A decade ago, when the Internet was still relatively young and people were still playing with the bubble wrap, getting a professional looking website was a challenge.

You had to have some technical skill and knowledge of coding. Failing that, you needed a big budget and conversations with website developers.

Today, the landscape has shifted considerably.

You have so many options you might begin to feel like a kid at the ice cream shop.

The most important skill required for getting your first website online today is not knowledge of code. It’s not interviewing skills for choosing a website developer (although someday as your business gains success you will want to hire a designer for custom features, but in the beginning it may not be in your budget).

Rather, the focus has moved on to having excellent analytical and decision-making skills.

Repeat that:  the most important skills you need for your first website today are good analytical and decision-making skills.

More Choice

For a simple website, your budget can be very small — $100 or less — even free.

By choosing one of today’s new breed of website builder tools scattered all over the Web, you can get a great result.

You may think that more choice means you don’t have to do ANY work. Not necessarily.

You still have a bit of work to do. It’s just work of a different kind.

Instead of coding and liaising with developers, the work is now investigating and comparing each free tool, and making a decision on the tool that will do the best job for you.

Analyzing and Making Decisions

As discussed in 3 Essential Things to Do When Building A Free Website, the first order of business is to do an inventory of your needs. What website functions are you looking for, based on your vision for your company? What look do you want?

You have to shift your mindset from the short term to the long term. Think months, years ahead.

All website builder tools are not alike.  When you read their marketing materials, they may sound similar.  But once you start to look carefully, you see that each website builder tool has its own set of advantages and potential restrictions.

You have to discover what those are, and compare them to your needs.

Do you see yourself having to change the website template fairly soon? If so, you will need to find a builder tool that allows you to do this without too much trouble. Do you think that you would want to have the freedom to move around web hosting companies with your website templates?  If so, then find out which tools offer exporting functions.

Do you think you’ll need more than a few pages?  Then look at what you can get from the free version, versus paid upgrades.  Also, sometimes free websites come with ads.  Can you live with an ad, or do you want to upgrade to a paid level to remove the ads?

Today, you must know your needs, sort through the pros and cons of tools, and analyze whether or not each fits your business needs.  Then choose the best solution — for you.

Inventory. Analyze. Decide — the three verbs to getting a website online in the modern age.