What Is A Website Builder?
There are a lot of terms to pick up when you’re learning how to set up a website for your business or your blog. Even if you know what a web host, CMS, and SEO are, “website builder” can be a bit confusing.
Does that refer to a web designer that you hire, or to an app you use to tell your site specs to Alexa so she can build it for you?
The answers are ‘no’ and ‘sadly, no,’ but website builders are very useful, especially to first-time site owners and people who want to put together sites quickly.
What Are Website Builders?
In general terms, website builders are all-in-one tools that let users build a site quickly, without needing to know any coding or site design skills.
Although it sounds basic, a good website builder can deliver a professional looking site that uses mobile-friendly best practices, integrates with social media and e-commerce tools, and seamlessly updates to stay current and secure.
For most people, especially those who are setting up their first site, a website builder offers a low-stress, low-cost option for creating a good-quality site.
Who Are Website Builders For?
Anyone can use a website builder, but they’re an especially good option for people who:
- Need to launch a website quickly.
- Don’t have tech skills and don’t have time or interest in learning.
- Feel intimidated by the idea of putting together their first website.
- Would rather let someone else handle site updates.
- Have a small site-design budget.
Because a good website builder will include templates for all types of use cases, bloggers, small business owners, and online retailers can all get professional looking sites up and running fast. For example, HostGator’s website builder includes more than 100 templates for businesses such as restaurants, professional photography, and fashion and beauty retail, plus blog templates.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Website Builders?
Using a website builder is fast, easy, and inexpensive. Those are some pretty impressive pros. But a website builder may not be the best choice if you need:
- highly customized site code and functions.
- a fully customized template and theme.
- dedicated servers to load your site at the highest possible speeds.
- regular access to site backups.
If your site needs any of these elements, you may be better off using a CMS like WordPress or hiring a site designer and getting a dedicated hosting plan. For most site owners, though, a website builder will get the job done well.
How Do Website Builders Work?
What can you expect when you use a website builder? Let’s walk through the basic steps.
First, you’ll need a domain name for your site. If you’ve already registered your domain name, you’re a step ahead. If not, the website builder should be able to help you get that done.
Next, you’ll need a web hosting service, a place for your site’s files to “live.” Most website builders come packaged with one or more web hosting plans, so you can choose the level of service you need.
Now comes the fun part: putting together the elements you want from a menu of options.
- Templates. Go ahead and scroll through all your options a couple of times, and then narrow in on the designs that make the most sense for your type of website. If you run a business, you’ll want a template that displays product photos on the home page, and if you’re a blogger, you’ll probably want a layout that makes it easy for visitors to scroll through your posts.
- Pages and sections. Even the most minimalist website needs a few standard pages and sections: the homepage, an “about us” page or section, contact information, and your content—blog posts, products, or a portfolio of your services. Business sites usually also include customer testimonials and reviews. And an FAQ section or page can save everyone time.
- Favicon. A whaticon? See the little Snappy on your browser tab at the top of this page? That’s the HostGator favicon. You can create a similar custom image for your site, to make it easier for users to pick out your site when they have multiple tabs open, and to create a more appealing bookmark.
- E-commerce tools. If your site is your shop, you’ll need to choose a shopping cart so customers can select your products, payment tools so they can checkout, and inventory management so you always know what’s in stock, what’s on backorder, and what’s flying off your digital shelves.
- Images and video. Your website builder should have a library of high-quality images you can use to create headers and backgrounds. You should also be able to select tools to embed HD video. That will allow you to feature tutorial, product, and customer review videos on your site instead of having your visitors click away to watch them on YouTube.
- Social media. Want to share your thoughts, show off your merch, and drive traffic to your site? You’ll be able to quickly link your social media accounts to your website. Site builder social media tools also make sharing from your site to your Facebook and other accounts a snap for you and your fans.
- SEO and analytics. Getting found and learning more about your site visitors is easy with built-in tools for search-engine optimization and Google analytics integration.
Ready to get started?
HostGator’s website builder can help you set up your new site today.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.