The internet is the first place people look when trying to find information on businesses, services, places, and people – if you don’t have a presence online you don’t exist. Luckily, it is now easier than ever to build yourself a website.
For years it has been enough for small businesses to just list in the Yellow Pages to get referral business, but it is becoming increasingly clear that it is now Google people turn to in order to find businesses, not antiquated offline tomes that really work better as doorstops than directories.
On a more personal level, sites like LinkedIn may offer a good way to make business connections and show off some parts of your work history, but the information is limited and you are stuck with LinkedIn being in control of both the data available and the look of your profile online.
If you run a business, want to increase your profile, or just want to share your passions online, then your own website is now a necessity for people to find you. While in the past you would have needed to pay a web designer to create even a simple profile site, it is now possible to have a great looking website with your own domain name for as little as £5 per month with no upfront or hidden costs.
This means no extra fees for hosting your site, or for secure offsite backups, or even for the domain itself – everything is bundled into one easy to understand monthly or yearly fee, which means there’s no danger of you forgetting to renew something and your website temporarily being taken offline.
Over the last decade websites have become more complex, but alongside this they have also become easier to edit with the rise of content management systems like WordPress and Drupal. These open source tools are hugely powerful and remain very popular, but for those without any technical skills they can be nearly impossible to setup and get looking good.
Obviously, not everyone has a great eye for design, so places like Wix offer users a variety of templates to choose from that look great on desktop and mobile – where a surprisingly large percent of people now do most of their web browsing – on this site that is often over 50%. Together with these templates, they also offer a huge selection of stock images to choose from, so there is no excuse for using that poorly lit iPhone shot of your office or happy customers for the about page – everything will look much more professional with a perfectly composed shot by a professional.
Moreover, while WordPress only really lets you add and edit basic content like text and images with their in-built editors, without wider control of design on a page-by-page basis, services like Wix offer a full website builder. This mean you can drag and drop all kinds of elements to get the page looking exactly how you want – all without the need of help from an expensive website designer. And all with the knowledge that the HTML and CSS behind the scenes will work to make it look good on large and small screens, and the on-page SEO will help you get found on Google and Bing.
Even better, is the Wix website builder is available on mobile, so you can keep your site updated with the latest information whilst you are killing time sitting on the train – safe in the knowledge that when you hit publish the site will still be formatted exactly as you designed.
Beyond simple so-called “pamphlet” websites, with the click of a few buttons (and a slightly higher monthly fee) it is now possible to add a fully functioning online store without the need to write any code. Taking credit-card payments online used to be a complex task, but now setting up a full ecommerce solution – complete with product galleries and sliders – can be done with a few clicks. Wix also lets you choose your payment processor for your online store, so if you are using Stripe or Square with your in-store sales, you can seamlessly link them together and keep the accounting confusion to a minimum.
For the price of two lattes from your favourite coffee shop, you can now create that website that you have always wanted to showcase your business. Maybe you are a personal trainer that wants to get the word out about your services to help local people get fit; or maybe you are an accountant that is striking out on their own and looking for clients; or maybe you make jewellery and want a place online to sell your pieces – getting a website online will help people find you, and now is the time to get started.
Photograph by FirmBee