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You may never know what results come from your action, but if you do nothing, there will be no result. – Mohandas Kanamchand Ghandi
Welcome to Day 12 of the 20-Day Business Startup Challenge! Today we’re going to learn how to build a website.
Websites are vital to every business; you know that…we all know that. But, there seem to be a million ways to get a website today, how the heck do you know where to start? Ok, I exaggerate, there aren’t millions, but it can be overwhelming all the same.
In truth, it’s not that hard once you understand Website Builders vs. Self-Hosted options. From there it’s easy to choose the right format for you and get your site up and running.
Before we dive into the comparison, let’s take a closer look at what your website will need.
- Will you be selling anything online? Or do you only need your site to provide information?
- What do you want your website to highlight? Unique products & offerings or your expertise & skills?
- Will you be writing a blog or adding videos to your site?
- What is the look and feel you are going for (formal & professional, artistic & fun, casual & relaxed, etc.)? You should already have an idea of this from the last two days of the 20-Day Challenge.
- What experience do you want your customers to have when they visit your website?
- Are there any advanced features you want? For example, an online forum, customer service chat box, paid membership areas, and online appointments to name a few.
- How much extra time do you have and what is your time worth? Do you have the time to build a website or is your time better spent working on other areas of your business? In other words, do you have several hours to devote to learning about and building a website or should you hire a professional to do this for you?
- What are you willing/able to spend on your new website?
Now that you have an idea of what you need, let’s look at your options.
Websites consist of two pieces, the actual website and the space it needs to be online.
Let me give you an analogy to explain:
Think of a train track and the individual train cars. Your website is a single train car, and the internet is a train track. You can build the most incredible train car in the world, but if it’s not on the track, it will never get to anyone.
To put your train car on the track, you can’t throw it up there and hope an engineer will swing by and grab it. You have to hire a train engineer to attach your car to their train and carry it back and forth across the country.
Self-hosted services act as the train engineer. They connect your website (your train car) to their servers (the train track), so it can be online. You have to build your website (train car) on your own, though.
Website Builders also give you access to their servers (the train track). But, they include themes so you can build your website (train car) through them as well.
Ok, enough with the analogies, let’s get back to using “website” for train car and “hosting” for the train track.
As I mentioned above, website builders offer you the ability to both build your website and put it online. For many, this is an ideal one-stop-shop. But by using their services, you limit yourself to only the themes and features they offer.
Some well-known Website Builders include:
WordPress.com (not the same as WordPress.org) – range in price from free to $25/mo depending on the features you want.
Blogger.com – Free through Google. A pure blogging platform, not very many bells and whistles.
Weebly.com – Also ranges in price from free to $49/mo depending on features.
Squarespace.com – One of the most popular, they have dozens of templates to choose from and range in price from $12/mo to $40/mo depending on features.
Wix.com – Plans here range from $5/mo to $25/mo based on features.
An excellent tool for comparing website builders is https://www.websitetooltester.com/en/website-builder-reviews/
- Easy to use (ideal for anyone that’s not very savvy with technology)
- Can be free with some builders (but, the lower the price, the fewer features you will receive)
- Not as flexible as Self-Hosting. Limited to the builder’s themes and features
- Can be expensive when needing more features
- Not as customizable
- Website builders are not as scalable (they only grow so much since they have limited features)
When learning how to make a website, your technical ability matters. If you are techy at all, I recommend going the self-hosted route. This method takes a bit more time on your part, but self-hosted offers so much more flexibility and control.
With this option, you would buy hosting, then build your website using WordPress.org. This method gives you access to thousands of customization choices for your website. It is also inexpensive and scalable, so it can grow as your company grows.
To go this route, I recommend using www.Bluehost.com for your hosting service. They are inexpensive, reliable, and offer a free installation of WordPress.org.
Bluehost usually has a sale going on. As of this writing, they have a plan for $2.75/mo including a custom domain name. I use them for all my websites and have been pleased with their service.
WordPress has two forms: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The .com version is a website builder and limits you to a certain number of themes and plugins. The .org version is a free software is compatible with any WordPress theme or plugin. There are thousands of options available, and the number grows each day. WordPress.org is currently the most popular tool for building a website.
Going this route, you have a choice of free and paid themes and plugins to add to your website. To learn the differences, click here.
- Completely customizable
- Free and inexpensive themes and plugins available
- Scalable – can grow with you as your company grows
- The favorite of professionals, particularly those that conduct business online
- Best for those with some tech capability
- Can get expensive if you go overboard adding paid plugins or add-ons
Best of Both Worlds:
Can’t decide between website builders or self-hosted? How about the best of both worlds?
StudioPress.com has recently launched a new service. It acts as a website builder tool, but with the customization of self-hosted.
Built on the WordPress platform, StudioPress is creates paid themes. They are currently the top theme developer in the world. StudioPress themes have world-class coding, search engine optimization, mobile optimization, and service. I use StudioPress themes for all websites because they are the best.
Before, I bought hosting through Bluehost, downloaded WordPress, then bought a StudioPress theme to use. Now, StudioPress’ new service provides the all three of these steps in one. All that’s left is choosing your theme and building your site.
At the moment, prices for this start at $24/mo when paid yearly.
Ultimately, the best way to choose is to look at your tech ability and budget. If you don’t have any money to spend, go with a free website builder. If you have some money to spend but are not tech savvy at all, go with a website builder. If you are even a little tech savvy and have some money, go with self-hosting or StudioPress’ new service.
Choosing the company to work with is the hard part. Once done, use your branding board to guide your choice of theme and colors.
Website builders should have videos or guides to teach you how to build your site. For self-hosted, I recommend Lynda.com to learn how to work with the WordPress software. Even StudioPress’ service uses the WordPress software, so this is a good skill to build.
Now that you know your options, choose one and get to work!
What is your biggest question about making a website? Please comment below, and I’ll be sure to get back to you as soon as possible.