How to get started (the pros and cons of web builders)
Comparison of the main web builders
Creating a website with Squarespace
Creating a website with Wix
Creating a website with Weebly
Creating an e-commerce site with web builders (Shopify, Bigcommerce, etc.)
Other popular web builders
Are you looking for the all-in-one solution to building your website? If so, then a website builder might be just what you are looking for. Unlike CMS platforms that have to be installed and configured on your web hosting account, website builders allow you to create static websites, blogs and e-commerce stores with ease. Many give you drag-and-drop functionality and hundreds of designs. They even host your website for you. Plus, you’ll have access to support that will help you develop and maintain your site.
In this chapter, we’re going to look at how you can build your website using three of the most popular website builders: Wix, Weebly and Squarespace.
Wix offers free accounts and you can sign up to test their tools without paying a penny. Of course, you will want your website on your own, professional domain. Free sites have names that look like this yourwebsite.wix.com. But opening a free account gives you the opportunity to test what they have and decide if you like it or not.
Once you’ve created your website and are happy with the outcome, you can upgrade to one of the plans and establish a custom domain for your website. Wix offers five different plans:
For personal use
Wix is all about giving users the freedom they need to design their sites exactly as they want them. They’ve introduced praiseworthy features over the years; the following ones command your attention:
Wix offers over 280 beautiful templates in different industries and categories. You’ll find everything from baking to finance to law. These pre-made templates give users the overall structure and guidance they desire. Take your time in making a decision as you can’t switch from one template to another. This shortcoming aside, templates feature a wide array of tools and useful applications.
Customizable add-ons The Wix app market has dozens of add-ons to set up a website to your specifications. As a result, you can engage customers with live chat, social interaction, coupons, surveys, or even sell them items using eCommerce features such as shopping cart and payment gateway. Wix offers instructions on how to integrate these apps in your site and one-click installation.
Drag & Drop Editor
If you’re new to website building, being able to position elements exactly where you want them, without having to know coding basics, is amazing. This is made possible by the Drag & Drop Editor. It also works as a prop for advanced users who are trying to refresh the design of their site.
Wix offers a user-friendly interface, and most of the elements and features are accompanied by additional details and practical advice. If users run into problems, they can get help from the forum or Support Center. There are FAQs, video tutorials and the option to contact the most relevant department at the company. The customer service team answers queries within 24 hours.
Add pages by clicking “Add page”. You can open “Page Settings” to change the name of the page and its URL. Enter SEO details to help search engines find your pages.
Customize your background, colors and fonts.
Change the background of different elements and select a particular color palette. With “Add” option you can add a text, image, gallery, media, buttons and menus.
Integrate features into your site such as a contact form, Google Maps, PayPal and Flickr Gallery.
Connect a domain name, update SEO settings to make your site visible in search engines, add social profiles and set up a Google Analytics account to keep track of your stats.
Tips. In the default plan, your site will be online on a domain address that starts with wix.com, but you can upgrade your account to get your own free domain and remove all Wix advertisements. Once you’ve done this, you can utilize Wix-powered email for your domain. To set up your email, go to My Account – > Mailboxes. The email system relies on the Google Apps framework, so you’ll need a Wix plan that includes a custom domain.
Wix has all product features tested by its private development team to ensure seamless functionality. It’s one of the easiest website builders to use. All you have to do is place elements on your site exactly the way you want them to appear to your site visitors. As a result, you enjoy the benefit of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) when you create a website with Wix.
You are probably wondering how much Weebly costs. If you only need to test the tool, you can opt for the free version. This gives you unlimited features, free of cost. You will also get an access to a fully integrated eCommerce platform in addition to all the standard features. Following are four plan options offered by Weebly:
You can do this for free via the Weebly website. Simply provide your full name, email address and password. Once you enter the information, you’re taken to the next page, which has an “Add Site” button. Here you will be asked one very important question. “What’s the Focus of Your Site?”
You have three options: Site, Blog or Store
Before making a decision, think carefully about your target market and the information your website will provide. A small business that doesn’t sell anything online may opt for the “Site” option. If you are starting a blog, the “Blog” prompt is your choice. And if you plan on selling a product online, choose “Store.”
Choosing your theme
This step shows why it is so important to make the right decision when selecting a focus. At this point, you are provided with themes based on your site’s purpose.
For example, if you choose “site,” there are hundreds to choose from, so you shouldn’t be in a rush to make a decision. Instead, check out each one, including the layout and features, to decide which is best for your website.
Tips. Weebly makes it simple to change your theme at a later date, so don’t dwell on this too long. Flexibility is an aspect of Weebly that shines over competing website builders such as Wix.
