My name is Jamie Spencer and I have been building websites since the beginning of the internet ( shows my age a bit! ) I’ve also been blogging as my main source of income for the past eight years. I have created and sold a wide variety of websites and blogs in different niches which means I am probably in a great place to help you create your first website.
Maybe just like you, at first we didn't have a darn clue about how to build a website, nevermind write half a line of code if our life depended on it! We wanted to build a website to start a side business, and felt overwhelmed, confused & scared about how to actually do it, which builder to use, and making wrong decisions. After years of trials & errors using different website builders, we're here to share our experiences with you.

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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If those template customizations don’t look like enough for you (though if you’re building your first website, they will be), you might want to think about building your website on an open source platform like WordPress.org. You will get more flexibility, but if you’re not a coder, learning WordPress takes a lot of time — especially compared to drag-and-drop builders.

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Just from these features it’s easy to see how it’s worth upgrading to unlock the best for your website. And the good news is, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg! Most basic plans start from around $5 a month. Moving from a free plan to a basic plan is a really affordable way of growing your site and adding these great features to maximise your online presence.


You can make a website for free, but there are catches. Free accounts on website builders hold a lot of important features back. You can’t use custom domains, and your free site will have ads for that website builder. If you’re looking to learn more about website building then the free options are worth a look. However, if you want a professional, feature-rich website you’re going to have to pay at least a few dollars a month.

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Customization on WordPress requires much more technical skill than it does with website builders. You’ll need to dive into the code to make the changes you want. If you’re comfortable with HTML, CSS, and Javascript (or looking to learn more about them), this shouldn’t be an obstacle. Just be wary. WordPress offers more control than website builders, but only to those equipped to use it.

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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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For our WordPress sites, we pay $100 per hour to a capable developer to help us out from time to time (after building websites since 2010, we still need to pay a WordPress specialist $100 per hour for some tasks).  But it wasn’t until we were quite knowledgeable about WordPress did we have the capability to determine if a WordPress developer was good or not.
Most website builders limit you to choosing from one of the same boring templates already being used by hundreds, if not thousands of other websites. Then their idea of customization is allowing you to swap out text and align it left, center, and right. Those type of limitations don't give you the flexibility and control required to succeed online.
If your page loads as soon as you click on it, but it’s just a basic, unappealing, boring template, your visitors will leave just as fast as they got there. Therefore, it’s important to find a site builder that offers a good selection of modern templates to choose from. We evaluated website builders based on the number, look, technical background, and styles their themes provided. We also evaluated reliability, flexibility, and responsiveness. 

By creating a website, you are creating an online presence. This allows you to connect with people that you might not otherwise be able to reach. Whether you’re making a basic website with contact information for your medical practice, creating a landing page for your freelance work, a multi-page experience for your wedding photography business or you just want a place to blog about your thoughts on food, having a website will give you a dynamic advantage.
“Don’t lose your visitors under the weight of a heavy, confusing website” says Strikingly, a website builder from California. That’s probably why they want you to put all your content on a single-page. If you’d like to create multiple pages, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan. To be fair, they have some pretty decent templates to choose from and the website editor is easy to understand, even for beginners. If you ever leave the free plan, you’ll be charged at least $8 per month (domain name included in yearly plans).
"I thinks the world of Web development is becoming easier and easier but it's also making it harder for guys like me to find work because so many people want to use out-of-the-box responsive layout sites that are easy to implement and launch. I personally would much rather make a site from scratch than use a template. The app is quite cool though as it provides a drag and drop interface that can create decent looking and original websites that has a mobile website design as well."

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Some of the website builders will give you a free custom domain name for the first year if you sign up to their annual plans.  After the first free year, it typically costs around $20 to renew every year. If you prefer to buy your own custom domain name elsewhere as it is usually cheaper, you can purchase your domain name is through GoDaddy, and it will cost you about $12 – $15 per year. From a bigger picture perspective, it’s not a significant difference.
“I’ve had a couple sites with Weebly (2 free sites and one pro site) almost since Weebly’s beginning. I won’t change because the support is top of the line when I can’t figure things out, but I have to say for a technologically challenged person like me the whole thing is exceedingly easy to figure out and to use. There are very simple tutorials for whatever is not obvious and simple tutorials that explain the updates. Thanks Weebly for these years of ease of website building.” ―Yonge Charlotte

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“Don’t lose your visitors under the weight of a heavy, confusing website” says Strikingly, a website builder from California. That’s probably why they want you to put all your content on a single-page. If you’d like to create multiple pages, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan. To be fair, they have some pretty decent templates to choose from and the website editor is easy to understand, even for beginners. If you ever leave the free plan, you’ll be charged at least $8 per month (domain name included in yearly plans).
At WebStarts we know the most important thing for most people who create a website is getting found. That's why WebStarts was built from the ground up to be search engine friendly. That means websites created with WebStarts are more likely to be found on search engines like Google. So when you make a website with WebStarts rest assured people are going to be able to find the website you created online.

