Recently a friend of mine was bewailing the fact that he had a website on Geocities which is now closed. He needed to go to all of the trouble of moving his site.
What should he do? He had to start from scratch. He had a backup but only a small budget. He liked the price of the free hosting services but they had limitations. Some of them provide an online website builder. Many insisted on placing advertisements including banners and text links on his site. Others gave him templates that were OK but not just what he wanted.
Time was critical as he needed to get the new site up like yesterday! He was not tech enough to do the web development and FTP thing and manage a new hosting environment and the words HTML and PHP gave him sleepless nights.
I suggested that he either ante up the funds to get a site developed professionally or look at a standalone web site builder. He is using Windows XP, there are few website builder software available which are simple to use and easy to edit and comes with a bundle of templates as a starting point.
The main feature that he liked was that he could keep the site on his own machine for editing then move the new version up to the host using the built in File Transfer Process software.
I am an experienced web developer and like the control of managing the code myself using purpose built editors like Dreamweaver or DiDaPro. These cost. His comment was that he preferred to work on his business not in it. He saw no return on the time spent starting from scratch for each site and developing it. He wanted to get his sites up quickly so he could spend his time promoting them.
I agree with him as that is where the money is. The web has matured to a point where a beginner can create a reasonable site that is attractive and clean and have it up and running in under a day. The answer here is obviously a simple to use web site builder program to create and edit the site and transfer it up to the host. Sites built using Flash are fast to create and attractive. They offer good user interaction.
I am now seriously rethinking the way I approach my web business. My friend is right. Time spent developing sites that are just perfect is not time spent making money. That is the true reason for the business. If he can get a site up and selling within 24 hours and increase its performance by off-site SEO then he has a very valid point.