You do not have to be a website designer to create a great website. There are many website-building platforms on the market today. You hear them advertised as sponsors on podcasts, youtube channels and have television commercials saying that you can build a beautiful website in a matter of hours. With all the options available, business owners wonder what site builder is best and how to get started.
Before You Get Started: Write Your Content In A Word Document First, And Rework It Until You Get It Right. It Is Inefficient And A Pain In The Ass To Develop And Edit Content Directly On Your Website.
As a website designer, I would build every website on the content management system (CMS) WordPress.org. However, you must purchase your domain name and hosting package to start. This extra step is not the most straightforward platform, so I often steer customers toward more user-friendly website builders.
When working with any client, I aim to ensure their website features the most up-to-date information. At the beginning of any job, you should consider the time and energy it takes to maintain the site. You should not just worry about the initial build but updating your site monthly or quarterly.
Let’s start diving into the pros and cons of each website-building platform, beginning with Wix.
This article will discuss “algorithms” and helping someone’s business increase its “visibility.” Let’s break these terms down to help you understand what’s happening.
An algorithm is a process, or set of rules followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.
The search and social media algorithms want to keep their users happy and continuously introduce them to exciting new content. Many social media platforms and search engines want you to return repeatedly- to make you a repeat customer by providing you with exciting and engaging content.
Think of visibility as how often your website or social media/ social media posts are found on the Internet.
For example, if you use Spotify and type “90’s rock music” in the search bar, you will get thousands of search results. Spotify will return hundreds of pages, ranked from highest relevancy (i.e., Metalica) to lowest relevance (i.e., Enya). The pages that show up first have the highest visibility, and those at the end, have the lowest visibility.
You want to make the algorithm happy to increase the business’ visibility. Once satisfied, it will boost your friend’s business to the top of search results and reach new clients. Now that we’ve covered some key terms and concepts, let’s discuss six ways to support a small business without buying anything.
The start-up time between typing ‘wix.com,’ pressing enter, and building my site was roughly 5 minutes. After you register and confirm your e-mail address, Wix asks you a series of questions. The questions are simple and the same as a web designer would ask you.
Some of the questions include, “what industry are you in?” “do you want to sell products online?”. I liked that Wix positioned these questions upfront and in ordinary language. After you answer the questionnaire to the best of your knowledge, they will show you all the website designs that fit your needs.
I love any website builder that helps users narrow down the hundreds of options. All themes offered to you at the end of the questionnaire will help you reach your goals. By narrowing down the options, you are less likely to get discouraged by decision fatigue. I don’t want you to give up and quit before you start, and I like Wix for this feature.
Overall, Wix is an affordable website solution. I was considering that the paid option pays for both the custom domain name and hosting package.
Wix has positioned itself as the web design platform for small business owners.
Their platform has a lot of informational blogs and step-by-step common language tutorials. Many videos are 3-minutes or fewer, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by information.
Wix included one bonus in their premium packages: access to their e-mail marketing feature.
This feature could save you money and time if you want to set up an account with Mailchimp or Convertkit.
Wix allows you to save time by including social media and e-mail marketing in one place.
Wix’s drag-and-drop interface makes making the website you always wanted easier. If you do not use a template precisely as it’s constructed, it’s easy to make the changes you’d like to see. Click on an image, shape, or textbox and drag it where you want it. My one note on this is that depending on-page edits, the content may not appear correctly on mobile devices, so double-check.
It’s essential that your website looks good and ranks well on search engines like Google and Bing. Wix’s comprehensive SEO walkthrough ensures your business will look good in search results. It takes roughly six months for search engines to index a new website. Wix helps you put content where it needs to be, so once indexed, it has a higher chance of appearing on the first, second, or third page of search results.
When you build a website, you want to make it as easy as possible for your users to find the information they need effortlessly. Wix allows users to create click-to-call or click-to-email buttons without knowing HTML.
Now, Wix has many great features; let’s talk about some of the not-so-great features.
