A domain name is the bit of the URL (the site address in your browser’s search bar) that identifies a web page — in this case your website. For example, ours is websitebuilderexpert.com. You can register them separately at sites like GoDaddy and Domain.com, but website builders offer to do it for you when you sign up with them. Most provide it for free (at least initially), while a handful charge a few extra bucks.
With WordPress being such a versatile website platform, it’s no surprise that it can let you build a fully functional eCommerce online store. By fully functional, we mean that you can list any number of products, make them available for sale, and then also collect orders from customers and even handle all tax- and shipping-related elements of the whole process.
Sure, there are more advanced hosting topics to consider, such as Domain Name Servers and multi-cloud connectivity, but this guide is meant to introduce you to the basics. Whether you decide to do build a website yourself or hire coding experts to do the dirty work is up to you. But for now, rest easy knowing you have the information to get started in taking your business online.
Building a website with a free website builder is a quick, easy, and straightforward process. You may have already signed up for a hosting account in Step 1, in which case your web host’s site will have specific step-by-step instructions for you to install and use your free, included website builder. Generally, we find that Wix is the most popular website builder, so we will use it as the example here.
Top tip! Don’t just test your website yourself. You will be blind to some of its faults. Plus, you know how your site is supposed to work, so while you might find navigating it easy that’s not to say a stranger will. Get a fresh perspective. Ask family members and friends to test your site and give feedback. If they’re anything like our family and friends they won’t be afraid of offering criticism.
When it's time to go beyond the blogs, beyond the online resumes, beyond the page of links, which service do you turn to for a full-blown site that gives you the flexibility to build nearly anything you desire? There's no lack of them, but three of our favorites are DreamHost, HostGator, and Hostwinds, well-rounded services that feature numerous hosting types and tiers.
These services can host your content on their servers free of charge, but in exchange for that zero cost, your online destination will have a less-than-elegant domain, such as jeffreylwilson.tumblr.com. That might be fine for a personal blog, but it will look too low-rent for a business that wants people to trust it enough to pay for whatever it's selling.
Website builders let you build online stores with ease. For larger ecommerce ambitions, we recommend an ecommerce-specific platform like Shopify or BigCommerce which have the best tools to help your business grow. If you’re just looking to sell a few products, you can choose a ‘generic’ website like Wix which has ecommerce functionality. Take a look at our online store builder comparison chart to find your perfect match.
Some site builders, such as Squarespace, Strikingly, Virb, and uKit, restrict you to placing page objects in spots that won't make your site look garish, which can be an advantage if design isn't your forte. Other builders offer more freedom; if that's what you're looking for, check out Gator or Wix. Gator in particular strikes a good balance between design freedom and reponsive restrictions.
Got products to sell? Online Store has you covered. Create a sleek-looking online store, sell on marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy, track inventory in one place, choose from flexible shipping and payment options, even let customers book appointments online. Whether you sell products, services or digital content, GoDaddy Online Store has everything you need to successfully sell online. Features available with paid plans.
Test the customer service team: You will need post-purchase support at one point or another, so you want a hosting provider with a knowledgeable customer service team that’s available 24/7 via different channels, including phone, email, and chat. Contact customer service at different times of the day, and evaluate the quality of their responses to very specific questions, such as “How do I set up my business email?”
Wix now has two options for creating a website. In addition to the traditional Wix Editor, there’s also Wix ADI, an artificial intelligence program that designs custom sites based on questions you answer. We recommend using the Wix Editor, which gives you full control over the customizations available on the platform. However, if you want to try the Wix ADI, by all means, go for it!