In today’s digital world, a website is essential to most businesses. A driving school website will display the services you offer to anyone who uses mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers.
Most adverts point consumers to a website to provide more information before purchasing. Consumers prefer to know more about a company and to feel that they can trust them before committing to a purchase.
Today’s websites vary from bespoke built to order sites to free content management websites that cost little more than a domain name and a little time to write the content.
Upon deciding that it’s time your driving school has a website, you will need to think about how to go about it. There’s essentially two options, a free website or a website designed and built by a web design company. There are benefits to both.
Creating Your Own driving school website
A free website for your driving school is beneficial as of course, it’s free. Free website builders can easily be found online. Among many others, Google offer the ability to make a free website for any business.
These websites are based on a content management system (CMS) which means that all structural building of the site is done automatically. All you need to do is add the pages you want such as the services you offer, contact pages etc. Images such as your driving school car can easily be uploaded to your website and text content is simply written and once saved, it will go live on the internet.
Although optional, it’s best to purchase your own domain name (www.example.com) as it will provide a more professional looking website, will gain a better ranking in search results and will likely gain more visitors. It’s important that you think about your domain name early on; are you going to purchase a domain name or use a free one? They’re quite cheap and changing it later on may have detrimental affects on any rankings gained on your website.
The disadvantage of a free website is that they don’t usually look quite as professional and refined as a site built by a competent web design company. They can with some effort and time look perfectly acceptable however.
Alternatively, using the highly popular WordPress platform, there’s the option to purchase a premium theme which often comes with additional functionality and will have a more professional look. Professional themes are relatively cheap, easy to install and are easy to find by conducting an internet search.
Another issue with a free website is search engine optimisation (SEO), or rather a lack of. If you are intending on using a free website for your driving school, some research into basic SEO is certainly advantageous as it should allow for your website to rank higher in search results for specific queries relating to people searching for driving lessons in your area. Basic SEO can easily be researched online and implemented into a website with relative ease. If you do not possess the time or inclination to do any of this, you may benefit from paying for services of a website design company.
How to Create a Free Driving School Website
You can create a totally free driving school website though there will be limitations.
- Sign up to either the Google or WordPress website builders (as above) – it’s free!
- You’ll then need to choose a domain name. A free domain name will give you fewer choices and will look something like ‘www.your-driving-school.google.com’ rather than a purchased domain name – ‘www.your-driving-school.com’.
- Hosting (the place where your website is stored) is free and you’ll have many choices of free themes and templates to choose from.
- Everything is done for you, you just need to create the content and hit the ‘publish’ button.
Create a Low-Cost Customisable Driving School Website
This is the best method as it allows you more flexibility, a more professional look and is still quite cheap. This will have a slight technical learning curve if you have no previous experience.
- Purchase your domain name. Make it brief and clear as to what you are. You can choose the typical .co.uk or .com, or even go for a cool one such as a .school domain. There’s no particular benefit in terms of ranking, though a .co.uk provides a visual indication to potential customers from where you’re based. On the other hand, a ‘.school’ domain name looks good (www.my-driving.school), but will likely cost more. Simply search for ‘buy domain name’.
- Search for cheap UK hosting – the place where you’re going to store your website. It’s a fairly basic, low resource website you’re making, so a cheap host on a shared server is fine. A shared server has your own dedicated section on a server, though the server is shared with other accounts and websites. It’ll cost just a few pounds each month.
- You’ll need to link your domain name to your server address. Find out your nameservers for your host server. It will tell you somewhere, but if not, contact them and they’ll tell you. Then where you purchased your domain name, update the nameservers there to point it to your host server. Again, if you don’t know how, ask them.
- Download WordPress and upload it to your server. You will need a FTP program to do this – Filezilla is good and free. Download the ‘client’ version. Once uploaded, type in your web address and follow the onscreen instructions provided by WordPress.
- Once installed, you’ll have your new website up and running in basic form. Now go and search the internet for premium templates to give your business a professional look.
- ‘Plugins’ are additional add-ons that extend the functionality or visual appearance of your theme. There a loads of free and pay plugins you can upload via your WordPress dashboard such as contact forms, plus plugins which help you with SEO.
- Once you have purchased a professional theme / template, the ongoing running costs for your site are minimal.
Driving school website designers
Any reputable web design company can design your site, they do not need to be specific to the driving instruction industry. Paying a web design company for your driving school website is all well and good, but do you know if they actually are any good? Essentially, you will need to ask them for some examples of websites they have previously made, look at the design and how professional they look.
More importantly however, look how well these sites rank for particular keywords such as the products or services they offer combined with the location of the business. If the SEO is not great and the sites ranking is nowhere to be seen, there’s little point in opting for a company to develop your site.
A reputable company that develops quality sites that rank well usually aren’t cheap. Avoid basing any decisions on cost alone and primarily focus on quality and SEO. Long-term it works out far cheaper to pay out good money initially for a quality site as the customers gained often come from natural search results and do not require advertising.
What are natural search results?
Natural search results, or organic search results as they are also called are displayed by a search engine because of their relevance of the search term. Natural search results do not include ads.
Some website developers charge a monthly fee stating this is for maintenance costs. If their maintenance costs include updating the site frequently with new pages, text and images, and you intend on making frequent updates, this may be of benefit. Most websites similar to small driving school websites only get updated once or twice per year, if this is the case, pay a one-off initial fee only and pay a separate fee if and when the site needs updating, this should work out cheaper.
Unlike the free websites detailed above, you will need hosting for your new site. Website hosting is basically a computer where your site resides and allows anyone around the world to connect to it via the World Wide Web. Website design companies will offer you hosting, typically free for the first year but invoice you annually for hosting fees. Web design companies frequently charge high prices for hosting and with a little searching you should be able to find far cheaper.
The downside of this however is that you will need the technical knowledge for uploading your new website to the host and connect your new site to your domain name. If that seems too technical, you’re probably best off using the web design companies hosting and paying the extra.
Best website for my driving school
Both free and bespoke SEO’d website have their own benefits. Essentially the free website will not perform as well in natural search engine results compared to a well-made site with proper SEO. The free site will likely need advertising such as Google Adwords to make it visible to potential customers. So although no upfront costs are involved, long-term advertising may need to be considered to make the site worthwhile.
A professional site with high quality search engine optimisation will over time gain better rankings in natural search results and will therefore be likely to require less revenue spent on advertising. A professionally developed driving school website is a better long-term investment, although they can be expensive. If cash flow is an issue initially, opt for the free website to run along advertising campaigns and perhaps consider a website upgrade at a later date.
- Make your website effective – Now that you have created your site, this guide offers advice on legalities and building effective content
- Driving school advertising – Free advice for advertising your driving school