Many small businesses, entrepreneurs and freelancers don’t have websites. When I first decided to write this post, I planned to get into all the branding reasons for why a website’s important… because, well, that’s what I do. But, the truth is, in this year of 2016, the reason that you absolutely should have a website is because web builders have made it ridiculously easy and affordable to have a professional website. Period.
Web builders have advanced to a point that sites can now be built and managed by the general public. They walk you through the process step by step, have clear descriptions with all options, and have impressive FAQs and live support through chat and phone to address any tricky challenges you may encounter. And they’re one-stop-shops. You don’t need to find a separate host, e-commerce provider, or even domain name provider. You have the ability to do it all in one convenient spot.
They are priced for your business. The basic plans suit most needs for those starting out (around $8/month). And the business plans are also a minimal expense for a huge value (running around $18-$30/month and include some e-commerce). And if you’re really working a $0 budget, there are free options available… just be prepared to keep the web builder name in your URL, and have a bit of branding in the footer.
So, now the best part… the site templates available are beautiful, extremely current (new templates added regularly), mobile-optimized, integrated with social media and have robust functionality and plugins. There is nothing “mom and pop” about them.
Plus, as the business owner managing the site, you can rest assured that they already have quality control, include hosting, come with support staff and you can handle updates quickly and directly.
SO WHAT’S LEFT?
The web builders are awesome. But, they’re not magic. To have a great, professional site you still need to have a thoughtful approach to your navigation and content, including photography. Err on the side of clarity and brevity. Visually, work with the design template you selected and find photography that complements the space. And then proofread 3 times.
All of the web builders offer a free trial period. There are many impressive options out there; so finding the right one for you will ultimately be a matter of personal preference. I love Squarespace. Some of my clients prefer the editing style of Weebly. And I know plenty of folks who prefer Wix. This is an industry that is rapidly advancing with new features, templates and services. So, don’t let the decision slow you down too much. Try a few, pick one, and see just how far $100 can go!