What is a Website Builder? Everything You Need to Know
Hey, champ. We see you killin’ that small business game. You’ve got a great business plan, a dedicated team, and a brand with lots of potential. But as you get things going, you need something else: to get your name out there. You need a web presence. You need your business name in lights — the lights of the internet, that is.
But there’s a problem: you don’t know exactly how to build a website to make this happen. Hey, we get it. These things can be tricky.
Want in on a secret? They don’t have to be!
There’s a slew of website builders out there, so where to begin?
- What is a website builder?
- What should you look for in a good website builder?
- And how, exactly, do they work?
We answer these Qs — and a ton of others — in our exhaustive guide to all things web builder. You’ll want to stick around for this.
What is a Website Builder?
Let’s start with the basics.
A website builder is a platform or program that allows you to quickly and easily put together a website. These site builders help you get your piece of internet real estate set up so you can start establishing your online presence, a unique .com (or .whatever) outfitted with your brand’s own elements, content, and offerings, tailored to your specific business goals.
Website builders typically feature drag-and-drop software that lets you customize elements on a page with layouts chosen from a handful (and sometimes hundreds) of available web page templates.
Website builders exist in both online and offline formats, the main difference being an internet connection. Online website builders don’t require any software downloads; they simply work through your internet browser.
The plus? You can work on it anytime, anywhere (that has an internet connection), so you can build on the go. And most online builders come with accompanying hosting services, so you don’t have to worry about that extra technical hoop. This is an easy-to-use option for newbies.
On the other hand, offline builders function as downloadable software programs, where your computer hosts your files until you’re ready to upload them to your web host. With this option, you can work on your site offline, but you do need a little more technical know-how — plus, a web host, which you’ll need to buy separately.
A website builder works basically like this:
- From your website builder’s library, choose a template that best fits your needs.
- Edit the template’s built-in elements with a click and add your own (like images, video, social buttons, and content) to personalize your site.
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What are the Pros and Cons of Website Builders?
So who are website builders for, anyway? These programs are a great tool for small business owners and entrepreneurs looking to establish a strong online presence — quickly and simply. Is going with a site builder right for your small biz? Let’s explore some decision making, old-school style. Yep, the good ol’ pro/con list.
PRO: Website builders don’t require extensive coding or technical skills.
Let’s face it — we’re not all computer whizzes. And that’s okay. To get a site up and running with a website builder, you don’t have to be. If you know how to click, you can build a snazzy site with text, images, videos, and a beautiful layout, minus the hiccups of fancy-schmancy do-it-yourself web development. It’s true: you don’t have to write a single line of code.
PRO: They’re low maintenance.
Think of website builders as an easy-going roommate (not the one who spends 45 minutes in the shower). Meaning, they don’t require tricky or constant upkeep and won’t make you pull your hair out. Because of their simple setup, you don’t have to stress about your website, which is a big win. Your website will still need to be updated with fresh content regularly — all good sites do — but website builders make that easy.
PRO: Website builders set up your site in a snap.
As a small business owner, you’ve got a lot of to-dos and not a lot of time. Save your precious hours by using a website builder to simplify the website creation process. In a matter of minutes, you can create your own unique website from a collection of preformatted and eye-catching layouts outfitted with your brand’s content, images, and videos.
PRO: Options, options, options.
Worried that you’ll get stuck with a cookie-cutter site that looks just like every other .com out there? Don’t. A good website builder helps you stand out from the crowd. With a full library of choices, optimized layouts, attractive and user-friendly design elements, and customization options, you can make your site one of a kind.
PRO: You don’t have to be a graphic design genius.
So maybe you weren’t a fan of art in school — no problem. You don’t need to understand color theory, possess Photoshopping skills, or be versed in typography to create an appealing website. Website builders do the heavy lifting by offering pre-packaged designs that look sharp. They also allow you the freedom of customization, so you can give your site your own personal touch within a professionally-designed template.
CON: Web builders may limit more experienced developers.
If you do have some technical know-how, you may want more freedom when customizing your site, and may be eager to outfit it with more advanced bells and whistles not offered with website builders. If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line option, hiring a web designer or building a do-it-yourself website from the ground up may be worth it. Plus, with a site builder, you often don’t have control over the code governing your pages.
PRO: They’re easy on the wallet.
Getting a functioning (and gorgeous) site up and running doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank. Believe it! With site builder trial periods and many low-cost (even free account) options, you can save a pretty penny for other small biz expenses.
CON: Builders may have limited pages or functions.
