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Build Your Small Business Website For Online Success

Aug 28, 2008
There are hundreds of programs designed to help you build your own business website without requiring you to learn to program, or learn website design. Some are free, some cheap, others fairly expensive. How do you choose which to use?

In the first place many website hosting services provide website builders free of charge. There are often several problems with this.

- Firstly, most often, you are limited in the number of pages you can construct, and if you want more pages, you are often presented with a Pro Version of the program which , as you may be surprised to find, is not free.

- Secondly, these programs can be pretty basic and in my experience, you end up with a website that looks as if it was constructed in the 1980's during the dawn of computing. Not the best presentation for your cutting edge business.

- Finally, they tend to lack flexibility. So if you later want to expand your site's facilities and add forms, videos, music, flash etc. - it may prove impossible.

How about specialized website builders. These tend to be a much better choice and there are two main types:

a) The 'download and build' websites software.

With these you download the website builder software to your computer, install it (usually a fairly easy process),
Use various wizards and the design templates provided to design your website and upload it to your web hosts.

You may need a little technical knowledge to use these especially how to buy a domain, set up website hosting and use ftp (file transfer protocol) to transfer your files from your computer to your website's hosting package.

Many of these come with time limited trials so you can find out if you like the product before you commit yourself by buying the product.

b) The Online Website Builders

These can be easier to use as the download/install process is eliminated. Most of these also have either a trial period or an online demo which walks you through the whole process.

All you do is proceed step by step through a series of instructions making choices and decisions along the way and then you're done.
However, they tend to have a recurrent monthly cost (often including website hosting - which means you are tied to them for life)

So what should you look for in a website builder.

- Clear instructions - Are there clear Step-by-Step Instructions or is there a Video demonstrating the process.

- High quality template designs - Are the designs you see good enough for you or as good as your competitors websites.

- Widgets - Does the software give you the ability to incorporate plug in widgets such as flash banners, video, music, forms,

- Help facilities - Is there a FAQ section / Contactable Helpdesk or Chat module in case you get stuck

- Domain and Hosting - Are you given the ability to purchase your own domain name or transfer it to their hosting and is it possible to transfer the end product to your own website hosting.

- E-Commerce facilities - If you plan to sell goods or services - are there facilities that will help you do this such as a shopping cart.

- Trial - Do they offer a free trial period so you can test the product without fear

- Cost - is there a one time fee, or do you have to pay monthly or yearly? and how much. Even If they are hosting your website for you, the cost should not be more than a little higher than the cost of professional hosting elsewhere.

- Hidden Costs - Find out exactly what you get for your money, and what you would need to pay extra for

- SEO - Do they offer you any optimisation, free website marketing facilities or website traffic building facilities - and are these free.

Basically, you need to look at your business model and services and see if the services and facilities offered by the website builder will really help you build your business.

Choosing the best website builder is a matter of opinion as 'best' is a relative term, but the best website builder for you will depend on your skillset and technical ability, theme or niche, time constraints etc. by carefully taking all these factors into consideration, you will be able to build the best website for your business.
About the Author
A.Afolabi of Small Business Website Builders and Website Designer, WebITLondon.co.uk is currently engaged in helping small businesses and SME's find online success through website design, traffic building,optimisation and website builder tools. Visit us to download free traffic builders.
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