When starting a business, one of the first things you’ll need is an online presence, and by that I don’t just mean your teenage niece setting up your Instagram profile(!) You have to have a website.
Good news is that there’s now several decent “easy” DIY website builders out there to get you going.
I say “easy” in speech marks because if you have zero experience with computers, you are probably better off finding someone else to help out. But if you are willing to learn and patient with your time, you will be surprised how much you can pull together yourself.
A question I’ve been asked many times is what is the best low cost website platform.
Website builders generally work as thus – you sign up, you have to pick a “theme” or template, which acts like a pre-existing design, and then you have some control over the customisation of that design. As well as adding your own content, you can change the fonts and colours, and perhaps add and reorder the different sections.
Quick tip – I’d recommend sourcing some good photography for your business before you get started creating your site, as it will make it much easier, but you will find some templates that allow minimal imagery if that’s not possible yet.
Builders usually differ in the ease of their set up. Some are much easier to understand and get the hang of than others. Certain platforms also have much better opportunities for search engine optimisation (i.e. getting your site to show in Google search results). And lastly, some simply have better pre-designed templates which you can get for free or at a low cost. The “theme” for the website that you are on now cost about £50, for example.
Here’s a few platform suggestions from what I’ve used before.
From about £15 per month
This is my favourite for simple sites, after using it to set up a website for my friends at GoldfinchSW17.co.uk. Have a click on that link and take a look (it will open in a new tab).
The best thing about SquareSpace is that it is really great for hand holding and taking you through the whole process step-by-step. If you want it to be, it’s super all-inclusive and offers hosting, analytics, security, etc all in one.
Once you have your theme set up, it’s also very easy to edit the content and you can instantly see how it will look on the page you are editing.
It’s quite hard to make a really ugly SquareSpace site. Saying that, I’ve found for some businesses that I can’t find a template that totally suits its needs, so I’ve ended up going to WordPress instead.
Mashable sums up some of the best SS templates here: https://mashable.com/uk/roundup/best-squarespace-templates-uk/?europe=true.
Quick word of caution – some SquareSpace templates are better than others for search engine optimisation (SEO), so you might be best to also research this before settling on anything.
Find out more @ https://www.squarespace.com/
From £7 per month
The website you are looking at now is WordPress. In fact, 35% of the internet is powered by it, partly because it’s been around for a long time. A lot of WP sites are for small businesses or entrepreneurs like you, but there’s also a lot of really big brands using it.
The main advances of WordPress are the wealth of different templates (which they call themes) and also the really great SEO plug-ins that will help you get your website found. It’s by far the best choice if you are planning on including a blog/articles. And once your website is up and running, it’s also pretty easy to edit using the content management system.
However, it is a little harder to set up and get going for the novice website manager.
A good place to start would be to research the WordPress themes and see if any of them look good for you. Remember, you can change colours, fonts and all the content. If you do find something, give it go yourself – but be prepared to have to ask someone for help. Hey, if you’re that stuck you can even send me a message.
Quick word of caution – WordPress can be really easy to hack. To prevent this happening, make sure you always keep your theme updated (it will prompt you), and don’t add any unknown plug-ins without reading the reviews first.
Find out more @ https://wordpress.com/
From $29 per month (NB. ecommerce platforms will always be more ££)
If you are planning on selling anything through your website, I would probably always recommend Shopify. We use it for The Hoxton’s retail shop and even on a lower plan it’s pretty awesome.
Again, you’ll have to choose a template/theme and customise it to look how you want. If you are super fussy with design, it can be a little inflexible without developer skills (I had to go into the code to edit the fonts of a theme once) but for most start ups you’ll probably do just fine.
There’s some great analytics features once you get started as well – and you can send customers marketing emails from the platform too.
Find out more @ Shopify.com
I’m going to save you a lot of time here, just don’t use Wix! I’ve never had any good experiences with it and it was very unfriendly for search engines like Google.
5. GoDaddy website builder
From £6.99 per month
A late contender, I experienced this lately when trying to set up a site for my boyfriend. GoDaddy is better known for finding website domains and managing hosting. It’s not quite as easy as SquareSpace’s set up, but it does have a similar drag and drop template builder and my boyfriend found it relatively easy once I showed him how to get to it.
Similarly to SquareSpace, it also means you can do everything in one place – domains, hosting, security…
The most annoying thing with it was when we missed a payment due to an expired credit card, GoDaddy removed the entire website and we had to start from scratch. Not the best customer experience.
Find out more at godaddy.com
If you are interested in learning more or just need some help, feel free to get in touch.