Last Updated Jul 1, 2010 10:30 AM EDT
1. Squarespace -- A fully hosted solution for creating and maintaining a small business Website. Squarespace comes with professionally designed style variants from brand-name designers. Every style has point-and-click control over all the page elements of the design to make it look like you and no one else. For $14 a month, Squarespace is a must see.
2. SnapPages -- SnapPages gives you all the tools you need to create your very own Website. Everything on SnapPages has been developed from the ground up to be powerful enough for your business but simple enough for your grandma. Contact forms, videos, photo albums, blog, and nice customizable themes. Seriously? $8 a month.
3. Yola -- Great templates and good support are the hallmarks of Yola. My favorite feature is Yola Premier by HP where you can get site design, a domain name, and hosting for only $349 for the first year and then $49.95 each year after that.
4. Weebly -- Dozens of professional designs to choose from or build your own with HTML & CSS. Videos, pictures, maps, and text are added by simply dragging them to your Website. The price of Weebly Pro is $4.58/mo for 6 months, $3.99/mo. 1yr, and $2.99/mo. for two years.
5. Moonfruit -- Comes with a free domain for your $14 a month. Moonfruit is not just a Website editor; it behaves more like a graphic design package giving you control over the detailed design of your site.
All Web hosting providers differ in the amount of space and traffic they can handle for your Website. The online Website builders I listed above include Web hosting but are limited by storage space for your pages, images, video, etc., and by speed. Small businesses are not alike. Some may require just a standard hosting account while others that do more ecommerce or have many visitors may need scalable hosting.
Some good options for Windows or Mac software that have trial versions to download or are free: Adobe Dreamweaver -- Perfect for pros. (Windows/Mac) Cost: $399 Microsoft Expression Web -- Perfect for all. (Windows) Cost: $149 KompoZer -- For beginners and intermediates. - (Windows/Mac) Cost: FREE Aptana Studio -- For intermediates and pros. (Windows/Mac) Cost: FREE BBEdit -- For pros. (Mac) Cost: $125 TopStyle -- For intermediates and pros. (Windows) Cost: $79.95 Notepad++ -- Code only for pros. (Windows) Cost: FREE
Last but definitely not least... you can hire a professional Web designer ... if you have the budget: $500 -$10,000+
At Sortfolio, DesignCrowd, Elance, and Guru, you can get bids on your project and hire Web designers directly. Look at their past work before hiring a Web designer. Hiring a pro, either online or through a local firm is a nice option for people who don't have the time to build a Website or want to have high-end features and don't have the computer skills to do it. I believe most people have the ability -- but finding the time to do it is always the biggest problem for small businesses. In this case, hire a designer or try a hosted SaaS option above.
Does your business's Website suck? In future posts, I'll critique Website designs and offer tips on how to make them better. Submit the url for your company's Website here.