through phones and tablets, rather than through laptops and tabletops. Don’t be on the wrong side of history. Be mobile compatible.
How much support will you get?
Some sites are definitely more helpful than others and offer more support. This can be very useful to you if you’re a noob in this department and don’t really know how to get things up and running. So make sure you read up on what they offer you.
- Will they give you advice on how to build your website? Otherwise, you’ll have to scan the boards, which can be a real headache.
- How about the text? Will they support you there, or will you have to look at an outside service, like TrustMyPaper to produce some of your content for you? That can add a lot of extra costs.
- What hours are they available in case your website goes down? Is it 24/7 or is it only at midnight when the moon is waning? In that same stream, how long will it take them to get around to whatever problem you’ve got?
There is a lot to think about when you’re going to build a website. For that reason, don’t just jump right in. Sometimes one of the best things to do is give a few of these sites a trail run (Which they will allow) and experiment. Then you can get a first-hand experience as to what really works for you and what does not.
What you don’t want to do is jump straight in. If you do that you’ll more likely than not end up regretting the choices you’ve made but unable to change anything for another 11 months (and then looking at a big chunk of work when you do).
Caution is the key. Shop around. For, as they say, a good beginning is half the battle. And as far as I’m concerned, they created that saying for finding the right website builder. Good luck and good building.
This article is written by Luisa Brenton. She is a blogger. She was born in Italy, graduated from The St. Louis School of Milan and went to Chicago to pursue higher education at the Chicago's Public Research University. Luisa is interested in modern literature and journalism. Find her: Twitter | Facebook | Google+.