3 Easy Ways to Create a Professional-Looking Website

19 Comments

You don’t have to hire an expensive website design firm or manage your own WordPress installation to make a nice-looking site to promote your business or your personal brand. Here are three hosted website building tools to get you going quickly: Weebly, SiteKreator, and SynthaSite.

Weebly logoWeebly provides an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface for creating your website along with more than 30 design templates to choose from. You can add a blog and RSS feeds. Weebly lets you use your own domain or even buy a domain through them. And it’s all free.

SiteKreator logoSiteKreator offers all the capabilities of Weebly plus a bunch more. It’s priced in four tiers of service: Free, Personal at $7.95 a month, Business at $19.95 a month, and Power at $39.95 a month. The Business offering that small businesses might choose offers 50 design templates, all the basic website elements you want including text and images plus support for advanced features like discussion forums, site search, and web forms.

Jump up to the Power offering and you’ll get the ability to create page-specific menus, an internal employee area, and 20 email accounts.

Synthasite logoSynthaSite makes it easy to build web pages with text, images, and video. You can host the results as a subdomain at synthasite.com or download the pages and host at your own domain. It’s more like a web app version of DreamWeaver or FrontPage and less a full-featured hosted solution like SiteKreator.

19 Comments

Craig

I have just come across weebly in the last few days. Yes I know I am slow off the uptake. I just wanted to see some examples of websites that other people have created. I have made one that I am very happy with http://www.redfoxmarketing.co.uk . Right now i’ve shown you mine, you can show me yours!

keith bohanna

This service space continues to evolve and all three of these tools are great.

Personally I use Sitekreator when working with/training small businesses and the enhancement they are about to make to the interface http://video.sitekreator.com/user_interface_demo.html
will make it easier to use again.

There are a lot of people (especially web developers and those in that community of interest) who have valid comments about these tools (design standards, HTML standards etc) but as Tim Peters says above they are a starting point. And for many micro businesses the cost of paying a good web developer to build a simple site does not yet pay back – certainly in Ireland.

keith

Tim Peter

Great write-up, Anne.

I wrote a post last night arguing all small businesses need a website, and wish I’d seen this first. While I still think WordPress provides a better option (for its ability to move content to a separate hosted domain when the business is ready if nothing else), each of these provides small business owners with a viable option. I’ll look to get a more detailed comparison up within the next several days.

@Chris – I agree with Anne that there will be a place for designers. But, I would worry about your business if that place is at the low-end. The more value add you can provide, the better. And who’s to say you can’t use one (or more) of these tools as your develop/deploy platform and transform yourself into a designer/integrator?

@T – For many small businesses, these types of tools are all that’s necessary. While some folks now scoff at the idea of “brochure-ware” sites, for many small, local businesses, that’s plenty. Give your customers the ability to learn who you are and how to contact you and you’ll be in pretty good shape. Nothing stupid about that as far as I can see. So be nice. :-)

Dan Power

Why do you say that, “T”? Is there something specific you’re referring to?

I’m interested in a better “web site creation” tool than my current one (Google Page Creator).

But if these three aren’t suitable for a business web site, what specifically don’t you like, and is there an alternative that you would suggest?

Or are they just “stupid”?

T

Yeah, “professional-looking”. That’s fine for personal sites, but for a business it’s just plain stupid.

Zorb Zimmersumthin

I tried all 3 and I think that I like SynthaSite best.

However, all 3 took me longer than it would take to do it the old way. Newbies will definitely appreciate these.

Anne Zelenka

Chris: I kind of like SiteKreator, you get a lot with that Power edition.

I think there will always be a need for good website designers though! Small businesses could start with these then hire the experts when they get super-successful. :)

Chris Poteet

Wow, someone’s trying to put people like me out of business. Weebly looks especially promising. The interface reminds me of Wufoo.

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