Every week, we answer a common question about marketing or an aspect of business. This week, our question comes from a fan who entered our giveaway contest for an Echo Dot. Today, we will answer the following question: “how do I set up a website?”

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The Basics of Setting Up a Website

I’ve been working on websites for very long time – since I was 13 years old in 2007, if you can believe it! Since that time, it’s gotten much easier to set up a website for the first time. Needless to say, I’m particularly jazzed to be writing this article!

In the early days of the internet, if you wanted to set up a website, you’d need to follow four basic steps:

  1. Find a web hosting service.
  2. Buy a web hosting plan and domain name.
  3. Start coding web pages and save them to your web server.
  4. Visit the pages after you’ve uploaded them.

All of those are relatively easy except for #3. I’m pleased to say that these days, you don’t have to know a single bit of HTML, CSS, or any other coding, scripting, or markup language to make a website. (Though it can come in very handy.)

These days, most web services come with or allow you to install CMS software. CMS stands for content management system – most websites use one these days. Common CMS software includes WordPress, Wix, Shopify, Squarespace, Joomla, and many others.

Each CMS has pros and cons, but all of them allow you to create and maintain web pages. You’re almost certainly not going to create a website without a CMS these days.

1. Set up a Shopify Store

If you’re setting up a store, Shopify is one of the most popular and easy-to-use software suites on the market. It’s a little on the pricy side, with plans starting a $29 per month, but don’t let that discourage you outright. Shopify comes with a lot of features.

All Shopify stores, regardless of the plan you use are easy to set up and do a good job of walking you through the process. You can choose from different free and paid themes to customize the look and feel of your store. Additionally, all Shopify plans come with 24/7 support, a secure domain (SSL – the little padlock symbol next the the web address), and a built-in cart and checkout system.

There are tons of shopping software options on the internet, but there’s a reason Shopify is the popular one.

2. Set up a Website on Wix

If you want to set up a general website easily, but don’t want to pigeonhole yourself into just creating store, Wix is your best bet. It has a ton of templates, is extremely flexible, allows you to implement animations, and they do automatic backups too.

Wix is the closest thing on the market to a true “drag-and-drop” website builder. That makes it a remarkable piece of software if you know just how much goes into creating websites! Plans start free, but ad-free websites start at $14 per month.

There are only two major issues with Wix that you need to look out for. First, once you pick a template, it’s kind of a pain to switch over to a new redesign. That’s part of the downfall of having such a freewheeling drag-and-drop editing system. Additionally, page loading speeds can be a bit on the slow side, especially for mobile phones. This can really drag down your search engine ranking if you’re not proactive about keeping this in check.

3. Set up a Blog on WordPress

Lastly, there is WordPress. It is the world’s most popular CMS, accounting for 38% of all the websites in existence, and for good reason. Both Marketing is the Product and the Pangea Marketing Agency websites run on WordPress.

WordPress is extremely versatile and pretty easy-to-use. It’s particularly great for blogs, but you can set up any kind of website with WordPress, including good-looking stores via the plugin WooCommerce. Speaking of plugins, WordPress has a lot of them, which makes it much easier to add functionality to your website.

WordPress also has a ton of themes to choose from, including many which are mobile-friendly. Lastly, you can host on any server you want with WordPress – that means Shopify or Wix won’t own your website. You will!

Unfortunately, WordPress is also the most complicated choice of the three and it requires a fair amount of work and planning to set your site up with the software. It updates frequently and each theme plays by slightly different rules, too. If you’re okay spending more time tweaking, this isn’t a problem. If you’re in a rush, it will be.

Final Thoughts

Any of the three choices above is a good one. Shopify, Wix, and WordPress are all easy-to-use and great choices for small businesses looking to get started. Check out their websites and learn a bit more about their software, and then you’ll know which choice is right for you.

And if you need help setting up your site? We’ve worked with all three platforms and would be happy to help as consultants.

First time marketing your small business?
We know marketing can be confusing. Download our free marketing checklist for advice.

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