With so much information to consider given the importance of your online presence, we divided our suggestions and resources into two parts. Part one encourages you to conduct an assessment of the current state of your website using a Check-Up and Homepage Review. If you haven’t taken this initial step yet, you can find it here: Online Presence Guide Part I or to access a PDF version of the full guide at any time click here: Full Online Presence Guide.
Welcome to part two of the guide! For those of you who have successfully made your way through the Website Check-Up and Homepage Review and are wondering what’s next, you are in the right place and ready to evaluate your options for next steps.
Whether you are looking to make modifications and updates to your existing website or build a brand new website from scratch, there are a variety of platforms available for you to choose from. Nancy Shuttleworth, area advisor and digital marketing expert, as well as Jacob Dubois, e-Commerce specialist, shared their thoughts in the Online Presence Guide on some commonly used website platforms for you to explore.
Common Website Platforms
Squarespace – simple and beautiful website building and hosting, and allows users to use pre built website templates and drag-and-drop elements to create and modify web pages.
WordPress – WordPress started as a blogging tool and has evolved throughout the years into a powerful website builder and a robust content management system (CMS). Option to add WooCommerce to sell online through WordPress.
Wix – Wix provides customizable website templates and a drag-and-drop website builder that includes apps, graphics, image galleries, fonts, vectors, animations and other options. Users also may opt to create their web sites from scratch.
Weebly – Weebly’s free online website creator uses a simple widget-based site builder that operates in the web browser. All the site elements are drag-and-drop, and it automatically generates a mobile version of each website.
Shopify – Shopify is a commerce platform that allows anyone to set up a free online store and sell their products. It offers online retailers a suite of services including payments, marketing, shipping and customer engagement tools to simplify the process of running an online store.
BigCommerce – a top e-commerce platform which allows you to create an online store. Its features include customer groups and segmentation, search engine optimization (SEO), web hosting, and more.
Follow the links to each platform and take some time to look through your options to see which works best for you!
We understand that building a website can seem like a daunting task, but let’s focus on taking it one step at a time. First, let’s figure out what kind of website you need and then what level of support you might need. You could do it yourself, build a small team to manage it, hire an e-commerce web specialist, or work with a web development agency. As an entrepreneur, your time is the most valuable asset you have. So be sure to ask yourself, is this a good use of my time?
To help you weigh your options, we’ve outlined some of the pros and cons of each level of support. Take some time to explore pages 4-5 in the Guide to understand how much time and money you’ll need to invest in order to see the results you’re looking for.
Finally, below is a checklist to help you get started on your journey. By thoughtfully going through this, you’ll be able to have informed conversations with potential web development partners and effectively communicate your vision going forward.
Most importantly, it’s important to remember that there is no ‘right’ answer when it comes to how to proceed. Carefully consider your options and choose the one that makes the most sense for you and your business at this time. Of course, your VtSBDC advisor is here to guide you and help you understand the importance of your website when it comes to ROI.
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