Use a budget-friendly web builder and run the risk of restricting your site’s structure. Because you’re under the rules of your program, they might set limits on the number of pages a site can have, offer few e-commerce options, or lack responsiveness capabilities. If you have big plans for an expansive page structure down the road, you’ll want to research providers carefully to make sure you find the best match for your long-term goals.
What Should You Look for in a Website Builder?
It’s clear that not all site builders are created equal. So what sets apart a so-so builder from a great one? What should you look for when choosing one? Consider this list of must-haves:
1. Ease of Use
You chose to use a website builder for its ease of use, so don’t get stuck with one that requires a Ph.D. (or even advanced coding skills) to operate. Look for a simple, user-friendly interface that allows you to build a website easily — regardless of your website-building experience. Skip the learning curve and start building a beautiful site immediately.
2. High-Quality Templates
Your audiences can spot a cheap-looking website from a mile away. Choose a website builder that has high-quality, professional-looking templates that are clean and attractive. This is your chance to make a strong first impression, so avoid website builders that have a lack of first-rate options.
3. Image Editor
You already know that visuals are key to attracting eyes and generating engagement, so polish up your images with a site builder that has a one-stop-shop photo editor, outfitted with a library of filters and royalty-free stock photos, as well as basic editing tools.
4. Quick Updates
Have you heard? Content is king. Your website needs top-notch content, regularly published, updated, and shared in order to make (and keep) traffic coming to your brand. Make sure your site builder makes it easy to add and change up the content on your site.
5. Social Compatibility
A best-case scenario is that audiences connect with you in more ways than one. Your site builder should allow you to link to and display social media icons to help visitors — whether they’re Instagrammers or tweeters — engage with you further. Make sure whatever builder you choose can seamlessly integrate your social platforms.
6. Domain and Email Options
In conjunction with your web host, you’ll want to own your own piece of internet property — meaning a domain and branded email address. These elements are critical when trying to establish an authoritative brand in your field. Choose a site builder that provides options for domains and email registration.
7. Form Builders
Your visitors will want easy (and clear) ways to connect with and contact you — whether it be to submit a complaint, questions, or compliments (we’ll hope it’s more of the latter). Ensure that your website builder has the tools to create forms audiences can use.
8. Customization Options
Even with a snazzy preformatted layout, you want to be able to give your site a bit of your brand’s unmistakable flavor. An A+ website builder should give you the freedom to add your own personal touches and customization options, like varying fonts, text styles, or color schemes. You do you.
What Do You Need to Get Started with a Website Builder?
OK, now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of using a website builder. First things first: what do you need? Here’s a handy checklist to get you started:
1. Choose your website builder.
Drumroll, please! It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: selecting your site-building platform and starting to create that one-of-a-kind website. Have your eye on a specific website builder yet? We’ve got Remixer, an A+ option that was basically made for you (see more below).
2. Get a domain.
This is a basic to-do but an oh-so-important one. As we’ve discussed, your domain is where you establish your business’ presence on the web. To get your very own domain set up, you’ll need to use a registrar — this allows you to buy and register your domain name, securing your unique web address (BTW, you keep your domain and web hosting under one roof — see #6.) Note: if you’re using Remixer, you can set up your domain within the platform. Easy peasy.
FYI: We’re basically TLD gurus and can get you set up with a dynamite domain in no time.
3. Secure a web host.
Not only do you need a unique web address, but you need a service to house your site — aka: a web host. With a Remixer account, web hosting is included. If you go with another platform, however, you’ll need to purchase a web hosting plan from a hosting provider. Simply put, a web host gets your site on the internet; you pay to store your website on their servers. Crucial, indeed.
4. You’ve got email.
It’s smart — crucial, even — to set up an email address connected to your business. If you’re going the self-hosted website route, you often get the added perk of a branded email, like email@example.com. Cool, huh? Plus, these types of email addresses appear more suit-and-tie than your standard email providers, boosting credibility and trust with your visitors.
5. Create and customize.
This is the fun part. Explore your website builder’s library of templates and each layout’s individual elements, planning out which might serve your business’s purpose — and your audiences — best. Then, customize it to showcase your unique brand voice. Play with colors, fonts, backgrounds, placement of text, visual elements, and more. Make it your own.
6. Add images, logos, etc.
Give your site more oomph with high-quality images and brand-specific visuals that establish your business and attract visitors (hint: they love visuals). That’s it. Now your site is starting to look really snazzy.
