Sifting through the maze of latest, greatest, small business web platform technologies and offerings is over-whelming! A simple google search yields endless, self serving, promotions geared to grab the attention of the small business owner trying to get the biggest bang for the web investment buck.
Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, Web, Jimdo, Sitey, Edicey, IM-Creator, Virb, WordPress …… dozens of hosts …. Bluehost, Godaddy, WP Engine …. web designers, developers, freelancers, responsive design, mobile friendly etc ….. ad infinitum … all vying for your attention!
With technology changing so fast, if not a web expert, how does a business owner make sense of it all and make a wise website decision?
I have spent countless hours reading through it, comparing and analyzing the minutia, to the point that I can’t see the forest through the trees! Remember the old saying “KISS” ? I am applying the common sense strategy embodied in the words “Keep It Simple Stupid”.
There seems to be no limit to details, but a lack of basic understanding of what in heck is going on here! Therefore, to help you get started on the right path, I have attempted to layout the basics below. After choosing the most suitable path, you can dig into the minutia and research details further elsewhere, if needed.
I’ve broken it down to three website platform categories below with summaries of the most important points under each.
Of course, if I can lend a hand, feel free to contact me directly.
“Top 3 Tips”
Best Website Platform Options
1. DIY Rent-A-Site ($10 – $70mo)
You are satisfied to rent a site and have little control over the site. You are severely restricted to what you can do with the site. You are bound to a web service agreement and host. Your up front cost is less than $200 and you will be paying a monthly fee of at least $10mo. You will be building the site yourself using their software and templates, the site will be very basic, and SEO is limited. Set aside a week or two for this project!
If your business takes off when you’re ready to take your website to the next level, you’ll have to abandon your site and build a new one elsewhere from scratch.
If this type of arrangement works for you, I recommend that you have a close look at DIY Website Builders such as Squarespace, Wix, Web, Weebly.
On the downside, you could find yourself in a similar situation to this Squarespace customer comment in the review below:
“I SIGNED UP FOR SQUARESPACE UNDER THE GUISE THAT THEIR PRODUCTS WORKED CORRECTLY AND I THOUGHT SQUARESPACE CARED ABOUT BEAUTY AND QUALITY BUT I WAS WRONG. I SPENT 4 MONTHS BUILDING MY WEBSITE TO FIND OUT THAT SEVERAL KEY FEATURES OF SQUARESPACE DID NOT WORK PROPERLY AND THERE WAS NO CUSTOMIZATION OF BUTTONS….. (read more)” Squarespace Review by Calvin“DrivenTheRockstarKid”
2. Rent-A-Site ($200 – $300mo)
Higher end Rent-A-Sites, such as mopro.com, will build a very nice site for you, if you sign a contract and are willing to invest $200 – $300 mo. Your upfront costs are minimal and you get a beautiful site with severe restrictions. They own and control the site, and SEO is limited. On the downside, you could find yourself in a similar situation to this mopro customer comment in the yelp review below:
“Steer clear of these guys. They put a lot of focus on marketing and selling the service, but virtually none into support. We stuck with it for the year commitment, but cancelled when we couldn’t upload pics and modify the site ourselves. Here we are 4 months later, and I can’t get them to stop charging my card, having to dispute with AMEX and get them to follow through on their commitments. They are all about pretty videos and pictures, but no substance. Don’t sign up!” Mopro Customer/Yelp Comment
3. Own Your Small Business Site ($1,000-$5,000)
You prefer to own and control your website allowing you to do whatever you wish. You prefer unlimited options, and the ability to move to another host server, or edit the site in anyway you see fit. You are unbound to contracts or service agreements unless you choose to enter into a maintenance agreement with your site developer. You want a site that can grow with your company… from small business to large; a site that can do anything your business will ever need.
You prefer a site with super SEO capability to give your business a fantastic organic position in google. You would like your site customized to your specific needs, be responsive, and display well on all screen sizes. You will most likely pay a developer, such as Mark Lovett Web Design, to design/build, maintain, and train you to use it. You are prepared to invest at minimum $1000.
I am referring to the WordPress web framework used by over 25% of the world’s CMS websites (over 76 million sites) from small mom & pop businesses to huge corporations such as the New York Observer, New York Post, TED, Thought Catalog, Williams, USA Today, CNN, Fortune.com, TIME.com
It’s common for small businesses to start with DIY and Rent-A-Sites, and later move to the WordPress framework. However, if your small business starts with the WordPress framework, when your business grows, you won’t have to abandon your DIY site and start all over from scratch. If you want to cheaply test some business website ideas, use DIY and Rent-A-Sites, however, if you are serious about your business, money and time will be saved if you start with the real deal … a WordPress site.
If you choose to go with the WordPress framework, make sure you get a WordPress specialist to help you. I have been designing and developing WordPress websites since it’s inception in 2006, and I pride myself in excellent, honest, customer relations. Check out my Google+ reviews! I have very reasonable hourly rates.
Please let me know if I can be of assistance.
“Mark Lovett is wonderful to work with! I am a graphic designer with limited web experience, so when I needed a website for my own firm, I turned to Mark for help. He enthusiastically agreed to work with me—he did all the setup and technical work, but at the same time, we sat together and he taught me how to get in the back end and do some things myself. He was patient and had a great sense of humor as I tried to grasp this foreign language!
I would highly recommend Mark for organizations who need him to handle EVERY aspect of their website, as well as for others, like me, who need help, but also want to be able to change things themselves. Thanks to Mark, I now have a website I am extremely proud of. In addition, he made it happen quickly, which to me was imperative. Bravo Mark and many thanks!”
Dovetail Design Studio