Whether you are using WordPress or a Website Builder, there are a range of external tools and resources you will need in order to give your website a professional touch. Note that if you are building your site with WordPress, it is likely you will have hired a developer or designer for the creation process. In this case, they should be able to assist you with the following (expect a higher price than using the online resources mentioned below).
Things to look as you vet hosts for ecommerce include drag-and-drop store builders, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) software for safeguarding financial transactions, and email marketing plug-ins, so that you don't have to work with an outside vendor to promote your business. There's nothing wrong per se with using an unconnected marketing service, but anything that adds convenience means more time to spend on the rest of your business. For more in-depth advice on getting started selling online, you should consider our story on the 6 Factors Companies Need to Consider When Choosing a Web Host.
If you don't have a design already in place and think templates are too limited, consider Adobe Muse CC. This unique little program concentrates on letting you design. Templates are handy, embeddable web fonts are great, and the sitemap view may be the best way to get an overall feel for what your site will have. Export it to HTML and you're ready for upload. It's part of the Creative Cloud bundle and also available individually for $14.99 a month with a yearly plan.
One downside of most of these services is that, should you someday want to move to another web host, you'll likely be out of luck because of the custom code they use to display your site. Only a few of the services here let you take your site to another web hosting service: The most complete example of this is Weebly, which lets you download the standard site server folders. Squarespace offers some transferability by letting you output your site in standard WordPress format. As you might expect, the same transferability holds for WordPress.com.
Several of the services included here offer free options, too. If you choose that path, however, your site will include branding from the provider, which will necessarily make your site less impressive to savvy surfers—and shoppers. Free offerings vary greatly in the amount of storage and bandwidth they allow, so read the small print to find out how much you get with each provider. Weebly, Wix, and WordPress.com are among the most generous with their free offerings, if that's the way you want to go.
Ready to race right off the starting block into building your website? We love the enthusiasm. But before even reaching the starting line, you need to get in some warm-ups and conditioning to establish a solid foundation. Every good website begins with a thoughtful plan. Open a fresh new digital doc (or grab a pen and paper if you’d prefer to go old school) and complete the following exercises.
This guide is your training plan. As your trusty web host and coach, we’re here to keep you on track as you build, grow, secure, and promote your new site. We’ve broken this website workout plan into goals and tasks to complete each quarter throughout 2018, but feel free to work at your own pace. You do the sweating, and we’ll be right beside you with water cups and cheese-tastic motivational signs.
Templates provide a framework for your website — a coherent, attractive canvas for you to paint the content of your site onto. They’re how you can have a site that looks good without having to hire a designer. Templates dictate color scheme, what your homepage header and menu bar look like, and the content width on your site, so it’s essential to pick the right one.