This week we studied about different options for web site builders and hosts. Choosing the site builder is very important, because it will help determine where you will host the site and will give you an idea on how much you can expect to spend when starting a business online.
On the other hand, a host is a company that has servers connected to the internet where you can place your website. Some hosting companies also have a “website builder” option available. For example, Wix.com and Weebly.com are hosting companies that also have website building software.
CHOOSING A WEB SITE BUILDER
When choosing a web site builder there are couple of things we need to have into account. First of all, the product; what we are selling and weather we expect it to grow or be different in the future. In my case I would like to have the flexibility of expanding my business if the possibility arises. So that is the first feature I was looking for, in a site builder.
Second, giving my limited HTML knowledge I knew I preferred a site builder or a content management site, in other words, a tool fairly easy to use. When it comes to design, I was looking for attractive and intuitive, since I believe that this is the key to attract and retain clients, despite the line of business you are in.
Finally, I also evaluated the researched sites having into account the project for this class and the specific characteristics that my site will need: the ability to use Google Ad Words, the possibility of at having 4-5 main pages for the website, and the ability to have a financial transaction take place.
Based on these main criteria I compared the following sites:
Pros: Free site builder, easy to use, its templates are great for designers, photographers, and for what I could observe it would work very well with any type of business. When it comes to shipping, it has a great tool that allows you to select the rate and location, add coupons, see the orders placed, and also receive them by email.
Cons: If you want to sell digital goods the E-commerce feature has to be purchased separately with the possibility of trying it first (PayPal and CC allowed). Once you pick your template is not very easy to change.
Pros: A free open source content management. This option offers more flexibility than the others, being the most powerful as well, it has more customization options, and it can be easily scaled into something larger. It is also one of the most popular sites used, offering the possibility of using SEO in a more powerful way, and it has great social media plug ins. Plenty of tutorials available.
Cons: More difficult to use at first and work around all the available options, which means more time investment than the others. It would require the use of E-commerce plug-ins to be more competitive. More expensive overall.
Pros: Very easy to use (drag and drop system) especially good for business related to design or blogging because of its high quality templates. Small business friendly, you can add contributors, assign different permissions, create and distribute through ITunes your own podcasts and it has been optimized for Google. It has a good and easy to use online store (no PayPal). It offers tutorials and support.
Cons: Only two levels to navigate through websites, you need high quality images otherwise the site won’t look as good as in the template, great adaptation to mobile devices, it doesn’t give you direct access to the code.
After analyzing all the options I would choose WordPress, considering that offers the power and flexibility that can serve a small business or a large business. Seeing the potential of an online business sometimes can be difficult, with WordPress I can be sure that it will meet my needs no matter what happens in the future.
I think it also has professional and good looking designs that can be easily adapted and improved over time according to the business needs. Its SEO capabilities can make a difference in comparison with the other options. The only downside to it is the price, but I think that it is a good investment considering all the plug-ins and options it offers, if the tool is used wisely can be an excellent builder that contributes to the business’ profits.
CHOOSING A HOST
To explain what is the best way to choose a host I’d like to quote part of the material given to us this week, because it was really helpful to me when I had to analyze, and decide between the different options:
“When you are trying to decide which host to choose for one of your first websites, you will probably be presented with a lot of information that you know very little about, like allowable data transfer, CGI-bin access, etc. You should focus on the things that matter to you most in the beginning. As your website grows, you may outgrow your first server. That’s okay, because changing servers is not very hard.
Pay attention to the following:
- Will the host work “easily” with the site builder I chose? Most allow one-click installs for WordPress, but building a site in Weebly, Wix, or Webstarts and transferring that site to another host is very cumbersome. Typically the best host for Weebly is Weebly. The best host for Wix is Wix.
- What is the total cost for the time that I plan to host the website? If you choose a host that has a very low monthly fee but requires you to sign up for three years to obtain that price, and if you only want to host the site for two months, you may be paying much more than you planned. Determine the length of the contract and calculate the overall cost.
- Does that host offer promo codes that will substantially decrease overall cost? Dreamhost typically offers a promo code that reduces that cost from $8.95 a month to $9.95 for the first year.
- Is the Domain name included in the price of host? Domain names would otherwise cost $10.00–$12.00 more.
- Will I be able to get good support in a timely manner? Some hosts have telephone support from people in the US. Other only have email support with two day turn-around time. If you are new at this, you might need some support.
- How much AdWords credit is available? Many host offer $25 to $75 Google AdWords credit.”