How To Use a Website Builder To Create Your Website in X Simple Steps

16 Oct 2018 / Freeparking Team

Everyone who runs a business knows the importance of owning a website. An online identity is a required tool for business success, even for those with a brick-and-mortar storefront.

The next best thing to a web designer is a website builder. It is ideal for webmasters who have limited knowledge about website design. You save money on  hiring a website designer  and there’s no need to understand the programming languages, PHP, JAVA, ASP, or to manage databases like MYSQL; web builders are easy to use and offers a ton of beautiful graphics that make your website more attractive and niche relevant.

What is a website builder?

First, let us clear up a common misconception. A website builder is not a web designer you hire to build a site for you. It’s a tool for  new website owners  who want a cost-effective site they can put together quickly.

You don’t need website design or coding skill to use a website builder. A good website builder tool lets you design a professional website that integrates social media, mobile-friendliness and e-commerce tools. It is also easy to update whilst remaining secure.

It is a perfect tool if you have a small budget, no tech skills and no desire to learn. Yet, you need a website quickly. There are templates for almost every niche you can think of from bloggers, small business owners, dentistry, food and online retail stores.

The templates include built-in content and elements that you can  edit and replace  with images and text of your own. To sell products on your website, you can add a shopping cart. If customers are placing orders for a service, you can include a PayPal button. Publish your website when you’re done.

Web Designer vs Website Builder - Which is Best for You?

Every business has its own unique web design needs. A startup with good funding could spring for a web designer while a small business that doesn’t have many funds would benefit more from a website builder.

If you’re a hobbyist and want to share your passion for life without thoughts of profit, you don’t need a website designer. A new blogger who is just starting out could also get their feet wet with a website builder.

Hiring a web designer requires a higher upfront investment. An expenditure only a company that  makes over $150,000 a year  should consider making. The good feature of a website designer is that you’re working with a person who understands your customers, business, values and should create a website that drives profit.

It makes more sense to hire a website designer when you require  a higher level of expertise, customisation and support. Determine what your business needs to stay competitive and choose an option that supports your business goals whilst increasing your ROI. If you want a website that offers a more competitive edge in a sea of similar businesses, choose a website designer. If you’re unsure about the best choice, experiment with a website builder to see how it  works for your goals. This way, you know exactly what features and customisations you’ll need from a website designer.

The Difference Between Web Hosting and a Website Builder

Think of web hosting like a hotel where you pay for every night you stay in the room. If you eat, use spa services and laundry, it is added to your bills. The same applies to web hosting where your online store, website or blog is  stored on a large server.

You’re renting space from a web hosting provider to store the content of your website. You pay for each month/year, alongside additional features such as paid support, increased storage and better security. Services are available as long as you pay. You’re cut off when you don’t renew your rent.

A website builder helps you put the site together. It offers simple intuitive systems to add text, create pages, photos, maps, videos and editable templates. The website you create with a website builder needs web hosting to be seen online.

A website host is a platform that houses the website and the website builder is the tool used to create the website. Whether you chose a website designer or a website builder, you’ll need web hosting to  launch your website  to the world.

Types of Website Builders

The website builder is the ideal solution for small businesses and individuals who want to start a website without spending money on a website designer. The problem for beginners is that they don’t understand what each choice means and how to choose the right solution.

Proprietary Online Website Builders

This is a complete package website builder that includes the proprietary website builder, proprietary application, templates, layouts and web hosting.

With an integrated platform, simplicity is the goal. You don’t have to worry about how to upload files to the web server, buy a domain, install software or update plugins. Your platform keeps everything running smoothly and ensures the system is secure. Examples include WordPress, Blogger, Wix, Squarespace, Jimdo and IM Creator.

A few limitations to consider here include

•             You can’t change hosting providers or plans even when your hosting needs surpass what the platform offers.

•             If you leave the platform, you have to begin because your website was built with a proprietary system.

•             You can only host applications and files permitted by your provider. This is unlike a traditional web hosting service where you have a greater level of latitude on how you use the server space.

•             It is more expensive than a shared hosting account.

•             You simply focus on building the site you’ve dreamed of.

Website Builders Provided by a Hosting Company

Many web hosting companies such as Freeparking.nz provide an easy-to-use website builder tool as part of the hosting plan. It is cheaper than paying for a web host and website building separately. Look for a hosting company that offers all the customisations you need including the ability to  build several pages.

This type of website builder is firmly positioned between self-hosted platforms and integrated website products. A closer look at shared hosting plans reveals that most include a sort of free website builder integrated into the control panel of the hosting account.

