A friend of mine emailed to ask how she could set up a website for her business. In particular, she mentioned Bluehost and Squarespace, and wondered if either of those might work for her.

She’s not a techie and she doesn’t have a big budget so I wanted to recommend something that would be affordable, easy to use, and yet still look professional. Here’s how I responded:

Bluehost is a hosting company, which means that you effectively “rent” server space from them but you still need to install the software to run your web site. And you’ll do this on your own or have someone else design and administer the site. I do that with some other web sites of mine (namely, Gowin Family and my personal blog). These are self-hosted WordPress installations running on virtual servers via HostGator, a different hosting company. This is NOT the direction you want to go.

Squarespace is different–it’s a complete hosting and web site service. It’s fairly simple to use, looks great, and is very reliable. That’s what I’ve used for my photography business over the last 3+ years and I’m very pleased with it.

It’s kind of like the difference between buying a Mac or a PC. You buy a PC and you still have to buy software to make movies or record music, whatever. You buy a Mac and the computer comes loaded with iMovie, GarageBand, FaceTime, and other programs that let you do the things you want to do right out of the box.

Bluehost is the PC; Squarespace is the Mac.

There’s a newer hosting/web site service called Wix that’s becoming popular. It’s the same approach as Squarespace but I’ve not used it.

Squarespace has a $16/month plan that would be ideal for you. I think Squarespace is the best solution for someone who wants to have a business web site but doesn’t want to geek out on all the technical behind-the-scenes issues.

Those are my thoughts; how would you advise my friend?