Business Today

Get Set, Go!

In this YouTube era of all things DIY, you do not need a designer or a coder to build your web presence. Check out these easy-to-use website builders to create a snappy site.
By Nidhi Singal   Delhi     Print Edition: July 16, 2017
Get Set, Go!
Illustration: Ajay Thakuri

Pet Palace Dog Hostel in Pune is a dog-and-cat boarding facility that has existed for more than five years. But it is only now that the owner, Vinod Kale, has built a website for his business and that, too, for free. Like many others, Kale always believed creating a website would require design and technical skills and would be a costly affair until he created one with the help of Google solutions. "Having an online presence has worked in our favour. We have been running the hostel for a long time but have started getting more queries since the website came up," he says.

Kale is not alone. People from all walks of life - students, homemakers, bloggers, independent consultants, business people and professionals - have embraced the Internet as a mass medium connecting the masses without any entry barrier. What's more, you need not do it in the traditional way, buying a domain name and hosting space, and writing a big cheque for a coder/designer. Instead, opt for the fast-sprouting do-it-yourself site builders and their bevy of affordable DIY services. You can create a single-page website with minimum details or add a photo gallery, display client testimonials or facilitate payment gateway as per your requirements. Popular names like Net4, BigRock and GoDaddy - mostly into web hosting and domain registration business - are out there to help and you can also get a trial run before paying the annual fee. Interestingly, one gets to use some genuinely free web builders, coming from the Internet giants Google and WordPress. Here is a quick look at who offers what and how much you have to pay.

Net4 EASYsite: A popular domain registration and web hosting company, Net4 has two options - you can either build a website yourself or assign it to the Net4 team. The EASYsite - U Make - can be built using drag-and-drop tools and even has a built-in search engine optimisation (SEO) mechanism to make it discoverable on search engines. The Essential Plan costs Rs 2,250 a year and includes a five-page mobile-optimised website with two e-mail accounts (each with 1 GB storage space), a domain name and latest widgets for social media sharing on Facebook. The Advance plan, at Rs 3,499 a year, enables you to make a 10-page site with five e-mail accounts, a product catalogue widget and social media sharing via Facebook and Twitter. The E-commerce Plan costs Rs 9,999 and offers an unlimited number of pages, an advanced shopping cart and 10 free e-mail IDs with 1 GB data storage each.

You can register for a seven-day free trial, search and select the domain name, and build the site by choosing from hundreds of templates, which can be changed and edited any time. It also get offers a built-in photo gallery, payment gateway support, maps and videos, depending on the plan you have chosen.

BigRock: It offers three different solutions - Impress.ly for creating a mobile-friendly website; DIY, a template-based solution for site development, and DesignXchange, which connects you to the web designers within the city. Unlike other companies that offer a free trial for 7-30 days, BigRock only allows you a demo on how you can create a website and what the final product will look. Paid plans offer 175-plus design templates, ad-free web hosting, SEO, e-commerce features, blog and social media integration, and virus-free and spam-free e-mail.

The Basic Plan under DIY costs Rs 189 a month and offers a one-page site, 500 MB space and two e-mail IDs. The Simple Plan, at Rs 219 per month, features a five-page site with 1 GB space and three e-mail ids. The Business Plan, costing Rs 299 a month, allows 15 pages, 2 GB space and five e-mail accounts. The Premium Plan costs Rs 369 per month and allows 50 web pages, 5 GB space and 10 e-mail accounts. For websites, one has to pay on an annual basis while the domain name will cost you extra.

GoDaddy: You only need to register to access GoDaddy's website builder and get a month's free trial without entering credit card details. As you start, GoDaddy asks you about the nature of the business, site name and domain name. Next, it directs you to the builder page where you can select the theme, edit information, add pages or change the font and colour. There is also a preview tab to show how the final website looks.

One can go live by purchasing the domain name, but there is also an option to use the subdomain '.godaddysites.com'. The company has several plans with the Personal Plan starting at Rs 239 a month and offering mobile design, hosting and customer support. The Business Plan, at Rs 399 per month, comes with secure sockets layer and SEO while Business Plus, for Rs 599 a month, also includes e-mail marketing, social media integration and globally optimised speed. The Online Store option, at Rs 749 a month, is useful for building an e-commerce site. All payments have to done on a yearly basis.

MS and AWS: Microsoft and Amazon Web Services also offer website building tools, but these may require technical help. Supported by Comprehensive Tools, Microsoft's offering includes Microsoft ASP.Net for a free web framework, Visual Studio for the development environment, including building, testing and deploying, and Microsoft Edge for inspecting front-end web code, including HTML, JavaScript and CSS. Amazon enables users to build a website using platforms such as LAMP, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Simple Ruby on Rails. These platforms allow website applications such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, to be launched with a few clicks.

Website with Google My Business:

Here is a free and simple way to build a one-page dynamic website which is mobile-optimised. If you do not want to spend money on domain names, Google will create one using the subdomain '.business.site' instead of .com, .in or .co.in. Better still, this one remains free for life.

The template-based tool requires you to add all relevant information and follow the steps for creating a website in less than 10 minutes. First, Google asks you to key in the name of the business, address, phone number and the nature of work. You can also pinpoint the exact location on Google Map. Now that your business is listed, you can choose from eight featured themes, edit details, add description/summary, add photos and do more. The website builder is available in 10 languages. Google offers additional services such as AdWords Express, an advertisement-based search, insights and reviews. The site created is listed on Google Search and Maps, making sure your web presence is easily found. But this will happen after Google verifies your registered address by sending a postcard to that address with a verification code.

WordPress: It powers 28 per cent of the Internet today and also enables you to create a website for free. In fact, you can even develop one on your smartphone and update it from any device. It will be hosted on the WordPress.com subdomain, but for a custom domain name, you have to opt for a personal plan costing $2.99 a month, billed for a year. While the free plan includes community support and up to 3 GB storage, the latter offers e-mail and live chat support, 6 GB storage and removes WordPress.com ads. One can register on the site, select a theme and do all necessary editing. You will find two more plans here. Premium, at $8.25 a month, offers 13 GB storage and VideoPress support while Business, costing $24.92 per month, comes with unlimited storage, Google Analytics and more.

@nidhisingal

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