Welcome to the big step of creating your website. Many options are available, but it all depends on what your requirements are. Start with asking yourself; what do I need for my website? Will it be a simple tutorial website, a page with much visitor interaction, or even a full swing eCommerce website? If you don't have much experience yet, try to keep things simple and don't underestimate the complexity of building a website.
Website; what are your requirements?
Before discussing the options you have in terms of website platforms/systems we need to investigate what it is you need, and what you will need in the foreseeable future. In the previous steps you decided on your startup/website idea and registered a domain name. By now, you have a pretty good idea of what you want. So what is that? What do you need? Some indication:
Simple but good looking website for adding articles, photos and a contact form.
More complexity; add interaction tools with visitors and other extensions.
You name it; a website for product comparisons, extended interactions, online shopping, etc.
Trust me when I say that building a website is a potential deal-breaker; the more you want, the more effort it will take. Consider keeping it simple and doing it yourself, or making it complex and outsourcing the work.Oscar, starttomonetize.com
Website options, CMS vs. Website Builder
There are two ways to build a website. The first is to install a Content Management System (CMS) on your webhosting account. The second is to register yourself at a Website Builder and assemble the site you want with them.
Building a website with a CMS
A CMS is an open source package that you can download for free. With a CMS you can create an entire website/blog to which many extensions are available, some paid, most are free. Most webhosting companies offer an automated install of CMS systems, so that you don't need to install them yourself and only need to learn how the CMS works.
The big advantage of a CMS is flexibility and endless features; you can really do anything you can think of with a CMS and its available extensions. And they are free! However, it can be daunting to learn your way around the systems and it can be very time consuming. If you have no experience with them so far, you will need to follow some tutorials online to learn how it works.
There are two mainstream, high quality Content Management Systems out there; Joomla! and WordPress. I think they are pretty similar and so it doesn't matter all that much which one you choose.
Joomla! is the system I use for this website, and have been using for all my websites so far. There is a bit of a learning curve in understanding the administration panel, but there are plenty of online tutorials to guide you through the basics. One of Joomla!'s benefits is that it has a big community of developers that create all kinds of extensions to the main system; for Joomla! there are several eCommerce tools (including entire online shop systems), product comparison plugins, newsletter tools, etc. You name it, they have it.
Check or download Joomla! here.
WordPress is the most popular CMS for a few years now, mostly because of their focus on blogs. Once you install WordPress, you have a blog you can immediately start working on. But you can do much more with WordPress (more or less the same as with Joomla!). WordPress is a little bit more design-centered and is considered to be simpler than Joomla!, though to me the administration panel is not as intuitive.
Check or download WordPress here.
Creating a website with a Website Builder
Website Builders make it much easier for beginners to create a website. But they charge for their services (normally around $100 per year) and you are less flexible in designing and growing your site. Having said that, if you have no experience at building websites this might be a real intelligent option, enabling you to spend little time on creating a site and lots of time on growing your business.
There are several Website Builders out there, by far the biggest is Wix. SquareSpace is an interesting option as well, with great designs.
Wix is probably the simplest way out there to create your website. No need to learn any coding and no need to learn a complex administration panel (like on a CMS); you have access to an intuitive drag and drop interface that let's you assemble your site's pages quite easily.
They have many templates available (templates will be discussed on the next page) and since you are paying for their services, you can get support as well. They have a basic eCommerce tool, but if you are into eCommerce (or will be) you really want a CMS and not a Website builder.
Click here for their site.
SquareSpace offers beautiful designs and if the design is important for your site, this is your service.
Their editing screen is intuitive and putting together a basic website is straight forward.
Click here for their site.
Alternatives; Weebly and Jimdo
With Wix and SquareSpace you have enough to choose from, but if you want to check two other services, Weebly and Jimdo are the options.
Making the decision
So how do you choose? It depends mostly on what you want with your site (we talked about that when we discussed the requirements). But, it also depends on your current skills with webdesign and the amount of time you are willing to invest in learning new skills.
To help you make up your mind, I present three scenarios:
The decision ultimately is a tradeoff between focus (should you really put time in learning how to build a website, instead of focusing on growing your online business?) and flexibility (knowing how to build a website will help you a lot, even if you outsource part of the work). If you have the time, I'd say it's worth it to invest in learning to work with a CMS. This will also save you a lot of money on the long term.
Doing it yourself vs. Outsourcing
No matter what method you choose to build your site, the step of building your website will take time and require a lot of effort to go through the learning curve. The effort will pay off though, especially considering this is only your first startup idea and probably more will be started eventually.
However, if you have absolutely no skills at designing a website and never made one before, you can consider outsourcing this step entirely. Several platforms exist where you will be able to find someone to make your website. You are still the one that needs to choose which platform you need and most likely if you outsource, it will be Joomla! or WordPress.
So where can you find someone to help you build your website? My favorite place to hire people is Fiverr. For $5 you can order all kinds of basic services and if you need someone to do more, this is also a good place to look around. For a complete website you will probably have to pay at least $100 but possibly much more.
OK, what's next?
You made your decision for either a CMS or a Website Builder.
It is time to think about your website's design; choosing a template.