The advantage of a web host provided website builder is the ease of use and convenience of working directly with the hosting provider.

The limitation is that you’re locked in for the most part. It's very difficult to migrate your website to a new web host provider if at any time you decide you want to move.

Options include

Email marketing: Add an email subscription form to build your email list and increase your lead generation efforts. There’s a built-in contact form for people to get in touch and a photo gallery where you can post enticing images.

Go Central from Go Daddy: This website builder is a stand-alone product. It adapts well to any size of mobile device and offers a good editor to  change different elements of your site. Best of all, it comes with free web hosting.

Features include

Create a Facebook business page

Include a donate or PayPal button

Build an online store

Integrate Square and any social media platform you like

Accept credit cards from the major companies

Schedule appointments

Add reservations/booking

Set a price list and menu

Content Management System

Popularly known as a CMS, this is a free-to-download tool that requires the purchase of a hosting plan to install the CMS on your hosting server. In the real sense, it is not a website builder.

However, you can use it to build a complex or simple website integrated with an e-commerce store. It offers more control, flexibility and a steeper learning curve than a traditional website builder. You can also customise it with extensions and plugins that make your site safer and more functional.

Here, you choose the building software, web host plan and provider. You have complete control over where to install the application and  integrate as many third-party apps  as you want.

Depending on your preferred CMS, you’ll be able to choose from thousands of premium and free plugins and templates that improve the user interface and functionality of your website. Options include Drupal, WordPress, Joomla and Magento.

E-commerce Website Builders

These are website builders specifically created to build an online store. Each solution has its own features but it must be able to accept credit card payments. You’ll also need an SSL certificate to secure data from your customer’s browser to your website.

SSL certificates make it easier for shoppers to trust your business, seeing as they’ll be entering sensitive details on your website. They also make your website more secure. However, you don’t need an SSL certificate if you’re accepting payments via PayPal. Popular options include Bigcommerce, Shopify and Volusion.

Free Website Builders

You don’t have to spend the big bucks to create a responsive  SEO-friendly website  that is functional. There are many options if you’re looking for a free website building tool, whether you know how to code or not.

The problem with free versions is that they are not really free. Most website builders offer a premium service. The premium for all the amazing tools and a free version that is limited in capability and functionality. The free version is great for new businesses who have a small budget but they do have some limitations you should consider.

Why MOST ‘Free’ Website Builders Aren’t Free

If you’ve been wondering where on earth you’ll find a free website builder, your webhost company is a good place to begin. They offer access to the free builder alongside hosting package. Sadly, as with most things that are “free” there are some cons. The obvious being that you will have to pay for the premium version to upgrade or get the most out of your website building tool.

Most vendors offer the free version to acquire a new business as it drives signup rates. It’s a great starting point but not enough for a professional looking website.

You’ll notice that the results are inadequate after you’ve signed up and created your website. Your only options are to switch to another vendor that offers more features in the free version or to pay for premium service. Either way, you’ll be frustrated.

Limitations include

There is a  limit to the number of pages you can create. Usually, up to five pages per website.

You’re not allowed to use your own URL. They assign a URL consisting of your business name and their URL. Example, whiteoaks.magento.com

The website builder’s logo and name usually appear at the footer, body or heading of the page. These branded badges direct users from your website to the hosts’ site to buy a builder plan.

They  serve ads on your website. Some website builders include affiliate links that affect your search rankings.

They offer limited storage and customer support

There is restricted access to great features, such as domain-based email accounts, SSL certificates, plugins, analytics and access to an ecommerce store.

4 Best Website Builders for Small Business

As a small business, having an online presence is crucial. It's a great way to connect with prospective customers, increase awareness about your business and convert as many customers as possible.

The problem with website building is coding from scratch. This is a problem for those with a small budget who can’t afford to hire a website designer. A website builder helps you create a new website quickly at a fraction of the cost you would have paid a web designer. You could invest the money in your core products.

Here are some of the best website builders for small businesses.

WordPress

WordPress is a completely free, open-source platform. It’s the preferred CMS for  20% of the web  because it's scalable, flexible and easy to customise. Most experts agree that it’s the best website builder for small businesses who want the best tools at a small price.

The two versions of WordPress are WordPress.org and WordPress.com. The best option for your small business is WordPress.org which is the self-hosted version as it’s more flexible.

There are hundreds of pre-made themes for every niche and business you can think of. This makes it easy to design your site. Gain more control by integrating drag and drop page builders.

