What you really need to know for a feel–good website

Chapter 3: Tools You Need

There are many options for hosting and tools when it comes to building your website. This chapter will outline the main tools that you are going to need for your website. You’ll find many reviews on the internet that might tell you that WordPress is the way you have to go because of SEO or 3rd party tool integrations. While that was true several years ago, today, all of the tools below allow you to install Google Analytics code, connect to tools like Mouseflow and insert 3rd party code like Mailchimp into their sites. Just be sure to do your complete research before ruling out Wix or Weebly.

Hosting Tools

While there are many, many ways you can build a website, what I have focused on here are the top 5 tools that the majority of small business owners use to create their websites.

wordpress logoWordPress. Over 30% of all the websites on the internet are created with WordPress. Worpress is a software tool that sits on a server. If you choose to use WordPress, you can use wordpress.com to host your site. If you want to have control over your wordpress Installation, you’ll want to choose a hosting provider, like GoDaddy or Dreamhost. When you use a hosting provider, you login to their control panel and install wordpress on the space that you have reserved on their servers when you signed up for hosting. WordPress is an incredible robust and flexible tool. If you have a large site and want complete control of the environment, then you want WordPress. Just know that WordPress does require a learning curve. Sometimes that learning curve is more than people bargained for and then they find themselves wishing for something easier.

Wix. Wix has over 110 million users around the world. Wix provides the complete environment for you to build your website. You simply create an account, select a template and input your content. With Wix, they host your site. All you have to do is point your domain name to the Wix servers that they provide and your website is up and running! I love Wix and recommend it to people who want something a bit more flexible than Weebly, yet don’t want to deal with the technology requirements of WordPress.

Weebly. Weebly is another tool very similar to Wix, where you create an account, select a template and input your content. Weebly is by far the easiest tool to use. If you are a technophobe and don’t like spending a lot of time figuring out technology, then Weebly is the tool for you. You don’t have all the flexibility that you might with Wix, but it is a great environment and I often recommend it for people depending on their technical skillset and mindset. Weebly has over 40 million entrepreneurs around the world that use the tool.

squarespace logoSquarespace. Squarespace is yet another tool that allows for creating an account, adding your content and you have a beautiful site. Squarespace is known for it’s design and their templates are beautiful. My experience is that for the price point, I’m not sure it gives you double what you would get with Wix or Weebly. Millions of website around the world are built using Squarespace.

shopify logoShopify. This tool has exploded in the past several years and hosts 1000’s of online stores. Shopify is a robust shopping cart system that is focused on selling physical products. They have a large number of integrations with different distribution channels for things like selling t-shirts or posters or clothing, etc. It is an excellent environment for high volume stores. With a starting price tag of $29/month, you need to be sure that you have products and sales to support the expense.

Email Marketing Tools

Email marketing is the concept of building a mailing list or database of email addresses. These email addresses are collected on your website. The most successful way to get someone to give you their email address is to give them something for free. It’s rare today that someone will simply signup for your newsletter because they want another newsletter. People sign up for something because they are going to get something of value.

The thing of value that you will give-away is most often called an Opt-In , a Freebie or a Giveaway. Your freebie could be a Top 10 list or an ebook or an article or a class or a series of information. The better your freebie, the more likely someone is to share their email address with you.

The reason that collecting emails is so important is because they are how you are going to build your audience and sell your products. It has been proven and shared over and over by online experts that you will get the most sales from your email list.

There are well over 20 tools that you could choose for hosting your email list. My Email Marketing comparison gives you all the details! The two tools that I recommend are Mailerlite or Mailchimp.

mailerlite logoMailerlite. This is my favorite tool primarily because of its ease of creating forms and integrating them within your site. You can completely customize the forms and easily add them to your site. The automation is easy to setup and the tool is intuitive. They have fresh templates and it’s free for up to 1000 email subscribers. Mailerlite is also less expensive when you have a larger list than Mailchimp.

mailchimp logoMailChimp. This would be my 2nd recommendation. Mailchimp is free for up to 2000 email subscribers. Mailchimp is a great tool with tons of automation and they are always adding features. My biggest frustration with Mailchimp is it’s lack of customization for embedded forms. They have greatly improved their popup forms, but the embedded forms require manually editing the form code and CSS to get it to completely blend with your site. You can also find many plugins and front ends that will allow you to better customize the capture form.

Shopping Carts

Whether you need a shopping cart or not depends on what you are selling. If you are selling custom services or coaching calls and people typically only ever buy one thing at a time, you don’t really need a shopping cart. You just need to be able to collect money with a Paypal Buy button or directly in your scheduling tool.

If you use WordPress, you will need a Shopping Cart plugin. The most popular is WooCommerce with eCommerce, Cart66 and Ecwid being the next ones on the list.

If you are selling things on your site and people are likely to purchase more than one thing, you will want to use a shopping cart.

Weebly, Wix and Squarespace all have built in Shopping Carts. The fee’s and pricing vary based on the volume of sales and/or products.

Shopify is a great shopping cart platform along with BigCommerce, Magento, OpenCart, PrestaShop and 2Checkout being others that are available.

If you use Square for a retail store, you can even sync your Square products with Weebly or WooCommerce and then have a website that allows your products to be available online as well.

What you choose ultimately depends on what you are selling. My recommendation is to always start with the basics and upgrade or get more features when you need them. You can make a lot of money just accepting money with Paypal or Stripe on your site.


Online Scheduling Tools

If you are a coach or consultant that requires people to schedule time with you, an online scheduling tool is a must. Online scheduling tools provide your clients with a way to book their appointments with you online and the appointments just show up on your calendar. In order to do this, you need to manage your calendar online in Google or iCloud or Outlook. All of the online scheduling tools allow you to accept payments as well. This is great for coaches or healers that like people to pay up front for their sessions and then have the client schedule their appointment.

My detailed review of online scheduling tools will help you understand what each has to offer! Acuity Scheduling is probably the most well known of the online scheduling tools. It offers everything and has a free version that allows you to have people schedule appointments online.

If you don’t need to accept payments, you can use Calendly for free and it will integrate with your calendar! Sweet!