Table Of Contents

1. How to find the right website builder?
2. The most important things in a nutshell
3. What is a website builder?
4. How do I build my own homepage?
   4.1 Log in
   4.2 Choose a design
   4.3 Create pages
   4.4 Equip your pages with content
   4.5 Get yourself a domain
5. For whom are website builders suitable?
   5.1 For companies: finally a professional internet presence
   5.2 For private persons: share hobbies or events
   5.3 For associations: stay in touch with your members
6. Alternatives to website builders
   6.1 Creation with a website builder
   6.2 Homepage design by a professional
   6.3 Content management systems like WordPress
7. You should pay attention to this when choosing a provider
   7.1 Responsive design and mobile first
   7.2 Web space and traffic volume
   7.3 Data security and server location
8. The most important functions of a website builder
   8.1 Basic functions
   8.2 Additional Functions
9. Bottom line

1. How to find the right website builder?

how to find a website builderHardly any company today can survive without its own website. Today, potential customers mainly retrieve their information from the World Wide Web: They search Google for companies, want to compare prices and products, or contact you by mail. Even if you only run a small local shop, a homepage of your own is still an obligation – even if it is only to place your telephone number and a map of how to get there. But the idea of developing your own website is deterrent. Hiring a web designer seems too expensive, and the average consumer cannot program it himself.

The solution is a homepage building kit, with which you can arrange your homepage in short time and completely simply – for the fraction of the price, which a professional agency would require. Until a short time ago, homepage software was still considered to be unprofessional with sometimes gruesome results, but has now become a real alternative. The tools offer modern design templates, numerous design options and uncomplicated hosting. So you will soon create a wonderful homepage that your customers will love.

2. The most important things in a nutshell

  1. Create your own homepage: You can easily create your own homepage using the tools presented here – without programming or design knowledge and often even free of charge.
  2. Everything from a single source: In addition, the providers presented here also offer domains, hosting and maintenance. The necessary security is also provided.
  3. SEO optimization: Many website builders also offer step-by-step instructions, tutorials or professional tools for search engine optimization. Therefore you will be found better on the net.

3. What is a website builder?

A website builder (also  homepage construction kit, site builder, homepage software, etc.) is basically exactly what you imagine it to be: A virtual construction kit, with whose help you can build a website. You don’t need any programming knowledge, you don’t need to have studied design and – all in all – you don’t have to know anything about computers. All you need are five things:

  • an internet connection
  • a computer / notebook
  • access to the website builder of your choice
  • own texts, photos and graphics
  • a little creativity

4. How do I build my own homepage?

How do I build my own homepageWith the tool of your choice it is no problem to build your own homepage. Basically, the design process in a sitebuilder always follows the same pattern:

4.1 Log in

In order to be able to use a homepage construction kit, you must first register with the respective provider. This process is sometimes more complex, sometimes less; in most cases, however, a valid email address is sufficient to register. In the case of paid offers, your payment information will be added, for example a billing address or your bank details. Once you have created an account, you can proceed seamlessly to the processing.

4.2 Choose a design

In order to build your own homepage, you first need a basic framework. Therefore the providers usually bring along a whole range of prefabricated design templates from which you can choose. The advantage for you: In these so-called templates not only the basic structure of your side (thus the navigation, the distribution of the individual elements, etc.) is put on, but also already a suitable background and possibly already example pictures which you can use.

4.3 Create pages

You can create new pages at the push of a button. The homepage kits presented here also offer templates for this – for example, if you want a contact page, a corresponding email form is already integrated, a blog post contains spaces for text blocks and images, and a shop page offers space for products and product descriptions. If you wish, you can also set up a separate member area, which is only available with a login, for example a forum where registered users of your site can exchange information with each other.

You don’t need any programming knowledge! Many providers offer in addition to the homepage construction kit also possibilities to adapt the page with the help of HTML and CSS – but this possibility is aimed at professionals to give them more leeway. For the creation of the page basically no programming languages are necessary.

4.4 Equip your pages with content

Last but not least you have to fill the pages – with texts, information, pictures, videos and whatever comes to your mind. There are no limits to your creativity and your ideas. Thanks to the simple drag-and-drop you can drag all the desired elements onto the page and adjust them as you like – as if you were moving graphics in Photoshop or on an MS Word page. You want a button that redirects your visitors to a specific landing page? Insert it! You want to prettify a long text paragraph with a picture? Reduce the size of the text field and drag the photo next to it! You want to present your company logo in the navigation bar? Upload it and insert it!

