It’s pretty much understood that almost every business needs a website. Unfortunately, not every business owner has the expertise to set up one or the time to learn how. This is especially true for small, non-tech-oriented businesses that still need an online presence.
Fortunately, there are a slew of services that can help businesses to get online in a fast, inexpensive and professional manner without having to learn coding. These point-and-click systems make it easy for a new webmaster to get a site set up quickly.
They might not be the most robust solutions, but they might offer a quick start that can get a business online until something more permanent can be established.
On that note, here are five code-free solutions for getting a business site online and running, often within a matter of minutes.
Squarespace offers a great deal of flexibility with its layouts and a slew of modules including blogs, forums, file storage and more. Users can customize their site in just about every way possible, including setting the widths and number of columns on every template, all with a simple drag and drop interface.
Squarespace may be the best solution over the long term, as its flexibility makes almost every site it hosts unique and its content management tools make it practical even as a site grows. However, it does come at a higher time cost and a somewhat steeper learning curve than others.
Price-wise, Squarespace offers a basic plan for $12 per month with a one-year agreement but most will want to step up to the more robust $20 per month plan that offers additional features and unlimited storage/bandwidth.
Intuit Website Services
Powered by Homestead, Intuit offers business a simple site building application that is geared toward generating basic, static sites that require almost no effort to get online.
With over 2,000 templates in some 100 business categories, Intuit likely has a theme for any business you can imagine. Changing a theme is easy as every site comes preloaded with sample text and images that can be easily changed.
Though Intuit offers features such as a blogging tool (with an upgrade), photo galleries and a guestbook, it may not be robust enough for sites as they grow and evolve.
Intuit is $5 per month for anemic its “personal” account but the business account, which offers 5 GB of storage and 100 GB of transfer per month, is $20 per month.
Office Live Small Business
Microsoft’s offering in the mix provides an editing interface that will be comfortably familiar to anyone who has worked with Microsoft Office applications. In addition to its easy, it also allows users access to a variety of designs and lets them include a slew of elements including blogs and shopping carts into their sites.
However, Office Live Small Business is hampered by inflexible templates, many of which don’t seem to work well in non-Microsoft browsers.
That being said, Office Live Small Business is completely free for up to 500 MB of storage. One only pays a domain fee of about $15 per year. The service also comes with a robust email service that includes 100 email accounts and 5 GB of storage per account for free.
Yahoo! Small Business
Another service geared toward static sites, Yahoo! Small Business offers a simple site creation tool that lets you choose from a variety of themes, customize your site and publish it with ease. The service also includes video and photo gallery features and has ecommerce plans available to make setting up an online storefront easy.
However, with no blogging and limited content management tools, Yahoo!’s site builder may feel constricting as your site grows. Fortunately, Yahoo! also doubles as a traditional host, capable of WordPress and other applications, meaning you can upgrade your site easily without changing to a new hosting provider.
Yahoo!’s sole hosting plan starts at about $7.50 per month with a one-year commitment though the ecommerce plans, which begin at about $30 per month will be better suited for those wanting to sell directly online.
With some 1,700 templates and 2,000 stock photos, Coolbuild.com offers a fast way to get a basic site online. Though Coolbuild.com has photo galleries, message boards, newsletters and even a shopping cart, it lacks blogging and robust content management features needed for a dynamic site.
Priced at an all-inclusive $20 per month, Coolbuild.com may be a great solution for those who want a shopping cart but don’t need a great deal of flexibility beyond that, such as simple online storefronts or businesses who view the Web solely as a secondary source of income.
All in all though, any “code-free” site building solution is going to come with limitations and drawbacks versus a custom site built in-house by professional designers. The main challenge is to see if the trade-offs are worthwhile, especially considering that solutions such as WordPress make it easy to set up a site with only very little technical expertise.
Still, for many, these tools may be the perfect way to get started and may more than suffice until they are ready to grow into a newer, better domain.
This was a post by Lior who is an advisor to a live chat support software company and also is a consultant to 123 neon signs, a well known neon signs online store.