With so much emphasis on the digital, it is clear that if someone has a business, they need a website. That said, one must consider quite a few things when going down the path of website creation. Many people and business owners have already made those decisions. However, that doesn’t mean that a person shouldn’t take a look at options that are available. This is especially the case if a website revamping is in order in the future.
Online Website Builder
Among the available options, is the online website builder. A website builder is a great tool that can help small business owners create their own website. However, like most things in life, there are both positives and negatives to using a tool like this.
Content Management System (CMS)
Website builders usually follow a content management system principle. This means that there is a definite distinction between the content and design of the website. Before making the decision to use a website builder, it is a good idea to take a look at the resources available, which in this case include offline and online web creation tools.
Actually, the discussion of a true CMS goes beyond the scope of this article and originally, what we consider a CMS was not really the case. However, we are not here to quibble over definitions and website design has come a long way in the past few years. It is a combination of CMS (which it needs to be, in this fast-paced digital world!) and design. Fortunately, the modern website builder tools help to integrate those two aspects so that you don’t have to worry about it.
Sidebar: Understanding Offline vs. Online Website Creation
As the name suggests, an online website builder becomes usable when an active online connection is in place. One major advantage is that it usually includes easy functionality. Another advantage over the offline is that it is available wherever there is an internet connection. It is also possible that it is usable on a myriad of devices that access the internet.
Since most of the platforms do not require skills in coding, users are able to design their website quickly. They can design in a usable way, instead of trying to think like a programmer. (That work has already been done for them!)
Although an online builder has a multitude of benefits, offline website creation should still be a possibility. The group of individuals who do well with the offline choices are generally those such as the experienced programmer.
What is an offline builder? Ok, to answer that question, let’s use an example of a particular popular software. Well, at the least, it was very popular a few years ago (that should give you an idea about the growth of popularity of online tools, as well). The software is Dreamweaver, by Adobe, which used to be available as a full-fledged offline software program. It is now available as a subscription, from the Adobe Creative Cloud. To go into an explanation of what it does and how cool it is beyond the scope of this article, but suffice it to say, it was/is an awesome tool for programmers and even those who simply understood how to code in HTML.
Making the Final Decision
There are a few things to consider when making a final decision. First, let’s talk about why choosing an online website builder is likely a better choice, overall, than a software choice. Hey, we are not here to tell you what to do, but we are distilling out the points that were discussed in the above section, to demonstrate what is left. In other words, those aspects that likely affect your final decision, which is, of course, YOUR final decision (not ours).
In comparing the two examples that we are using for this article, website builders are more cost effective than the standalone software application. The website builder, ucraft, is $8/month. The online Adobe Creative Cloud Dreamweaver application (not completely offline) is $19.99/month.
Ease of Use (vs. Need for Coding Skills)
As mentioned above, online creators do not require exceptional coding skills. Coding skills help, but are not generally required. This allows the online website builder tools to be a bit easier, especially for the novices and those new to the web (newbies). In comparison, coding skills (and exceptional coding skills) are generally helpful for software applications like the Dreamweaver software (generally offline, but available via the cloud).
Monitoring (Previewing) Changes
Users can also easily monitor any changes made to the site, right away, after (or as) the changes are made. In comparison, truly offline software applications present a bit of an issue in this area. At the least, there is either a less-than-exact preview of the site, or more steps to acquire the same preview. Disclaimer: This is a comparison to the offline Dreamweaver software application. Creative Cloud version of Dreamweaver may have some desirable online features (beyond the scope of this article).
That said, it still stands that the online website builder/creator tools over very acceptable preview options. This is often called WYSIWYG (“What You See is What You Get”). This is desirable. And, it is available to you in most website builders.
Next Step: A Little Detective Work
Ok, we have spent some time differentiating between online and offline (even if accessible via the internet) tools. Even if you have chosen to move forward with the online website builder, you still need to evaluate the options. Those options vary between website builders. This is true regardless of the fact that they all fit in the category of “online website builders.”
This is another way of saying that you might be wondering what to look for in a website builder. Before jumping in with both feet, it’s a good idea to do some detective work. This means finding a program that feels right. For example, ucraft (more on ucraft, below) offers templates customized to your specifications.
Geared towards both newbies and advanced users, the skill sets of all business owners are covered, in most website builders. They are able to create many different types of pages. Of course, that still requires that detective work we mentioned, to ensure that the tool that you have chosen provides what you need, when it comes to matching your skill set, and that of your team.
Look for a Trial Period (While Continuing to Match Your Skill Set)
Some website builders offer a trial period, to allow you the opportunity to do the detective work. Again, using ucraft as our example, they offer a 14-day trial period. This allows users the ability to explore everything the tool has to offer. Taking time to explore the ins and outs of each website builder can help to ward off problems down the road. This is especially the case if someone is just starting out on that road. Easy functionality should sit high on the list of must-haves when deciding which website builder to choose.
Another feature to look for is a builder that offers several different themes and color scheme templates. If the interface seems complicated from the start, it is probably better to continue searching for another website builder. You want a builder that is navigated in a straightforward, easy-to-follow manner that suits your skill set. So, again, we have options, navigation, and a good fit for your skill set.
Final Words on the Selection Process
Ultimately, whether ones uses a website creator or not comes down to what you are looking to accomplish. Fortunately, creating a website has never been easier. Thanks to all of the builders online, creating a solid website is only a click away.
A Deeper Look into ucraft
Using our process from above, let’s list the options and features that we need (or want) in an online website builder. First, let’s start with the features that ucraft lists, right on their website:
- “professionally design templates;
- focus on user experience;
- customizable to your needs;
- absolutely no coding;
- responsive design;
- free subdomain and hosting;
- unlimited pages;
- SEO [search engine optimization] app;
- No ucraft brand[ing on your pages];
- 24/7 support;”
- free hosting on Google Cloud.
These features are all listed on the same page that is linked above, for ucraft.
Discussion About the ucraft Features
Now, as you can see, many of these listed items are actually on your list for your detective work. That means that that work has been done for you! Makes it a bit simpler, eh?
There are also several additional items on the list that we did not cover explicitly, but which are definitely helpful. The hosting and the 24/7 support are two of those. When was the last time you were working on something in the middle of the night and needed help? Well, in this case, ucraft has you covered! Also, if you are in another country, different time zone, ucraft has you covered with the 24/7 support.
And, we didn’t even have a discussion about SEO, but ucraft has you covered on that one. Confused by SEO? Fortunately, ucraft has the SEO app built into the website builder. The step-by-step process provides what you need for your SEO-ready site.
Many times website builders (especially the free ones) require their branding to appear on the website, as advertising for their own website. That actually makes sense if you are not paying anything for the builder, but fortunately, you will not have that with ucraft. It is all about you, in this case.
Great place to leave it, eh? Now, go ahead and move forward on your dreams and goals and succeed. You have the tool(s) that will help you do just that!