Website builders have a lot to offer small business owners. In fact, they enable you to take over much of the management process usually handled by developers. This brings a newfound level of freedom to site management.
For instance, if you want to create an online version of your store, you can do so with eCommerce apps, plugins or widgets that let you add/sale products with striking photos, as well as access several other building and optimization tools.
In addition to building and enhancing an online store with additional features, enjoy more freedom when it comes to design/templates, apps, hosting, and search engine optimization management. These are exactly the elements I want to talk to you about, today, as I take you through my comprehensive checklist for picking the best possible website builder
Design & Templates
Website builders are unique in that they often include access to drag-and-drop editors. Drag-and-drop editors make the process of building, managing and optimizing a website, easier than working with developers and designers.
They are also significantly less expensive.
When choosing a website builder, it is important to consider the amount and the quality of its templates/designs. If a builder does not have a good quality or quantity of templates, it is best to move to another more capable builder.
There are also a heap of other features regarding design/templates that you should be aware of:
- Ensure designs are fully-customizable, meaning you can add text, images, videos and more.
- There should be a large variety of professional/modern-looking templates and categories.
- The option to import/export content from your site.
- Templates should be mobile responsive.
Apps & Integrations
In terms of apps, website builders like Wix offer over 250 apps and integrations for small business websites. Each app serves a different purpose, yet can be equally beneficial for small business owners. I want to explore some of what makes an exceptional app or integration for small business sites.
First thing’s first, you should assess the goal of your website, and then come to a decision as to the apps you need to make your site a reality. For example, if you plan on selling products, apps and integrations like PayPal and Stripe will be helpful for processing payments.
If you want to build meaningful relationships with site visitors, CRM (customer relationship management) integrations like Salesforce and HubSpot can be helpful, too. They assist in managing, organizing and contacting important leads.
There are apps and integrations for booking, building forms, email marketing, organizing and hosting events, creating forums, building an online eCommerce business and even blogging. Below are some additional and fairly standard apps/integrations that you can add to your website for an improved user experience.
- The ability to check analytics with Google Analytics or a built-in analytics feature.
- Marketing tracking tools like HotJar Crazy Egg and more.
- Customer relationship management system.
- Social media share buttons.
- Music & video options.
- Social media profile.
- Third-party reviews.
If you want to find out more about Wix’s apps and integrations, you can read more in this comprehensive Wix Review.
After checking for a website builder with professional looking designs/templates and apps — think about hosting, which can contribute to providing an exceptional user experience or one just not worth mentioning. The website builder you pick will more-than-likely come with free or inexpensive hosting, but I’d suggest seeing which other hosting packages are offered.
If it is possible to upgrade your hosting package, do so, as you will gain access to features like extra site security, automatic hosting renewals, additional bandwidth and daily site backup. Among the most important features to have is bandwidth, which can largely be accredited to fast and/or slow data loading times.
Additional features to check for
- Amount of storage (if you can find unlimited, you’ll pay a bit more, but it is worth it to be able to store all the data you want/need without slowing down data loading times, etc).
- Number of domains/subdomains offered.
- Easy WordPress installation.
- 24/7 customer support.
- A free domain.
- High up-time.
Search engine optimization is the process of improving your site for search engines. Search engines like Google actually rank websites on a number of factors including domain, authority, trust, quality/quantity of backlinks and social metrics like the number of followers, Tweets, posts and more.
There are tons of other unknown ranking factors as well. What is known, elements like Meta descriptions, which are short marketing-centric descriptions of your page that appear in a Google search — you want to be able to edit. If you can perform most or all of these functions, you are already well on your way to choosing a quality website builder.
The below features are also imperative and should be taken into account when selecting a website builder as well:
- Controlling the hierarchy of headings: <h> tags (headings): Subtitles within text
are sorted according to hierarchy <h1>, <h2>, <h3>. The headings communicate to Google, their importance based on size. H1 indicates most important, and each subsequent heading indicates a less important theme.
- Add anchor text (links within the text).
- Alt Text: alternative text for images.
- Edit your site’s URL.
That’s it — our ultimate checklist for choosing a website builder. The website builder you go with in the end, will have a lot to do with the user experience you give visitors. If you can implement some or all of the features mentioned in this post, you will have a great chance at starting your website off on a good foot.
Moving forward, as you continue to optimize your pages, you’ll notice more and more features that might be helpful. Don’t be afraid to grab the bull by its website building horns and take charge, play with the platform and understand how you can best use it to meet your unique business needs.
About the Author – Marc Dane is the SEO & Content Manager at WebCreate.io – a knowledge hub for small business owners looking to build a presence online. The site offers website builder reviews and comparisons, guides for building a website and resources on related tools, platforms and more.