Understanding Web Builders for Startups

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This summer, TECODE has spent time helping clients develop websites, DIY-style. Ideally, companies and nonprofits would do well to have a dedicated web developer and in-house designer, or by outsourcing the work to professionals, but with little capital, many entrepreneurs end up building their websites on their own.

The good news is, it really isn’t hard, and don’t let anyone throwing around jargon tell you otherwise. You don’t need to understand the whole Internet, coding, or all the rules of design to be able to run a smooth website for your company.

 

What do you need to know?

 

houseaddress

 

 

 

The Domain Name

Every website has an address, which is what you input at the top of your web browser when you want to visit a website. They normally start with http:// or www, followed by the desired name, forming a “url.” This “address” or “url” is referred to as a domain name. While Internet analogies only go so far, you could think of a domain name as the numbers on the outside of your home, identifying your address.

 

 

 

 

Hosting

If the “domain name” is compared to the address written on the outside of your home, the home itself might be compared to what is called “hosting.” All the of the information your website contains, such as images, text, and layout, needs somewhere to live. Thus it is “hosted,” usually by companies who have servers where information can be stored.

For example, think of the website you are currently at. It’s address, or the url, is http://tecode.org. You might have arrived here by clicking on a link, perhaps in Facebook or Twitter, that took you to our address, or you could have typed in the domain name in your web browser. You were then shown a page with all of our content, which is being hosted by a company.

 

Web Builders

With an address (url, or domain name) and a home (hosting), all that is needed is for the website to be created! There are professionals who specialize in this – web designers focus on how the website looks, and coders and developers focus on building the website with various languages that are just for the Internet, such as html and css. You can think of them as the architects and engineers building the house that is your website.

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If, however, you are building the website without the help of these professionals, there are web builders that have pre-made websites. It’s as if you were going to be moving in to a house that was already built. You shop around until you find one you like, and move in and personalize it to your needs! Some of these are called WYSIWYG website builders, standing for “what you see is what you get.” These are almost like creating a website in Microsoft Word, letting you edit the website by dragging and dropping, and typing directly on the page. Others, such as the famous WordPress, have a back end, often called a dashboard, from which you edit content.

 

What sort of website builder will work best for you?

 

It depends. Do you want to have an online store? Are you interested in a blog? Here we’ve made a list of some of the top web builders on the Internet, along with their prices, pros, and cons. “Transaction Fee” refers to whether or not a fee is charged when someone buys something on your Internet store, if you have one. Some web builders include everything from hosting to a domain name, while others will require you to bring your domain name and hosting provider to them.

 

Click on the tab to view more information about each web builder.

 

Price

  • Personal: $8
  • Professional: $16
  • Business: $24
Transaction Fee
Monthly prices based on 1-year contracts; Domain name included.
2.9% transaction fee through stripe

Pros

  • Very good blog integration
  • Accept donations
  • Express Checkout

Cons

  • PayPal is not supported
  • Not as easy to use as other tools

Thoughts

Beautiful, easy

 

Price

  • Free: $0
  • Starter: $4
  • Pro: $8
  • Business: $25
Monthly prices based on a 1-year contract. Domain can be added for $39.99 (yearly)
Transaction Fee: 
Varies. $8/month for 25 products (3% transaction fee), $25/month unlimited (no transaction fee).

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Sell digital goods
  • SSL-encryption

Cons

  • The themes, while some are beautiful, don’t appear as professional (typography, et cetera).
  • Page limits for free and starter plans.

Thoughts

Themes can be beautiful

Price

  • eCommerce: $16.17
  • VIP: $24.90 (only US)
Monthly prices for 1-year contracts; Domain included in selected packages
Transaction Fee
$16.17/month, transaction fee depends on payment method

Pros

  • Nice display options

Cons

  • No confirmation emails
  • Quite expensive
  • Very limited features

Thoughts

Often looked down on in world of web design and development.

Price

  • Starter: $14
  • Basic: $29
  • Professional: $79
  • Unlimited: $179
Monthly prices. Domain costs extra, but can be added through Shopify.
Transaction Fee
With the starter or basic plan, no transaction fee.

Pros

  • Intuitive
  • Customer login functionality
  • Large number of payment options
  • SSL-encryption

Cons

  • Difficult to adapt for multilingual stores

Thoughts

Appears to be one of the industry standards, especially for stores.

Price

Depends.

Transaction Fee

Using Woo Commerce would mean no transaction fees.

Pros

  • So widely used, this web builder is most likely not going anywhere.
  • Its hugeness lends to flexibility.
  • There is something called a plug-in for almost anything you need on your website.
  • Many, many templates.
  • Very easy one-click setup with various hosts.

Cons

  • If you need help, you must go to the forums.
  • The editor is not WYSIWYG.

Thoughts

Stable, can be relatively cheap, huge range of options for a “look.”  Would need hosting, but there are various one-click-setups plus a free domain name.

Price

$25/month

Transaction Fee

None.

Pros

From this review:

  • Easy start-up.
  • Very streamlined dashboard, made to be simple and understandable.
  • Good features such as SKU support, if you are doing a store.

Cons

  • No integrated SEO (this is what helps you get noticed in web searches), from this web page.

Thoughts

Not on review of common website builders.

Price

  • Standard – $29.95/month, unlimited storage, products, and bandwidth, 1.5% transaction fee.
  • Plus – $79.95/month, no transaction fees, abandoned cart saver, real-time shipping, advanced analytics.