4.5 Get yourself a domain

The last or perhaps also the first step on the way to your own homepage is the registration of a domain, i.e. a web address, for example myownshop.com. Such a domain is usually liable to pay the costs, but extremely important. Although many of the Site Builders presented here can also be used free of charge, you won’t get your own domain, but will have to live with an unattractive additional name, for example myownshop.weebly.com.

If you already have your own domain, you can also move it to the desired website construction kit at any time – no matter where the domain is hosted.

5. For whom are website builders suitable?

In short: For everyone. Whether private individuals, associations or companies – if you want your own homepage, you can use a website builder.

5.1 For companies: finally a professional internet presence

Companies today can no longer ignore creating their own website. The number of people who already use the internet almost exclusively to inform themselves about offers and products is too large. The inexpensive and powerful website builders are particularly suitable for small companies, start-ups and companies that have a smaller budget available for their online presence.

The possibilities are manifold:

  • Present your company and your products on the internet and offer a contact opportunity.
  • Get into eCommerce and create an online shop for your products to offer your customers a new channel.
  • Create your own blog and publish news and articles about your offer or inform users with related articles.
  • Enable reservations, appointments or cost estimates by mail or via your own widget.

The advantages of a corporate website

An own homepage offers above all enterprises many advantages:

  • You increase your visibility on the internet through search engines or social networks and win new customers.
  • You inform your customers and communicate with them, answer questions, arrange appointments or provide support for products and services.
  • You sell your products in your own online shop and increase your sales through higher accessibility and a new channel.

5.2 For private persons: share hobbies or events

Also private users can use website builders. For example, to create a hobby page and thus meet like-minded people online. Maybe there is a wedding coming up or a similar event? Create a homepage with pretty pictures and all information for friends and family or let congratulate you in the guestbook.

5.3 For associations: stay in touch with your members

Do you want to plan the next session of your bowling club or the next training session of your football club? Don’t keep calling around forever, set the dates in a dynamic online calendar where all members can get the information. Or collect pictures and videos of your events in a pretty online slide show.

6. Alternatives to website builders

alternative web designIn addition to the tools presented here, there are other possibilities for you to launch your own website. The most popular alternatives to the do-it-yourself solutions of the homepage software providers are probably content management systems (CMS) or websites created by agencies and professional designers. We would like to inform you about the advantages and disadvantages of all these possibilities.

6.1 Creation with a website builder

The advantages of website builders have been mentioned here several times: To use the software of the tested providers is cheap and hardly expensive. Already in a few hours you can create a result, which will please you and your customers. Nevertheless a small flaw remains. If you do not invest time and work, your website could look unprofessional at the end.  The very fact that you use a ready-made layout contributes to the fact that websites created with a website builder will never look as individual and professional as a designer’s homepage.

Pros

  • low price
  • no additional maintenance costs
  • changes possible at any time
  • domain usually included

Cons

  • standard design
  • complex functions difficult to implement

6.2 Homepage design by a professional

Professional web designers and agencies usually do an excellent job and produce a chique and individual web presence according to your wishes. The expenditure for you and your enterprise is very small – you give only the order and go through on the way to the finished homepage a few correction loops, everything else does the respective agency. However, this also means that you cannot make any changes yourself afterwards – and if you are not trained in the use of the respective CMS, this means for you that you will have to take money into your hands again to have something changed on your website. And that will be expensive. The prices for a professional homepage by a web designer can go into a high three-digit range.

Pros

  • high-quality result
  • no effort for you

Cons

  • high price
  • no change options

6.3 Content management systems like WordPress

The main difference between a homepage construction kit and a content management system like WordPress is its complexity. While you don’t need any programming or technical knowledge to use a website builder, CMS are more demanding – at least you should be familiar with HTML code to use such a system. The effort is therefore greater, but WordPress in particular offers some advantages, and provides for example complex database functions and a flexible code, which you can change depending on the situation without changing your whole page.

