If you’ve been researching websites and how to build a website, you’ve probably seen the price it costs to build one. And you might have started to think about other website options like how to build it yourself or some other way to cut down on the cost.
In other words, you’re looking for different options on how to build that new website.
And that’s sort of the beauty with websites. There’s no one right way to build them. There are certainly right and wrong ways to build a website, but there’s no definitive one way to do it. You have options.
So let’s go through the different options you have when it comes to creating a new website for your business.
Website Builders (Wix/Squarespace)
The cheapest of the website options by far is going to be using a website builder like Wix and Squarespace for your website. You can get going on one of those platforms for as low as $12 a month. And with their templates, you can build out a website for your business in just minutes. And then you can submit your sitemap to Google and start to get found online. It’s a win if you’re on a tight budget.
But there’s a reason that they are the cheapest option. For starters, you can only use the templates that they offer you. There’s little customization that you can do to your website outside of those templates and the images and text you use. That means there’s a good chance your website is going to look like someone else’s, and that does no good for your branding.
Plus, you’re locked in when you use one of those platforms. I’ve tried migrating websites from Wix and it has not been a very pleasant experience. And if one of those platforms goes down or goes under, you’re going to be very out of luck.
And while you’ll be online and can get indexed by Google and appear in results, the SEO for Wix and Squarespace websites isn’t great. The Schema and markup isn’t geared for that kind of thing, and your lack of control over the code hinders your ability to make the necessary SEO fixes that you could do with other options.
But if you need something quick and with a budget under $100, they can be a good temporary option.
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Next in the list of website options, Shopify is very similar to the other website builders like Wix and Squarespace, but it really goes beyond what those other website builders do and it’s a much higher quality product.
For starters, Shopify is primarily focused on ecommerce. You can use their service to build an online store for your business and start selling items within the day.
And because of that, I really think it’s a much better option than the other website builders if you’re wanting to sell online. It takes care of the payment gateways, the SSL certificates and all of the technical challenges that come with creating and maintaining an online store. And since that’s they’re dedicated focus, you can get the quality support you need.
There’s still the issue of being tied down to a single service and not really being able to move somewhere else easily. Plus, there are only eight free templates or themes and premium themes cost around $150. But you are actually able to customize your theme and your code, and you could create your own theme if you know what you’re doing. And that’s a big plus.
So if you need an online store up and running on a bit of a budget, Shopify might be something that you want to check out.
Pre-built WordPress Theme (or Joomla or Drupal)
If you want to have more control over your website but still remain inside a fairly tight budget, you might want to look into using a pre-built WordPress, Joomla or Drupal theme. Those three are open source content management systems, meaning that the code to run those is free to use. Plus, you can change the code (not necessarily recommended if you don’t know what you’re doing).
That’s also a bit of the catch. You have to purchase web hosting and a domain separately, compared to the website builders where it’s all in one. Also there are premium themes and premium plugins/extensions that might also need to be purchased separately.
But at the same time, that freedom of customization is amazing. You can get a pre-built theme and then change the colors to match your branding. If you know some code, you can do some functionality changes. With the number of plugins and extensions out there, you can have an online store running in a day. And you can customize it all to truly make it your own.
Plus, your website is going to be portable. Need to change web hosts because you don’t like your current one? No problem. As long as you get the domain situation taken care of, you can easily move your website to another one. You’re not tied down to one place like you are with website builders.
If you can afford to splurge a bit on web hosting, using an open source CMS and a pre-built theme can give you the website that you’re going to like and will help you for a fairly cheap price.
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Finally we have the custom website, and it’s arguably the best of the website options. This is basically as good as it gets when it comes to building your new website. This is just what it sounds like, and it’s probably what you think of the most often when it comes to creating a website for your business.
This one will be a much lengthier process as you will likely need to hire a web design agency or a web developer to build the website. It takes quite a while to complete a custom website. There’s the time it takes for them to get to know you, your business and your wants and needs for the website. And then there’s the time it takes to design, build it and add in all of the content.
And what you get from that is a website that is uniquely yours. It will have everything you want for it. It’ll be built for SEO and speed. It will have the online store or blog that you want. In short, it will be just perfect.
But it does come at a price. A website of this caliber is going to cost you at least a couple of thousand dollars or more to complete. And while that price is very worth it, it also might be an unattainable thing for some businesses.
Still if you have a need for a custom website and have the budget for one, this is probably the route you’re going to want to take.
Which of the website options works best for you
So, which option is right for you? Well unfortunately I can’t really give you a straight answer from here. There are a lot of variables that are dependent on your own situation. You’re not going to get a definitive answer from a static webpage.
But there are a few scenarios that might direct you to one option or another.
If you are just starting and/or don’t have a big budget, don’t have a website right now and just want the equivalent of an online brochure, then Wix or Squarespace might be the best option while you start your business and get a cash flow. They are a good temporary option to start getting found online.
If you want to create an online store on a budget and fairly quickly, then Shopify is probably something you really want to look into to start selling online soon.
If you want more control over your website but can’t (or don’t want to) shell out the big bucks yet, then I would look at picking an open source CMS, a web host and purchasing a domain and then using a pre-built theme and other plugins/extensions to create your website.
And finally, if you’ve got really grand ideas for this website and have the budget for it, it’s probably a good idea to go all in and go for a custom website with a web design firm and build the website of your dreams.
But ultimately, the decision is up to you. Look at your resources — both time and money — and determine what’s going to be the best for you and your business. There is no one right answer, only what works for you.