Using a website builder is the easiest way to dive into launching a new website. Although there’s a bit more to it than just ‘drag and drop’ and ‘voilà!’, a website builder removes much of the time, money, and stress required to build a website from scratch. Website builders offer prebuilt themes with customizable modules and unlimited ways to adapt them to your business needs.
There are two main reasons why a website builder will make your life easier: you don’t need to understand coding (although it is helpful should you need to look into the back-end), and website builders are typically all-inclusive, meaning they provide a hosting service and help you secure a domain name and your SSL certificate.
We spoke to two of our amazing web team members, Melissa Nault and Lisa Schmidtke, about what the process generally looks like for creating the perfect website for your business:
1. Choosing the Right Website Builder
Before you choose a website builder, make sure you have a clear idea of your budget, and what the primary goal, or function, is for your website. Website builders, usually offer a free version, but will require a paid subscription if you want to access premium features like custom domain names and extra storage options. Certain website builders are built with a specific target user and function in mind. For example, options like HubSpot CMS and WordPress are built to facilitate blogging and content marketing, whereas an option like Shopify is designed to sell goods.
At this stage, you’ll also want to peruse the website builders’ ease-of-use and their various design options. More than likely, you decided to launch a website with a website builder to make it easy for you to maintain, so make sure that whatever service you use makes sense to you. We recommend taking advantage of a free trial period, which allows you to play around with different options before committing. Also, many website builders provide a library of potential templates and themes, which usually can be customized, especially if you understand coding and can adjust the back end. To start feeling inspired, poke around on HubSpot’s CMS Hub theme collection here.
These are some of the top website builders, as recommended by HubSpot. Below, here is a list of today’s top website builders that you might consider.
2. Making Decisions on Name, Design, and Features
Once you’ve signed up for a subscription plan that fits your needs, now you’ll get to decide on your custom url and domain name, and start building the website of your dreams.
“Don't dismiss the free themes that are offered in the HubSpot Marketplace,” points out Melissa. “One of my favorite free themes right now is ‘Absolut’ by Kohorta. Absolut is the Second Prize Winner of the 2021 HubSpot Theme Challenge. There are a lot of great building blocks built into this "award-winning" theme—and it's free!”
Oftentimes, there’s a key feature missing from a free theme that requires a website builder to choose a paid option. Lisa recommends Helpful Hero’s CLEAN theme. This theme has been consistently ranked a #1 theme option in the HubSpot Marketplace.
“This theme offers almost every module we need,” explains Lisa. “And the theme developer, Kevin Freman, offers ongoing support and is extremely responsive.”
A few important notes on this stage.
- URL/Domain Name: Remember, with many website builders, you’ll want to upgrade from that free plan you were trying if you want a custom domain and a website that looks really professional, polished, and established. You also want to make sure that your domain name is something snappy and easy to remember, but keep it short and sweet. You can make sure that your desired domain name is available using services like GoDaddy and Google Domains.
- Selecting Your Website Design Template: One aspect of using pre-made themes is that you can choose a template designed specifically for your kind of business, whether you’re a small restaurant, an artistic business with a portfolio, etc. However, you do want to make sure that your website stands out from the competition. You’ll DEFINITELY want to adjust the color palette to be in line with your branding, replace any photos and images with your own personalized images, and update all links to social media buttons and icons so that your visitors get where they want to be.
3. Adding Key Pages and SEO Optimized Content
When it comes to launching a website, remember that “perfect is the enemy of good.” If you have a hundred different products you’re selling, you may not need to finish all hundred pages before you launch your new site. These are the minimum and most important pages you’ll want for your new website.
- Home page
- About us page
- Contact us page
- Products & Services page
- Blogging page
As foundational as your key pages, you’ll want to build your entire website off of target keywords. By making sure that you understand which keywords you want your website to rank for, you can develop optimized content around these topics and, as often as possible, try including these in your page titles. For more information on building out content that attracts leads, check out our treasure trove of marketing resources.
Working with a Professional Web Agency
Although website builders allow individuals to build their own websites, investing in professional web design, web copy and marketing support can have significant returns on investment. Remember that your website is often the first thing a potential customer sees and so it forms a lasting impression. Additionally, a website can and should be a 24/7 resource for all of your sales and marketing efforts — from attracting potential customers via search to differentiating you from your competitors. At StoryTeller, we work with clients around the country to create websites designed to seamlessly guide prospects through their buyer’s journey.