A note on images: in order to make visuals work for you, you need strong photography and killer design. Scour royalty-free photo sites, like Pixabay, Pexels, or Unsplash for appealing photos (just say NO! to fake, cheesy stock photos), hire a photographer, or use these tips for taking your own photos for your business. Or, for you smarties using our website builder, Remixer, you have access to a library of free high-quality photos within our builder. Score!
7. Set up analytics.
As a small business owner, you need Google — for a lot of reasons. One is to (hopefully) secure a coveted space in search engines. Another reason is for tracking metrics. Enter Google Analytics. This service can help you keep track of numbers and analyze valuable insights to help you continue improving your site. Thanks, G.
Way to go, you! You’ve got a brand-spanking-new site. If you still haven’t found the right site builder for you, read on.
Remixer: Intro and History
Well, we’ve been dropping hints. Could you tell? If not, here’s our megaphone-like announcement: with DreamHost, you can score the package deal — a perfectly-priced hosting plan with access to our site builder extraordinaire: Remixer.
Yep, you read that right. Included are our site builder’s above-and-beyond services, along with domain, email, and plan options.
Wait — let’s back up for a minute. How did Remixer come about? Let’s take a walk down DreamHost memory lane, shall we?
Remixer was born out of a discovered need: once upon a time, we observed that users wanted a piece of internet real estate but either didn’t know or have the time to create a website from scratch.
Thus, Remixer — a launchpad for creators and visionaries (like you!) wanting to get things up and running fast — was born! Our site builder is a one-stop creation tool perfect for building a beautiful site without hassle or commitments.
Remixer’s Key Features
So let’s talk shop: why use Remixer? What does it offer you?
Remixer is a sophisticated and user-friendly click-to-edit website builder (you’ve probably heard about drag-and-drop site builders before). Our version gives you more control and customization at your fingertips. This is your site, after all.
Furthermore, Remixer does site building well. Without complicated bells and whistles or tricky plugins, it allows simplicity of creation, from blank page to publish-ready. No learning curve involved.
Plus, if you’re a little nervous about where to start building your site, we have a handy Create feature, which helps provide curated design options based upon the look you’re going for.
In addition, Remixer has been created and updated based on your user feedback, including our new multipage feature. Whether you want a website with endless scrolling or a handful of different pages — the choice is yours!
More of our gold-star features:
- In-Page Domain Selection. Choose your site’s domain without leaving the comfort of the site editor. Select your web address conveniently in the Page Manager section. Handy!
- Streamlined Navigation. Another inspired update dictating where menu items appear. We’ve made them more intuitive so you don’t get lost at any step in the process of creating your kick-butt site.
- Comprehensive Photo Editing. Forget #nofilter. If you’re looking to share gorgeous visuals that attract eyes, Remixer’s photo editor has handy photo tools like cropping, color adjusting and filters, and flaunts an extensive in-library photo stock via Pixabay. It’s all in-house!
- Mobile Optimization. Today’s reality is that people are increasingly turning to their mobile devices for internet use, dedicating as much as 69 percent of their media time to them. To generate traffic and stay relevant, your site needs to adapt across devices, including on mobile. And get this: it turns out mobile optimization can mean life or death for your business — 57 percent of people say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly-designed mobile site. Yikes. Avoid that critical faux-pas with Remixer — we’ll keep you clean, functional, and well-designed on mobile.
Pssst! We’ve also got some sweet color technology features in the works. Stay tuned!
Remixer Step-by-Step Walkthrough
We’re so glad you’ve selected our stellar service. Let’s walk you through how to build your site with Remixer.
1. First, click to our site and choose a theme.
Looks great! Now:
2. Edit your theme. Make adjustments and add your own personal touches to the theme, editing color, placement of text and other features, fonts, and adding killer images. Basically, showcase what makes your business the bomb.
3. Preview your polished page. Once you’ve outfitted your site with your personal finishes and unique content, give it a once-over to see how it will look live on your site. Fix any wonky elements or text errors.
4. Assign your site page to a domain. On the upper toolbar, click My Sites then Settings. On the selection of tabs, choose Domains. If you’ve already set up hosting with us, choose the site domain from the drop-down. Then click Save, and Publish. Voila!
Got questions about Remixer? We answer ‘em here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you haven’t accepted it already, consider this again: you need a great website. The world is online, and your business needs to be too. When web audiences navigate to your site, they should find a professional and functional web space. A website builder helps you do that quickly and easily. Whether you’re going the Remixer, WordPress, or another route, choose a builder that makes your site the best it can be — with just a few simple clicks.