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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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.
Connect a custom domain: On a free plan your website address will look something like this: https://mysite.strikingly.com or https://joebloggs.wixsite.com/mysite. These web addresses can be long, confusing, and difficult to find if you’re a visitor searching for your site online. A custom domain allows you to choose a more personalized address, such as www.mysite.com which is a lot better for promoting a brand and getting found by potential visitors to your website! Even if you buy a new domain for your site or already own one that you want to transfer, you will need to be on a paid plan to actually connect and use it as the address for your website. Usually you can buy and connect your custom domain on the cheapest upgrade available, such as Weebly’s ‘Connect’ plan, so it’s an affordable option.
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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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.
Weebly is one of the largest site creators out there and hits the top spots in our ranking table. But since we are mainly looking at the free plans here, we have to judge our contestant with slightly different criteria. The free plan is where Weebly doesn’t shine quite as bright, mainly due to the very visible ad in the website’s footer that even sports a mouseover effect.
Speaking of time savings, website builders save users a ton of time! In today’s fast-paced world, nobody wants to wait days or months for their website to be ready. Website creating services enable job seekers to make resume sites and stores to create eCommerce sites in a matter of hours. If you have something that needs to be online, they can help you easily put it there.

With professional templates, customizable features, and instant responsive design, Spark Page just may be the best website builder you've never heard of - a fast and easy tool that anyone can use. Spark Page offers a variety of features to make your content look its best no matter where it’s viewed. Spark's design tools are based on the essential features of Adobe's professional tools like Photoshop and Illustrator, but you don't need to know how to use them or any other dedicated design software.
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.

"I am really impressed with the work put into creating Mobirise. I love the ease with which Websites can be built in a few minutes using this awesome product. I like the intuitive drag and drop process and the mobile-first approach. I love this product, but it seems incapable of creating corporate Websites, because of the simple designs. Generally, I want to commend you for your work. The product is awesome. With more block options, increased flexibility, Mobirise would favorably compete with the top free website builders - wix, weebly, squarespace. I'll be standing by. Your product has great potential. Keep working." 
I have a WordPress site that I am seriously considering shutting down. I love that i get to work with my creativity building sites, but I don’t love that I have been in a cycle of getting the site up, after a month or so, I start getting those Jetpack notifications that my site is down, it’s still not loading, it’s back up. I mean I’ve gotten at least 50 in the last couple of days. I can never figure out what’s wrong with the site so I end up stripping or deleting the whole site and and starting over. I don’t use a lot of plugins (the basics security, backup, some kind of form, elementor, etc). I’d really love to believe that the benefits outweigh

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Ionos features a massive amount of industry-specific templates for all kinds of niches. They are one of the few website builder companies that don’t make you pay extra for a domain name and email address. But what makes them a true favorite in our ranking is the smart system to create a multilingual website, which is included in the Business plan ($10 per month).
Hello Lyubov, Thanks for your comment! Wow, that's great to hear - it sounds like you've got some fantastic experience to bring to your clients. Yes, it's a question that could go on and on isn't it! I'm so glad you find Squarespace so enjoyable - I agree, it's a stunning website builder with some really high quality tools. Sounds perfect for your business! Thanks so much for reading and for sharing your insight with us, Best, Lucy
I’ve always been curious about building my own website for personal use. I see commercials and banners saying how “THEY” are ‘free’ or ‘are easy to use’ or ‘best web builder around’, etc, etc. Not knowing who to believe, I, like many others, used the best resource that money can buy… i Googled! Your site was one of the links that I decided to explore and was impressed off the back. I liked your unbiased thoughts and personal 10+ experience in the field so you know what you’re talking about. So thank you for making our research, any potential pitfalls, future headache, possible regrets that we could’ve suffered by making the the selfless sacrifice by exploring these website building companies for the masses.
However, your presentation of Comparative Web Builders was absolutely, totally and altogether superb! It was the essence of distilled intelligence, of simplifying a complex mess, of bringing flawless order out of scuzzy chaos. I congratulate you on possessing an unusual and unique skill and talent. I am a writer and inventor, and nothing turns me on intellectually more than seeing someone do what you did! Your work is stunning.
The short answer is web builders are suited to almost everyone. Due to their simplicity, ease of use, and expandability provided by things like extensions and apps, using one is a great way for virtually anyone to build a website. Beginners will enjoy the freedom to create a fully featured and complex websites with ease and professionals will benefit from the ability to implement their own unique style and touch.
Strikingly has its focus on one-page layouts. This can be especially interesting if you want to create a landing page, say for event registrations. Their responsive designs are indeed striking (no pun intended) and look great on mobile devices. You can either start with their ad-sponsored free plan or upgrade to the Limited ($8) or Pro plan ($16 per month). Limited also includes a 5-product online store, whereas PRO increases this limit to 300 products.
Hey thank you so much for this article! It was really helpful. I do have a question regarding what platform I should use for my business venture though. I currently have a premium plan with Wix that I use to promote myself as an artist/ performer. I have loved working with Wix, but I am starting a marketing business online and want something that allows me to build websites for other businesses quickly, and be able to do a broad range of things since I would be building for other people I would need that flexibility. Also does Wix or WordPress offer any sort of click funnel? Thank you and look forward to hearing from you soon.
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
A website builder might be the right choice for you or your business if you have limited coding knowledge or limited time. With a website builder, you don't need any special software or prior experience designing a website. It's the perfect solution for anyone looking to affordably and quickly get a website live and get new customers to your business.
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.
You can sell products and services on your website if you have the Online Store plan. You’ll have an online store that will allow you to add products and services, set up different types of payment methods, and even specific types of shipping. Your store will be integrated into your website as a page. You can add featured products for your visitors to scroll through, make quick purchases using PayPal and Apple Pay and promote your store/products through coupons. You can also use the same type of email marketing that is included in the Business Plus plan to send email communications to your subscribers and customers about sales in your store, coupon offers and events. Establishing a strong online commerce can boost your current sales, especially if you have a brick-and-mortar store.
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.
“Squarespace is good for building a simple site, but not for something more serious/complex. I’m confident that Squarespace will keep improving just as they’ve done so far since 2004. All and all, Squarespace is a basic but versatile content-management system/website-building tool ideal for people who are not hard-core developers but want to create a functional, secure—and let’s not forget beautiful!” ―Pavan Kumar

