To collect our listing of pleasant internet site developers, Forbes Advisor accumulated heaps of statistics factors at the pinnacle internet site developers—and their numerous plans—and categorised the statistics into 5 center classes and forty three subcategories.
We paid unique interest to the pricing of the diverse plans; elements including storage, bandwidth, tools, templates and cell responsiveness; client service; and consumer reviews. We additionally blanketed an professional score to account for qualitative matters including recognition and stand-out functions or policies.
What’s a Mobile-Responsive Site?
A cell-responsive web website online is one which robotically adjusts images, textual content and layout factors to reveal up speedy and correctly for a cell phone. According to Google Analytics stats, extra than 60% of site visitors is cell withinside the U.S., so it’s crucial that your web website online is cell-responsive.
What is AMP?
To make sure your weblog hundreds speedy on cell devices, it must be AMP-optimized. AMP stands for expanded cell pages. It’s an attempt via way of means of Google (and plenty of extra collaborators) to hurry up cell site visitors to make the consumer revel in better. If your internet site builder gives an AMP characteristic, use it! It’ll in all likelihood assist you rank better in seek engines, however extra importantly, it improves your web website online visitors’ revel in for your web website online.
What is Dropshipping?
Dropshipping is a famous e-trade commercial enterprise that doesn’t require you to shop for and inventory inventory. You essentially “shop” for merchandise you need to promote and positioned them for your on-line store. When a person purchases from you, they’ll pay the retail fee you set, you pay the wholesale fee, after which the order is despatched to the dropshipper, who fulfills the order. It’s an inexpensive and smooth manner to begin an e-trade commercial enterprise.
Website Builder vs CMS: What’s the Difference?
A internet site builder is usually an all-in-one answer that consists of internet hosting, a website call and a website editor, however now no longer always. A CMS is a content material control system, and it’s used that will help you control weblog posts, images, videos, and different content material which you submit on a internet site. Site developers commonly consist of a CMS, and a CMS can consist of a website editor, like WordPress.
Why Do Website Builders Have App Markets?
The pleasant internet site developers consist of app markets to assist you to increase the capability of your internet site. For example, you could need to feature electronic mail advertising and popups in your internet site, however if that characteristic isn’t constructed into your internet site builder, you must be capable of upload an app or plugin that may upload the ones functions. Some apps and plugins are free, whilst others may also include month-to-month or annual costs.
What is a Theme or Template?
The phrases subject and template are commonly interchangeable. They’re pre-constructed designs that commonly consist of menu navigation with the maximum not unusualplace pages (home, about, contact, weblog), a header and a footer. WordPress calls its pre-constructed designs themes, whilst Wix calls them templates. Really, there’s no difference.
Why Do Website Builders Include SSL Certificates?
A steady sockets layer (SSL) certificates is a document that encrypts statistics transfers to and from a internet site. So, while a person visits your steady internet site or enters records in any fields for your web website online (forms, username, password, credit score card details), the SSL certificates maintains that statistics private. It’s crucial to have that safety for your web website online for the end-consumer, however it additionally enables together along with your rating in seek engines.
Best free website builder 2021: Easy-to-use top picks
There are plenty of good reasons to build your own personal website. Perhaps you’d like to share archival photos and documents with friends and family members, exhibit your prized baseball card collection, publish a novel, or simply blog about your life and travels. These are all good motivators to sign up for a reliable and reasonably priced web content-management toolset.
Beyond the free “personal” web pages offered by Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and other social networks — in which your personal information becomes part of the network’s lingua franca — there are several excellent yet free or inexpensive web services that offer alternative ways to establish your own internet stake in the ground. These website-building products enable users to design, provision, and maintain a personal website in minutes or hours, depending upon how much time and effort one chooses to spend on the project.
Working with a website builder is relatively easy because they offer a what-you-see-is-what-you-get editing interface — meaning what you see. At the same time, you edit your site is what you will actually see if your website was live and viewed in a browser. The best website builders are rich in features that include professionally designed website templates, easy-to-use, drag-and-drop editors, and onboard hosting services.
