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You’re ready to get a move on with your business. You have the name, a logo, you set up your profiles, and now you believe you are ready for a website.
Or you have already been up and running for awhile, and you are ready to build a website.
Whatever the reason, congratulations on this step! Having a website is a great way to showcase your business. Now, where to begin.
There are soooooo many different website builders. It may become a little overwhelming. If you’re on a tight budget, I completely understand how the cheaper options may seem like a perfect fit. I’m sure you’ve heard that cheaper is not always better. It just makes a headache down the road.
Okay, so what should you do now? I honestly can’t tell you. I can only give my recommendations. Without further ado, here are the top three website builders I’ve built on, blogged on, edited, etc for myself and other service-based business owners.
Wix is a very popular option because you can build a site completely free. When I say free, I mean legit free. It even comes with a domain, but it will have the wixsite branding attached to it. Let’s go over the pros and cons, shall we?
It’s free! There are no hidden gimmicks
It’s very simple to use, even if you aren’t tech-savvy
There’s a tool where it comes up with a design for your business (Wix ADI). If you aren’t that great with design, this feature is perfect!
Domain Included- with Wix branding
Full of ads on the free plan. You will have to upgrade to one of the plans to get rid of them
Very limited- the free plan only allows for a certain amount of visitors on the site before it starts acting wonky. If you don’t get a lot of traffic, then this will work for now. Depending on what your business type/structure is, it may be best to look into the paid plans right from the start or look elsewhere. (See last bullet why)
Wix branding on almost everything
Limited SEO- Don’t get me wrong, Wix still gets good ratings with SEO. It’s just more difficult doing customized links (& other techy words) which is great for the larger scale of things (as you and your business grows).
Hidden fees- We should know by now, nothing is truly free forever. If you want a breakdown on this portion, check out this informative blog post from Website Planet.
I seriously love Squarespace. In fact, this is who I have right now. Well, for this particular business. As much as I love it, there are some things I don’t love.
Simple Drag and Drop structure. I found Squarespace to be super simple to use because of this feature. However, I’ve had a couple of people mentioning this one to be more difficult to grasp than Wix.
More robust than Wix. Squarespace offers features within their plans whereas you would have to pay in Wix.
It’s constantly updating to make your life easier. They’ve added an email marketing tool and they bought out the scheduling company, Acuity, and are adding a scheduling feature to the website as a result.
More manageable SEO- Unlike WIx, you have more options to update your SEO tags on the website. While SEO is more than this, it does allow for some more flexibility.
It’s pricey, especially when starting out. Like Wix, they have different plans to choose from. You can pay monthly (which is about $28/month with the business plan or $220 if you pay for the full year upfront). If you sell products, expect to pay even more.
Some limitations with building the site. This is more so a “complaint” if you’re like me and like to automate/customize certain things.
Also, if you are a business that will require a good bit of menu options for your guests, this may not be the best option for you. It doesn’t leave a lot of room to do different menu options if you are trying to link different pages together.
It can run a bit slow sometimes. This isn’t always great for the guests that come to your site.
Alas, we’ve made it to the final recommendation. I’ve fallen in love with WordPress, but there are some things about it I want to mention if you are considering going this route. Also, I want to mention that I am speaking about wordpress.org and NOT wordpress.com. Same name, but these two platforms are different.
Ownership- Unlike other website platforms, you own this website. No one can come along and charge you for ads, force shutting you down (unless you’re doing something illegal), changing their policies, etc. You own it and can do A LOT with WordPress.org.
Best for SEO. The others are still great, but most website developers will agree that WordPress is “King” when it comes to websites and SEO.
It’s free. Well, this is a pro and con. The website builder is free, but you do have to pay for hosting. I use Siteground, and it’s about $50/year.
Customizable- Unlike the other two I mentioned, you can fully customize your site however you like with their plug-ins.
Drag and Drop Design- If you’re like me and designing isn’t your strong suit, WordPress has drag and drop options for you to build your website.
It CAN get expensive. The free version of WordPress will always be free. There are free plug-ins available, but some of them have premium features that require payment if you want to unlock them. The good thing? You don’t have to be in a rush to buy until you’re ready.
It can be difficult to use.
Okay, I won’t lie to you. It’s a little difficult to understand at first. There are so many tools you can add to your site, that it makes it overwhelming. Some people I’ve come across wanted to build on it but got discouraged because of what WordPress has to offer and the layout.
It takes a lot of monitoring from the backend.
WordPress uses website plugins to run. These plugins are created from WordPress themselves or from other third-party platforms. As these plugins update, you will be responsible for doing the updates from your end as well. Luckily, it just takes a push of a button.
That was a lot to take in. I hope this helped a bit in your website search. If you can think of anything else I should add, or if you have any questions, leave them in the comment section below!
Edited to add, if WordPress is still your top choice, visit my shop now to purchase the Beginner’s WordPress class!