The amazing thing about WordPress is that you can create any type of complex or simple website with it. There are thousands of content-heavy websites and big-name brands utilising WordPress but it’s also ideal for small businesses who want a scalable option.

Shopify

Shopify was created for businesses running an online store or e-commerce site. It handles online sales seamlessly. There are over half a million businesses powered by Shopify, with over a million active users.

The amazing feature of Shopify is that small businesses launching an e-commerce store don’t have to worry about technical features. They simply focus on making money. Even beginners who have no coding knowledge can use the drag and drop store builder to create an awesome website.

They offer an SSL certificate for free. This way, customers know your website is secure and it’s safe to do business on your site. You can create and use discount codes, accept instant payments, track inventory and use external payment processors.

SiteBuilder

Regarded by experts as a holistic solution for small businesses. SiteBuilder was rated by  hosting facts  as the best all-around website builder for 2018. They’ve not been in the market as long as Wix or WordPress but in their short tenure, they’ve developed exceptional services that have endeared them to the hearts of many small business owners.

An outstanding feature of SiteBuilder is the user-friendly platform that is straightforward and intuitive. It makes it easy to build a professional website, an e-commerce store or any type of website that converts.

Other benefits include fast page speed of up to 532ms, good customer support, free email and domain with your subscription, exceptional design and customisation.

BoldGrid

If you have a few tech skills, you should definitely check out BoldGrid. It is an awesome website builder that caters to small business owners who have website building experience. A unique feature is that you can either use it as a fully hosted website builder or as a WordPress plugin.

The problem with BoldGrid is that you require some experience with plugins and website building to optimise this tool. If you’re looking for a site that you can set up in a day, without any web design skill, you should look at the other options we’ve listed.

However, if you’re willing to stick it out, BoldGrid rewards you with sheer potential and power. There are no limitations to what you can do with their WordPress plugin or website builder.

The Best Website Builders in Detail

Sometimes it’s difficult to choose the perfect web builder. To the ordinary eyes, they look the same, yet they are worlds apart in terms of what they can do. We’ve taken each website builder apart to bring you the best features and cons. This will help you make a more informed choice.

Wix

Wix is one of the best budget-friendly and easy to use website builders available right now. It has over 2.87 million premium subscribers and over 109 million registered users. It offers ease of use combined with a set of easy to use features.

It’s a fully hosted platform. This means the cost of hosting and website building are together. It offers over 510 professional looking templates for users to choose from. The templates are already formatted, structured and pre-populated with content. Simply choose the one you like and replace it with your own content.

The premium version includes a domain name with bandwidth and storage allocations. You get a free SSL with every plan.

The cons of Wix are that in case you want to migrate your website, it’s very complicated to achieve this goal. You also have to buy the domain name separately because the connect domain plan only connects a custom domain name.

Weebly

Noted by experts as the easiest drag and drop web builder, Weebly offers a friendly interface alongside tools that are as uncomplicated as they are easy to use. A great feature is that you can  edit source code, which gives you a different level of functional freedom and creativity.

It offers unlimited bandwidth and storage space. This means you can upload as many files as you want. The templates are not as good as Wix but they have a large number to choose from.

Jimdo

Jimdo is a cheap website builder. You can use their free trial version to test the software before committing to a plan. The storage space is limited to 5G on the pro plan and 500MB on the free version. Bandwidth and storage are unlimited for the business plan which costs $20 a month.

It’s an excellent tool for creating an online store. Features include shipping rates, inventory management, discount coupons and other management tools you need for an online store. It has a great customer support and massive community. There is a ticket for any issue you can think of on their forums. If you don’t find it, send an email and support responds quickly.

The downside is that its templates are not on a par with Wix. It doesn’t have a drag and drop tool, which is a given for most website builders. It also limits SEO for free accounts.

Squarespace

It might not be as easy to use as Weebly or Wix but you’ll get a gorgeous website with Squarespace. The secret to Squarespace is its design templates that are mobile responsive and beautifully crafted.

It’s clear to see it invested a lot of resources into template design. It's more quality over quantity. It offers 60 awesome designs where Wix offers over 500.

The builder has more advanced features that help you create a beautiful site. It’s confusing at first so take time familiarising yourself with all the modules. Once you do, you should be able to create better pages than other builders.

The problem with Squarespace is that it doesn’t let users edit the source code of pages. The limited themes mean you might struggle to find an option if you’re not in a popular niche.