Choosing your website domain
Now that you’ve selected a theme, you’ll need to set your site name. You should do this before you start adding content, choosing colors and moving design elements around.
Your options include the following.
Use a subdomain of Weebly.com (free).
Register a new domain.
Connect a domain you already own.
We recommend starting with the free Weebly subdomain. You can add your custom domain name after you’ve determined that you’re happy with what Weebly has to offer.
Customizing and designing your website
Now its time to explore the dashboard and customize your site as you see fit. As with any CMS, Weebly has a dashboard from which you can do anything and everything. Your dashboard will have these admin options:
The left sidebar
This is your jumping off point. Here you’ll have the ability to drag and drop components from these categories: Basic, Structure, Media, Commerce and More.
The top navigation bar
Provides you with even more options. In addition to Build, which displays the left sidebar, you can click on: Design, Pages, Store and Settings.
With four distinct packages, a boatload of high-end features and a simple-to-use platform, it’s clear why Weebly is trusted by approximately 20 million site owners, according to WebsiteToolTester.com. Weebly’s Help Center offers a wide range of support in the form of email, chat, videos, webcasts and guides.
Squarespace doesn’t offer a free plan, but there’s a 14-day, risk-free trial. Users can sign up to test their website before making a decision. Beyond that, there are three packages.
$10/month or $96/year
$20/month or $192/year
$30/month or $288/year
For existing domain names, you have to configure your domain with Squarespace. This involves editing your DNS records and pointing them to Squarespace servers. (Squarespace offers a video highlighting major registrars.) The customer-support department will assist users who run into problems integrating existing domains with the Squarespace platform.
Squarespace has no shortage of power in terms of the following:
Squarespace provides a wide variety of highly professional templates that command user attention. Options include templates that are detailed or minimalistic, e-commerce oriented or designed to work as an online portfolio—so you can choose the type depending on the nature of your business. Each template is mobile-friendly and responsive.
The style editor makes it easy for users to customize their website without modifying the css code. There are options to adjust background images, colors, width of sidebars, spacing and padding, opacity of pages and typography. In addition, there’s a CSS editor for users who are familiar with coding.
Marketing & SEO
Squarespace has impressive SEO and marketing features. Users can edit meta descriptions, URLs, page titles and XML sitemaps. Plus, HTML code is already included. There’s also social integration for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.
Squarespace enables you to create an online store to sell products and services. The Commerce feature supports different product variants including weight, color and size. Advanced e-commerce features, such as express checkout, integrated account functions, label printing and carrier shipping are included in the paid package. Users can receive payments via Stripe.
Squarespace offers free 24/7 live chat and telephone support. The company also provides instructional documentation, video tutorials and an active forum where you can get questions answered. The customer-care team consists of experienced users and nothing is ever outsourced.
Choosing a template
Visit Squarespace, select “Get Started” and choose a template. You can choose a different template later if your initial selection doesn’t suit your business needs. After selecting the template, click “Start With This Design,” and enter your credentials.
Selecting a name and site purpose
Next, you will see a Welcome message and you will be asked to select the site purpose with the following options: Business, Personal, E-Commerce, and Non-profit. Then you will have to fill in Site Title and depending on the site purpose, you may choose to include your business information.
Customizing and designing your website
Once you complete the signup process, you’ll be redirected to the website administration area. Inside the administration panel, you’ll see left side menu bar. In the middle, you’ll see the website layout you are actually working on. You can point at your website and see some of the basic admin functions available to you right on the website itself. However the most customization work will be done within the left side menu bar, which includes the following tabbed items:
Create new pages for a blog, site or online store in the main navigation menu. Content is added to the page blocks, and different blocks can be created for different types of content.
Customize the appearance of your site and create a unique look to match your existing brand. Includes logo and title changes, switching the template and making style changes.
Under the Commerce tab, you can add products, pricing and “on-sale” tags. There’s also an option to provide additional information about the product (physical or digital), select a carrier and connect a payment account.
Provides a comprehensive overview of visitor interaction on your website and helps you track recent traffic statistics. Activity in Metrics refreshes with new data about every 90 minutes.
Interact with your visitors and build a community. In Comment Settings, you can control how comments are posted, approved, replied to, and more.
Here you can manage multiple tasks such as: changing basic information of your site, including site style and description, and connecting a custom domain name, email account or social media profiles. Also you can modify blogging and SEO settings.
Find answers to your questions in the form of in-depth articles, videos and workshops to help you create and manage your site.
Squarespace offers multiple plans and you will have access to professional templates, drag-and-drop editing and 24/7 customer support. So the value of setting up a Squarespace website is compelling when you weigh in the many benefits the platform offers.
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