Recently we learned that the majority of small businesses plan to launch a website soon. But what happens when they're ready to get started? Setting up a website can be difficult, and hiring someone to do it for you can be expensive. What's the best way for you to get your business online? Here are some questions to think about before you get started.
1. How much time do you have?
If you're computer literate and you don't have much trouble learning a new application, you can set up a simple website on your own. What I mean by simple is a website with a few pages, some links, some pictures and maybe a blog. The more customization you require, the more time you'll need. If you want a strong brand, you'll want your website to "hold" your logo well. It should look nice on the page, not like it's plopped on there awkwardly. Just keep that in mind. If you have never needed a logo, you have a lot of freedom.
2. How software-savvy are you?
This relates closely to the the time question. If it will take you a year to learn how to use WordPress, you might want to hire someone to help you. I'm generally pretty good with computers but learning to build websites was frustrating, at times. I had nobody helping me, however.
3. What kind of website do you need?
There are a few popular content management applications out there. The most popular is WordPress. It's not too hard to learn and it's great for making a nice-looking website where you can show the world what you do. You really need to learn just three things: menus, pages and posts. None of those features require coding.
There are two options with WordPress. They are WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The easier option is WordPress.com. With it, you don't have to install anything onto your domain. WordPress.org is a bit more complicated, but it gives you greater flexibility because of all the add-ons available for it. With both, you can pick a theme and play around with the HTML and CSS to customize your design, but it takes time to learn those things. That's a warning. You can consider hiring someone just to customize your design and make everything look pretty.
The alternatives to WordPress are Blogger (along with Google Sites), Joomla, and Drupal, Wix, GoDaddy and others. Blogger is similar to WordPress. As a matter of fact, it's almost the same thing. Go with that if you feel like it. Joomla is similar to Wordpress but more complex and better for online shops. I haven't played around with Drupal before, and that's fitting because it's the most difficult to learn of all the options I've mentioned. It's not for beginner web designers. Wix, a site builder and domain registrar, is supposed to be easy but I haven't tried it. GoDaddy's website builder feature is fairly simple, but not any simpler than WordPress.com.
I suggest WordPress.com if you're planning to build a simple website by yourself. If you need more than a basic site, you might want to hire someone. If you know what you're doing and you can install your CMS on your domain, your next step is probably to choose a domain registrar. If you don't know what that means, don't go that route. Happy building!