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By Lynne Gowers on 11th June 2015
Nowadays, it’s not just big business which need websites. When it comes to promoting your services, websites are one of the best methods of getting your message ‘out there’. Since they’re your virtual shop front, you want your window display to be as attractive as possible. Even if you’re a bit of a technophobe, there are some easy-to-use website making tools around which make it super simple when it comes to building your own website, and it no longer matters if you don’t know your HTML from your CSS.
So you’ve bought your personalised business domain name, but now what? We look at three of the big players when it comes to do-it-yourself web development.
Weebly is a ‘drag-and-drop’ website builder, which means it’s really simple to use and you a sneak preview of how your website will look as you’re building it. It offers around 100 free themes, which you can edit to suit your business’s colour scheme and you can change the usual header/background images and choose your favourites from a selection of fonts. It’s an extremely user-friendly system, providing a sleek website for your business. Usefully, Weebly also offers integration with Google Apps for Business which means you can take advantage of Gmail style business emails, calendar, storage, and chat features – ideal if your business requires a lot of customer nurturing.
As with Weebly, Wix is also a ‘drag-and-drop’ platform and can be used to create a stylish website with zero coding knowledge required. It provides slightly more creative freedom than Weebly does, and you can also sell products on your website via their reasonably basic e-commerce function. Similar to WordPress Plugins, Wix also offers a range of third party Apps – such as calendars or contact forms, which you can add into your site. If you’re looking to use email marketing, Wix also offer Wix ShoutOut; this is their own tool which enables you to build a contact list and create custom marketing emails for promotions and updates.
WordPress is a popular option for freelancers and small business owners (it’s what we use!) because its gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to customising your site. Not only are there a huge range of free themes available, there are thousands of paid-for themes which you can purchase through third-party websites (or directly from a designer). These enable you to pick a layout which suits your services, and you can also download separate Plugins to enhance your site (for example, if you wanted to integrate a Facebook feed).
In order to use WordPress as a platform, you’ll need to purchase a web hosting package and install it as the content management system. Most of the major hosting players offer WordPress installation – if it’s not advertised on their homepage, they probably don’t do it. Often hosting packages come with a year-long domain name included, but then you’ll have to renew it going forwards (don’t worry, they’ll send a lot of reminders). Once you’ve installed it, the platform is ready-to-go and you can start editing your site immediately. The great thing about WordPress is how customisable it is; you add as many pages as you want, create custom menus and choose from an array of different page layouts depending on the purpose of the page.
WordPress is definitely the most sophisticated and comprehensive option out of the three. As a general rule, if want anything more than a very basic webpage then WordPress is your best shout. If you do want a website with more complicated functionality (such as customer profiles or forum) then it’s worth considering consulting a web developer for help.
Whichever option you go for, their simple user interface and modern templates mean you have no excuse for having the internet equivalent of dusty windows and broken signage.
Our guide to choosing the right accounting software walks you through the market leaders to help you choose the right platform for your business
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Thousands of contractors, freelancers and locums turn to Boox for help and advice with their limited company accounting. They love our personal service and app.
Specialist accounting for sole traders and the self employed, Boox combines easy online tools with expert support to take away the stress of handling your accounts.
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