Transaction Fee

Transaction fee of monthly revenue x 1.5 or 2%

Pros

  • Straightforward setup wizard.
  • Strong marketing features.
  • Automated e-mails sent to visitors who abandon their carts.
  • Wide range of discounting / coupon tools out of the box.
  • Built-in Blog
  • Templates are responsive, meaning your site will display nicely across a variety of devices.
  • 24 hour phone support, even on its cheapest plan.

Cons

From this review:

  • Price of starter plan is on the higher side.
  • Its entry level plan involves transaction fees.
  • Because Bigcommerce is a hosted solution, if it shuts down or changes its feature set radically, you might find yourself in a position where you needed to migrate your store to another platform.

Thoughts

Not on review of common website builders, most likely because it is more comprehensive.

 

This summer, I have enjoyed seeing  the ease with which our clients have been able to create websites in a matter of days using WordPress, and would highly recommend the platform, given the flexibility and pricing, and especially the freedom to be able to move to another platform if you ever need. However, as we have seen, there are many other good options! I would encourage you to Google the pros and cons of a website builder you are considering to see what users have experienced.

 

Much of this information was obtained from:

 

Learn how to network at our conferences, and get a networking ebook!

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TECODE is organizing a conference held in two locations at the end of this week – one at the University of Turabo, which will be held Thursday morning, the other at Foundation for Puerto Rico, which will be on Friday. Both events are free, and geared toward networking and technology for start-ups. On Thursday, the audience will be academic, and on Friday, the sessions are geared a little more toward nonprofits. All are welcome!

We are inviting three special people from the mainland to speak at our conferences – María A. Hernández is the CEO of Community Networker in Orlando, Florida, and Carlos M. Zepeda, based out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, runs a consultancy for nonprofits. Our very own Tiffany Laurencio from TECODE will be flying in from Chicago, Illinois.

They will be presenting along with local favorites who are experts in fields such as exports, mobile development, and marketing. TECODE is joined by INTECO, Citi, Centro para Emprendedores, Foundation for Puerto Rico, and the University of Turabo in putting on the events.

María Hernández will be offering an ebook “EL PODER DE NETWORKING EN EL CRECIMIENTO DE LOS NEGOCIOS” to all attending participants, so be sure to register before it’s too late!

 

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Sign up on Eventbrite:

Sign up to attend at the University of Turabo

 

Sign up to attend at Foundation for Puerto Rico

 

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Get Support for your Tech Idea

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This year, TECODE is offering 50 hours of support and training for aspiring entrepreneurs in the Venture Boost program by Citi. We’re looking for candidates who have great ideas in the technology sector.

Left, one of this year’s trainees meets with Project Manager Ana Igartua to pitch his idea for a new mobile application. For more information, see our Projects page.

Ready to apply? Fill out the application here:

 

Apply

 

 

Moving Forward (Echar Pa’lante)

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Last week at INOVA there was a business get-together sponsored by Banco Popular and INTECO. Although we had meetings that day, Ana and I were able to hear the last talk. It was excellent. Juan M. Aguayo of Traikon Associates LLC presented on salesmanship techniques. He not only gave us extremely useful ideas for selling products but also concerning self-presentation. Above is a videoclip that he showed us about a man who sells smoke – we loved it.

During his presentation, Aguayo explained that the key in interesting someone is using ANSVA: You have to grab the person’s Attention, show them why they Need what you are selling, create Satisfaction through a good product, help them Visualize what your product can do for them, and finally, invite them to take Action.

 

Additional guidelines for salesmanship he mentioned are:

 

  • Define well your objective
  • Create a hook
  • Concentrate your conversation on solving a client’s problem
  • Connect with the client’s emotions
  • Provide value for the client
  • Be honest and sincere
  • Make an irresistible offer
  • Add client testimonials

 

He also stressed the importance of being in control of the environment where you are sharing information about your product to a client. If you are meeting Gina  bar or restaurant, make sure that the person/s can hear you well. He recommended always carrying a business card, not only to leave with contacts but also wherever you can think such as in hotel rooms, at the reception desk, and on tables. Spreading the word about your services gives you a much better chance of expanding your clientele. He personally likes to use http://vistaprint.com to print his business cards.

 

“You should always believe in your abilities even if you are the only one.”Siempre debes creer en tus habilidades aunque los demás no lo hagan.” – Juan M. Aguayo

Besides giving away your business card, Aguayo has also found it useful to write details about the situation and the person when someone else gives him their business card. That way it’s possible to remember exactly who the person is in the future, and have something to help them remember your meeting when you come into contact again.

 

If you are feeling weighed down and ready to give up, first think about these persons that at one time or another, were deemed failures:

 

  • Albert Einstein – His elementary teacher didn’t even think he was smart.
  • Michael Jordan – Once, he didn’t make the try-outs of his high school basketball team.
  • Walt Disney – He was let go of his job because his work wasn’t “original” enough.
  • Steve Jobs – They fired him from his own company.
  • Oprah Winfrey – She was told she didn’t have the right “look” for television.
  • The Beatles – They were told by a record company that they didn’t have a future in show business.

 

Here’s to always moving forward!

 

Reconnect

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Have you participated in past WIA-sponsored or Citi-sponsored training initiatives? We would love to chat with you! As a matter of fact, if you are looking for additional support or would just like to share your story, you can take the alumni survey! The photos below are of past Citi Foundation students in a mobile application development program.