WordPress (either version) is a blog-focused content management system that accepts plug-ins and themes that extend its capabilities to what most of what the other products here offer, including commerce. In fact, WordPress.com uses plug-ins such as JetPack to provide many of its features. As a whole, WordPress (either .com or .org) is not as easy to use as the other options in this roundup, but if blogging and site transferability are of key importance and you don't mind digging into its weeds a bit, you should consider the platform. Furthermore, the ability to use WordPress is a valuable skill, as some estimates say that WordPress powers 30 percent of the internet.

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The major player in the blog game is WordPress, a content management system (CMS) that powers millions of websites, including The New York Times, Quartz, and Variety. WordPress-powered sites are incredibly easy to set up, customize, and update—ideally on a daily basis. You aren't required to learn fancy-schmancy FTP tricks (though you can certainly use them if you like), and there are ridiculous numbers of free and paid WordPress themes and WordPress plug-ins to give your website a pretty face and vastly expanded functionality. Though WordPress dominates the blogging space, it isn't the only blogging CMS of note, however.
Site123 claims to be “by far” the easiest website builder, and while their tool is certainly not too difficult to use, we’d say that there are even more user-friendly ones. What’s great about their builder is that they have some pretty good looking themes that are all responsive. Paid plans start at $9.80 per month and include a basic ecommerce store as well as an email marketing tool. Be prepared to receive multiple daily emails after signing up. Free websites show a little banner stripe at the bottom of the page.

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Graphic design, like coding, is another skill that few are experts in. Website builders feature templates with modern styles and visually appealing designs that are tried and true. While they may follow a certain “look,” they often conform to the desires of contemporary web users. They also convey a level of professionalism that may be difficult to reproduce without a large investment.
Many people mistakenly believe that the only method for getting a professional quality website is to hire a web developer. But, by selecting the right website builder, you can achieve similar results for a much lower cost. Additionally, you maintain full control over the look of your website as you don’t have to rely on paying your original developer or finding a new one, every time you want to make a change.
Even if your site’s primary purpose is not to function as a blog, you may find yourself requiring one at some point (Be sure to read the how to start a blog guide for a complete overview), either to keep your visitors updated or to use as a marketing tool. SEO, for example, is something that requires the creation of content to get your website noticed by search engines. Most website builders have built-in content management systems that allow you to write and edit blog posts in your browser. These systems make it easy to create rich content on the fly.

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Think of templates as ‘clothes’ for your website. If you don’t like one set of clothes, just change to another one to give your website a completely different feel. And again, don’t rush into it. Choose different templates, browse them, see if they fit. The whole point of templates is choice, so dive in and find one that feels right for what you want to achieve.
WordPress (either version) is a blog-focused content management system that accepts plug-ins and themes that extend its capabilities to what most of what the other products here offer, including commerce. In fact, WordPress.com uses plug-ins such as JetPack to provide many of its features. As a whole, WordPress (either .com or .org) is not as easy to use as the other options in this roundup, but if blogging and site transferability are of key importance and you don't mind digging into its weeds a bit, you should consider the platform. Furthermore, the ability to use WordPress is a valuable skill, as some estimates say that WordPress powers 30 percent of the internet.

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While we do have strong programming experience and know what a good website builder should be able to do, we also took the experiences of real users into account. By reading and evaluating the thoughts and opinions of other users—what they liked about the website builders and what they struggled with—we were able to provide you with more detail about these companies.

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Many of the top website builders support free trial options for potential customers. Some even allow a site to remain free, though with limited function and heavy branding. So, if you aren’t sure which platform is right for you, then consider starting trials with more than one. This allows you to experience the website builders simultaneously and can make a direct comparison easier. Then, as you find that certain website builders don’t meet your needs, simply remove them from contention.
If you are going to use a website builder you can usually purchase it there. That makes handling it slightly easier as you’ll only be dealing with one company. If you are going to use WordPress or you’ll be programming the website yourself, you will also need web space, where you can upload your website’s files and data. With a website builder you don’t need web space as it’ll be already included.

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Google Analytics is one of the most popular tools for tracking how people view your site. The Google Analytics Dashboard connects your WordPress site to Google for proper tracking. It also displays your traffic in your admin panel of WordPress in real-time. It's very useful if you want to plan content strategies or just see how people are accessing your content.
What they should improve: the aforementioned SEO flaws are pretty disappointing for a product at this price. There is no backup and restore feature, which, again, at this price point should be a given. It’s not the easiest website builder to use, other alternatives are better suited for beginners. Finally, when we tested their page speed (also an important SEO factor), it wasn’t exactly impressive. A Wix-like app store for external applications would be desirable as well.
Hi Jamie. I am not a web developer (yet) but I am aspiring to become one some day. I am using Django Framwork for the backend. But for the frontend , I am confused. Should I study HTML , CSS and javascript and then build a website (frontend) from scratch? Or should I not waste time , and just get a theme from wordpress? How much control over the look and feel of the website do we have, when we use these themes pre-tailored for us?
I’m new at this and not yet ready to launch a website but want to secure a domain name. I’m wondering if I can purchase the domain name and just park it? If so, what does that actually mean? Does the web host put it up online or just put it aside for me until I’m ready to build the web-site? If they do put it up online, how visible is it and do they put any content such as their info or advertising on it; or would I be able to put up something that would say something on it which shows it will be coming soon?

