Website builders are awesome. That’s quite an introductory line but it is in fact true. For those of you who are from pre-historic times such as me, site builders are to websites what automatic gear is to vehicles.
There are many around and each of them offer you what boils down to the same thing – the ability to create a website rapidly and with minimal assistance. This capability is especially helpful for small businesses or even freelancers since it cuts down on unnecessary overhead that can be better employed elsewhere (like that awesome new Star Trek Bluetooth communicator!)
I hope Jerry doesn’t catch that bit about the Star Trek communicator, but the point is that as a business, we all know it’s important to focus on our own business activities. Website building may be a little far off, but when its simplified to the extent that the cost-savings generated from doing it on our own simply can’t be ignored – it’s time to look at options.
Why use a website builder?
Not all companies will be able to plan, design and build a website on their own. It often takes time, resources and experience to be able to produce something from scratch. Think about this – to a programmer, it’s laughable at how easy it is to write and run a “Hello World” program but to a layman, they wouldn’t even know where to start.
To simplify matters to the masses, companies like Sitejet have come up with a building block system that lets you make use of available tools to build your own website. Think of it as making use of pre-fabricated construction materials and then going wild with design using them.
It’s fast, it’s easy and requires close to zero technical skills. Let’s look at how simple it would be to build a business site with Sitejet .
6 Easy Steps to Building a Business Website with Sitejet
1. Choose your template
The normal flow you’ll encounter with Sitejet is to sign up (which is free), create a website, edit it, then publish it (upon which you need to pay). That’s a very smooth and user-friendly method since if you’re unhappy using it for any reason, it won’t cost you a single cent.
After you register you can create a website in the dashboard – the process will require you to provide a name for the site and to select a template. There are around 20-odd templates for you to choose from. These range from personal portfolios to real estate companies and marketing businesses.
Demo: Examples of Sitejet templates
* Click image to enlarge.
2. Add content to your site
Once the setup is done, you can start editing the site by hitting the edit button. This brings you to a more intimidating looking layout with what looks like a ton of options all over the place. If you’re not familiar with What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) concepts, then I recommend you take a few minutes to follow the tour that pops up at the beginning. Everything is menu driven.
All pages on the template will have some placeholder text already there, just to show you what it looks like. Things can be as simple as keeping everything ‘as is’ and double clicking each text area then filling in your own.
Even the top navigation menu bar can be edited. Double click the bar and on the left, you can edit the content of the navigation menu.
When I say editing, it means that to change text is as simple as that. You select the box and you can change not only the text, but also the color of the text, the font size, type and almost anything else – just like in Microsoft Word for example.
3. Further customizing your site
The previous section covers mainly text, but you can adjust the look and feel of your site as well. Again, double click any visuals you’d like to change and on the left you’ll be able to change the visual, it’s size, add links, or almost anything else.
If you want to change an image entirely, just double click on it and you can upload your own images for use. Any images you upload will be kept in your media manager, and ready for use at any time so you’ll only have to upload them once.
Sitejet doesn’t offer images for you to use so you’ll need to source some on your own. If you don’t have any, or your business isn’t physical, you might consider some stock image websites like Getty Images where you can buy individual photos or graphics. Don’t just download images off Google, or you might find yourself getting sued for copyright infringement.
Build your online brand identity
Even if you’re an established brand, moving online is something that might shift things around a bit. You might find that the way you’ve branded yourself may not always be entirely relevant online.
In these scenarios, you can decide to go one of two ways. You might like to build a web persona, or comprehensively re-brand. Thankfully, this doesn't have to be difficult. There are some web-based services that allow you to work with exactly what areas of branding you need.
Logaster, for example, can start off with just a basic logo design, or you can get them to build your entire brand book – right down to new stationery designs.
4. Add dynamic content
Of course, this being the era of multimedia, why settle for text and images? Add dynamic content to excite and thrill your viewers. You can add video content as well as social media elements like a tie in link from your business Facebook page.
Or why not a navigation map, sop that your customers can get directions to your business directly from your website? All of this is not just to capture their attention, but to act as a facilitator for your business.
5. SEO marketing
With the literally millions of websites around today, it’s easy to get missed. As a small business, it’s not easy nor cheap to get someone to help with your SEO. Thankfully you can do some basic SEO on your own from within Sitejet.
For each page of your site, or for selected links you’ll be able to specify keywords and descriptions that will help you bring your website to the attention of web crawlers such as Googlebot.
To learn more about SEO and how it can help your business, take a look at Jerry’s article on SEO 101 to get some ideas you can duplicate on your business site for maximum efficiency.
6. Publish your website
Once you’ve gone through all the steps above and are satisfied with your new site, it’s time to make it available to the world. Simply click a button and you can be open for business – once you select your payment plan, of course.
Sitejet publishes single user website for a monthly fee of $5 – there are totally no charges for using the Site Builder. They give you 14 days to play with the interface and build your website, in fact. To really build a basic site will take you maybe 20 minutes if you’re fast and know what you want – more if you take the time to run through the tutorial or do up a completely different site.
As a guideline I’d say expect 25 minutes for just tweaking a template, 2 hours or more if you want something special, or a few days to completely redo a site from scratch.
If You are a Website Designer
Sitejet allows its users to create multiple projects (websites) in its dashboard, so if you’re a website designer that does sites for multiple clients, this is especially good for you. It not only allows you to silo multiple projects, but there are built in collaborative features as well which help you work on the website with customer feedback in one all in one place.
You can also work with a colleague – say perhaps a graphic designer and leave notes for them so that they can build their part as you do yours. Once all of this is done, control of the site can be shifted over to your customer with their own self-service control panel. They can tweak their own text at any time!
Saving Cost on Your Business Site
Now, to pay someone to build a basic website for you will set you back anything from a low of maybe $300 to thousands of dollars – and you’ll still be stuck paying annual fees on your business domain name and web hosting anyway.
In fact, there are web hosting companies out there who will happily charge more than the $5 a month Sitejet is asking for. I know that as a business, you would much rather focus on what you’re good at, but with Sitejet making it so simple to create our own site, why waste the extra money?
Yes, You Can Build a Good Business Site with Sitejet
It took me a total of ten minutes to familiarise myself with the Sitejet interface and tweak out a business site from a template, so it is indeed easy to use. However, if you’re a business and want greater control over your look and feel, I suggest that you look at the templates Sitejet has and lift the ideas from them to create a new site from scratch.
Ideally, what I recommend is that you modify and use a template first – that will take you maybe an hour or two. Once you’ve published it and used it for a while, getting used to the interface of the suite builder, then you may decide to build a new site from scratch.
The same benefit that helps website developers isolate their sites will work to your advantage as well. With Sitejet , it can be as simple or complex as you want, and you’ll likely save a lot of money using their system.
About Timothy Shim
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.