I get it. If you just started or run a smaller business or not-for-profit, getting a good-looking, working website up quickly is critical. And cost is absolutely a factor.
But before you pick one of the simple, cheap website building options, review this website builder checklist. Make sure it’s the best fit for your business right now. Or, at least consider the benefits of working with a marketing professional to make sure you have a website that supports every aspect of your business right out of the gate.
Is website and content ownership important to you?
Most of these quick web builder site are self-contained. If you have any issue with the vendor, you can’t move the site as is.
The copy and images you upload might remain in your copyright. But read the agreements carefully to be sure. Your business intellectual property is one of your greatest assets! Don’t give it away or have it end up in a dead-end system.
Do you have your own domain name?
These entry-level website builders usually have at least two levels of subscription. A free or cheapest option gets you space to create your website. But note that it will often be under their company name, like yerbusiness.webbuilder.com versus yerbusiness.com.
Obviously, to strengthen your organization’s brand, using your own domain is key.
Even if you select the custom level to use your own domain name, be cautious if you also purchase a new domain through their system. You may find it difficult to “point” that domain to a new vendor or server if you move your site in the future.
Does or will the website support a growing organization?
It’s one thing if you are starting up a personal consulting business with a tight set of services that a couple of web pages can easily outline.
If you hope to generate business via the website or have a lot to say about your offerings and the benefits to prospective clients, a more robust and flexible website will suit you better.
You can certainly add many pages and variations to the Wix, Weebly and Squarespace systems. But they often only offer generic options that won’t necessarily fulfill the needs of your brand. A few snazzy photos with some bullet-point text and a phone number may not be enough to set you apart and gain the call.
Do you want your website to look like all the others?
One of my biggest bugaboos about these low-end website builders is how “samey” they are becoming. A big, splashy – often parallax or moving – photo with a bit of text and (hopefully!) a phone number or contact info.
Will prospective clients, donors, etc., get a good sense of how your organization can meet their needs from the few seconds they view the home page? Does the website reflect the unique qualities of your brand?
People tend to see the information that will fill in what they may already expect to find. Your website may need a more refined and specific set of visuals and key marketing messages to communicate effectively and connect with your audience.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Do you want people to find you?
Yes, SEO is a moving target meaning the tips and tricks to helping Google and other search engines rank your site in search results is complicated and evolving. Yet crafting the content and back-end page descriptions for your website to help Google, et. al., get the best info possible can help people find you and your site.
Not all web builder systems are created equal in this area. Check to see what the system offers, how easy it is to use (especially for the backend elements) and how flexible it seems to be in order to stay current over time. At minimum, you should be able to customize your page titles (what appears in the browser “tab”) and the meta description for each individual page. That description content not only tells Google, etc., what the page is really about, but it often appears with your web page title and link in the search results.
Call to Action (CTA)
Do you want people to wonder how to get in touch with you?
Obviously, the answer is a big “no”. Yet time and again, you may find yourself clicking hither and yon on a site trying to find a phone number or even a contact form so you can connect or ask a question.
Again, not all systems are seamless in providing tools to accomplish this essential connecting piece. Often this step is simply a matter of being clear about your internal systems and how you want to direct incoming calls or requests. After that it’s a matter of creating precise, obvious language and action options for visitors throughout the website. Most web builders have buttons or call to action options built in. Above all, be sure you are familiar with the options and that you are able to refine them to meet your specific needs.
Got more questions before you dive in? Need to look into new options for your growing business?
Get in touch with your questions or get some help from a web design pro.