Pros

  • more complex functions possible (databases, etc.)
  • flexibly changeable via code

Cons

  • big effort
  • technical knowledge required

7. You should pay attention to this when choosing a provider

pay attention

7.1 Responsive design and mobile first

Mobile first is the magic word for any kind of web design today. What this means is that a website today should be designed from the outset to be optimally displayable on the small screens of mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.). An important keyword for this is responsive design – meaning a design that can be dynamically displayed on PC and notebook screens as well as on mobile devices. Such a design automatically adapts to the screen size and resolution and is particularly user-friendly, as it does not bother mobile users with too long scrolling or too small a display. When choosing a homepage construction kit, always pay attention to whether the available design templates are responsive – your users will thank you for it.

Why Mobile First is so important: In 2016, every second website was accessed from a mobile device. Sales of smartphones in the same year reached five times the sales of desktop PCs and notebooks. It can be assumed that the trend towards mobile surfing will prevail.

7.2 Web space and traffic volume

To store texts, images, videos or sound files on your homepage, you need storage space, so-called web space. How much storage space is available to you depends on how much you are willing to pay with most providers. Free offers often only provide you with limited web space, which may increase in the premium packages. Always keep in mind which content you want to display on your site and how much memory you need for it.

Some providers also limit the maximum amount of traffic that can pass through your site. Too many visitors may be pushing this volume to its limits and making you pay more. Keep an eye on the most important key figures of your site, especially the traffic

7.3 Data security and server location

Especially if you set up a separate member area for which your users have to log in with personal data, or if you request such data in a contact form, data protection naturally plays a special role. In these cases, make sure that the provider sufficiently encrypts the transmitted data on the server side and that he possibly brings along a certificate according to needed standards. Since all your data is stored on the providers servers, you should find out where they are located and which data protection guidelines apply there.

8. The most important functions of a website builder

most important functionsThe common website builders have the same basic functionality, and also the intuitive handling of the software is quite similar. Differences are noticeable when you choose a higher quality provider for a few Dollars more and attach importance to special functions for your website.

8.1 Basic functions

  • Layout templates: This is the basic structure of the page. Website builders offer suitable templates depending on the industry. The number of templates can vary between 50 and over 200 layouts, depending on the provider. Often the colour design and background can be freely adapted. You can also create the page header individually with a photo or your company logo. Then you have to create a menu and name subpages.
  • Content elements: Use placeholders to arrange headings, text blocks, photos or videos on the (sub)pages. You simply copy and paste your finished texts, upload images from your laptop and drag them into the desired box. Videos from YouTube can easily be linked with an embedding code.

8.2 Additional Functions

  • Insert a contact form.
  • Companies often use Google Maps next to their address to make it easier for customers to get there.
  • If you want to run a blog, you can easily add new entries with the corresponding function.
  • The integration of social networking profiles is becoming increasingly important for small businesses to attract more fans and followers. You can drag and drop Facebook, Instagram-, Pinterest- or Twitter buttons to the desired location in the construction kit and link these buttons to your respective profiles.
  • An integrated online shop can also be used.
  • SEO tools help you to optimize your site and improve your search engine ranking.
  • Statistics keep you up to date about your website: How many visitors has it had, how many of them have bought something, how is it ranking, etc.?

With so-called widgets or apps you add further functions to your homepage, which are very different depending on the provider, for example:

  • weather display
  • password protected area
  • document download
  • qr code
  • customer chat
  • newsletter
  • search function
  • rss feed
  • video gallery
  • slider for photos or texts
  • customer rating
  • visitor counters

9. Bottom line

There is no reason why every kind of company, and in many cases even private individuals, should not have their own website. Website builders now also offer smaller companies or companies with little budget for the online presence the opportunity to create a professional and individual website for comparatively little money, which leads to more potential customers. Our website builders comparison helps you to find the right provider for your website.

References and Further Reading

[1] https://www.fastcompany.com/ – The future of web design is less, not more (Harry McCracken – September, 2018)
[2] https://www.business2community.com/ – 4 Ways to Ensure Effective Web Development (Rebecca Davies – October, 2018)
[3] https://www.forbes.com/ – 11 Website Design And Development Best Practices For 2018 (Denis Pinksy – February, 2018)
[4] http://vision.soic.indiana.edu/ – A Deep Study into the History of Web Design by the Indiana University (Bardia Doosti, David J. Crandall & Norman Makoto Su – 2017)
[5] https://moocs.uncg.edu – Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines (Michael O. Leavitt, Ben Shneiderman, Robert W. Bailey)
[6] http://accessibility.jhu.edu/ – Accessibility Starter Guide for Website Builders (Johns Hopkins University, 2018)