One of the best things you can do as a small business owner to increase your online presence is have a website. Your website is the hub for all things about your business. Your services, pricing, contact information and description of how you work with clients will all be showcased on your website for potential and current customers. As you grow your small business, your website may grow as well. Choosing a website platform for your business website is no small task. With so many options to choose from, it can seem overwhelming and next to impossible to decide which platform is right for you. Here’s some tips on what you should consider when making your decision!
Cost is a big factor in any decision making for small business owners, especially when it comes to building your website. If you haven’t already, your first spend will be the purchasing of your domain. You can do this through mose website platforms once you start building or through services such as GoDaddy or Network Solutions if you want to own your domain right out (which we recommend). Your domain can cost you anywhere between 99 cents to hundreds of dollars, depending on the name you choose. Ideally you should choose the name of your business with a .com and opt in for https for extra security.
With most website platforms there will be a cost associated with the hosting as well as a one-time purchase of the template. If you choose a website platform where there are pre-made templates and you plan to do the work yourself, you can save on cost. If you are not as tech-savvy and plan to hire a developer to help you finish up your site after choosing a template, you’ll probably spend anywhere between $500 to over $1,000 depending on the features you would like and need.
Comparing different platform costs will 100% be based on the below factors and how much work you plan to do on your own vs. outsourcing.
Ease of Use & Functionality
There are many website platforms with different types of functionality. If you are a tech-savvy business owner, a WordPress website using a template could be a great option. However, although it is possible to build an entire WordPress site without having to understand or write code, there may come a time while maintaining your site where you would need that assistance. With a drag & drop platform, such as WIX, GoDaddy Website Builder, Weebly or Squarespace – you have less template and design options on the published site but an easier time building yourself and maintaining. Regardless of which platform you decide to go with, you will have to spend time learning the tools.
Also, you should compare platforms based on if it has the functions that you need to serve your clients and potential clients. Here are some features you should consider for your website to help make it user friendly and increase your online presence:
- Contact Form
- Your site should have built in forms that visitors can fill out on your website to get in touch with you.
- An easy to post & edit blog feature with an option for people to subscribe and have automatic emails sent
- Social media feed
- The ability to connect your social media platforms to your website and show your feed on a page or auto-post blog articles and content.
- Booking/Calendar Tool
- Ability for visitors to choose a time/date to book appointments on your website.
- Add new pages
- Whichever platform you use, make sure you have the ability to add new pages, duplicate pages and publish easily.
- Integrations with top online review websites that pull in your reviews right onto the page to showcase your credibility.
- If you need to take payments through your website for your services or sell products, it’s definitely important for you to put this type of functionality at the top of your list when comparing.
- Make sure the platform you choose automatically builds your website for mobile and tablet as well as desktop. Optimization for all devices is important for usability as well as SEO.
When you are comparing platforms based on cost and functionality, make sure to also consider the long term scalability. As your business grows, you’ll want your website to grow with it. While right now you may only need one or two pages explaining your business and having a place for clients to contact you, you will likely end up needing much more. While you grow and focus on bigger and better marketing strategies, you may need a resources page with downloadable guides and offers. You may add more landing pages for services and products. Maybe even a team page or a gallery/portfolio page showcasing your work.
Security & Support
Most website platforms (Wix, Squarespace, GoDaddy) have built-in security features that will keep you safe from hackers. However, it’s still a great idea to always have a cryptic password and change it often. If you decide to go with a WordPress website, you may have to handle the choice of security on your own, when you connect to the domain that you have purchased. Compare the security features of platforms and fully understand who you should be in touch with if you need help with anything. 24/7 customer support is going to be very useful if you are planning to build your website yourself. A lot of these website platforms have a community of developers, designers and overall users. Do some research on social media and even just around the internet to see what people are talking about when it comes to using that website builder.
Key Takeaways: Choosing a Website Platform That Works for Your Business
- Not all website platforms are created equal. You will need to do some research to choose which one is best for your business based on your needs.
- Cost is a huge factor but should not be the deciding factor for what you choose. Cheaper templates can cause usability issues and may not be scalable as your business website needs grow.
- A drag and drop editor using a pre-built template is helpful if you plan to build your site on your own. Building with a custom template is much more involved and would be better completed with the help of a developer that understands that platform and can use code to create the design and functionality you want.
- Make a list of the tools and functions you absolutely need for your site and use that list to compare platforms.
- Your website will be a work in progress all the time! You will update, change, experiment and grow your website as your business grows!