Affordable and Flexible Website Options
Anyone who wants to run a successful blog or online business knows that having an attractive, well-functioning website is key. However, unless you’re willing to invest a significant amount of money into a professional web designer, achieving your website goals can be a challenge.
A professional web design can cost anywhere from $1,200 up to $10,000 — a significant sum! But if you’ve tried to DIY your site, you might be feeling like it’s worth it. The typical web design DIY attempt involves installing wordpress and a free theme, and then spending many hours in frustration as you try to customize things to make them look how you imagine.
While there are hundreds of great free themes, if you don’t know how to code it can be nearly impossible to get them to comply with you. One of the secret ingredients that can make your DIY efforts much more successful is utilizing a visual site builder. These programs, which are downloaded onto your site as plugins, effectively make your site a “drag-and-drop” project, which allows you to move elements around visually (rather than typing code).
There are many different options that provide visual page builder plugins. The rest of this article covers some of the best.
WordPress + Free Themes
The first option is the most affordable. In fact, aside from your basic hosting costs, you won’t have to pay anything!
First, you’ll install a free theme of your choice. Two of the best options are “Tesseract” and “Genesis.” Both are very flexible, free, and will work with the page builder plugins.
Any free theme can potentially work, but you won’t know for sure until you try them out. However, I’ve tested both Tesseract and Genesis extensively.
Secondly, you’ll need a page builder plugin. The best free one is “Page Builder by SiteOrigin.” “Beaver Builder” is another option, although the free version doesn’t work as smoothly I would prefer.
Finally, a couple more plugins will add additional customization options: “Easy Google Fonts,” “Spacer,” and “SiteOrigin Widgets Bundle.”
If you’re interested in using this completely free, bootstrap option, I’d highly recommend this video tutorial by Tyler Moore. In the tutorial, he builds an entire site from scratch using this combination of plugins. The result is quite attractive!
I used this approach to build out the site for my book, “SORTED: Freedom through Structure.” You can see the results at: www.sortedbook.com
WordPress + Premium Themes
The second option is also for WordPress, but involves premium themes and plugins. This is perhaps the most expensive DIY option, but at $50 – $200 it’s still a far cry from the price you’d pay for a professional designer.
The benefit of using the premium themes is primarily that it is EASIER to make them look better. The premium themes come with premium visual page builder plugins that have been custom designed to work perfectly in conjunction with the theme, so everything runs more smoothly. With these options, you’ll run into virtually zero glitches.
A great premium theme and page builder can make it extremely easy to customize your site exactly how you want, can save you a lot of time, and will allow you to add more features to your site then the free options would.
Two of the best premium options are “Thrive Themes” and “Elegant Themes.” Both of these companies offer several different themes and plugins that integrate perfectly and create beautiful results. The applications can be paid for upfront, or can be purchased as monthly subscription.
This website (www.gillianperkins.com) is an example of a website that I built using premium themes and plugins.
Squarespace, Wix, & Weebly
The third and final option for easily designing your own site is to use a comprehensive hosting and site building platform, such as Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly. This is certainly the EASIEST of the three options, but it comes with several downsides.
Because these options provide everything you need to start and run your website, the tech side of things is quite simple. They also provide great visual site builders that make customizing your site a breeze.
There are three primary downsides to these comprehensive solutions: customization, features, and integrations.
While customization is quite easy, it only goes so far. You’ll find that while there are plenty of fonts and colors to choose from, adjusting layouts, shapes, and sizes can be next to impossible unless you’re a pro coder (and even then, you may be limited by the application itself).
Unlike with either of the WordPress options, the features you will be able to add are limited. There may be plenty of options for what you want your site to do, but if you need anything out of the ordinary or more advanced, you might discover that the platform makes it simply impossible.
Finally, you’ll be limited as to what other services you’re able to integrate your site with. For example, you might not be able to integrate with your email service provider, mass mailer, or landing page software.
Despite these downsides, comprehensive website services are still a great option for many people. If you only need a simple site and you don’t enjoy tech headaches, then this might be your perfect match.
The Best Website Solution for Your Blog
Now that you know what your options are, you’re probably wondering which one is really the best! Well, that depends on your situation. Here’s a simple summary to help you decide:
The most AFFORDABLE option is to bootstrap your site with WordPress, a free theme, and several free plugins.
The EASIEST option is to use a comprehensive website service, such as Squarespace, Weebly, or Wix.
The BEST RESULTS (most advanced features and most likely to look amazing) will be achieved with a premium theme and its corresponding, premium plugin.
How To Make Your Website Beautiful
Using the right tools makes designing a great looking website much easier, but true beauty starts with your branding. And I’m not just talking about colors and fonts! Branding is about how your visuals make your website visitors FEEL.
Why is does it matter how your visitors feel? Because that’s how you’ll develop long-lasting relationships! Your branding shows off who you are and, if done well, attracts your ideal customer.
To help you design beautiful branding that really speaks to your target audience and CONVERTS them into paying customers, I’ve created a free eBook just for you! It’s called “The Ultimate Guide to Beautiful Branding” and it teaches step-by-step how to DIY a custom brand look and feel for your business. Click here for the free instant download!