Most website builders offer online built-in editors that will not involve any software installation nor download to design your website. In most cases, these platforms offer drag and drop interface and tools that will enable anyone to build a professional looking website very quickly.
In some cases, you might need to install other complementary software such as FTP manager or image editing tool, though they are not required, they can be useful for some people.
Historically, in order to create a website, you would need an expensive licensed web design software, coding skills and also graphics design expertise. All that implied a lot of resources, that most small businesses and entrepreneurs can't afford and therefore felt left out from the powerful marketing tool the world wide web is.
Website builders are a fantastic solution that will help you throughout this whole process. You can pick a design. You won't need to code at all as you can just add and remove content with just a point-and-click. In most cases, you don't need to worry about the layout, fonts, colors, etc. everything will be taken care of. You just need to provide the content and follow some basic guides on search engine optimization so as to guarantee your website is an online success!
Website Building is a fast-growing industry, so there will be dozens of very good options available for you. The best way to choose the solution that better fits your needs is weighting the following 3 aspects:
First of all, you need to know how much money you can invest in this and if you can accept a long-term commitment (more than a year). Some website builders get cheaper if you are willing to sign up for a two or three-year contract.
Features / Value for money
In other cases, some website builders offer an All-In-One solution that might look expensive but if you go and compare with others that look cheaper, once you start adding all those extra features required you end up paying more. Find the correct balance between the services you will need and the money you can invest, this will narrow your options to a handful.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO is the key to a website's success. No matter how fantastic the content and the design are, websites get the vast majority of visits thanks to search engines, which a cost-free tool to get new visitors every day. The higher you rank in these engines, the higher is the change you'll get more visits. Some Website Builders offer SEO enhancement tools that might directly impact in your website's success. Make sure you do your research before you make up your mind!
Building a website the 'regular' way can be somehow expensive. Using a web development agency can cost you up to $10,000 for a service that includes planning, designing, coding, marketing and then launching it. Plus, even though you are paying this much, that doesn't mean you'll be top priority by these agencies as they handle a lot of clients and the big fish is the one that catches their primary attention.
On the other hand, if you choose to take the matter into your own hands, costs drop significantly. First of all, you need to buy a domain for your website. A domain can cost you up to $20 a year, but it can also be cost-free depending on the Website Builder and Plan you choose (as long as you maintain your website hosted with them).
Then, once your website is published, you may end up needing some advertising to boost your website visibility (especially if it is an online e-Commerce store). Some Website Builders offer special SEO tools for a small upgrade, and others even give ad credit to use with biggest companies such as Google AdWords, Facebook and Bing.
This is the second question anyone would come up with when trying to decide whether or not disembark in the online world. Once you make up your mind, you'll like to have your website online as soon as possible. The amount of time it will take you to design and upload your site varies depending on multiple factors depending your business nature and industry. In most cases, when it comes to quickly launching a website it can take up a couple of hours (there are Website Builders that can simplify the whole design stage). In some other cases, it can take days.
The main thing you should know is that if you choose the Website Builder that better suits your needs, it will definitely have an impact on the time it will take to have your site up and running. You can preview and check themes and templates available in each one of the, as well as other design features that can simplify the creation stage and how to fill it up with content.
Some Website Builders even offer a solution where you just provide some broad characteristics in order to get a professional looking website for a reasonable price. It depends on how clear is the concept you have of the website you need. Once you know what you need, the rest will be much easier.
Once your website is designed, uploaded and hosted online, that doesn't mean the job is done. Websites require maintenance and updates. Without new content and features, there's no reason why your visitors would get back to your website in the future. All popular and successful sites are website that are currently up-to-date. This does not mean it would cost you money, if you can do it by yourself. But if you don't have the time to handle this updates and upgrades, you can pay to have this done for you, too.
Aside from that, there's the hosting service fee. Depending on the plan you have, sometimes this is included in the Website Builder plan you've sign up to, or it can be independent from this. The fee can be monthly or annually, in most cases the monthly fee is not even $20, but if you can commit in the long term, prices reduce dramatically.
Regarding the domain name of your website, it is not that important where you've bought it. That said, there are still some benefits you'll get if you decide to by your domain through the Website Builder of your choice. Most Website Builders have tools that will assist you in deciding what's the best domain available for your site. In some cases, when the domain you want is already taken, you can even have the option to buy it out.
Last, but not least, if you decide to but your website domain through a website builder you'll get some valuable privacy. Domain name property information is public, so anyone would know that you are the owner of that specific domain. Website Builders can protect you from that, as they will be using their information instead. This is a vital benefit that will keep you safe from spammers that collect this information to fill your email account with junk email.
Internet has made it possible to trade money for services and products online. This is what we all understand as e-Commerce, and to support this kind of transactions, your website must have some special features and characteristics.
The main requirement you need to guarantee is a platform that supports the online payment processors you'd like to have. Most of the best Website Builders that offer e-Commerce capabilities support PayPal, as PayPal is the most popular and easy online payment solution available today.
One of the main characteristics that will divide the e-Commerce solutions is whether they accept selling things other than physical goods: digital content (music, videos, documents), software, etc. Some e-Commerce stores won't process these 'non-physical' transactions because they are a lot more complicated than the 'physical good + shipping' system.
You can definitely change the design of your website any time you want. Website Builders offer plenty of different themes, layouts and templates and are always up-to-date with the most popular trends on the web. So, once you pick up a template, that doesn't mean your website will always have that design and layout.
That said, in some cases content transition between templates is not always that straightforward. Most Website Builders design their templates to have the most compatibility possible so as to easily handle the transition of all the content from one template to another.
Most website builders offer the most popular security tools that are specially designed to prevent security breaches from happening. They will most probably offer special security on their servers (where we are storing our website), as well as the way you'll be connecting and administrating your website and, in the case of e-Commerce stores, they will offer you the most secure and well-known online payment processors. You don't have to worry about anything!