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Hey Ben, thank you for all the information. I think web site builders in general are a great tool for novice computer users such as myself. I started my own website and it took me only a few hours to do so! I know I might sound childish, but this is unheard of for me. I used the Wix website builder software which was free of charge, and I am contemplating upgrading to the 2nd plan in order to remove the banner ads.

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Accept online payments/set up an online store: On some builders like SITE123 and Strikingly, you can create an online store on the free plan, and sell one or two items, but to sell any more you have to upgrade. On some you can create a store, but you must be on a paid plan to actually accept payments through your website, (like Wix). Others won’t let you create a store at all unless you’re paying, such as Weebly. So it varies, but one thing remains the same: in order to have a successful and scalable online store you will need to upgrade to a paid plan sooner or later. Once you’re on a paid plan you can unlock features such as connecting different payment types, (for example PayPal, credit/debit cards etc), get rid of transaction fees, track and manage your inventory, and more!

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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.
“1st downloaded mobirise website creator then thought these guys are not asking me for any money its not possible then thought may be later while publishing they'll ask for money.but its totally free wohooo. expecting something big from you guys . i never write any mail to any developer but you guys created such awesome tool i am bound to reply you.”
Don’t forget – we guarantee that you will need to re-design your website at some point. It can be a big revamp, or just re-designing portion of your website. You will be making a lot of changes to the layout and content as you better understand what your website visitors are looking for, and what’s working on your website and what isn’t. Keep this in mind and plan accordingly. We wished someone told us about this back then.
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
Great article, comments and discussion thread...thanks to everyone. My question is which of the site builders would be best for constructing a service business (versus selling and shipping a product) where different service event activity dates/times must be scheduled, payments processed and confirmations and follow-up details sent after purchase? Appreciate your insight. Thx!
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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I have no experience with blogs other than what I read online. I would appreciate your help regarding a “shared” blog. A friend and I are considering contributing posts to the same blog. Is it allowed? …to “own” a blog together? If so, how would we do it; should we both follow the steps installing WordPress etc. and then one of us create it and the other just logs in with the username and password?
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.
Usually, we’re big advocates of hosted site builders that run in your web browser. But we do of course acknowledge that some of you are more comfortable with an installable Windows or Mac website software. Mobirise is such a program: you install it on your computer and within minutes you’ll be able to start dragging and dropping a free website together – even when you’re offline.

I had been with a builder/host who’s focus migrated from yoga studios (closest match I could find at the time) to chiropractors, eye doctors & vets. I changed to a new builder/host that supposedly fully integrated all the aspects of my business mgt. software; only to discover after going live that things like BUY NOW links didn’t work & the ability to embed code provided by the business mgt. software really doesn’t exist.

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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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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?
To get your website up and running with Gator Website Builder, simply select one of our pre-built templates and drag and drop the elements you want to live on your website. If you want to have an eCommerce site or online store, Gator features built-in shopping cart functionality; simply add the shopping cart and products, and your site is ready to go!
That’s a really common question and the answer is… well, it depends. Please keep in mind that in order to work with a developer you’ll have to be prepared to have a budget of at least $1.500 and that’s the low end. For any changes and further developments, you’ll pay your developer’s hourly rate. Then there is the ongoing hosting as well as domain costs (which will be another $100 per year more or less).
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.
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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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!
WordPress.com is built for blogging, and it shows. Extensive blogging features are automatically built-in such as analytics, a search feature, comments, display categories, archiving, and more. Combine this with intuitive design, such as being able to choose your settings for feature images and which blog posts should appear on your home page, and it’s clear why WordPress.com is so successful.
More-advanced options found in some builders let you process credit card payments and add your own cart and checkout pages. The more-powerful site builders include product promotions, email marketing, and inventory and shipping tools. Some let you sell digital downloads, while others don't; see the table above to find out which do. Only a couple of these builders let you put ads on your site, though most of them allow some degree of custom HTML code insertion.

