Fan of Local Staff Writer, Jesse Hill
Choosing the best website service or Content Management System (CMS) for your business can be a daunting process. So, how do you navigate the waters of choosing what system best for your business?
What Problem Are You Solving?
As with most decisions that you have to make regarding your business, it’s best to start at the beginning. What problem are you solving? And who is best suited to provide the resolution?
For example, maybe your current problem is that you have a physical store where you normally sell your products. Customers know where to find you or will just pop in off the street or via the mall. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, you may be unable to be open to the public and even when you are able to open your doors, your sales are still limited. So, your solution needs to be to find the best way to enable online shopping.
To determine what problem you need to solve as a business, the first thing you want to look at is if you are selling a physical product, a service, digital content, subscription services, or anything else for which you want to have an online presence.
You also want to evaluate how much work you want to have yourself or your employees put into managing your site.
We’ll examine all of this below; no matter your level of involvement or expertise, there is a solution for you.
I’m not going to go through the ins and outs of every platform. The intent of this article is to give you the basics of what website service is best for your business, and what you’ll need so that you are better equipped to make a decision or to express your needs to a professional.
First You’ll Need a Domain Name
No matter the platform, the one thing that will be required for everyone is a domain name.
Some CMS services offer domain name registration, but a lot do not. No matter the case, registering is a relatively easy process. Your challenge is more likely to be in finding a unique name.
Deciding on the Best Host for Your Needs
Next, you are going to need a host, which is where your website will live. Some platforms, such as Shopify, are considered a closed CMS, where your website hosting and building software are all in one package. Some platforms are more open and require you to have a separate hosting agreement. A lot of hosting companies offer packages that include WordPress installations, or something similar.
One general rule is that the cheaper the solution, the more work that’s required both during setup and ongoing maintenance. If your business is already established and you are selling products or are on the cusp of doing so, then a solution like Shopify will cover everything you need.
While hosting may seem pricey, Shopify has introduced a cheaper hosting plan. All plans include everything that was previously mentioned with the exception of domain registration.
If your business is smaller scale, consisting of homemade, handmade, or artistic goods, then something like Etsy might be what you are looking for as a sales portal.
If your business isn’t selling a physical product but acts more as a point of contact for services or inquiries, then WordPress is a good service due to its cheaper cost and loads of plugins. WordPress can be used for physical products as well by leveraging a plugin such as WooCommerce. However, the amount of work, the sheer number of plugins, and the need for community-based support required with WordPress may make the more expensive cost of a dedicated platform like Shopify negligible.
The time investment is also a key factor in considering WordPress. However, it is possible to start with WordPress and migrate to a dedicated platform such as Shopify later.
After you’re set-up with the best host option for your business, you’ll need an SSL certificate, which allows browsers to let your customers know that your website is safe.
Using Web-Building Pros
Even if you decide to enlist the help of professionals for your web-building needs, just having a grasp on the basics of the best website service for your business can help you communicate your needs. Additionally, if you enlist a team such as the one at ClickDuo and they go over your options, you’ll have a better understanding of what services are being recommended. ClickDuo supports a number of platforms that have been mentioned in this article and are offering a variety of free services. Check out Fan of Local’s “About Us” page for more information.