Often times small business owners and even individuals who could benefit from a blog or personal website, hesitate to build a website because they are worried about the expense. In all reality though, it doesn’t have to be expensive to build a website. There are free tools for just about every part of the process. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
One of the most challenging things about building a website is designing the site itself. A professional-looking, visually appealing website is a necessity for any business and even for a personal site. Yet most small business and personal site owners don’t have web design skills. So how do you design your website without paying a small fortune for a web designer?
Even if you don’t know any code at all, you can design a website easily and for free with one of several services online. For instance, Yola offers free templates and a website builder that is as easy as typing, dragging, and dropping. Your finished site will have a link on each page advertising Yola’s services. This is the small price you pay for a free website builder. Although Yola also sells web hosting plans, we recommend using a higher quality service. You can still use their website builder by selecting the self-publish option to get a copy of your website’s files, and uploading it to your own server via FTP.
Open Source Web Design
If you are a little handier with code, but not good enough to build your own site from scratch, there are many websites online offering free templates. Usually the price you pay for one of these free templates is leaving the designer’s name and link on your site, to help advertise their services. A pretty good deal for a free template!
The trick with these templates is that you do need to know a little coding yourself, so that you can create and edit the pages as needed. For the most part, all you will need to do is fill the pages with your own content, edit links, and possibly do some minor formatting, but it helps if you can read the code well enough to determine where you need to make your changes.
If you are looking to build your website around a personal or company blog, WordPress is a free blogging platform that offers a myriad of options to individuals as well as small business owners. You do need your own domain name and a hosting plan, as you will need to upload the platform onto your server, but that’s a small price to pay for something as multifunctional as WordPress.
Blogger is another free blogging platform that can be extremely useful for small businesses as well as bloggers with personal sites. Blogger can also be published to your own domain name, but the difference is that it does not require a hosting plan if the blog is all you have. If the blog is only one page of your website, or one of many websites, however, you will still need your own hosting plan.
Building a successful website is about more than just designing it and putting it out there! You will need to be able to monitor site traffic: for instance, how many visitors your site gets per day or month, where visitors come from (referring site), what keywords they used to bring them to your site, what pages get the most views, and so on. Google offers a free web statistics service called Analytics that enables you to do all of these things for free. Simply set up your account and install the code on each page you want to track, and check your account occasionally for statistics that will help you fine tune your keywords, content, products, and anything else you need help with.
As you can see, building a website does not have to be an expensive proposition. With the right tools and a strong do-it-yourself attitude, you can easily build your own website virtually free of cost!