These days, do-it-yourself website programs seem to be everywhere, but they’re not created equal, and you have to shop smart.
How can you make an educated decision on the best website program? Here are some guidelines.
Cost. Is the website program within your budget? Don’t forget about the cost for buying a domain name and ongoing support costs. Also be aware that some website builders retain ownership of a domain name. Ask: What are my annual costs for the website program, and what additional costs will I have?
Limitations. Some free website programs may limit the number of pages that are available to you at no extra cost. You may also find that your website becomes an advertising vehicle (for companies other than your own.) Random ads for other products can give a less-than-professional image to your visitors. Ask: Does the website program offer unlimited pages and storage space, and is it ad-free?
Availability. Here’s the scenario: you find a typo on your site, and need to correct it right away. It stands to reason that you can access your website program anytime or anywhere (after all, it is the Internet!) Not so fast — you may not have online access to a website builder. Some website programs are not cloud-based, and you may have to download the software to one computer. Ask: Can I update my website anytime or anywhere?
Appearance on different devices. People are more attached than ever to their devices, using their smart phones to check email or search the Internet. Be sure to consider how your website will look on a phone, a tablet, or the next big thing. Responsive web design helps ensure that your website renders well on any type of screen, and helps you stay on top of changes in technology. Ask: Does this website program incorporate responsive design?
Capabilities. You may not be ready to start blogging, but may want that capability. The same goes for videos, maps, and other extras that are vital to a positive website experience. But, a website program that offers basic features may be limiting as you expand your business. Ask: What possible features can I add to my website?
Types of support offered. How easily can you reach customer support when you’re in a bind? Can you talk to a real person on the phone, or is the support offered via chat or email only? Is the support based in the U.S. or somewhere else far away? Ask: How can I get help when I need it, and what kind of help can I receive?
Trials and demonstrations. It’s nice to get a feel for the website program before making a decision. Ask: Is there a good way to try your website program before I buy?
Terms of service. Before you click yes to any agreement, read it! Make sure you understand exactly what you are getting. Some website programs will require an annual subscription. Others might charge you to cancel or change your services. Ask: What are the terms of service, and how easily can I cancel?