Chief criteria used for this list include Intuitive usability (easy-to-follow instructions and performance)Ease of design (drag and drop controls, wizards, pre-built templates)A domain name includedProfessional emailMobile device-readinessSecurity optionsSpecial features (is it commerce-ready?)Optimization for search engines
Some of these listed services will have all of the above; some will miss one or more of these but may offer other features.
See more: ZDNet’s list of best e-commerce site builders
One thing that comes out clearly in research here is that Wix is a head-and-shoulders No. 1 by acclamation of the resources we used. Wix is an intuitive-to-use site builder with hundreds of page templates — most of which are attractively designed — drag-and-drop elements, easy-to-follow wizards, and a menu of helpful widgets.
For people looking to get a website online with minimal effort and maximum creative freedom, Wix should be one of your test choices. No coding or FTP knowledge is required. All a user needs is an email address to get started with Wix’s web hosting. If you don’t mind ads, you can publish a site free of charge for as long as you like. It’s that way with all the free sites.
Wix offers total creative control in that you can drag anything, anywhere. It also offers online storage for site assets, e-commerce tools, useful video backgrounds, and title animations. Wix’s new Editor X interface is intuitive to use and respected in the highly competitive field of website-building services. In summary, Wix is a simple-to-use, multi-faceted tool that is well worth a test drive–whether for its free or paid versions.
Wix’s most important features:Intuitive Editor X interface.Many optional widgets.Hundreds of templates for specific businesses and other uses.Good mobile-site-building tools.Rich web-store features.Excellent uptime and customer service support.Many commerce options, including the ability to sell digital downloads.Free version option.
Wix pricing plans: Basic: no cost, ad-supported; Combo account (3GB of storage and 2GB of monthly data transfers), $14 per month; VIP plan (35GB of storage, a domain name, unlimited monthly data transfers, a professional logo, and priority support), $39 per month.
Business sites with shopping carts and other features go for between $23 and $49 per month.
Enterprise-level plans require consultation with Wix and start at $500 per month. For details, go here.View Now at Wix Established high quality based on open source
WordPress is by far the most utilized internet content management system in the world, powering 37 million sites — about 40% of all websites in 2021, according to market analyst Kinsta and researcher Netcraft. WordPress also owns a commanding 60.8% share of the CMS market; Digital.com reports that it powers 30% of the world’s top 1000 websites.
Since its founding in 2003, the open source-based WordPress provides hosting for more than 500 sites built each day somewhere in the world. WordPress’s Plugin Directory features 54 000+ free plugins; its WooCommerce version powers 22% of the world’s top 1 million e-commerce sites. The main reasons why so many people put WordPress to work are simplicity in usability, its free option and generally low cost, and numerous features, mostly from the open-source community.
The term “WordPress” is often used interchangeably when referring to two software variations. There are significant differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org that you’ll want to know before picking the platform for your project. WordPress.org is an open-source content management system, while WordPress.com is a popular blogging platform with basic functionality that can be accessed free of charge.
WordPress is available in 196 languages, far more than other competitors.
WordPress’s most important features:Simple-to-use editing interface.A forgiving design system that preemptively identifies and notifies users of mistakes.A large number of optional widgets.Online storage for web assets.Hundreds of templates for specific businesses and other uses.Free version option and other modestly priced versions.
*Be advised that some coding is required for the upper-level editions.
WordPress pricing and monthly plans: Basic: no cost; all others go for between $5 and $100 per month, depending upon features and hosting options.View Now at WordPress An alternative to consider for making a fast and clean-looking site.
Site 123 is a rising developer-created website builder with about 5 million users that wants to be the easiest-to-use platform now available for do-it-yourselfers. Of course, lots of services make the same claim, but Site123 deigns to prove their point with an easy-to-use interface and templates.
Site 123 is best for building a small, quick website on a premade template, and it has a generous free plan along with straightforward onboarding and web design options.
Instead of operating like a traditional drag-and-drop website builder, Site123 has users pick their preferences and customize a curated template based on that niche, which appeals to beginners with no design or development experience.
Site 123 does have limited design and technical features and doesn’t offer a lot of customer support. Again, if you’re keeping it simple, these caveats aren’t a problem.