The other item I spent significant time trying to edit was the “contact us” form. I’d try to move the whole contact form to a different page section, but then maybe just the name field would move. I spent significant time putting the name field back and trying to move the whole contact form as a unit. Eventually, I could get everything where I wanted, but it wasn’t as seamless and intuitive as other parts of the build.
Overall these were minor inconveniences for me. While it took roughly half an hour to get things where I wanted them, it wasn’t overly frustrating. I don’t doubt it will take long before the talented developers at Wix improve this aspect of the website build.
Wix is one of the best when it comes to DIY web design. I love how they have been building out their platform. Their developers have worked hard to build an intuitive platform with many tutorials and walkthroughs.
They have drastically improved their templates over the past decade. A small business owner can easily find a site that fits their needs and tastes. Their customer service is some of the best in the industry as well. There are a few minor annoyances- but honestly, they are negligible.
Wix can help you build your site and jumpstart your marketing, showing their commitment to entrepreneurs and DIY web design.
The free builder still left plenty of services on the table, and their monthly rates are very reasonable for the services you get in return.
Weebly is a hosting web service that offers easy-to-use templates. Their headquarters are in San Fransisco, USA, and they were founded in 2006 by David Rusenko, Dan Veltri, and Chris Fanini. Currently, Weebly’s parent company is the merchant service Square.
Weebly is not as widely used at Wix and Squarespace. However, it may be a great platform for some to make a straightforward website. Let’s dive into Weebly and check out the pros and cons.
Absolutely. Weebly makes it incredibly easy to get started. You don’t need to confirm your e-mail address before starting. Add all your information, and they will send you their setup questionnaire.
Package Monthly Cost
As their tagline implies, “build it beautiful” holds with all their awesome templates. After a few quick onboarding questions, Squarespace will show you several website templates to build a professional site for your business. I liked the simplicity in describing each design- outlining how one is different from the other in one or two sentences in an everyday language.
The second pro for non-web designers is that the back end is user-friendly. Check out this great feature when you want to add a page to your website. You click the plus sign and are greeted with a friendly interface of types of pages you can add to your site. Select the page that best fits your need, and it’s like a web designer created a new page for you to fill in your information. However, editing the page is a little more complicated, but I’ll discuss this in my con section.
Squarespace has continued to build out search engine optimization tools. A black toolbar will appear when you hover over an editable section of a page. Select ‘settings,’ and a pop-up will appear, showing you a suite of necessary SEO tools.
I enjoyed that Squarespace gives you access to the SEO title/ SEO description and tags, and categories. Categories and Tags are an excellent way to organize your site and increase your search engine rankings. While the average small business owner may not use these right away, having access to these tools as a web designer and search engine optimizer is impressive.
Between Squarespace’s great templates, search engine optimization features, and e-commerce integrations, you will be able to get the job done. However, it is noteworthy to consider two things you should keep in mind if you choose Squarespace to build your site.
Squarespace templates indeed enable you to make a beautiful website. However, it is crucial to remember what makes the templates attractive, the photos. Eye-catching professional images often drive the content and create a beautiful aesthetic.
If you are not at the point in your business when you can afford a professional photographer to take crisp, clear, and well-composed photos- you may have trouble making your site look as good as the templates. You can turn to stock photo sites to get images for your header or hero images, but your site may not look as good as the display design.
My second issue with Squarespace is regarding the drag-and-drop interface. Unlike Wix, where you can drag and drop to your heart’s content- Squarespace is a little more complicated. You’ll have to become well acquainted with spacers to make your content look like a rockstar.
It will take a page or two to get the hang of everything. Overall it is not the most intuitive and sometimes makes me downright frustrated as a web designer. I can only imagine how annoying their interface is to a small business owner.
Squarespace is an excellent option for most small business owners. It may take you a page or two to get used to the Squarespace builder, but it is not the worst. You’ll have a great website if you have high-quality images, well-written content, and a little time.
There you have it, a breakdown of small business owners’ three primary options for do-it-yourself web design. While each platform has its quarks, they all offer their unique advantages. No matter what option you decide is best for you; I am confident you will have a great professional website when you put your mind to it.