Larger businesses spend many thousands of dollars to get their custom-designed and programmed sites, but there's no need for smaller organizations and individuals to go to that kind of expense. For about $10 per month (or around $25 if you're selling products) and a few hours of your time, the services included here can help you create a unique, attractive website.
I am planning to create my own contest. This is an online based singing competition based on the popular Eurovision Song Contest. A summary of the contest is this: Fans of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) would apply for a spot, they would each represent a country of their choice in Europe, and would choose a contestant from that country that would represent them with a song. I want this contest to be based on all platforms. (Social Media, YouTube, and it’s own website). I am planning a lot of graphics to be added that I will need to create, and there will be polls, and videos from YouTube attached to this page. I want there to be multiple sections of the website, and for it to be accessible both on computer and on mobile. I also want to create a voting section of the website, where fans that aren’t in the contest would be able to vote in the contest as well. I am a beginner to all of this website and graphics stuff, so my intentions may seem very ambitious, but I need a website that could eventually hold all of these things. What would you recommend? I am also on somewhat of a limited budget, so I would like to keep costs as low as I can, but still create a sleek and quality website. Could you please help and give me some input?

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That’s a really common question and the answer is… well, it depends. Please keep in mind that in order to work with a developer you’ll have to be prepared to have a budget of at least $1.500 and that’s the low end. For any changes and further developments, you’ll pay your developer’s hourly rate. Then there is the ongoing hosting as well as domain costs (which will be another $100 per year more or less).

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.

Wix supplies built-in Google Analytics to monitor your site, and even offers additional apps for individual preferences. If you want, Wix can even design your site for you. The biggest downside of Wix's free version is it doesn't come ad-free, and each page of your site will have a prominent Wix ad. Ad-free is only an option if you pay for the premium version.
"Just thought I should tell you that we are doing SEO trials on websites designed with your free website building software. We are testing it against our best performers and you are holding up well. There are a lot of website creation programs that are more concerned with design than performance. We are more interested in performance than design. As the saying goes… if you can’t be found on Google, you can’t be found. Keep up the good work!"

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On most builders you can create your website in less than an hour. We don’t recommend being quite so quickfire about it, though. The best way to make a website is to give yourself a solid day to play around with the software and fine tune your site. It can take much longer than this to make a website site though – it depends on how many pages you have and how much customization you need to do.
Starting a website that I prefer would be hosted with security features… a combination blog/website with “tab” for online store for a few items (or that would link to an Etsy store) accepting payments by Paypal, Visa/Mastercard. Also a “tab/dropdown” for ability to select videos that I will be posting on you-tube. I don’t want to do any coding, so drag and drop to a template plus ability to add in my own photos and SSL certificate are primary concerns. Is this all possible with wordpress choices?
Don’t forget – we guarantee that you will need to re-design your website at some point. It can be a big revamp, or just re-designing portion of your website. You will be making a lot of changes to the layout and content as you better understand what your website visitors are looking for, and what’s working on your website and what isn’t. Keep this in mind and plan accordingly. We wished someone told us about this back then.

Weebly has some great things going for it in terms of price – its intuitive design, and high value per dollar offers. Sadly, when it comes time to actually build a website, Weebly falls awfully short compared to its competition. Their drag and drop website builder is really limited in its utility and forces you to adhere to pre-formatted templates strictly.


The list on the top of this page was compiled after an extensive review process. All of the good and bad components of each website builder were considered and used to create a grade system on a scale of ten. We even included a star rating system so that users can share their assessments with us and our readers. Although Wix has our most favorable score, it is not necessarily suited to every user (check Weebly also). We encourage you to read up and determine which one best suits your needs.
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.
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.
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.
"You have a great basic product formula that appeals to entrepreneurs wanting to build their own web sites without any coding. If you continue to refine this basic concept — no code at all — the Mobirise website builder software will gain more and more users - do-it-yourself entrepreneurs - independent, freelance, contract, solo and other non-traditional workers.. If you add more prebuilt blocks to drag and drop into the web pages, that will help growth." 

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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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