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For most users, free themes are the best place to start. When you install a new theme, it doesn’t change the content on your site, only the layout. This means you can download and install a number of different themes to see which theme suits you best. If you feel like you need something more advanced than a free theme, you can always install a paid theme at a later date.

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Thank You! So much! As a teacher I am now requires to create and maintain my own website – which definitely is NOT in my wheel house. I have had a Weebly account that I rarely update and as site needed more info added it got well, just messy looking – and expensive.With your information I am going to switch sites and redo my teacher site and make it awesome 🙂 I will let also be creating a personal site to help others which will include videos, I fo, blog, and e-commerce – really this is just a long giant shout out to you for doing all this work that I don’t have time to do! Thanks again!
Well, it depends on what you are looking for. It’s great that they hardly have any restrictions on the free plan in terms of features and templates. On desktop computers, they place a pretty visible ad at the top of your website that is sticky (i.e. it will stay even when you start scrolling the page). Fortunately, on mobile phones, it far less visible and also not sticky. To use your own custom domain name, you’ll need the Combo plan at least, which is $11 per month.
Great comparison! But did you compare these website builders from the search engine friendless point of view? Which builder creates the better SE-optimized pages? I tried to make some pages on Wix but it generates a really mess JS code, w/o normal HTML and very strange page urls like domain.com/#!toasp/c1f7gfk. What do you thinks about it? Also is the mobile-first approach so important for good SE ranking as mentioned all over the web?
Michael Muchmore is PC Magazine's lead analyst for software and web applications. A native New Yorker, he has at various times headed up PC Magazine's coverage of Web development, enterprise software, and display technologies. Michael cowrote one of the first overviews of web services for a general audience. Before that he worked on PC Magazine's S... See Full Bio
This is a great review post on website builders. I have tried some of them myself but most of them were hard on the budget and too clunky for me to actually use. Weebly and Squarespace did have what I was looking for but decided to abandon them for lack of time. The customer service on most of these is pretty bad (except the top3). I was actually going to do a review on most of these website builders myself but you’ve done a good job here.
You can choose from their numerous, and admittedly, beautiful themes. They are all tablet and smartphone-compatible and feature different types of photo galleries. While there are a lot of good things, there are also flaws. With regards to SEO, Squarespace doesn’t let you fully customize the titles for blog and product pages. This can be a show-stopper in competitive industries.
With more than 11 million sites built on IM Creator, it's a popular option for a few reasons: there's an easy point-and-click interface, an extensive range of templates and images, and unlimited web hosting and domain services. Plus, the platform is scalable, and you can have either single or multipage layouts. This builder is unique for its built-in ecommerce tools, and offers SEO and Google Analytics to fully optimize your site for search engines.
Most website viewers visit via a mobile device, just as you may be reading these very words from the tiny shiny screen of your smartphone. This is why it’s so important that the user experience of your site—especially for the mobile visitors—is absolutely top notch. It should at least be as good as the regular website itself. We examined technology used in themes and the functionality of the mobile editor, as well as loading speed on mobile devices.

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WebNode is a popular choice for both personal brands and professionals -- it's easy to use, and you can create a website in a different language or on a different platform to suit your business's needs. WebNode supports ecommerce stores, and the sites are compatible with Android, Mac, and IOS devices. WebNode will provide statistics to track your site's success, free of charge, and even with the free version, you won't have ads. 

Spark is pretty much the anti-Dreamweaver in that it’s as easy as it gets. But that has mainly to do with their limited feature set. Rather than building websites, it allows you to create a single web page. There’s no blog, store or any other business features. It does offer nice design possibilities and lets you create really nice galleries. But be aware – Adobe puts its brand top and bottom. To get rid of their ads you’ll have to pay around $10 monthly. Frankly, for this kind of money you are much better off with site builders like Wix or Ucraft.
For years Adobe Dreamweaver has been synonymous with web page creation. It's gone from being a creator of HTML pages in a WYSIWYG interface to being able to handle programming pages in Cold Fusion, JavaScript, PHP, and other formats. Its liquid layout lets you see how pages look at different browser and screen sizes—even on smartphones and tablets. It's about as code-heavy as you want it to be.

Most of the time, the differentiating factor in a website builder—what makes it better or at least different than the rest of its competitors—comes down to one thing: the features. Maybe it’s blogging options, perhaps it’s a cool form builder or a useful membership system. It could be all of them—and believe us, this can happen! As numerous as the features may be, we go through all of the available website builder’s features to show you all the possibilities and tools offered for your website!

What we like: their eye for design. One of the biggest advantages is that there are hundreds of well-designed templates that you can use for free. Adapting them to your needs is super easy. And then there is the huge range of features. Thanks to their App Market you can easily add new features to your website (ex. a newsletter subscription, an events calendar, a forum etc.).

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Modern website are more complex than websites in the past. They aren't just HTML, CSS and Javascript being passed from a server. Those assets are optimized, cached and accessed through special content delivery networks (among other things) to ensure performance. The reality of disentangling all of this from the website builder and moving into a third party host is messy and would require a level of technical competence that most users of website builders don't have.
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