Duda

One of the few web builders that provide a distinct tool for mobile websites—you have more control over how your site performs and appears on mobile sites. It has the drag and drop feature that allows you to customise and build your website faster than other CMS or web builders.

Sites are hosted by Amazon Web Services. It is the only web builder Google PageSpeed prefers because it follows best practices for  improving web page load times. The platform offers social media integration and capable web tools. Even users with a free account can operate an e-commerce store that sells products.

Unlike most website builder platforms that invested in customer support, Duda doesn’t have a phone or live chat support. There is  no third-party widget store  nor email newsletter integration and blog feature are limited.

Webnode

Webnode offers many tools to develop an e-commerce, personal or business website. With the drag and drop tool, you can create a website in minutes without any special coding skills. The supported language is one of its core strengths as it offers over 20 of them. You can even create a multilingual site.

It has  comprehensive FAQ pages  that answer common questions about tools and services. It's great for SEO. The templates are gorgeous and it’s a big service with over 27 million users.

The cons are it doesn’t have a shopping cart of great e-commerce features like Shopify. It lacks basic features, such as the ability to create product variants, coupons code or export/import options.

One.com

Looking for a cheap way to build a website, one.com is a great starting point. You register a domain, email and storage for your website in one package. It is very generous with the amount of space it gives users. You get 15 GB with just $1.89 a month and 2TB with $180 a month.

It doesn’t have a free plan but includes a 15-day money back guarantee. It currently has over  1 million customers in 149 counties. Its customer service is one of the best in the business. It is available via email and live chat 24/7. The team handles over 90,000 requests every month.

A standout feature is unlimited email accounts. Each one has an antivirus and spam filter. You don’t lose your accounts when you migrate to another web host. No telephone support either but the FAQ section is very robust and answers most of the questions users have.

The drawback is that it could be difficult editing your website. There is no tool for a newsletter so you have to get that from a third party.

Pros of a Website Builder

No coding skills or technical abilities required.Anyone can build a website without worrying about programming language and other technicalities. Web builders are specifically designed for people who have no coding experience.

You can create your website in one day. Website builders are the fastest solutions. Just imagine, a premium  professional website on the cheap, and it doesn’t take days. It's great for small businesses or those who are just starting out. You can save thousands of dollars with premium plans starting from $4-$10 a month.

Website builders offer a large number of customisable templates that make your website mobile-friendly.

They also offer a drag and drop editor that is easy to use.

Cons of a Website Builder

 Top-notch design and customised professional features—the kind that web builders can’t offer. If you’re running a mid-sized business, you should invest in a web designer.

Lack of custom design. You need a professional website designer if you want a very good website. Website designers don’t let you add extra features for effectiveness. They are  closed-source programmes  that are limited in terms of the customisations you can implement.

Websites are hosted on the vendor’s server. They could shut down your website if you violate their terms and conditions.

How to Choose the Best Website Builder

There are hundreds of website builders online. These days, it seems like every web host company has an offering for users. How do you choose the right option that meets your business needs?

Features to Look For

There are key features you should look for when choosing a website builder. They include:

How long has the company been established?

You want a company that’s been in business for a long time. Top companies, such as Weebly, Wix and Squarespace have been in existence for over a decade at least. They are the pioneers and the major considerations we’re using in this list.

How many people are using the builder?

Weebly has over 40 million websites, Wix over 109 million and while Squarespace doesn’t disclose the total number, they have highlighted a figure of over a million.

Are the number of users growing?

Across these three website builders, Wix has the highest number of new subscribers. The number of premium users grows by 38% annually.

Are people searching for the company on Google?

Again, Wix emerges on top in this category. While searches for the three major website builders have increased.Data from Google Trendin September 2018 reveals that Wix has 75%, Weebly 22% and Squarespace 20%.

Is it easy to get in touch with the company’s support team?

All website builders have a strong support system. You can reach Wix, Weebly and Squarespace through email and phone. Weebly and Squarespace offer live chat and Wix has a user forum.

Does the company have a fair refund policy?

The three companies we’re analysing have a fair refund policy. Weebly has a 30-day no questions asked refund policy. Squarespace and Wix have a 14-day refund policy.

How Much Does the Website Builder Cost in comparison to your budget?

Most web builders are cost-effective.  The basic package is free  or they offer a free trial. When it expires, they charge a monthly fee that scales with your site size.

Creating Your Website with a Website Builder in 5 Steps

Choose the right platform

Choosing the right platform for your site is important. The cost of migrating and the complications associated with migrating all your content to a new platform could cause unwanted problems. The choice of the platform depends on the type of business. If you’re selling a product or  products that rely on SEO, you need WooCommerce. No need for SEO? Choose Shopify.

