Building a website from scratch can seem like a daunting task. Here I describe how I evaluated the needs and priorities of my small business and chose a website host that works for me. Check out our previous blog post “How to choose the right website host and hosting plan” for a broad overview.
Identifying my priorities
Running a small business often means running on a tight budget. So, the first and possibly most important factor when choosing a web host for me was price.
I wanted to choose a website host with a fairly simple interface that allows a website to be built and edited without knowing how to code. This could enable any member of my team to help maintain the website without a lot of background knowledge or training.
When trying to build a website in the past, I had trouble formatting so that the Desktop, Tablet, and Phone sizes of a website all looked good. I wanted something with a simple view of how my site would look on differently sized devices.
Lastly, I am afraid of commitment. I wanted to be sure the site would look good before committing to a purchase.
Some things that were NOT a priority
- Online Sales: I did not need a product view or a cart/checkout flow. (which some web hosts, like Shopify, are more geared towards)
- Fancy Website Templates: I didn’t have a specific-enough brand identity to know what kind of unique look and feel I wanted for my site. I wanted simple functionality to make sure users could find key information and get in touch via a contact form.
- Purchasing a domain: I had already purchased a domain name. Check out our blog post “How to Register a Domain and What to do Next” for more detail on this step.
Searching based on my priorities
I already knew that website builders are products which allow for a code-free way to build websites. And, I had already heard of the website builders Squarespace and Wix, but knew they were more costly than I was willing to commit to. So, I used a search engine with terms like “squarespace alternatives” or “low cost website builder” to explore more options.
I skimmed websites which compared different offerings, and noted some of the reasons that one was better than another. I was focusing on cost, ease of use, and whether or not I could play around in their site editor before paying. The website builder I chose is called Zyro.
Pros and Cons
Here are the things that I really love about Zyro
- The price was great. They were having a sale when I purchased, and I’m locked into a low monthly cost for two years.
- There are several website templates available. Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress have far more templates, but the few offered here were enough to get me started quickly.
- I could fully build and preview a nearly-complete site and make sure I liked the editing experience before paying anything.
- There are enough pre-created elements, like a contact form or a slide show of images. These are simple to add to my site and already look great
- Zyro allows users to add a business email address to their plan for a fairly small additional cost.
- There is some assistance to add SEO keywords onto the site and to each page. Check out our blog post “How to win at SEO as a small business” to learn more about Search Engine Optimization.
- There’s a great selection of stock photography available for use at no additional cost.
- It’s very simple to toggle between “Desktop” and “Mobile” views while editing.
Here are some cons
- As mentioned, the number of templates is limited. If I wanted anything different from what was offered, I had to spend some time creating and formatting it myself.
- Any pre-created element behaves well when switching from Desktop view to Mobile view. Any of the things I added myself to Desktop would usually look a bit jumbled in Mobile. I had to do extra work to format correctly in Mobile view.
By first identifying my website needs and priorities, searching and comparing offerings online based on those needs, and getting familiar with the product before committing, I was able to choose a website host that suited my small business needs very well.
Importantly, this decision model lets me reevaluate later. If my business grows and I need more custom features or I want a unique look to my site, then I can search again based on my new priorities. The landscape is also changing constantly. While writing this article, I tried to replicate my search criteria that lead me to find Zyro. Less than a year later, I might have picked a different offering.
If you would like more information on website hosting, or would like help with your website, just call or email and we’ll be happy to assist you! If you have specific questions, or if our terminology isn’t clear, please use our contact form to send us a message. Thank you!