Site 123’s most important features:Provides all the basics someone needs to get started.No-frills design and layout promote fast development.An adequate number of easy-to-use templates.Free of charge based on ads.Instead of operating like a traditional drag-and-drop website builder, Site123 has you pick your niche and then customize a curated template based on that niche, which appeals to beginners who have no design or development experience (think DIY-ers who need to create a website ASAP without having any website experience).
*Be advised that a basic Site 123 account isn’t optimal for equipping and maintaining a commercial website.
Site 123 pricing and monthly plans: Basic service is free of charge; paid plans start at $12.80/month, which includes a free domain for a year, the ability to connect your custom domain, 10GB of storage, 5GB of bandwidth, and the ability to send 100 email messages to your mailing list per month — It also removes the Site123 branding that comes with the free plan.View Now at Site 123 Good for beginners, but the free version might be too restrictive for most users.
SimpleSite certainly lives up to its name, giving its users an easy, straightforward path to building basic websites. SimpleSite emphasizes speed over perfection, which is evident in its simple page editor. If you want creative freedom to try new things and experiment with others, a free SimpleSite won’t be the builder for you.
It’s not particularly intuitive; straying from the chosen template can cause problems. If you want to stay on the straight and narrow, you’re fine with SimpleSite.
SimpleSite’s most important features:Free version: no-frills design and layout promote fast development.Software guides users through the building process; simply choose a color scheme, add images, title, and domain name, then create a login. This final step automatically publishes your site, which you can then go back and finish editing.SimpleSite is beginner-friendly. It wasn’t always the most intuitive; at times, its simplicity becomes restrictive, making it difficult to do some basic design functions.
*Be advised that SimpleSite isn’t optimal for equipping and maintaining a commercial website.
SimpleSite pricing and monthly plans: Basic: no cost (includes SimpleSite ads, 15 pages, limited design options, five online store products, mobile-optimized); other options range from $15.49 to $30.49 per month for e-commerce and full-featured personal sites.View Now at SimpleSite Highly recommended for starting a business site.
Weebly offers step-by-step guidance on building a new website and maybe the best on this list for e-commerce business owners. Weebly can handle entire payment processes, email marketing, multiple domains, and a long list of other features — though not all of them are available in the free version.
As part of the Square product suite, Weebly’s payments are handled by the Square point-of-sale system, so it’s in effect an automated payment process — whether for a pop-up shop or an online store. Not having to worry about the financial underpinnings of a site can be a load lifted off the owner’s shoulders.
Weebly’s most important features:Easy customization.Integration with other apps and add-ons.Intuitive and easy to use.Constantly improving and adding new features.Meets standards for security and cookies.It has an auto-save function, so work doesn’t get lost.Many template options to use as a starting point. Dynamic video background.Built-in image editor.
Weebly pricing and monthly plans: Basic: no cost; other options range from $8 to $38 per month for e-commerce and full-featured personal sites.View Now at Weebly Good option for European website makers
Jimdo has a good set of tools for a person needing a website builder that is super-simple and straightforward — and extra credit if the user is based in Europe (it handles most European languages). Jimdo is not optimal if a user needs any kind of advanced technical features or wants flexibility over specific design changes.
With Jimdo, there are two ways of creating your website: Jimdo Creator and Jimdo Dolphin. Jimdo Creator is Jimdo’s main platform, a full-fledged editing interface. Users can add in their own content, resize items, and drag elements into different positions. Jimdo Dolphin is an ADI (artificial design intelligence) package. Answer a few questions about what you want on the site, and Jimdo will create it for you. Both are excellent ways to build a website but focus on very different requirements.
Jimdo’s most important attributes:Inexpensive to publish an advertisement-free website.Unlimited storage space on the business plan or higher.Help and support are concise and to the point.Middle of the road in terms of ease of use; some people found it straightforward, while others were left frustrated by Jimdo’s restrictive template design.
Jimdo pricing and monthly plans: Basic: no cost; other options range from $9 to $15 per month for e-commerce and full-featured personal sites.View Now at Jimdo Visual CMS design is a plus.
Webflow is another contender for grabbing market share that some of the larger, more well-known web-building tools don’t have. Users have marveled at the ease of creating sites on Webflow, and since everything is linked to CSS-style classes, the designs stay fairly clean compared to other drag ‘n drop / WYSIWYG editors. Some users are sold on the Visual CMS design functionality, which helps design custom-tailed CMSes. The CSS Grid and Flexbox layout options are also a nice aid in designing and aligning elements.
