Best Website Builders: Pros and Cons

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Robert is web developer and designer who helps small-businesses and non-profit organizations to build better websites. If you need his opinion or help, you can reach him at Twitter @RobMening.

If you’re running a small business, then you need an affordable solution to building your website. Unfortunately, hiring a web developer can run you several thousand dollars, and that’s just for the initial costs. On-going maintenance means hiring a freelancer to continue updating your site. That means more money out of your pocket down the line.

That’s where online website builders come in. What is Website Builder? Wikipedia says: Website builders are tools that typically allow the construction of websites without manual code editing.

Website Builders are perfect DIY website building and also marketing tools for individuals or small businesses with low budgets. Just to name few of them: writers, freelancers, musicians, photographers, restaurant owners and so on…

Many are free or require a low-cost monthly plan. Not only are they affordable options for freelancers and small business owners, but they’re made to be user-friendly for the non-designer.

Pros of Website Builders:

  • They’re affordable compared to hiring a designer. A designer could run you several thousand dollars while these website builders usually cost around $100 per year.
  • They don’t require coding knowledge, so they’re easy to use for beginners.
  • The set-up is fast, meaning you can get your site up and running within minutes.
  • Most have built-in tools that make SEO and social media sharing easy.
  • Website builder and web hosting are offered by the same provider.
  • No need to install anything on your computer.

Cons of Website Builders:

  • It can be difficult to move your site to another platform in the future if you need something a bit more technical added. Basically, you’re limited to the capabilities of the website builder.
  • Most website builders don’t have unlimited customization options, so your site may end up looking similar to someone else’s.
  • May not be perfect solution for professional business

For most small business owners, the pros of website builders outweigh the cons. If you’re wondering which website builder you should choose, you’re in luck. Continue reading about great website builders review here

The 5 Most Important Pages on Your Website

Every page on your website is important. They all serve a purpose. In fact, if you can point to a page on your site that does not serve a purpose, you should get rid of it today.

But let’s be honest, some are more important than others. There is a hierarchy of web pages. They were not all created equal.

Here’s my personal take on the five most important pages on your website:

  1. Search Results Page – does your website have a search function? It should. Because people use them to find what they’re looking for. A good search function is better than the best navigation. But your search results page is critical. Make sure it is not only serving the right results for the most important searches someone will do, but that it is clean and easy to navigate. Too many search results pages are not well designed, and make a website appear sloppy and cluttered.
     
  2. 404 Error Page – here’s an often overlooked page that I believe is very important. The page on your site that people land on when they click on a broken link or type in the wrong URL. What’s it’s’ purpose? It needs to let someone know an error occurred, sure. But it should make some attempt to point them in the right direction. Try the next closest URL, redirect them to the homepage, or give them a search option right there. Make it easy for them to continue to browse your site or you might lose them.
     
  3. Contact Page – if people want to get in touch with you, that is great. Most times that means you’re doing something right. So make it as easy as possible for them. Make your contact page easy to find, and include as many options as you can so that people can choose how to reach you. Even better, provide contact information on all pages of your site.
     
  4. Checkout Page – this may seem obvious, but a lot of companies don’t spend enough time optimizing this process. The temptation is there to believe that once someone enters the checkout process, you’ve already made the sale. But that’s a big mistake. More people leave during the checkout process because of surprise costs and fees or a poor user experience than you probably know about. These pages are ripe for testing. Simple wording or design changes can lead to an increase in sales without any additional traffic.
     
  5. Home Page – this is the first page that most visitors will see, and for that reason it is always going to be one of the most important. I am a proponent of simplicity on the home page. Get visitors situated, show them who you are, and then get them on to the next page of your site. That’s the goal.

There you have it. Apologies to those pages that didn’t make it. You’re still important in your own way.

What did I miss? Think you have a page that belongs on this list? Share it in the comments below.

If You Only Do One Thing – Part 5

Welcome to the latest installment of our new weekly blog series, If You Only Do One Thing. Every Monday, we will discuss one thing that you can start doing today to improve your marketing performance.

With so much advice floating around from so many different sources, it can be tough for marketers and small business owners to know where to focus. This series aims to help you out. Last week’s thing was Learn Google Adwords.

Today’s Thing = Install Google Analytics

If you were looking for personal finance advice, I would tell you that you have to know where you’re at before you decide where you want to go. Meaning, before you can set a budget and investing plan, you have to know how much you make, how much you spend, and what you spend it on today.

It’s the same in marketing. Before you can set an effective, forward-looking strategy, you have to know what is happening today. What’s working? What’s not working?

And a great way to measure that is with Google Analytics. For those that are not familiar, Google Analytics is a free tool that you can use to monitor the activity on your website. It’s easy to setup and install on your website, even if you are not a programmer. It’s just a short piece of code you will add to every page on the site, and it does the rest.

Once Google Analytics is running on your site, a whole new world of information opens up to you. You can see how many people are visiting your site, where they are coming from, what they are looking at, what device they’re using, how long they are staying, and how frequently they’re coming back. There is too much information available to you for me to list here. But Google offers free analytics training so that you can get the most out of your Google Analytics reports.

You can use the data that you collect to help you determine what’s working, what needs work, and where your biggest opportunities lie in web design, development, advertising, SEO, and ecommerce conversion. It can be a marketer’s best friend.

If you only do one thing, install Google Analytics on your site and start training yourself to use that data to make more informed decisions.

Share “If You Only Do One Thing” with all your marketing friends, and suggest future topics in the comments below or on Twitter @zheller. 

Create Your Showroom

When you think of a showroom, what do you think of?

For me, it’s the showroom at a car dealership. It’s the ultimate selling environment, designed so that potential customers can see, sample, and feel what it would be like to make a purchase. It’s often high pressure, an experience in and of itself, one that can be a bit daunting for first time buyers and more experienced customers alike.

What brought the potential customers there?

Perhaps it was a piece of advertising, TV or otherwise. Maybe it was a recommendation from a friend. Maybe they simply pass by the dealership often and decided to stop. Or maybe they are a brand-loyal buyer returning with a new need. Whatever it was, they come for a reason. To buy.

It’s a lot like your website. And it’s time you start treating your website more like a showroom so that you can increase conversion on all of your marketing efforts.

The 3 elements of a showroom that I think are the most important are: Show Off, Sample, and Sell.

1. SHOW OFF

The car showroom is a controlled environment, often pristine and filled with shiny new vehicles. It puts the best products on display for all to see, making them desirable but not out of reach. Use your website to show your customers what they want. Make products visible, don’t skimp on photo quality or product information. Call attention to the best of the best, and make it easy for visitors to find everything they’re looking for.

2. SAMPLE

In a car showroom, a consumer can touch, feel, sit in, and even drive a car before they decide to buy. It’s the ultimate free trial experience. Think about what you can let visitors see and try on your website that might help answer their questions. Can you provide a 360 degree view of a product? Can you let them demo a service? The more a consumer thinks they know exactly what they will get when they buy, the easier the decision to buy will be.

3. SELL

A car showroom without the salespeople would not function. The same way that your expectation that a web visitor to find out everything they need to know on the website and go on to purchase with no push from you is a fantasy. Once they are there, you’ve got their attention. Sell to them. Simple calls to action, easy to find FAQs or contact information, someone to answer their calls, emails, or live chats immediately. These are all ways to ensure that you don’t lose people who have further questions.