My last search, three months ago, was for a great site builder, easy on the brain, no code required, low priced and excellent support. It took me two months and I tried many free trials. By the way be careful on those free trials. Some places will start charging you at the end of the free trial even if there has been no activity. Look carefully. I did not check my credit card for a while and got hit twice from two free trials. Stupid me.
If you stop and read the forums that pop up once in a while during your search you will get more confused. You will read Dream-weaver is the best, however most costly and a big learning curve. You will hear about site makers that are called WizzyWig, or WYSIWYG. Which most of you know is What You See Is What You Get, which is true. You see what you are going to publish, but what you get can be a builder that is hard to learn. All WYSIWYG’s are not equal. The day is coming however when site builders can match or exceed the performance of hand coded sites. Even hand a coded tune up will become only a luxury.
What is happening is the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) companies true task is changing regularly. Key words are not as vital as they were. They are still a big item however. Loading speed is not as important as touted. Irregular code is being read by smarter spiders so true hand worked code is not as necessary. Right now incoming links are the major thing and as soon as everyone finds a way to find those with a gimmick something else will pop up. To grow big takes big money or sometimes a great niche or a fine new idea. There still is no thrill like making your own website and publishing it for the first time. Then comes the sometimes boring job of tuning up and updating and finding incoming links. This is why a site builder that you enjoy is truly key.
In this article I am assuming you are not buying software and finding a host. There is nothing wrong with that except most of software support is a forum by the other buyers of the same software who belong to the same forum. The not so blind former purchasers leading the new blind purchaser. Forget it. I pass on anyone offering a forum and bragging about it. A forum is a cheap way to keep from hiring a staff but trying to sound good. I have never found a reason for a forum if you have good support. If you have weak support or limited support and are a cheap host you offer a forum. There are rare exceptions but it is not worth your time to find out. Do not depend on forums as an addition to or substitute for support.
Go for hosting companies that offer a package with a site builder in the price. When you see one that interests you, send them an email inquiry. That is the best way to test the support. Slow response, poor support. Keep looking. If they answer make sure it is a real persone talking. Then shoot back another question until you get the feel. I would suggest you keep going an narrow it down unless one just grabs you and you love it. Be prepared to be disappointed. I don’t know how many mistakes I have made over the years.
Do not buy a domain name from the host unless you are positive you have the right place. Otherwise that good name is not available for your next move for sixty days and a lot of trouble. You can buy a domain from Go Daddy or any other cheap place and forward. That way you are sure you will not lose a domain name if the new host and builder do not work out.
I always look for free trials. I don’t care if it is seven days or thirty days. I can tell in one day if it is a fit. Then if it is not say goodbye with an email to bookkeeping if you can. Get an acknowledgement. If the host does not offer free trials then pass. If they promise a refund if you don’t like them in 30 days, that may be OK, I don’t like it though unless there is an excellent demo. Free trials without any string attached leaves me with a feeling the host has confidence in his choice of builder you are about to try.
Some hosts will not give you the name of the builder (software designer) seller. If you can, get the name of the seller and go direct using their name for the actual seller website. Many hosts buy the builder from one company and re-name it to match their hosting company name. But that same site builder may be on a hundred hosted websites at varying prices under various names. So if you can get the “factory name” so to speak then you can search for it on various websites and check the service and prices. Let’s say the Host is calling his Best Builder, but you find it was purchased from the seller who has a factory name of Hi Speed Builder. So then you do a search on Hi Speed Builder and find many hosting companies using it. Or the factory (software designer) may have all his customers listed on his website.
My personal preference is WYSIWYG with CSS which cuts down on bloated code. Now don’t get too concerned with what you read that coding by a program is worse than coding by hand. Loading speed is not the problem it is made out to be. There are lots of high speed users out there that imperfect code would not slow down a whit. I have Net Zero Hi Speed and if my PC is properly optimized the speed is really fast. I check it regularly. If I have confused some of you by repeated use of “code” let me explain. Code is another word for program-speak called HTML. People who know how to do HTML usually look down on the rest of us. They say it is easy to learn. If you like to learn new stuff and are a borderline tekki, then go for it. I do just fine without learning code and never intend to.
Support, support support. That is so important until you learn all the little wrinkles in your new site builder. Someone that gets right back to you and can put up with your ignorance. Hard to find, but it is out there. I search for full justification. I do not like ragged right hand edges. It makes the presentation less professional. You should have even right hand margins, like a book, gives you a professional look.
When you search, in the search bar put -flash (minus flash) at the end of the search words. This means don’t show me anything with flash. You don’t need flash and it can really slow you down. Try to get a builder that lets the text wrap the image at least at the border. So my advice is to go for WYSIWYG with full justification and text wrap at the border. Look for color options. You need a full spectrum but like me, if you cannot get it all, support is the vital thing. Watch out for same old same old templates that have very little change between them and some take as much as one third of the page as a header. You are not into picture entertainment. Repeat customer will get tired of your header anyway and quit looking at it. A nice simple design and lots of text will serve you well and optimize better.
If you can, find a SEO, Search Engine Optimizer, who will work with you as you build your website at a reasonable price. Hard to find, but I will give a plug to the one I use. She will work with you as you build and optimize you and monitor your site after it is built at a really good price. If you go to Google Page Creator you can get hosting and website tools and templates and a quick publisher for free. Then you most certainly can afford her. All my clues are in a little website I made for you. The URL is at the end of this article.
Site builder companies and hosting companies sometimes write their own reviews and articles about themselves. So keep a sharp eye or you will get fooled. At the foot of this article will be a website name that will take you to a website that has the lady I mentioned. I also have a link there to take you to the Free Google site I built for this occasion. It is a Beta site meaning it is in the B phase of testing. When it is finished in a year or so it will no longer be free. Also I want you to click on a few of my websites to see what my choice of a site builder with perfect support can do.
Do not feel stupid if it does not go right. There is one hard rule I follow. Geeks cannot write good instructions. Technical people feel like you should understand most of what they know. Often well intentioned support folks will tell you how to fix your problem but you cannot understand their answer. Do not let that intimidate you. Write back “WHAT?”. They need to learn to speak like the rest of us. You are the customer and you are wanted, so do not get intimidated or scared. It all can be fixed. Do not be afraid to complain. It helps as some have an improved builder coming and want your complaints.