Use a content management system (CMS). This is the second option. WordPress is an example of a great option for building websites. It helps you create web pages and blog posts quickly and easily, set up the menus, allow and manage user comments, and has thousands of themes and plugins that you can choose from and use for free. Drupal and Joomla are other great CMS options. Once the CMS is hosted, you can manage your site from anywhere (in the world) that has an Internet connection.
Like your home, a website needs regular upkeep. Don't make the mistake of assuming that once it's online, it's done. If you want visitors to return to your site, someone has to add new content and update existing material; there's e-mail to answer, links to check, and perhaps usage statistics to track. For a small site, this can take as little as two or three hours a month. With some time spent learning the basic technology, you could manage this yourself.
Test your website. When you finish your website, do usability testing. You can do this by asking a few friends or family members to try it out. Give them a specific task like "edit your profile" or "buy an alpaca sweater from the bargains page." Sit behind them and watch them navigate—do not help them. You will likely find areas where you need to improve navigation or clarify some instructions. Alternately use something like zurb.com to user test on specific demographics for different types of engagement. When testing a website in 2014 it's becoming important to keep the platform in mind and make sure the website is usable from smartphones and tablets as well as desktops.
Plan for user devices and situations. In recent years, smartphones and tablets have become incredibly popular platforms for browsing the internet, and they require websites to be designed for them. If you really want to make a website that will stand the test of time and be accessible to the highest number of viewers, plan on making different versions of your site for different devices, or plan to use a responsive design that adjusts as necessary.
Hi Kahil, I think it will be challenging to find a free website builder that will allow you to connect your own domain name to the website. All of the good website builders I know of, such as Wix or Weebly, even though they allow you to build websites for free, they do require you to upgrade to at least their lowest plan before you can connect your own domain to the website. I suppose this is just a trade off - they can brand their names on your free website, in return for allowing you to build a website for free. If you want the ability for each customer to log in to view his/her own specific / individual pricing, it's not a feature that most website builders have. Builders such as Wix and Weebly has membership functions, but they just protect pages behind a membership gateway, where all members can access the same pages. So you can't set pages up that each member has his/her own unique pages, if you know what I mean. If you want that function, I think you'll have to use a more powerful membership software. Perhaps WordPress has a plugin for that, but I'm not familiar with one. Jeremy
I agree with Jeremy. The purchase of the website should really go hand-in-hand with the business startup or company formation. Many startups think it doesn't really matter to get that best domain name, whether it is an exact match keyword, or a brandable name keyword, until after they've started up the business. This is so backwards thinking. Your domain name should be an integral part of your business and development plan, if any significant part of your business is going to come from your online presence. Taken to the extreme, if you are an online marketer, you don't want you domain name to be AppleTurnover.com, because your business premises are in Apple Street. and your company domain is Apple Online Marketing Agents, and AppleTurnover.com (which is anyway surely taken) was the closest name available. It needs careful planning. Of course depending on the size of your business. rgds stu
Hello Christopher, Users can save your website to their desktop by going into their internet browser (e.g. Chrome), navigating to settings and then manually creating a desktop icon that they can use. This process typically uses the website 'Favicon' as the default image for the desktop icon. Your favicon is the small image that appears in the tab next to your web page title at the top of a browser. For example, Wix's is a small version of the Wix logo, Gmail has a red and white envelope, while our site has a tiny WBE logo in a navy circle. You may need to do some research into how you can change your website's favicon, but if you do then this is how you can have a degree of control over how the desktop icon looks. I hgope that makes sense? - Tom
Click-to-call buttons are especially helpful if you want mobile visitors to dial your business. This is a button that – when clicked from a mobile phone – automatically populates your business’ phone number into the visitor’s dialpad. An embedded Google Maps widget is also key for customers who are browsing on-the-go, as they can quickly bring up navigation to your store.
Hi TomN, Thanks for reading and joining the discussion. What you are looking to build is beyond the scope of our discussions here. It is possible but you'll either need to be very proficient with coding or have a healthy budget to hire a capable developer to assist you with your efforts. The reason is that the project you have seems like a very customized project. -Jeremy
You can sell products and services on your website if you have the Online Store plan. You’ll have an online store that will allow you to add products and services, set up different types of payment methods, and even specific types of shipping. Your store will be integrated into your website as a page. You can add featured products for your visitors to scroll through, make quick purchases using PayPal and Apple Pay and promote your store/products through coupons. You can also use the same type of email marketing that is included in the Business Plus plan to send email communications to your subscribers and customers about sales in your store, coupon offers and events. Establishing a strong online commerce can boost your current sales, especially if you have a brick-and-mortar store.
Hi Mike, Interactive map building is something I have very little experience with - I haven't ventured much beyond embedding google maps in iframes such as yourself. I would suggest browsing the app market and 3rd party plugins available on builders like Wix and Weebly, who both offer a huge amount of additional features. It would surprise me if there wasn't a plugin that could help get you on your way. Similarly, you can also find membership area functionality through these app markets. I believe Wix also offers the ability to add member areas and logins though its editor too. Hope that points you in the right direction, - Tom
A domain name is the virtual address of your website. Ours is websitebuilderexpert.com. That’s where you find us. The New York Times’ is nytimes.com. That’s where you find them. And so on. Your site needs one too, and when setting up a WordPress site it’s something you may have to take care of yourself. Bluehost lets you choose a domain for free as part of the signup process.