How to Get Online

Three Tips for Building a Free Website

More and more business owners are turning to free website builders as an easy and economical way to bring their business online. Created for the non-technical user, these tools provide easy-to-use templates that let you point and click your way to a new website. Building a successful site using these tools is easier by following these three guidelines before you start:

Identify your Website Needs

Websites can be as simple as a one-page flyer for your business, or as sophisticated as a multi-media marketing and sales hub. Determine your requirements before you begin building. Most free website builders are great options if you want to start simple with just a few pages and offer varying levels of upgrade packages as you scale your website. Generally what is included in a free package versus a premium package will vary from provider to provider so knowing what you require now – and what you might need later – will help narrow down the list of potential website builders. Here is a list of basic features to consider and which are generally included in a free package versus an upgraded package which has an associated cost.

Website Features Typical Free Website Builder Package Typical Upgraded Website Builder Package
# of pages in website Usually 1 – 5 pages More Pages
Website storage (for storing web images) Enough for a simple site More storage
Template & design Yes More templates & customisation
Hosting No Yes
Tools such as online forms, blogs, slideshows Sometimes Yes
Links to your social media pages Yes Yes
Video and audio players No Yes
Website reporting No Yes
eCommerce / Shopping cart No Yes
Customer support No Yes
Search engine submission No Yes
Mobile device optimisation No Yes

Pick a domain name:

Your domain name will be your virtual address and your online identity on the web. Some website builders suggest skipping this step, offering to host your site on their domain. We recommend putting your website on your own domain name for the following reasons:

  • Brands your business
  • Gives you a consistent address on the web for customers to find you should you switch website providers
  • Provides an easily remembered address to use for marketing
  • Enables you to have a company-branded e-mail through the domain name

Select the right website builder

Research, research, research. We recommend taking the time to compare two to three different website builders. This will allow you to choose a tool that meets your requirements from Step One while increasing the likelihood you end up with additional free website features. It is also helpful to understand what the premium packages are in case you scale your website with them in the future.

Remember not all tools are created equally and selecting the right builder for your needs will save you time and frustration down the line. Many of the companies that sell domain names offer free website builders, or you can simply do an Internet search for ‘free site builders’ to find the top tools available now.

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1. Verisign small business survey, 2013