How to build a website
What to look for in a hosting plan
By Harold Glicken
A friend once suggested that I should build a website to post my columns, but for years I resisted, first of all because the Internet shouldn’t be boring. And second, because I didn’t want to learn “html” or CSS in order to build the webite. Those two programming languages are about as user-friendly to me as a doctoral dissertation on rocket propellant.
Still, it seems as if everybody has a blog, even though a billion-and-counting people have Facebook accounts and other social media to post mundane details of their lives.
I’m not into Facebook, I don’t have much to say about anything other than technology and I simply can’t get myself motivated to learn even WordPress, a website-building program which people tell me is user-friendly. It may be friendly for other users, but I’ve flailed about with WordPress, and like a person who’s drowning, I looked for something, anything, to hang on to. In short, a website builder that would be powerful, yet easy enough to help me design and manage my presence on the Internet.
I searched online for user-friendly website builders and found software with names like GoDaddy, 1&1, Weebly, Duda and dozens more. Each web-hosting vendor has its own software for building a website. Some are polished and easy to use; others are designed for people who design websites for a living – people who have mastered WordPress, for example. For folks who want to sell online, it’s important to ask vendors how difficult it is to set up a shopping cart.
I settled on InMotionHosting.com, which welcomes WordPress users, but has a companion program called BoldGrid that sits atop WordPress. Click on the “text” tab, and you’ll see incomprehensible code. Click on “visual,” and you see what that code looks like to browsers.
BoldGrid has dozens of templates for just about any kind of website, including the one I chose for mine. I bought a domain, www.helpware-online.com, for $15 a year, bought a basic hosting plan for $50 a year – a bargain – and went about the business of building a stunning site. But there were problems early-on. I couldn’t modify my logo. Changes that were saved mysteriously disappeared. Fonts wouldn’t behave. Importing graphics was challenging. I was on the phone with Inmotion’s 24/7 free tech support in the wee hours of the night. I needed something simpler, and found it.
At Wix.com, I found perhaps the most user-friendly website builder around. There are hundreds of templates, a gallery of images that seems endless, and best of all, the website builder is as easy to use as moving elements around with a mouse. Importing text and pictures is simple. The menus are intuitive. Whereas building a home page in BoldGrid took me nearly two days, in the same amount of time, I built an entire website of eight pages with Wix. It looks pretty neat, too. For a few dollars extra, Wix lets you build an equally user-friendly e-commerce site, too.
Wix has both free hosting programs (with ads) and premium sites. The kind of site I wanted costs $16 a month; less for yearly subscriptions. Unlike InmotionHosting, which includes email accounts in its package, Wix directs users to Google, which sells email addresses for $5 a pop, no pun intended. (POP is an email protocol that tells servers how email should be delivered.)
You’d be hard-pressed to find a phone number for Wix , but their contextual knowledge base is easily searchable and in my experience, covered almost every question I had. When I did have a complicated problem with my domain (www.helpware-online.com, I found Wix’s phone number by doing a Google search. The tech understood and solved my problem quickly. Hold time was about 15 minutes, but tech support is available for only a few hours a day, closed on weekends. It was closed on the Thursday before New Year’s Day, and wasn’t open again until the following Monday. For some reason, my website had crashed, so I was not able to fix it for five days. That’s unacceptable.
I was impressed favorably with InmotionHosting’s salesman – he didn’t try to up-sell me. He even threw in the first year’s domain registration for another website I want to build. I ultimately pointed my domain to Wix, which InmotionHosting’s techs helped me accomplish. In fact, they did it for me. Their tech team, in my experience, is outstanding, but it seems like some of them aren’t up-to-speed on the intricacies of BoldGrid, their website builder.
So, if you’re looking for a powerful website builder and you don’t mind a fairly steep curve, with WordPress functionality, InmotionHosting.com is very much worth a try. If, like me, you’re a novice and want to spend more time on content and less on struggling with design, absolutely go for Wix. Their website builder does most of the work for you, is easy to learn, and help is only a mouse-click away for Wix’s comprehensive support database. If, however, you need lots of hand-holding, InMotionHosting ‘s techs will help even in the wee hours of the night.
But wherever you decide to host your blog or website, choose one that has a website builder tailored to your level of experience, patience and needs. Folks who want to sell widget online have choices, too. Google “best website builders,” and research both the hosting company’s support and their software. Price is also a consideration. One hosting site wanted nearly $400 for me to get online. Ask about whether email accounts are included, and how much traffic you get in the plan your choose. If you’re selling online, you’ll want all the traffic you can get.
You shouldn’t have to spend weeks building a website. With Wix you might only spend a few days to get it right.