Rethinking The Business Of Wellness

What Website Builder’s Best for Your Wellness Business?

In the old days, building a website was hard and expensive. Now it isn’t.

web graphicThese days, if you’ve picked the right website platform, you should never have to pay a developer to update simple text content on your site. And if your in-house team has a moderate amount of technical savvy, they ought to be able to quickly and easily update images without involving a developer. And they certainly ought to be able to add and update new products on your e-commerce platform.

This is all stuff that used to be difficult and is now pretty straightforward, particularly when you choose hosted solutions where you pay a well-established service provider a monthly fee to do things like host your WordPress website or provide e-commerce capabilities.

Yes, you can still purchase actual software, and then have your developer install it on your website. But now you’ve got to stay on top of bug fixes and security patches. And let’s hope your developer isn’t flaky, unreliable, or ridiculously expensive.

All of those issues go away with good hosted solutions. Your service provider continually updates the software, so you get features, bug fixes and security patches. And they’re constantly improving their ability to integrate to other popular web tools.

You don’t have to worry about any of that, which gives you time to focus on your actual fitness, nutrition or wellness business.

 

Choosing The Best Website Platform for Your Wellness Business

Website Platform
Pros
Cons
Notes
 
Blog (WordPress.com)Free. Best if all you want to do is blog. Easy to migrate your blog content to your website or to another blogging platform.Any business larger than one person should skip this stage. You can still have a blog - but it ought to be part of your full-fledged website. FYI - on a blog, SEO is all on your to figure out.If you're a solopreneur wellness professional, like a nutritionist, personal trainer, or health coach and you're comfortable getting clients through offline methods, this may be a fine place to start. Tools like Tumblr are blogging platforms by another name - and a viable alternative to WordPress.
Drag-and-drop website builder (ex: Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace, Jimdo)Cheap. Literally no development required. Extremely easy for non-technical folks (like the ones on your marketing team!) to create a site from scratch and update it in a flash. Developing the site is free; you pay when you're ready to go live. They provide hosting services and will register a domain name for you. You pick from a variety of professionally-designed themes, most of which look very good, and then tweak colors, fonts, etc. as you wish. They support social media integration and blogs.
Wix is super-easy to use (note that Wix previously offered Flash websites which should be AVOIDED but now offers HTML5 websites). SquareSpace offers the ability to tweak the underlying code. E-commerce capabilities for digital products and the sale of services like health coaching packages or weight loss programs are strongest on SquareSpace and Weebly. SEO and indexing is generally seamless.
Jimdo's interface is not intuitive. Site builders used to be lame and produce ugly sites. Now they're an excellent choice for small wellness businesses unless you plan to offer lots of tangible products (supplements, t-shirts, etc.) for sale on your site. If you need heavy-duty e-commerce capabilities, make sure they meet your requirements for features like inventory management or custom pricing, for example.
Hosted WordPress with a traditional theme (ex: WooThemes)Inexpensive. Most small wellness businesses will need a WordPress developer to actually get the site they envision. Easy to migrate content over from a previous website.Very limiting as your needs change in the future.It's important to choose a theme that fits your business strategy. For example, the right theme for a content business is not the right theme for an e-commerce business.
Hosted WordPress platform + a drag-and-drop theme (ex: iThemes Builder)Inexpensive. Good for DIY sites if you have someone in your business with some HTML and CSS skills. More power and flexibility than the drag-and-drop site builder platforms. Lots of great free plugins that add useful website features - but some technical skill required. Easy to update text; change or add images. Easy to migrate content over from a previous website.WordPress is very popular as a website platform, so it's a target for hackers. It's important to keep your WP install and plugins updated. Don't assume your developer is doing this.Don't choose the cheapest WP host. Choose one with great customer support. A clue: they're not advertising on the SuperBowl and they don't have cute names with colors in them. We use and recommend Pair.net.
Handcranked HTML + a "free" content management system (CMS) (ex: Drupal, Joomla)These are popular situations, particularly among larger businesses with significant dedicated website resources.Best avoided by smaller wellness businesses. WordPress provides the CMS features you need in a much easier-to-use package. Drupal and Joomla aren't nearly as intuitive.I put "free" in quotes because although the tool is free, you will definitely need to hire developer resources to install, configure and modify these tools as your needs change.
Handcranked HTML website with CSSYou can do anything in the world you can dream up--assuming you have the budget to pay for it.You will always and forever need a trustworthy and affordable developer to maintain, enhance and update. If your developer doesn't recognize the term "CSS" run for the hills.Almost no small or medium-sized fitness, nutrition or wellness business should go this route. It's hard to find affordable reliable developers. Your site probably won't be mobile-responsive. It's difficult to quickly update content and images on an HTML site. And if your team lacks even basic HTML skills, you'll realistically never touch your site again once it launches. Since search engines like fresh content, you're setting yourself up for failure from Day 1.
Flash-based websiteOften looks very "pretty" and high-tech.Many disadvantages. Less likely to be fully indexed by search engines. May not work properly on all devices and browsers. Very little ability to update content or images yourself; will require a Flash developer.Really, just don't do this. Flash is becoming less and less important and you don't want to tie yourself to a fading technology.
Website with e-commerce capabilitiesHosted shopping carts like CoreCommerce or Shopify are the easiest way to add e-commerce capabilities to your site or business. Purchased e-commerce software like Volusion requires developer expertise and an ongoing commitment to keep the software current for security reasons.Virtually no health and wellness business needs custom-developed shopping cart software. it's expensive, less secure, tough to support, and makes you completely reliant on your developer. Don't do it!PayPal is a good option for small amounts of e-commerce activity and it can be easily added to your existing website in almost every scenario. If you're selling digital goods, most well-known e-commerce platforms will support that. If you run a WordPress site, check out the DLGuard plugin.

2 Responses

  1. This is a great topic. I would suggest an extra filter in choosing your website builder “Is it responsive? This means, do you control the look and content and function on mobile devices, smartphones and tablets? Also, if you wish to email clients but not so many that you justify an email program like Mail Chimp, does your web host have any limits in how many emails you can send at one go? Local host phone support is worth paying extra for.

  2. Thanks, Jamie, excellent point and I totally agree re: responsive design. All of the major drag-and-drop guys address mobile/tablet responsive design although they do it in slightly different ways. SquareSpace does a nice job here without requiring code tweaks (although you CAN tweak if you want to).

    On email marketing, I see it a little differently. To maximize deliverability, it’s nearly always best to use an established email marketing service provider. Webhosts simply don’t have the 24/7 focus on deliverability, analytics, social integration, constant feature improvement,etc. that the MailChimps, Constant Contacts, Vertical Responses do. And the price points for a very small business – which is what we’re talking about here, I think – are extremely reasonable, even free for some ESPs. I generally would not advise anyone to rely on their web host for sending more than a few dozen marketing emails, max. And even then in many cases you’ll have to break those up into groups of emails to avoid having your webhost or ISPs throttle your outbound mail because you look like you’re spamming.

    I also agree completely that in-country webhost phone support is critical. In the US, we use and suggest Pair.net. It’s inexpensive, not the dirt cheapest, but the support is outstanding. And many things that would be upcharges at discount hosts are included at no additional charge. I see more and more small biz service providers relying on email-only support and I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised at how well it often works. But knowing you can pick up the phone when you’re desperate sure helps you sleep at night :).

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