If those template customizations don’t look like enough for you (though if you’re building your first website, they will be), you might want to think about building your website on an open source platform like WordPress.org – this is the ‘Option 2’ that we’ll be covering a little later on.. You will get more flexibility, but if you’re not a coder, learning WordPress takes a lot of time — especially compared to drag-and-drop builders.
Identify the features you want on your site: If you’re a photographer, you’ll need a photo gallery to showcase your portfolio. If you’re a retailer, you’ll want a website with a storefront. If you want to build authority in your niche, you need a website with a blog section. Write down what you want your website to do, then research the most suitable website-building platform.
Building a website is essential today for a world full of people who’ll search for you on Google, read reviews online, read your blog posts regularly, follow your brand on social media, and stay subscribed to your email – all this to see if you can solve their problem or give them what they need. Therefore having a great online presence is almost crucial.
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Constant Contact gets really detailed here and will have different suggestions for you depending on the specific niche your site is in. For example, when putting in “food” as the topic of the site, Constant Contact will want you to clarify whether the site has to do with food tours, food banks, food stand, food truck, etc. Constant Contact will use that info to suggest a website design that’s truly optimized for what you need.
If you prefer a more traditional URL, you'll need to purchase one from the likes of GoDaddy or Namecheap. Domain name pricing can range from extremely cheap to extremely expensive, depending on whether or not domain squatters are looking to flip a valuable piece of online real estate. You'll want to get something short but evocative and catchy, and depending on what you do, you may find that many of your first choices are taken by either other legit domains, or by squatters who've scooped up the names as an investment. For more, please read How to Register a Domain Name.
Several of the services included here offer free options, too. If you choose that path, however, your site will include branding from the provider, which necessarily makes your site less impressive to savvy surfers—and shoppers. Free offerings vary greatly in the storage, bandwidth, and site options they allow, so read the small print to find out how much you get with each provider. Strikingly, Weebly, Wix, and WordPress.com are among the most generous with their free offerings, if that's the way you want to go.
GoDaddy Website Builder is an online editing and publishing tool that helps you create a website, regardless of your technical skill level. Just create an account, pick a design and use the built-in editor to add your own images and text. You can make your website as simple or complex as you’d like. Need to sell your stuff online? No problem. You can add a full online store complete with product listings, coupons, shopping cart, shipping and multiple payment options.
GoDaddy InSight is a technology system that provides tailored recommendations gleaned from insights across more than a million GoDaddy customers in different locations and industries. InSight is designed to help you improve your online presence by providing you with performance metrics and advice on how to improve them. GoDaddy InSight powers a central dashboard where you’ll find your:
Even if you don't sign up for those web hosts, you should look for services that offer similar features. You'll want a WYSIWYG editor that lets you adjust every page and add images, video, and social links. Plunking down a few extra bucks typically nets you robust ecommerce and search engine optimization (SEO) packages for improved Bing, Google, and Yahoo placement. Most advanced web hosting services include at least one domain name, free of charge, when you sign up.
There are lots of ways to add content and customize your site. Click the Add button on the left-hand menu for a swath of options — text, buttons, slideshows, menus, et cetera. Under the Apps button, there are many features you can add to your site for additional functionality such as comments, live chat, and an online storefront. You can also upload your own multimedia content, such as fonts, images, videos, and music, and start a blog.
Let's face it, one of the things we like best about the web is looking at pictures. The site builders here all offer some degree of photo and gallery display. Some, like Gator, Squarespace, and Wix, also offer loads of stock photography for you to use. Some let you touch up images with editing tools such as cropping, brightness, and in some cases even Instagram-like filters. Others, such as Gator, Simvoly, Ucraft, and uKit offer no photo editing at all, aside from resizing and positioning.
All of the site builders included here let you put Facebook Like and Twitter Follow buttons on your pages, and some even let you display feeds from the social networks. Some give you help building a Facebook Page and tying it into your site design and updates. Many products offer some sort of SEO tool, but too often this is just a form on which you can enter meta tags. You're mostly left to wrestle with that black magic known as SEO for yourself. It's very important to submit and verify your site to the search engines, unless you don't want anyone to find it!
Before you can start building your home on the web, you need an address for it. Most of the site builders here can register a unique domain for you, and all can give you a web address using the provider's domain, for example, yourname.sitebuilder.com. Some include a custom domain name with their plans, usually requiring a year's commitment. The services also let you use a domain you've acquired from a third-party registrar such as pairNIC, but you often must pay the site builder for that privilege.
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Support among the services varies widely, from free WordPress.com account's only offering community support, to Jimdo's email-only service, to Wix's telephone-callback service—even for free accounts! Many of the site builders offer rich online support knowledge bases and FAQs, so there's a good chance you won't even need to contact the company. I test each service's support as part of the review process by asking about some less-common site-building procedures.
Blogs are swell, but sometimes you need a simple place to park your persona on the internet for branding purposes. In this case, you can just get a nameplate site, or as we prefer to think of them, a personal webpage (rather than a multipage site). Instead of linking internally to your store or other pages of note as you would with a more traditional web page, a personal site usually has links that go elsewhere—to your social networks, wish lists, playlists, or whatever else is linkable.
Most hosting plans include easy access to WordPress — installing the software with one click, or better yet, having it preinstalled for you. In most cases, you can simply log into your hosting control panel and find the option to install the WP platform. If your hosting service doesn’t have this capability, you can find the manual installation instructions here. These web hosts make installing WordPress especially easy:
In all Website Builder plans any data transmitted from your site will be encrypted using a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. Your SSL will establish an encrypted link between your web server and the browser of the person visiting your site. This means that all data will be kept private; which is important if you want visitors to your site to be safe. If you want to sell products or services in your store, you will want to have a SSL since it protects credit card and bank numbers from being intercepted by hackers.
Wix now has two options for creating a website. In addition to the traditional Wix Editor, there’s also Wix ADI, an artificial intelligence program that designs custom sites based on questions you answer. We recommend using the Wix Editor, which gives you full control over the customizations available on the platform. However, if you want to try the Wix ADI, by all means, go for it!
Yahoo's Tumblr is another incredibly popular blog platform that lends itself to shorter, more visual posts. You can, however, find themes that give your Tumblr site a more traditional website's look and feel. Google's Blogger features tight integration with Google Adsense, so making extra pocket change is a snap. Newer blogging services, such as Anchor, Feather, and Medium, stress writing and publishing more than intricate design, but they're incredibly simple to update.
Whichever website builder you’ve chosen, you’ll have an extensive selection of design templates to choose from. Generally speaking, the better your plan, the more templates you’ll have access to. The top builders provide hundreds of templates across dozens of categories. Whatever the focus of your site is, there will be a template for it. For example, if you’re thinking of starting a fitness website, most builders will let you filter your template search accordingly.
These services can host your content on their servers free of charge, but in exchange for that zero cost, your online destination will have a less-than-elegant domain, such as jeffreylwilson.tumblr.com. That might be fine for a personal blog, but it will look too low-rent for a business that wants people to trust it enough to pay for whatever it's selling.
If you don't have a design already in place and think templates are too limited, consider Adobe Muse CC. This unique little program concentrates on letting you design. Templates are handy, embeddable web fonts are great, and the sitemap view may be the best way to get an overall feel for what your site will have. Export it to HTML and you're ready for upload. It's part of the Creative Cloud bundle and also available individually for $14.99 a month with a yearly plan.
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