A business without a website is a business that is substantially losing out on opportunities to be discovered. However, building a website can be a daunting task. These days, it seems as though there are a million and one different ways that a person can build a website, and all of the options can become overwhelming.
Before you can even start your brand-new website, you need to figure out which platform would be the best fit for you. Between hosted platforms like Squarespace and Wix, and self-hosted platforms like WordPress.org, you have a plethora of options that you can choose from.
The first question you should ask yourself is whether this site will be designed to meet a short-term need, or is building for longer-term performance something that is important to you? There are ways to build websites on platforms that are best for both options, so it’s important to prioritize.
If you’re looking at the short term, a hosted platform might be a good fit for you. Examples of hosted platforms are Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress.com (not WordPress.org), among others. The plus sides to these platforms is that they are relatively easy to use, they are affordable, and technical updates are done automatically. Basically, all you have to worry about is getting the content you want on the page and going live. Sounds great, right?
Well, maybe not as great as you think. As a business owner, it’s important to look at building a website as if it is an investment and prepare for the long haul. These days, websites are intended to be interactive and informative, which will require continual attention and updates. With a self-hosted platform, you have more capabilities than a hosted platform, and these capabilities are what will set you apart from the competition.
While a hosted platform might make it easier to design a website and get it on the world wide web in a short amount of time, your design and customization options are limited. There are lots of templates out there that you can choose from on hosted platforms, but you are often unable to change much of the design which can make it difficult to match your brand. Accessing the code to make manual changes is typically much more complicated, if not impossible. And if you change your mind about the design of your site later down the road, you might have to restart your website over from scratch.
On the other hand, self-hosted platforms come with loads of templates that you can choose from. You can find designs for all different kinds of categories. The best part is, the creativity doesn’t have to stop at the template you choose. You can personalize your site to fit your brand even better than the original template itself. This allows you to have quality design while also accurately representing your brand.
The only downside to customizing the design on a self-hosted platform is that this might require some knowledge of HTML and CSS, depending on which templates you use. However, there are so many templates available that you can find options that allow you to switch up the design without knowing any code, or you can always invest in a web designer.
A User-Friendly Experience
A 2018 Stone Temple study indicates that mobile users have now surpassed the number of people using a desktop to surf the web. Naturally, Google has taken the increase of mobile users into consideration, and implemented a mobile-first indexing of the web. This means that if your site is not responsive to mobile, your website could take a hit when it comes to ranking in a Google search. Oftentimes, templates on hosted platforms are not automatically responsive for mobile, and it can take a lot of extra work to make them mobile friendly. However, on a self-hosted platform, you have the option to customize your site however you would like for it to fit on different kinds of mobile devices like cell phones and tablets.
Technical SEO Capabilities
If you’re a business owner and you’re looking at building a website, it’s important to keep SEO in mind. While fundamental SEO strategies are relatively simple on any platform, like putting keywords in header sections of your site or adding page titles and metadata, some SEO problems are more technical and cannot be fixed without going into the code and making changes. Without the ability to access the backend of a website, many business owners realize that using a hosted platform has actually made it more difficult to have quality SEO and end up starting their website over on a self-hosted platform.
Overall, if you’re looking at seeing long-term results and seeking the most bang for your buck, having a customized website on a self-hosted platform might be your best bet. Making a custom website might require more time and patience, or if you decide to have someone build the site for you, it could require more money. However, at the end of the day, your website is an investment. It is only there to benefit you and your business and/or your brand, and it is worth spending a little extra time and money to have it done right.