Welcome to the first in our new blog post series especially for small business owners who can’t afford to – or just don’t want to – outsource their website setup / maintenance, SEO, SEA and social media activities. If you want to run things yourself, this will definitely help you out – espeically since things in the online world just never stand still – there’s always something new to learn or old stuff to relearn!
We’re going to cover the basics here:
- how to choose a domain provider
- how to choose a webspace provider
- whether you should choose between wix, weebly or wordpress (or one of the others)
- why you need an SSL certificate – and what it is
There are quite honestly so many various budget web providers (from whom you buy your domain, and who will then rent you webspace where your website can live) that it would take an entire article just to discuss the differences between them – and there are plenty of online resources to help you with the choice already available. We chose one.com to be our web provider since they’re fast, clean, have live chat that’s always available (and actually helpful!) – and they’re very budget conscious. Oh, and they offer free SSL certificates too. (NB if you follow one of the one.com links from this page, you’ll get 6€ off your hosting package – and we’ll receive a nice little referral earner too, at no cost – of course – to yourself)
Top tips when choosing a web provider
The main things to think about when you’re choosing a web provider – apart from price – is:
- Do they offer a free SSL certificate? (important – and more about that later)
- Do they have live chat support?
There are of course plenty of other aspects that it’s worth going through, but honestly, they’re all pretty competitive and if you choose one of the top ones that offer the above, you can’t go far wrong. The only thing I would say is that if you’re based in Europe, avoid godaddy. Apparently they’re pretty fast in the US, but in Europe the websites hosted with them are pretty slow.
Wix, Weebly or WordPress?
Both Wix and Weebly are content management systems with an integrated website builder. Which means you can design, build and then host your website with them. Although Wix has had a bit of a bad reputation for its website builder, load time and SEO possibilities in the past, all of those things have improved a lot over the last couple of years, which makes Wix an option worth thinking about. Weebly too is a good option for a website builder.
However, for us WordPress wins hands down.
Because both Wix and Weebly – although they have free options – require monthly payments. You can use the free option, but you can’t have your own domain – so for example with the free option you’d have username.wixsite.com/siteaddress, or similar. Which, let’s face it, doesn’t scream professionalism.
If you just want your own domain, that costs (at time of writing) six dollars or so, per month. But with wix you’ll still have wix ads on your site.
If you want your own domain, no wix ads, and a reasonable supply of other options, it’ll cost you twelve plus dollars a month.
Then there are your email addresses. Neither Wix nor Weebly include a free email address / inbox with your domain name (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org).
But hey, why not? It’s a company that’s offering a service, the service isn’t bad, and you pay for it.
But WordPress is free. It’s not owned by any company, it doesn’t have a CEO, there are no shareholders who need to get paid.
You can use wordpress to design and build your website, and it won’t cost you a cent. Plus, there is a huge world of plugins – or extra functionalities – that you can add to it, some purely free, most with free and paid plans.
The only thing that you do need to pay for is a domain. Again, you can find, buy and host your domain with one.com (and many other providers – they’re just an example). A domain will generally cost you around 10-15 bucks a YEAR. Basic website hosting will also set you back around 10-20 bucks A YEAR. And with one.com (as with most of the better domain providers) you get at least a few email addresses to go with the domain name – for free.
If we took the upper end of that scale (let’s take 36$ to make it easy :)) and divided it by 12, that’s still only 3$ a month. And you have absolutely no limitations in terms of email addresses, number of pages, etc (within reason :)).
And the other thing is that WordPress now also incorporates its own website builder – which has improved steadily over the years, to the point that (at time of writing in September 2022) you can make a pretty good-looking website without needing any programming or coding skills at all.
Also, the 2023 version of WordPress (which should come out in late 2022 – don’t ask :)) will apparently be taking a huge leap further with easy website builders including themes and so on.
And did I mention it’s free?
That’s why WordPress wins hands-down for us. Wix, Weebly and similar website builder offers may look like a better option at first – and it’s true that there’s less of a learning curve – why not just take a day or two out of your busy schedule, find some good youtube tutorials (our own easy tutorial will soon be online too) and invest that time to get yourself set up with an online presence that you won’t have to pay and keep on paying for, and which you’ll be able to understand the inner workings of, if and when something goes wrong.
What is an SSL certificate? And why do I need one?
Until a few years ago, all websites had “http” at the beginning of their name (which stands for “hyptertext transfer protocol”), like “http://noel-maurice.marketing” for example. This “http” is the system by which websites reach you across the internet. But at some point it was discovered that there were some security weaknesses in this system, that made it easy for bad actors to hack you – and the people who visited your website.
Which is why they developed an updated version of this called “https” (hypertext transfer protocol secure), with some extra technical doodads in place to beef up security by a large chunk.
This was such an important and timely development that very quickly all search engines started requiring websites to use the “https” system, and the websites that didn’t would come with warnings like “Warning! Your connection to this site is not secure!” and advice to not enter any sensitive information or payment details. And if the user clicked through anyway, then they’d see another warning that things weren’t looking good in the search bar at the top of the browser page.
In order to have your website work with the new secure “https” system, websites had to have an SSL certificate.
Cue a whole bunch of companies trying to make money from this by selling you SSL certificates.
And certain web providers then offered the SSL certificate as an extra, paid option (like Godaddy, at least last time I looked). Other website providers just offer a free SSL certificate as part of their service, including our favourite web provider, one.com.
If you use one of the one.com links in this page to buy and host a domain, you’ll get 6€ off! We will also earn a small refferal amount, which helps us to keep this site chugging along. It goes without saying that we ONLY recommend things that a. we’ve used – or use – ourselves and b. are completely impressed with.