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
If you’re just selling one or two products, Weebly has the capability to handle this. However, if the primary purpose of your website is to sell products, you may want to choose a website builder that specializes in creating an online store. Volusion is an all-in-one ecommerce software that helps you to create and manage your online store, sell your products, and market your business. It’s pricing is comparable to Weebly’s ecommerce plan at $15 per month and you can try it out for free for 14 days, no credit card required.
Do you want to include a blog? This will be helpful for search engine optimization (SEO) — more on that in a minute — encourage engagement and community, and establish you as an expert. If the blog is the cornerstone of your site, take some time to outline (or, for overachievers, write) your first few posts and plan some topics you might write about over the next year.
Assuming you want the website to be able to grade these exams, you will need to use some kind of server-side interactivity (meaning regular HTML won't work for this). If you decide to use WordPress, there are plenty of free plug-ins you can install that take care of all of this for you. If you code your own website, you might want to learn a server-side scripting language, like PHP, Ruby, or Python. There are lots of tutorials on the web that teach you how to do this.
Absolutely. You have the option to customize your website based on your business needs. You can add site content wherever you’d like in a variety of sections; from multiple site pages, to scrollable sections that you can add to each of those pages, to a gallery of images, menus and price lists, and YouTube or Vimeo videos. Each section in your website is customizable as well, from the name of the page, to your website’s navigation bar. You’ll also have the ability to change text colors, styles and font. It’s important to have a mobile and desktop-friendly website. With Website Builder you’ll be able to choose tablet and desktop layouts to give your visitors the experience you want them to have.
You get what you pay for – Hosting is one of the biggest fees in starting a brand new business website. If you have an extremely limited budget and want to go for the cheapest hosting, that’s fine, just don’t expect anything amazing for $5/month. In general, the more you’re paying, the faster the hosting will be. Speed will help connect you in the social media world where you will likely be playing with ads and posts.
If you're ready to get going, this guide will introduce you to the services and software that can get you started building your own website, even if you have no experience. Keep in mind, none of these tools will give you an idea for a winning website—that's on you. They also won't make you a web designer, a job that's distinct from building a site. Still, these services and software will ease some of the headaches that come from a lack of extensive expertise in CSS, FTP, HTML, and PHP.
Hello Richard, Thanks for your comment and for your support! WooCommerce is a solid ecommerce tool (they were purchased by WordPress last year, I believe). They're flexible and you can bolt on a lot of different tools, but the downside for a "typical" business person is that to use WooCommerce (and WordPress) well, they'll need to invest more time into learning and managing the tools, or hire someone knowledgeable for help. A lot of new small businesses just don't have the mental bandwidth and time to learn the in's and out's of operating a WordPress site efficiently and effectively. The article you mentioned focuses more on hosted ecommerce builders, versus platform where you need to get your own hosting services (and there more technically and administratively challenging for users). We did highlight WooCommerce briefly in this guide where we dig into the differences between hosted and non-hosted ecommerce platforms. Jeremy
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
Hi Laura, If you are using Mailchimp (we use Aweber ourselves), you don't need the website builder to be integrated with Mailchimp at all,unless you run an ecommerce store (I'll address this below). Newsletter services allow you to create a sign up box, then provides you with some codes where you can copy and paste these codes into your website. All website builders have a tool that allows you to embed codes into wherever you want on your webpages. Once you publish your website, then the sign up box will show up. If you are operating an online store, you can integrate Mailchimp with websites built with Squarespace, Shopify or Bigcommerce. This way, after your customer buys from you, they are automatically invited to join your newsletter so you can continue to share news with them, or even promote other products to them. Hope this helps! - Jeremy
Hi Jeremy I have a desire to make an easy solution for my users who can make their own website / theme for wordpress. A plugin that allows my users, through frontend on my site, to choose between menu, (text / grib layout - blog styles, magazin) photo slide, footer, etc. - so they can make there style theme Do you know if there is a plugin that can this? (So I upload the different layouts examples that they can choose from)?
For most users, free themes are the best place to start. When you install a new theme, it doesn’t change the content on your site, only the layout. This means you can download and install a number of different themes to see which theme suits you best. If you feel like you need something more advanced than a free theme, you can always install a paid theme at a later date.
Thanks for the article Jermey. I was looking into making a site that serves dual functions. I wanted to create an entertainment news site that also functions as an online business. I purchased a subscription with godaddy for an online shop, but the templates are pretty bland and the customization is dreadful. Is there a site you could recommend for something like that?
Hey, Jeremy, thanks for an informative article. I'm planing to start my own blog but choosing the right hosting provider gets me a bit confused... I'm still a beginner at this, so would prefer something that would offer a free plan, at least for testing purposes. A (very!) user friendly interface is obviously a must... Could you please share some hosting companies that match my requests or at least point me in the right direction where to find them? Many thanks.
You can get started for roughly $10 per month for shared or WordPress hosting if your website doesn't require much server horsepower. As your business expands, however, your website may need greater horsepower. That's when you should look into cloud, VPS and dedicated hosting. These levels of services are for when you really need a web host that offers lots of storage, a significant amount of month data transfers, and numerous email accounts.
Cons: there is a learning curve, and though you don't have to dig into HTML, it's not totally geek-free. If you are in a hurry, this might not be the best solution. Perhaps the biggest con, though, is that if you are not a graphic designer, you could end up with a page that hurts the eyes. To mollify this somewhat, there are a number of free templates in the applications, and on the internet, but be aware of your limitations—if you have any!
For example, if you’re creating a site for a restaurant, you might have a Home page, a Menu page, a Reservation page and an Access page. If you’re creating a fan site for your favorite soccer team you might have a Home page, a Players page, a Results page and a Blog page. If you take a look at your current site, you should see two pages already in the menu bar – Home and Sample Page.
Although people tend to find your site through a branded search in Google, it’s still important to make your domain easy to spell / type out. If it requires a lot of effort to type correctly, due to trying to spell it, the length or the use of un-memorable words or sounds, you’ve probably kissed goodbye to a good portion of your branding and marketing value.
Changing the text is, again, pretty straightforward – all you have to do is click on the bit of text you’d like to change and you’ll be able to type straight into the text box. You can also adjust the size and style of each bit of text, but it’s worth remembering that each font will generally be consistent with the template, so making radical changes might make it look a bit odd.
Great Article and the only one that gives a step by step guide. This might be a silly question but I keep reading about buying a hosting space on the internet and you haven't mentioned that at all. Is that same as buying a domain? Does it mean that if i get one of the website builder plans with the domain included, then I dont need to go anywhere else?