Reviewers have noted that the client editor isn’t the most intuitive and makes it hard to edit certain aspects, such as background images.
Webflow’s most important attributes:Strong tools for crafting phone and tablet sites.Good web store tools.It offers a customized database.Enables use of custom CSS and HTML code.Strong e-commerce options, with support for digital downloads.Unlimited storage and monthly data transfers with all plans.
Webflow pricing and monthly plans: Basic: no cost; other options range from $12 to $36 per month for e-commerce and full-featured personal sites. View Now at Webflow What are the advantages of using DIY website builders?
Especially for smaller companies and self-employed people, website builders offer great value because you can create your own website within a short time and without great cost.
The interface is very intuitive, and programming skills are not necessary. The creation of a blog or online store is also easily possible with many providers.How long does it take to create a homepage with a website builder?
Thanks to ready-to-use templates (usually sorted by industry), you can quickly create the first draft. Afterwards, modules for texts, image galleries, videos, contact forms, and other elements can be placed on the page and filled with content. In most cases, they can be easily placed in the right position by simply dragging and dropping.
How much time you need varies greatly depending on the project, preparation, and maintenance. Some websites go online within five minutes; others take one to two days of work.How much does it cost to create your own online presence?
Many providers offer their users a permanently free version of their website builder. Compared to the paid ones, however, the free plans come with some restrictions. This means that there may be tools and functions that you cannot use as a free user. In addition, websites created for free have advertising references to the provider both on the homepage and in the domain.
If you don’t want this, you should consider upgrading your plan for a monthly fee of about $5 to $40.
How to Start an Ecommerce Business and Make Your First Sale
If you’re wondering how to start an ecommerce business, you’ve come to the right place at the right time. Online selling has been in a rapid growth curve for years, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. In the first quarter of 2021, online sales grew by a whopping 39%.
What’s more, starting an ecommerce business has never been easier. In the past, you had to spend months — sometimes years — building a brand with a brick-and-mortar store before getting your first sale. But now, thanks to technology and the internet, there are many ways that you can get started right away — and for just a few dollars.
If you’re interested in how to start an ecommerce business but don’t know where to begin, this article is for you. We’ll walk you through everything from defining your brand to making your first sale so that it’s easy and straightforward.
Table of ContentsWhat is an ecommerce business?
An ecommerce business is a type of small or medium-sized enterprise that primarily focuses on online selling. Amazon is an example of a giant ecommerce business, but there are millions of smaller stores on the internet, started by people just like you.
Here are some examples of successful small companies that are using ecommerce to build their businesses:Leesa: This mattress company made people rethink how to buy a mattress. As an infrequent and expensive purchase, mattresses often take a lot of online research before people choose one. Leesa turned that tendency into a profitable business.Modcloth: Can you believe this popular online retailer got its start in the founder’s dorm room?Dollar Shave Club: This company uses a subscription model to make it easy to replace your razor regularly.Ipsy: Who knew people would pay to receive free samples of cosmetics? Companies are thrilled to get testers into new hands, and customers love receiving little gifts from themselves in the mail each month.
When it comes to how to start an ecommerce business, there are many different ways, and the cost of starting up is extremely flexible. Some people start out with just a few dollars, by setting up a simple website with WordPress, Shopify, or Wix, and selling items from other manufacturers. Other businesses start out on a larger scale, designing and manufacturing products and hiring developers to build unique ecommerce sites.Learning how to start an ecommerce business
The foundation of your business will be your brand, product line, and target audience. You can think of these three items as the three legs of a stool — each depends to some extent on the other two, and all three have to be equally strong.
For that reason, you’ll need to work on the first three steps — brand identity, target market, and product line — simultaneously, going back and forth to find the perfect blend.
Where to begin is up to you. Some businesses start with a product line in mind and then build a brand around it. Others start with the branding and then seek out products that are a good fit for their target market.
Define your brand
Your brand identity will set you apart from others and provide a cohesive look for all of your marketing materials. When you’re looking at how to start an ecommerce business, this is a great place to begin.
