So you've got a business idea/product that is going to be awesome. Maybe it already is awesome. You start talking to people about it and EVERYONE asks you where they can go online to learn about it. Maybe you posted it on social media or ran an ad in the paper, but hardly anyone has seen it. It's hard to bring that information up while you are talking to them and you know they are not likely to go through the trouble to access it later. You need a website.
Most everyone nowadays meets you online before they ever step foot in your store or drive to your parking lot. A website is like a digital storefront. Customers can learn more about you in the comfort of their PJ's or while they're sipping on a latte planning their next trip out into the world where people have to wear pants. If you want these sorts of people (so, like, everyone everywhere) to visit your business - you need a website.
Here's some information regarding a couple ways you can go about building your website. The biggest things you want to consider are typically hosting/server costs and then other costs depending on the functionality you need in the website. Let's try to break this down in a way that is helpful. The items listed are based on least to most expertise/knowledge needed, but if you have questions please feel free to let us know and we can run down some more options in further detail. At the end of the day if you own a local business, you need a website.
Couple of quick terms:
- Like paid parking for your website name
- For this website, the domain is thepagesmedia.com
- Like the valet for your domain name
- People type your domain into the URL bar in their browser and it brings up your website
Managed Content Management System (CMS)
Managed CMSs are well known for their ease of use with having no coding knowledge to get started. This option is popular also because it has hosting built into it, so you don't have to mess with that also. There are a lot of options, but some popular ones here include Weebly, Wix, Webflow, and Squarespace.
Cost: $5/month - $20/month
Pros: No coding knowledge required
Cons: Limited flexibility based on available templates/theming. Not the best when it comes to SEO (search-ability on search engines like Google).
*There are free options with the managed CMS in which you could have a free website on Wix or Weebly as part of what's called a sub-domain. Meaning it has advertising for the website and your URL would appear as "thepagesmedia.weebly.com" or something along these lines. This is not a favored option with most because it's not the most "professional" looking option, but as far as cheapest option without coding knowledge needed it would be the way to go. It should also be noted that plans can be much more expensive than $20/month depending on the size/needs of your business. Pricing estimates are based on individual needs.
Wordpress is the overwhelmingly popular option, given that 30% of all websites worldwide are built with Wordpress. There are some positives and negatives to Wordpress, and we won't go too much into them, since we already discussed them in a previous blogpost, and just try to give you some pricing and pros/cons.
Cost: $4/month - $35/month (hosting/server costs)
Pros: Editor that allows you to make some content changes when you don't know code. Themes can be re-written or coded in a way that best suits your own purpose. Very customizable. Known for good SEO.
Cons: Security issues, speed, and ongoing costs. Still need coding knowledge to get the website up and running.
This option requires the greatest amount of coding knowledge because configuration and setup is required to be done. This is a good option when most of your website information will stay the same and you don't need ever-changing content. You can still add events/blogs, but often this has to be coded to pull information from somewhere.
Cost: $0/month - $3/month (hosting/server costs)
Pros: Fast, secure, and stable websites. Very flexible/configurable based on your needs. Can be connected to a CMS to pull in content that someone without coding knowledge puts in (such as blog/event information). Cheapest hosting costs.
Cons: Need to know code to update if not utilizing some CMS.
With all websites you would have to purchase a domain name (the URL you would enter in a browser to go to your website). This cost can range depending on if it's a custom domain (something other than ".com" or other common ones like ".net" or ".org"). The typical cost is about $12/year.
Also with all websites you would need to consider additional costs you would incur based on services and/or features with each option you would employ (such as plugins that have additional costs but allow for some extra functionality to your website). Whether these are custom built or a paid service, it's something to consider.
Pick What's Best for You
No matter what degree of involvement you want to engage in with your website, there are options. Just know that with each option you're looking at different price points. We'd love to help out with your next website project, no matter which option you choose. Because remember, no matter what your business does you probably need a website.