We all learned a lot in 2020, and one of the things we learned was that every business needs a website to reach people even when they can’t connect in person.
But starting a website can seem hard, especially if you don’t know how to code. That may be why about a quarter of U.S. small businesses still lack a website in 2021.
Fortunately, starting a website has never been easier, even for totally non-techie people who don’t know a <b> from a font-weight value. Let’s walk through the big questions about setting up a website and show you how you can get it done right and done fast—no coding required.
Should you hire a web designer or DIY?
A good web designer can put together something that’s unique to your business needs, and design expertise is a must if you’re planning a complex site with custom features and hundreds or thousands of pages. A designer can also maintain your site for you after it’s built, for a monthly fee.
Those are the pros.
The cons of working with a web designer are money and time. Design fees can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. A typical design process can take weeks. And the best designers usually have a waiting list for new projects.
For these reasons, hiring a designer is a better option for big or fast-growing businesses than for side hustlers, bloggers and small local businesses.
The good news here is that the DIY options for putting together a website that works well and looks great are better than they’ve ever been. Why is that? Website builders.
Should you use a website builder?
A website builder is an online tool you can use to build your website fast without having to write or edit any code. Site builders are usually offered by web hosting services as part of a hosting package that costs a few dollars a month, and the site you set up with the website builder has to be hosted on their servers.
So how do you set up your site if you’re not using code? Most website builders have drag-and-drop functions that let you use your mouse or your touch screen to place your headers, logo, images and copy where you want them. You get to choose from their library of templates and images to create a look you like.
This is a lot simpler than coding a site. However, if a whole slew of design templates, images and formatting options can send you down a rabbit hole for hours—or if the idea of all those choices stresses you out—there’s another option: an AI-powered automated website builder.
An automated site builder asks you a few questions about your site goals and needs. Then it uses your information to quickly build a site that meets your design and business requirements.
You can clear the new-website hurdle and get on with whatever you’re going to do with your site, whether it’s a business or a blog.
Which web hosting service should you use?
OK, so now you know you really can build a site without coding it yourself—or having to spend time experimenting with different templates and layouts to get a good-looking site.
Now, it’s time to think about the web hosting service you’ll need. (A web hosting service hosts the physical servers that allow your website to be accessible online.) In addition to looking for a web host with an easy-to-use website builder, you’ll also want to check out the other features it offers. For example, you’ll want to review what the host offers in terms of:
- Bandwidth and disk space. Does the web host charge (“meter”) you for the amount of bandwidth and disk space you use, or does it offer a flat rate for unmetered usage, within the limits of the terms of service? For most small and new websites, an unmetered plan is the more cost-effective choice.
- Speed. Will your website load fast so visitors don’t leave before they see your awesome stuff? Look for a host that offers a content delivery network to accelerate loading speed.
- SSL. Does the web host give you a free SSL certificate to encrypt the data your visitors enter on your website?
- Support. Is there 24/7 support to help you out whenever you have a question? Are there priority support options available?
- Website functionality. Does the host’s website builder create responsive sites that look good and work right on any device?
- Domains. Will the web host help you choose and register your domain name?
- Business features. Does the web host’s site builder plan give you the option to build an online store, take payments, manage inventory and shipping, and manage sales tax? Does the site builder make it easy for your customers to book appointments through your website?
- Marketing resources. Can you set up email lists, capture leads, run email campaigns and track your site analytics easily?
- Cost. Can you get the hosting, support and site builder features you need at a reasonable price?
Once you’ve chosen your web host, it’s time to put a name to your website by registering its domain name.
What’s your domain name?
In basic terms, your domain is the name for your site’s home on the web. For example, HostGator’s domain is hostgator.com. Choosing your domain name is an important step—so important that we wrote an entire post full of tips to help you pick the best domain name for your site.
You’ll get your domain name by claiming it through a domain registration service and paying a small yearly fee. But first, you’ll need to make sure the domain name you want is available. You can search for domains here.
When you find a domain name you like that’s available, you can buy it right away. While you’re at it, sign up for privacy protection so your name, home address and other contact information aren’t available to anyone who looks up your domain registration online.
How do you set up your website?
After you register your domain name and sign up for your website builder hosting plan, you’re ready to set up your site. If you’re using an intelligent site builder like Gator Website Builder, all you have to do is answer a few questions. Then…
- Kick back and watch Gator bring together a layout, images and content that match your site goals and your type of business or blog.
- Next, customize your headlines, create your logo with our LogoMaker and add images from our Unsplash library.
- You can also add an eCommerce store, set up your inventory and payments, and create coupons and discount offers for your customers.
Aaaaand that’s it. Your site is ready to launch!
So, yes, it’s possible to start your website without knowing how to code. Ready to get it done? Find your Gator Website Builder plan now.