Learn: Easy Steps
Activity Card: Creating a Simple Website
As more and more people are using the Internet to get information, it has become imperative for businesses to have their own website. A website serves as an online presence for your business. It is a continuous way of promoting it and a medium to advertise your product or service. It can also be a powerful tool for staying connected with your clients and customers.
Think of any business websites you have seen recently. What kind of information is included in these websites? A business website typically contains information about the business, the product or service offered, the contact and location information. You can also include pages which add value to your website, such as photographs of your product or service, promotions and press releases.
There are many ways to create and publish websites. In this activity, we’ll examine some of the ways you can create your own website using free, or relatively inexpensive do-it-yourself (DIY) services. We’ll examine some sites that offer all-in-one hosting, design and development.
Note: Prior to creating your website you will need to plan and organize all the required information which includes:
- Decide how many pages and headings you want to include in your website;
- Decide the information to include in each page;
- Decide the images to include in each page; and,
- Collect and store images and the information in a folder.
Select a website service
Before we discuss these DIY website creation services, there are a few variables you should be aware of when making a choice. Some of these services may be stronger in some areas, while weaker in others and your unique situation will largely dictate which one is best for your needs. There is no single clear “winner” among the various offerings.
Some things to consider when making your selection:
- Ease of use
- Design flexibility
- Themes and responsive design
- Search engine optimization (“SEO”)
- Scalability and portability
The following list is by no means exhaustive, but will cover a few of the most popular, full-featured all-in-one services available. We’ll briefly compare features, functionality, cost, ease of use, and scalability.Because each of these services provides its own step by step tutorials for using their proprietary workflows, this activity card will refer you instead, to their respective websites for more in-depth training. In no particular order, here are our top six DIY website creation services:
Google Sites (https://sites.google.com)
Summary Info: Google Sites is a free site builder best suited for small, simple websites that don’t require any kind of advanced features or functionality. While it is user friendly, it also does not come with any templates and only has limited widgets. You also can’t publish to a custom domain, so this may be a factor in branding decisions for your website.
It should be noted that Google has replaced its Classic Sites with the newer Google Sites, so the former option will eventually disappear. Google Sites has tight integration with Google Services, so things like embedding YouTube videos is easy.
Rather than some of the more flexible support options included with other services, Google Sites provides Support Pages that are organized into 5 categories:
- Get Started with Google Sites
- Edit, Share and Publish
- Analytics, Accessibility and Troubleshooting
- New Sites vs Classic Sites.
Summary Info: Squarespace offers one of the most powerful visual editors and striking designs with their included template options. The ability to customize layout and design is robust and its Style Editor lets users customize things like fonts, colors, image opacity, backgrounds, images, sizes, spacing and more. Templates are designed to be mobile responsive, so will display well on tablets and smartphones.
Squarespace has a 14 day free trial rather than a completely free option. Prices range from $12 per month to $40 depending on need and budget. Squarespace websites can be exported to WordPress, so you can edit there without knowing code. Their support includes a knowledge base, video and tutorials, email and live chat.
There are also options to include e-Commerce functionality and payments processed through Stripe and Square. Squarespace supports custom domains, but must be purchased.
Summary Info: Weebly also offers a visual workflow with drag and drop functionality, as well as nice looking themes, but far fewer than competitors such as Wix at this time. Weebly has a user base of approximately 40 million and is one of the easiest services to use from those covered in this activity card. The drawback though, may be in decreased ability to apply customizations to layout and design.
As with many free sites and services, you are likely to encounter ads and upsells until migrating to a paid version. Upgrades from the free plan range from $8 to $38 per month currently. Account signup and activation is quick and they do offer email. Weebly also offers e-Commerce functionality with a paid upgrade path. There are also options to secure your own custom domain name, but you’ll want to check with the service for details and eligibility.
Weebly support includes knowledge base, phone, email and chat. There are options to export your site via HTML and CSS codes, but not directly to another site or host.
Summary Info: Wix is ease to use and with a user base of more than 100 million people, it’s the largest of these DIY web building services. It has approximately 500 themes to choose from and offers a free option with a paid upgrade path that ranges from under $5 a month to around $25 depending on your needs. With the free version, you’ll have their ads displayed on your site and you won’t get your own domain name (Web URL). Instead, your URL will be something like www.yourbusiness.wix.com. It has an intuitive visual design interface with powerful drag and drop functionality.
Wix offers solid user support including forums, help center, phone support, online articles, videos and tutorials across all their plans. At this time, the only thing missing is online chat. It does not offer email service or the ability to export your site. There are however, options to add e-Commerce functionality and your own custom domain name. Wix websites are responsive, so will display properly on mobile and tablets as well as desktop computers.
Summary Info: There are actually two sides to this massively popular service. The WordPress.com platform gives you the ability to create a fully hosted, feature rich website on their servers for free with upgrade plans starting at $4 per month. WordPress.org allows you to download and install the complete platform on your own servers, or commercial hosting service at no charge.
The primary difference resides in who is hosting your site and how much control you have over files and ownership. Also, the free version of WordPress.com will have its name somewhere in the site URL and you won’t be able to use premium themes, upload plugins or customize any of the PHP code running the site. Paid upgrades and WordPress.org allow you to have your own custom domain name however. You can use whatever plugins, widgets and customizations you’d like on your own WordPress.org site, but you’re also responsible for your site security.
One of the most compelling and powerful features with having your own hosted WordPress site is the ability to access a vast universe of plugins, widgets and themes, both free and commercial. These can add incredible functionality to your website including e-Commerce. Support comes primarily from a huge active community rather than a dedicated support center.
WordPress.com site seen above and WordPress.org site shown below
Sources and Additional Information:
- DIY Website Builders Compared: https://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/diy-website-builder/
- Website Comparison Chart: https://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/website-builders-comparison-chart/
- Google Website Builder: https://www.google.com/business/how-it-works/website/
- WordPress: https://wordpress.com/
- 15 Best Website Builders: http://www.beautifullife.info/web-design/15-best-free-website-builders/
- 10 Best Free Responsive HTML5 Website Templates: https://www.mockplus.com/blog/post/free-responsive-html5-web-design-templates
- 20 Best Bootstrap Website Templates: https://html-online.com/articles/bootstrap-website-templates-2018-powerful-business-website/
- Bestselling Website Templates: http://blog.creative-tim.com/web-design/best-selling-website-templates/
- Google Sites Review and Description: https://www.techradar.com/reviews/new-google-sites
- Best Website Builders: https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/best-website-build-websites-free/
- WordPress: https://wordpress.com/
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