It’s never been easier before to build your own website. There are literally hundreds of online website builders that make it quick and easy to set up a website in a short amount of time. Doing It Yourself (DIY) can be a fruitful exercise but may require considerable time and patience and you may have to endure a few headaches along the way... so it is not for everyone to attempt.
DIY is well suited to business owners who are already a bit ‘tech-savvy’ and have time on their hands to learn the tools. If you don’t have the time and patience to learn how to navigate your way around a website builder, it might be better to outsource the task to someone who does. To learn more about hiring a web developer, check out our blog article: ‘Hiring a Web Developer’.
This article will focus on just on a few of the best DIY website builders most suited to small business.
Wix is a popular website builder with over 500 modern-looking templates to choose from. It’s very user-friendly and has a modern and simple interface. The themes look great and have been developed with almost any kind of business in mind. Your choice for a theme will be limited though to the themes that they provide and once you’ve chosen a theme and started to build your website, it is not possible to change it later (unless you start again from scratch!). Wix does not provide the option to change the theme or install a ‘non-Wix’ theme on your website. So, make sure you are happy with your choice of theme before you start building.
A free Wix account will allow you to get a website up and running with Wix-branding down the bottom. To remove this branding you have to sign up for a premium account which starts from around $10 a month. This opens up more functionality for your site options, and with the Wix branding removed, your site will instantly look more professional.
Wix sites are not ‘responsive’, meaning that the website won’t adjust to suit any screen size, however they do provide a mobile interface editor, meaning that you can configure a mobile version of your site so it will show up nicely when people view it on their mobile phones.
In summary, Wix is a great option if you just want to get a modern-looking website up and running in a short amount of time; are not concerned with having a responsive website; and are happy to go with one of the Wix themes provided.
Foursquare also offers beautiful, modern and professional-looking themes. They have a smaller range of themes, however all of them are ‘responsive’ meaning that the website automatically rearranges and adjusts itself to suit any screen size. This means that your website will display correctly regardless of whether it is being viewed on a computer, tablet or mobile device. Responsive websites are often preferred over having a ‘mobile version’ of the site due to the fact that when you make changes to the website, you only have to make the change once. When you have a mobile version, you will have to make the change twice, on the main site and then on the mobile version of the site.
Wordpress is an easy-to-use website builder and more customisable that Wix. The platform was originally developed with blogging in mind, so the general layout reflects this. Through Wordpress you can create a free website with a website address such as (www.yourbusiness.wordpress.com). Alternatively, you can sign up to a premium account and you will get a lot more options and functionality as well as being able to have your own custom website address (E.g. www.yourbusiness.com.au).
Before you sign up it’s a good idea to browse through the themes available to get a feel for the kind of website that you could build for your business. One downside to Wordpress is that you cannot remove the ‘Powered by Wordpress.com’ ad at the bottom of the website. The only way to remove this is to have a website built with the Community version of Wordpress, but you would need your own hosting account and a web developer to help you get set up with this.
Weebly is similar to Wix and the two often go head to head. Although Wix has arguably nicer-looking themes, Weebly provides greater flexibility and functionality. One of the major advantages of Weebly is that its quite simple to change your theme if you decide later down that track that you want to go with a different one. As mentioned earlier Wix does not provide this function. Weebly also provides a ‘custom editor’ giving you to ability to edit the code. Editing your website’s code allows you to perform a wide variety of customisations to the site - so although this may be of absolutely no use to you personally, you could always hire a web developer to perform the specific customisations you want to make.
In summary, Weebly might take a little bit more time to get the result you’re after, but offers greater flexibility and customisability than Wix.
Joomla provides a range of templates to suit a range of business types. It’s relatively simple to get a basic site up and running, but much harder if you want to perform advanced modifications. Due to a lack of updated plugins, unless you’re a web developer or Joomla power user, you may not be able to make your website look and do the things you want it to do.
Joomla will do the job for many simple websites, but if you require a modern-looking theme, the latest plugins or a high level of functionality, one of the earlier mentioned options might be the better way to go.