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I am completely a novice or rather a complete novice (actually a hopeless novice) and I thought I had built a reasonable website on sitebuilder until I saw someone elses website and thought I would edit mine. The result is that I have eliminated the contact page and the buttons and I don’t know how to fix any of it. Maybe I will give up as I have a really bad headache from thinking about it. What about Godaddy? How is that one?

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I personally don’t think site builders will ever replace web designers/developers completely. Most site builders are targeted at small businesses and could never meet the demands required for larger businesses with all their complex requirements. I think Shopify plus is the only product trying to take on the larger CMS platforms right now (e.g. Magenta, Demandware) in the eCommerce space
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.

I rarely comment on these sorts of reviews, but after reading your clearly unbiased and in depth review I felt it necessary to thank you. I already have a boldgrid website and domain and wanted to understand more about the limitations of that vs it’s competitors, a LOT of other articles on the subjects are clearly shills for one of the companies, it’s refreshing to see such an honest and thorough review, thanks again!

My name is Jamie Spencer and I have been building websites since the beginning of the internet ( shows my age a bit! ) I’ve also been blogging as my main source of income for the past eight years. I have created and sold a wide variety of websites and blogs in different niches which means I am probably in a great place to help you create your first website.
Top tip: Don’t just test your website yourself. You will be blind to some of its faults. Plus, you know how your site is supposed to work, so while you might find navigating it easy that’s not to say a stranger will. Get a fresh perspective. Ask family members and friends to test your site and give feedback. If they’re anything like our family and friends they won’t be afraid of offering criticism.

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.
A website builder is an online content management system that enables users to plan and build their own websites without need for the advanced designing and technical coding skills that would otherwise be required to create one. One would generally feature a step-by-step guide that assists users with everything from choosing a domain name to selecting a template that suits their needs.
Things to look as you vet hosts for ecommerce include drag-and-drop store builders, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) software for safeguarding financial transactions, and email marketing plug-ins, so that you don't have to work with an outside vendor to promote your business. There's nothing wrong per se with using an unconnected marketing service, but anything that adds convenience means more time to spend on the rest of your business. For more in-depth advice on getting started selling online, you should consider our story on the 6 Factors Companies Need to Consider When Choosing a Web Host.
I am looking to build a website that serves as a flight deal hub. I want the main content of my site to feature daily flight deals aggregated from multiple external websites. I’m not sure what the technical term is called, but are there any web platforms on this list that would enable me to have content from other websites automatically uploaded on my website?
Hi, Robert. I want to build a bilingual (Urdu, English) website for Pakistanis who have suffered physical abuse as children. I want it to have a free MOOC like the kind you have on Future Learn: discussion forum, sign-in account, videos, downloadable material in the form of .pdfs, photos. Currently, websites providing PTSD MOOCs are in English and/or too expensive for us Pakistanis. Could I use WordPress to build the kind of website I’m talking about? Also, what do mean when you say that a website integrates with GSuit and costs 5 dollars a ‘pop’? Can’t one leave out that feature all together? Thank you.
Some WordPress plugins conflicted with our design.  When we installed some of the tools / plugins, they broke some of the custom features that our developer built. So we had to pay our developer to re-configure our website to make things work. When you’re piecing together tools that are built by different developers, it’s not surprising that some of them won’t work well together. It’s just part of the process, and it was frustrating for us as that added to our mental burden.

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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.
Arguably one of the most flexible and easy-to-use builders, Site123 lets you customize anything and offers a one-click installation wizard with graphics and templates. Site123 stands out as particularly helpful with its free images library, professional fonts to add visual elements to your site, and creative DIY plans for creating multiple pages (which are unlimited). Plus, since it offers web hosting domain registration, 500 MB storage space, Google Analytics, and is ad-free, you won't feel pressured to switch to a paid plan.
They are also currently running a massive 50% discount. So if you purchase a 12 or 24-month plan, you’ll not only get a free domain for 1 year, but a lot of savings, too. For example, we paid $143.76 for two full years. The $16 domain was free as well. Just keep in mind that renewal prices will adjust back to the normal rate. That means you’ll often lose the initial discount. You’ll notice below that pretty much all website builders do this. Therefore, try to lock in a longer term if possible to save the most.

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