TL; DR: As a pioneer in the drag-and-drop market, WebStarts has years of experience. And, along the way, the company’s learned a thing or two about what clients want. From web hosting and domain names to design software, WebStarts provides everything users need to create a custom website, blog, or online store without the need to code. We recently caught up with WebStarts COO Steve Waldrop, who told us about the company’s overall mission and recent efforts to further enhance the already-robust site builder.
For small businesses trying to stand out, the internet can seem like a crowded place. With 1.9 billion websites and counting online today, having an effective SEO strategy is vital to the success of a modern business.
That’s why the folks behind WebStarts have focused on helping users drive traffic to their sites since 2006, when they were among the early entrants to the drag-and-drop builder market.
“Back then, a lot of the drag-and-drop editors out there were done through Flash, and that’s something that we — from the very beginning — stayed away from,” said Steve Waldrop, WebStarts COO.
The idea was to build a simple HTML structure to allow search engines to discover websites. And, as Steve noted, the strategy turned out to be very effective.
“Everything we do is geared toward making it easy for Google, Bing, and Yahoo to index that content appropriately, from the way the menu builder is built to the way page content is laid out with HTML,” he said.
A sound SEO strategy is integral to a business getting noticed on the web. And Steve told us that’s why WebStarts consults clients on the importance of building an SEO-friendly site from the get-go.
“The reality is, not everybody is immersed in this web culture,” he said. “You have to take the blinders off and realize that not everybody understands the complexities. There’s a lot of people out there that don’t ask about it, but it’s still important to them — they just don’t know it yet.”
Today, WebStarts has more than a decade of solid experience helping clients understand what makes a site most effective. And though the platform has continuously evolved, its overarching mission — to make site building, optimization, and management as simple as possible — has remained consistent.
“With WebStarts, we aim to keep it affordable, keep it timely, and, of course, maintain quality,” Steve said. “You are in control; you are at the helm.”
Unlimited Possibilities: A WYSIWYG Without Constraints
While many site builders limit users to a select pool of themes already tapped by hundreds of other sites, WebStarts provides the flexibility and control users need to create truly unique sites.
The company’s drag-and-drop editor provides a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) experience in which users can convey the value of their products and services however they’d like and without any constraints.
When it comes to WebStarts, the company strives to bridge the gap between lack of constraints and ease of use.
“That’s how I assimilate our website editor in our philosophies,” Steve said. “We try to have the best of both worlds.”
Increase Visibility With a Feature-Rich, SEO-Friendly Platform
In addition to an easy to use, flexible platform, WebStarts is jam-packed with powerful features for little to no cost. Sites built using the software are mobile-ready with automatic domain setup and the ability to start an online store instantly. Users can also add free video hosting, live chat, and favicons, as well as choose from more than 700 fonts and images from a built-in library.
Then there’s the platform’s ability to drive search engine traffic.
“I’d say it’s probably one of the most important aspects of a website builder — getting your site found on the Internet,” Steve said. “One of the first questions customers ask is, ‘What is it going to take to get to #1 on Google?’ And you have to explain to them that you can’t just buy the top ranking — it’s way more complex than that.”
That’s one of the reasons WebStarts tries to stay engaged with its customers. Steve told us the recipe for success has been to get to know customers and what their missions are online.
“If you don’t, you start to lose touch and work toward things that aren’t necessarily important to the people using the product,” he said.
24/7 US-Based Customer Support and Real-World Advice
The company’s hosting and web building solutions attract a number of different user types, from SMBs launching their first sites to developers streamlining workflows. Steve said that the underlying philosophy that attracts and retains this wide variety of users is superior customer service.
“A lot of the times you’re going to speak directly to me,” Steve said. “There’s certainly no huge paywall to get through to us — we answer emails around the clock.”
The company also prides itself on offering support based in the US.
“We feel that if you’re in the United States and looking to start your own small business, you can pick up the phone and talk to somebody right down the road that understands the culture and understands your needs,” Steve said. “You can’t get that with most other platforms,” Steve said.
When speaking with customers, the company’s support team goes the extra mile, offering high-level best practice advice as well as technical information. Steve said that while customer acquisition is important, customer retention is the company’s focus.
“We want people to have success with our platform — and to do that, you can’t sit back and watch somebody create something that just won’t be effective,” Steve said.
Instead, Steve told us his team aims to coach customers throughout their journey of building a successful online business. And, sometimes, that means delivering services beyond a quantifiable price point.
“While the prices that we charge may not cover that kind of support, we find that, if it’s offered in a streamlined fashion to get people at least moving in the right direction, they’re going to be happier, have more success, and stay with us longer,” Steve said. “It’s an investment in them that pays off.”
An Updated White-Label Platform for the Design-Oriented Client
WebStarts has been focusing its latest efforts on its Designer Platform, which empowers users to create and sell sites without writing code.
“It’s been available for a while, but we’re putting more energy into it as we speak,” Steve said. “The Designer Platform allows you to debrand the WebStarts backend and then provide your clients access to the website so they can then manage it going forward.”
With the Designer Platform, users can manage multiple clients and websites from a single location. Steve told us it’s also possible to manage permissions so clients can log in as needed.
“We just gave the UI a major uplift for a more cohesive experience, and we’re going to continue pouring more resources into it because it’s extremely valuable,” Steve said. “That’s the progression we’ve been continuing over the past couple of years — not necessarily getting away from the business-to-consumer model, but trying to market more toward designers in terms of their needs.”
With the Designer Platform, users can manage multiple clients and multiple websites — all from a single location. Developers and agencies can also manage permissions so clients can log in and make changes to their websites themselves.
“The goal is to ease the process as much as we can so our customers can focus on their business missions,” Steve said.