It can be difficult to start your online brand if you’re not sure how to create or maintain a website. If you’re ready to get started, there are three free platforms you should consider when creating your first website. Let’s take a look at what they are and how they’ll help you.
I refer to all three as a ‘platform’ rather than a ‘host’, which is the way you will see many others refer to them. This is because they also offer their own branded content management system, not just web space.
The Best Free Website Platform From The Past
Back in the old days of the internet, which for me was nearly 20 years ago now, websites were super expensive to develop and even more complicated. Knowledge of HTML and CSS was required to create anything.
There was a platform called Geocities. It came to be owned by Yahoo and allowed anyone to get online quickly, easily and for free. There was no content management system included; it was a host to which you would upload the files to create your website.
At least basic coding and webmaster skills were required to use Geocities, but you could quite easily build a website to be proud of and not need to pay a penny for hosting or a domain name. Fortunately, things have become a lot easier and we now have the likes of Weebly, Wix and WordPress.
Coincidentally, the three options I would recommend to get you onto the World Wide Web all begin with the letter ‘W’. With all three of these platforms, Google Analytics and Google Search Console account information can be added easily, meaning you can get started with some basic SEO.
Let’s take a look at the tip three platforms for creating your business website.
#3 – Weebly
A nice, easy to use platform that has a focus on e-commerce, so would be a great choice if you want to open an online shop. Weebly has a fully integrated shopping cart that comes with a secure checkout which is a great help if you don’t have much technical knowledge.
As with all platforms, it also allows you to easily set up a blog and has attractive templates for you to choose from.
#2 – Wix
Working with Wix is nice and easy. You can choose templates, then adapt them with their WYSYWIG editor that really helps you create the ideal website for your business. A great all-round option and if you have a good eye for design, you can get the look almost exactly what you want it to be.
If you’re looking to sell products online, Wix’s e-commerce element is designed to help visitors get the best shopping experience possible. You can even import your product catalogue as a CSV file, which will save you a lot of time. Products will appear in your dashboard and you can easily update their details, add images, set up inventory tracking and create collections.
Getting into the details of SEO, it can feel a bit fiddly adding ALT text for images, but the Wix CMS does a good job of pointing out things you can improve. I also like the way Wix lets you update the page description text that will appear in search engines.
Check Wix out at https://www.wix.com
#1 – WordPress
My first choice of free website platform has to be WordPress. The reason WordPress is number one is that you can move away from using WordPress as a host to your own host without the need to change anything at all with your website if you don’t want to.
It’s easy to get started with WordPress by using a free template and you can also easily add e-commerce to your website. Templates are not always as customisable as the other platforms, but WordPress is designed specifically for blogging, so adding and editing pages and content is really user friendly.
As you expand with WordPress, you’ll find there may be plugins you can’t have or settings you can’t change exactly the way you would like. The solution to this won’t take you away from WordPress. You can continue to use the the content management system you’re familiar with and move to another host, even keeping the same template if that’s what you choose.
All you need to do is get the files from wordpress.org and away you go with your host of choice, or one of WordPress’ recommended hosts.
WordPress Is The Best Platform
So WordPress is number one because of its versatility. The fact that you can move from a beginner level to being able to modify it exactly as you want it to be. The other platforms only come with features and updates for every user at once, so you’re all working with the same product.
Even if it isn’t one of my top three, let me know in the comments which platform you used to start your business and how has it helped you to grow.