Your brand identity will be most successful if it’s a natural outgrowth of your personality. A quiet, buttoned-down type may not be able to breathe life into a quirky, vivacious brand and may do better with a solid, stable brand persona (think JC Penney instead of Target). On the other hand, if you have an edgy sense of humor and eclectic interests, let your unique energy shine through.
Here are some brand personality spectrums to consider:Youth vs. maturityVibrant vs. peacefulFunny vs. seriousStable vs. freshGrounded vs. high-energyFormal vs. casual
It can be helpful to think of your brand as an archetype, pet, or person. What does it look and sound like?
Your brand identity will help you choose colors, fonts, design elements like logos or illustrations, tone, and other elements of your brand’s personality. Your company name and logo should encapsulate your brand.
But brand identity can also shape the word choices you use in your emails, phone messages, and marketing materials. Every interaction your customers have with your business is another opportunity to reinforce your brand identity, so refine it early and build it into your business from the ground up.Clarify your target market
Your target market is a group of people with shared interests, values, or demographics who you expect to be interested in your products.
For example, you might be selling to college students or retirees, to city dwellers or rural folk. The more closely you can define your target market, the more effectively you can tailor your product offering and marketing message.
This means that if you’re selling products for college students, you’ll want to choose photos of successful college students for your ads, and if you’re selling to retirees, you’re better off with happy, active seniors.
The more specific you can be about your target market, the easier it is to choose appropriate marketing messages and make sure that your product offerings are relevant for them.
Keep in mind that if you buy advertising on Google or Facebook, you’ll be able to identify your audience by age, income level, industry, region, education level, and interests/hobbies. Use categories like this to paint a clear picture of your market.
Some businesses go even further and create a specific customer persona. Here are some examples of customer personas:Beth, The Outdoorsy Mama: A woman who loves outdoor adventure with her kids. She’s 38, married, and works part-time from home. Her interests include hiking, yoga, and crafts. She lives in Kentucky and her household income is $72,000.Bob, The Exhausted Entrepreneur: A man who started his own business five years ago. He’s somewhat successful but hasn’t been able to find the right staff to take his business to the next level. He lives in Chicago, earns $125,000 a year, and the only hobby he makes time for is trying to find the right project management software. He has a wife and two children but rarely sees them.
Your brand identity and target market should go hand in hand. For example, some consumers are attracted to brands that push boundaries and have a rebellious tone; others prefer more formal styles.Decide what to sell
Of course, when you’re thinking about how to start an ecommerce business, one of the most obvious elements is the products you will offer.
Perhaps you already have a product idea and you’re building the business around that. Or maybe you’re not sure what you want to sell but have a target market in mind. Either way, it’s essential that you narrow down your focus before making any decisions about where the business will go.
As you create a more detailed picture of your brand persona and target market, your product ideas will evolve as well. You’ll be able to see what items are in demand for your demographic and which ones will make the most sense as part of your brand.
Your decisions will also be influenced by your personal history and style. Don’t hesitate to bring any experience or knowledge you have to your product line.
There are three primary sources for products: dropshipping, wholesale, and owner-created.
Dropshipping is an easy way to get started. You sell the products, but the wholesaler or manufacturer ships them directly to the customer — you never touch the products. You can sell online this way without paying for a warehouse, investing in inventory, or managing any shipping.
Be aware, though, that you’ll be competing with many other dropship companies for limited customer attention for the same products. Your control over quality and service is also more limited.Wholesale
Most traditional retailers buy wholesale. This is buying items directly from the manufacturer or distributor, and then selling them to the customers.
Wholesalers offer a wide range of products in different categories that might meet your needs better than drop shipping does. You can order from a variety of wholesalers to create the perfect product line mix for your brand, with lots of opportunities to cross-sell or put together bundles that will appeal to your customers.
But wholesale also has its drawbacks: You’ll need to invest in inventory, have space to store the items, and handle shipping yourself.Owner-created
Some small ecommerce businesses are both the retailer and the manufacturer. For example, many people start an Etsy shop selling handcrafted items they create themselves. But there are other ways to sell original items as well.
You might design your products and then have them manufactured by a factory that makes similar merchandise. Some sellers create products through 3D printing.
