How to Have a STUNNING Website on a Small Budget
Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does– Steuart Henderson Britt
When small or aspiring business owners think they can make it without a credible website, they are operating on the same principle as above. You know how great you are at what you do, but nobody else does. You miss out on the "8 new people who come onto the internet every second" (Source: Internetworldstats.com). To some, professional Web development is considered an unnecessary and costly endeavor, but it does not need to be. There are businesses that exist to fill this gap in the marketplace, including Multicultural Solutions LLC. Our stance is, a professional web presence is a must. At the very least, a basic web presence is better than a non-existent web presence.
This advice is not without controversy. Professional web developers advice businesses to stay clear of hosted platforms like Wix (NASDAQ: WIX), Squarespace, and even WordPress (the .com, not the .org) in favor of building a proprietary website. This is akin to advising a hungry person to throw away the food because it's not organic. While we all would love organic food, we get by and fill our stomachs with run-of-the-mill food just fine!
Our advice to small business owners and anyone seeking to participate in the modern marketplace is to chart your course. Be a disruptor. Conventional wisdom has a lot to be desired. When it comes to websites, evaluate your real need for the upcoming year or two at the most. Technology is changing so much that few businesses maintain the same site for more than two years, so be clear about your immediate goal.
There's a budget-friendly hosted website builder that fulfills all your requirements. The one we will reference a lot here is Wix because we are experts at it. With millions of users the world over, Wix makes it easy to own a cloud-based website that is not only beautiful but converts customers into buyers. Let's take a deep dive into all the reasons you will be told why-not, and why all those reasons do not pass the smell test.
(Note - Wix has not paid us for endorsement)
Boring and Poor Designs
Have you seen our Vasikana Project website? What's boring about that site?
Not only does the site provide mobile optimization, a chatbot directly connecting you to your customers, it also makes appointments for you. Need a blog? There's a tool for that. Have an event coming up? There's an app for that. Want to take online payments and donations? They have that covered too. Video and audio? Just tell it where to find the content. I am still to come across a client requesting something that Wix is unable to deliver.
While there may be some structural limitations a developer might need, on the whole, Wix will deliver a website that makes your business stand out from your competition. Most customers don't care about HTML and CSS; they care that they can find you, and feel safe about doing business with you. They want a delicious sausage without knowing that the guts and tongue are in there too.
Hosted Template Based Websites are Generally Unsafe
Every website is unsafe if not appropriately protected.
The good news is that builders like Wix are publicly traded. Wix, as a company has to employ the absolute best practices in the industry. As a result, they are probably a safer risk than other builders like Squarespace and WordPress. Builders like Wix can arguably compete with Adobe's (NASDAQ: ADBE) complicated Dreamweaver (popular with developers and for those with large budgets. We also love Dreamweaver!) and WordPress. Wix offers highly secure free hosting even with their basic plan, which leads them in direct competition with GoDaddy (NYSE: GDDY). In other terms folks, you're in good hands.
Because Wix takes care of all your security certifications in the background, you don't have to worry about buying another plan to secure your website, much less keeping track of when the security certificate expires, and what level of security you will need to be fully compliant. Wix does all this for you, with servers around the world as a backup.
You are Not in Control of Your Domain
This is perhaps the most astonishing claim I hear from some business owners.
The fear that once they sign up for a service like Wix, they have no control of their domain if they ever want to transfer their hosting to another provider, or that transferring hosting and domain to another provider is like climbing the Himalayas. Nothing can be farther from the truth. It took me 5 minutes to transfer a clients' GoDaddy domain to Wix. It was flawless.
Wix itself has a detailed step by step process on how to effectively do this. If all else fails, their customer service is quite responsive. I have found them to be easy to deal with and much faster than trying to work with my home internet providers!
On the hand, WordPress as an open software system does not have traditional customer service. They expect you to crowdsource answers to your technical problems.
Perhaps what some owners fail to understand is the domain registration system and how it works. Hosting providers are not necessarily domain registrants and to complicate things a bit further - there might be different providers for hosting, website building, and domain registration. Trenew your domain each year. Providers like Wix automatically do this for you. Woe comes to those who do not. In my early website creation days, I let a domain expire. When I tried to renew it, someone in China had bought the domain name and offered to resell it to me for $3000!
Data Migration is Impossible
Not true. This might have been true when Wix first hit the market, but not so today.
As with may things business, planning is critical here. When you first create your site with Wix, create with expansion on mind. I won't refute that Wix is probably not the best choice for big business, in which case, we would not be discussing it here. As a starter website, Wix is as close to perfect as we have come across. You can migrate your data to a bigger platform when you grow. Technically, businesses change their websites every couple of years, so in your second phase of growth, you can migrate to a bigger platform.
With that in mind, you will need someone to help you structure your web pages/blog in a way that will make it easier to migrate through RSS feeds. What will most likely happen is, as you grow in business, your focus will shift, and you might not even want to same copy in phase 11 of your growth. All this to say, do not obsess over issues that morph. Concentrate on getting a website that puts your best foot forward in a manageable way.
They Lack Functionality and Discoverability
Wix boasts over 200 apps that will instantly add function to your site. As an added bonus, it walks you through setting up Google My Business.
Premium plans come with some of the most popular apps, like bookings, blogging, and events already plugged in. If you need more than 200 apps on your website, then we need to talk.
Wix has added its own coding platform... According to their website, you can "Customize your user experience with Corvid's APIs—from eCommerce to appointment scheduling. Use industry-leading marketing tools, like Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel, to monitor visitor actions and optimize your SEO metadata".
Google, which allows your site's discovery, has also come a long way. More than SEO, there are many ways to get found online, including a robust social media presence, Google My Business, and networking. Needless to add, Wix has a step by step SEO optimization capability which any decent marketer worth their fee can configure for you just as effectively as the $1000 SEO guru (maybe not, but close).
Whatever Wix lacks in functionality is made up by ease of use. As discussed earlier, there are very few things you can't do on Wix because that's just what the developers intended - ease of use. WordPress, on the other hand, can be a mammoth task, dealing with various plugins that do not always want to work together. You might lose some on site loading speed (which has also greatly improved), but that's a trade-off much better than not having a web presence.
They Are an Expensive Option
That depends on your cash flow.
Let's look at it this way. Most aspiring small business owners can afford $35/month but not $400/year off the bat. Can we agree? So in as much as it might be an expensive long-term option, for budding business owners in need of a web presence to attract clients, it is an affordable option.
Technically, it's free to use both WordPress and Wix, but that's not the plan you need. I have seen businesses operating on the free plans - this is never good if you want to be taken seriously. The free plans are great for test driving, but you put the plan back on the shelve once you understand how it will work with your business goals. For full-scale functionality, you will need to go with at least the middle paid plans.
So how does the pricing work? For Wix, price is firm after you choose a plan you can afford. The plans range from $17 to $40 a month. WordPress varies widely because of the various plugins you might need.
They Are Not Good at eCommerce
That criticism is fair.
Not because they are inherently bad, but because there are other great options which are so much better at delivering eCommerce. WordPress has excellent complicated plugins like Shopify and WooCommerce, which are worth the hustle to set-up because they provide excellent service.
The difference between Wix's eCommerce and using a WordPress plugin or other eCommerce dedicated platforms is like a convenience store and a super Walmart. Wix can expertly handle small inventory and will do everything you need it to do to sell online, but not if your primary business depends on online selling.
So, if you're a small business, entrepreneur, home business and mulling over the cost of building your website, fear not. You have affordable options. Off course just because you make it, doesn't mean they will come, but that's a discussion we will need to have.
Originally published on LinkedIn.com