War of the Ws – Options to Build a Website and Online Store

Having a professional looking website for your business is an important first step in establishing a business’s legitimacy. Even before a company is fully up and running, deciding on its name and securing the website URL is a critical part of the evolution of your firm. There are a few choices to help your company build a website and the competition is heating-up.

Having a website in place is helpful for entrepreneurs in search of capital. When an underwriter gets a small business loan application, among the first things he will likely do is go to the internet and look at the company website. The simple fact that a business has invested in an online presence will provide the business with legitimacy. It is no longer an option for a company to build a website, it’s a must-have.

Setting up a site does not have to be an expensive proposition. Website hosting companies, such as Wix.com, enable business owners to establish an online presence for little or no money. However, remember the old adage that “you get what you pay for.” A basic site may not have all the functionality that makes a good impression in the 21st century, and it will populate your site with Wix advertisements at the top and bottom of your page.

Wix has over 109 million registered users and offers hundreds of design templates for many different industries. The templates come with placeholder content, which means you can use the preloaded images or replace them with photos and graphics of your own by dragging and dropping them into the template.

Wix offers premium plans that enable businesses to set up their own domain without having Wix as part of the URL (increasing credibility and professionalism), provides web hosting and extra bandwidth and storage, and removes Wix ads from the site. Additionally, you can create an online store that enables your business to manage orders and keep track of inventory in real time, get paid easily via credit cards and Paypal, create promotional coupons and manage shipping and tax.

Weebly is another popular application to help build a website that allows anyone to start and grow an online business with curated website templates, powerful ecommerce opportunities, and integrated marketing. The company boasts that more than 40 million entrepreneurs around the world use its services. Weebly provides the opportunity to create your own high quality site and online store that works well with mobile devices.

Domain name registration starts at $19.95 for one year. Pricing, beginning at $25 annually, includes a drag & drop builder, no Weebly ads, unlimited storage, SSL security, advanced site stats, HD video and audio. Weebly helps businesses maintain an online store with a tool that makes it easy to ship products domestically or internationally, track inventory, create coupons and make custom gift cards, enable visitors to search products, and accept payments using Square, Stripe or PayPal. The company has won praise for mobile app (available in the App Store and Google Play).

Other leading webhosting companies for business include:

  • InMotion, which has won praise for its WordPress and ecommerce hosting.
  • 1&1, a global player that offers domain name registration, web hosting, unlimited storage, SSL certificates, email, and online marketing capabilities
  • GoDaddy, likely the best known hosting service and the one that registers more domain names than any other service. An intriguing new feature is its Microsoft Office 365 Business email offer.
  • BlueHost, which was named No. 1 recommended web hosting by WordPress.org. Every account features 1-click WordPress installation, 24/7 support and a money-back guarantee.

To develop your business website, the following critical steps are involved:

  • Registering the domain name
  • Building the site, including the Homepage and basic tabs including About Us, Products and Services, Online Checkout, and Contact Us
  • Incorporating features including Google Maps and videos

Those who are intimidated by technology or don’t have the time or ability to create a website on their own can hire a profession website developer or p.r. firm to handle the task. Hiring a professional designer who will customize your site naturally will typically cost a lot more money (anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars) than using a web hosting site. They may also offer online hosting and continual maintenance of the site.

Having a professional, mobile-friendly website is a must for any company seeking to grow. It’s a valuable investment that cannot be avoided in today’s business environment. When planning the coming year’s budget, be sure to allocate funds for the continual maintenance, and improvement of your website.