If your website requires written content that should be discovered on search engines go with WordPress or Wix.

Choose a Template

Website builders are preloaded with hundreds of templates you can add to give your website a professional look without hiring a website designer. Wix has over 500 templates that cut across different niches. Templates on Squarespace are fully customisable with core-free, advanced tools.

Customize your Website

Once you’ve chosen your template, you have to populate it with content that is specific to you. Chances are there are hundreds of sites using similar templates.  Customising the template ensures it stands out from the rest.

Your customisation could include new elements, such as contact forms, new navigation pages, colour palette, editing images to your homepage and change the fonts, sizes and  colours of buttons  throughout the website.

Get Domain and Hosting

The domain name is the URL address in the browser search bar, such as dannytypes.com. You can register your domain with a web host provider like Freeparking.nz.  Website builders will do this for you when you sign up.

When choosing a domain name, keep it short and memorable. Make it relevant to your business. Ensure the brand doesn’t exist and avoid using numbers in your domain name.

Publish your Website

Once you’ve made all your selections, picked a domain name and customised it to your heart’s satisfaction, the next step is to preview and test the site. Go through the pages again. Check for spelling errors, consistent formatting, site speed and mobile-friendliness.

All good? Hit the publish button and your website goes live for the whole wide world to see. Exciting times, right?

FAQS

What is a website builder?

A website builder is a tool for building a website. It doesn’t require coding skill or hiring a website designer. It has built-in elements, templates, images and content you can replace to customise your website.

How does a website builder work?

Choose a template from one of the pre-loaded templates for your specific niche. If you wish to change any content, such as maps, images, products or blogs, you can do it easily. Once you’ve made all the changes, choose a domain name and publish your new website.

Why should I use a website builder?

A website builder is not for everyone. There are small businesses and individual blogs that benefit from it. It all depends on what your goals for your website are. You don’t need technical or programming language skills to use a website builder. It can be edited whenever you please. Simply log into your account and effect changes. There is an entire library filled with built-in free and paid apps. Finally, it’s cheap to set up and easy to maintain.

Which website builder is best?

There are many options to consider including Wix and Squarespace. However, the option that offers the most robust features would be SiteBuilder. It’s great for small businesses, which makes up the core of customers on website building platforms.

Which is the easiest website builder?

Weebly is the easiest website builder. Creating your website is painless. It also has the good flexibility that allows you to scale as your business grows.

Is WordPress a website builder?

You can use any CMS including WordPress to build a website. Many people swear by it when building a professional site. You just have to take time familiarising yourself with the features, plugins and interface. It requires a bit of technical skill to implement, unlike most website builders.

What's the best website builder for SEO?

When compared with other website builders in the market today,  Wix emerged as the best  website builder for SEO. It allows users to optimise for meta description, page title, heading, image alt attributes, add search engine console and Google Analytics

What's the best website builder for a simple website?

Strikingly offers a one-page website on an interface that is very easy to use.

Which website builder has the best free plan?

A deep dive into web builders showed that Ucraft’s free plan is the best. All website builders include intrusive advert and do not allow you to customise your domain name. Ucraft is the only website builder that offers a custom domain name.

Which website builder lets you design custom themes?

Most require you to choose from preloaded themes but some will let you build a theme from scratch. Options include Webflow, Froont, Pagecloud and Wix. Wix is the best because it is highly customisable and offers the most options.

What's the cheapest website builder?

To determine the cheapest option, you have to calculate all the hidden fees and charges that aren’t advertised. A price comparison of 131 plans shows that Angelfire is the cheapest with an overall monthly cost of $4.03

Which website builder should you use for podcasts?

Podomatic integrates with website builders. However, Squarespace is the one option that syndicates podcasts.

Which website builder should I use for a multilingual website?

Voga is ideal for multiple languages even though they don’t advertise it.

What's the best website builder for e-commerce?

Shopify is the best e-commerce website builder by a long mile. It’s more than a website builder, it’s a store builder.

Which website builders have iOS and Android apps?

Weebly, Squarespace, Wix, Wordpress, Skrinkingly, XPRS, Jimdo and Webstarts

Can you export or move your website once it's built on a website builder?

No. You can’t move your website to another platform if you use a website builder to design it on most website builders. Two options allow you to export and move your site. They are Webflow and WordPress.

 

For more information about how to create your website please visit:https://www.freeparking.co.nz/web-hosting/


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