Creating original items is generally a more expensive way to enter the ecommerce space, but it can be a good way to build a unique business that is an extension of your values and interests.Solidify your product offerings
Keep refining your ideas about the products you want to offer. Make sure you have a cohesive product line that makes sense for your target market and your brand.
The best way to do that is by leaving out anything questionable. Don’t waste one second of your site visitors’ time on products that won’t delight and engage them.
Try to build a collection across a variety of price points, and look for ways to cross-sell and upsell, or bundle things together into appealing packages.
Above all, make sure that you are only selling products you’re excited about. Live with the products, use them, see how you feel about them when you first receive them and how you feel about them two weeks later. You’ll be much more effective at marketing things you genuinely love.Research your market
When you’re learning how to start an ecommerce business, you don’t want to skip this very important step.
You need to be sure that there will be demand for your products. You can do that by researching the industry to see if it’s growing or stagnant and by looking at similar products your competitor offers. Is there an underserved niche open for you to operate in?
Read reviews, both on seller websites like Amazon and on independent review sites. Take note of the features users get most excited about, the ways they use the product, and their complaints. At what price point do they consider a product expensive? What needs do they have that aren’t being met by the products on the market currently?
Next, take a look at your competitors to see if there is room in the market for you. Are they growing and doing well, or do they seem to be struggling? Are they asking for full price for their products or offering steep discounts? How is each competitor positioned in terms of its pricing, unique features, and target market?
All of this helps you figure out how to start an ecommerce business that stands out in the market.Test your product ideas
To find out how the market will receive your brand and products, you’ll want to do some testing. This is especially important if you’re creating original products.
One affordable way to get great feedback is to take out a booth at an event that will attract your target market, like an industry convention, health fair, parenting fair, bridal show, or home show. Decorate your booth with as much brand personality as you can, set out your products, and wait. When people come to your booth with a friend or partner, stay silent. Listen to their conversations and you’ll learn a lot about how they react to your products, your brand, and your price point. If someone comes to the booth alone, chat with them. Don’t try to sell them anything, just discuss your products.
You can also do research in relevant groups on Facebook, Reddit, or Quora. Be straightforward about what you want, and ask people to give you honest feedback. Would they buy this product? Why or why not?
Marketing agencies can help you set up more formal focus groups, if you think that will help more.
Make a business plan
Often, the goal of a business plan is to provide investors or bankers with enough details to convince them to fund your company. However, even if you’re not talking with a bank or investor about starting your own business, it’s a good idea to create a business plan.
A business plan will identify your products and processes, determine the cost of the initial launch, and forecast ongoing expenses.
Your ecommerce business plan should have the following sections:Company descriptionStructure (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation)Your key team membersGoals and objectivesStartup costs (equipment, software, etc.)Marketing strategy (who is your target market, how will you reach them, and how much will that cost)Operations plan (include details about your inventory, distribution channels, how you’ll handle shipping)Financial projections (project your income and expenses for the first year)
Projecting income and expenses can be overwhelming for new entrepreneurs. It helps to remember that everyone is only guessing when they put these estimates together. The important thing is that you spend the time to really think through all the potential issues.
When you’re done, you’ll have a clear plan for what to do next. Building your ecommerce business plan gives you a strong base for launching your business.
Constant Contact’s store-building tool is an easy and approachable way to start your ecommerce store.
Finally, it’s time to create your business’s home on the web. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. There are plenty of solutions out there for how to start an ecommerce business with a professional-looking website, even if you have little technical expertise.
Popular ecommerce site builders give you templates that you can modify and fill to create your site. They will also help you calculate sales tax and shipping costs, and some have inventory features as well.
If you’re working with a dropshipper or wholesaler, they can provide you with high-quality photography for your site. Otherwise, you should put some effort into taking really beautiful photos before you start site-building.
As you create your site, focus on making it reflect your brand persona. You want your website to make a good first impression to people checking out your store.
The content should be organized in three main sections:Your products (what you sell)How to buy from you (order process, shipping info)Questions about your company (contact info, refund policy)
Ask friends, relatives, or hired research subjects to test the site for you. Give them specific jobs to complete, like finding a specific product or checking out as a guest, and see which aspects of your site navigation slow them down or confuse them.
Don’t forget to look at the options your site builder offers for acknowledgment emails, receipts, and other settings.