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!

Getting your message out these days requires good helpings of Facebook and Twitter, with maybe a dash of Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Tumblr. But that's not enough: if you want an internet presence that truly represents you or your organization, you also need a website that sets you apart from the crowd. A real website, as opposed to a social media page, gives you complete control over design and content. This lends credibility to your business, organization, or personal brand. Facebook pages all look alike in terms of design, but on your own website, you can realize a brand image, offer products for sale, and integrate third-party web services.

PC and Mac website software used to be very popular – maybe you can even remember Microsoft Frontpage or Macromedia Dreamweaver, as it used to be called. The advantage of such programs is that you typically pay (a larger amount) upfront and can build as many websites as you like. The downside is that you need to take care of hosting your website yourself, which incurs additional costs. 

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In situations where you can’t find an included tutorial to meet your needs, you can often find instruction from a variety of web resources. Whether you prefer written instructions or want to see each step in a video, you can find free information online to help you move forward with your design. So, before you think completing part of the setup of the site is too difficult, hope into your favorite search engine and see what if the larger community doesn’t have an answer.

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Mobirise Website Builder offers 50+ themes and 150+ demo pages that include sliders, galleries with lightbox, articles, counters, countdowns, full-screen intros, images & videos, features, data tables & pricing tables, progress bar & cycles, timelines, tabs & accordions, call-to-action, forms, Google maps, social blocks, testimonials, footers, and more. Blocks are designed considering the latest web design trends, and they are flexible and full of customizing options.
However, your presentation of Comparative Web Builders was absolutely, totally and altogether superb! It was the essence of distilled intelligence, of simplifying a complex mess, of bringing flawless order out of scuzzy chaos. I congratulate you on possessing an unusual and unique skill and talent. I am a writer and inventor, and nothing turns me on intellectually more than seeing someone do what you did! Your work is stunning.
The templates are high quality, but nobody wants to have a website which looks like another. While that might be hard to avoid with the number of websites on the internet (tens of billions), giving it your best will surely pay off. A quality theme is surely a great start for a website, but the extensive admin panel gives you a lot of creative freedom to express yourself in your website, whether it is a personal blog or an online store.
The question is more important today than ever before, since it is believed that a site’s storage location directly influences its loading time, which in turn affects a business’s ability to attract and retain traffic to the site. To reduce loading time, SITE123 websites are stored on content distribution network (CDN) servers spread across the globe. A visitor will view your site in the fastest manner, when loaded from the closest possible location. Make a website with great performance.
Mobirise Website Builder offers 50+ themes and 150+ demo pages that include sliders, galleries with lightbox, articles, counters, countdowns, full-screen intros, images & videos, features, data tables & pricing tables, progress bar & cycles, timelines, tabs & accordions, call-to-action, forms, Google maps, social blocks, testimonials, footers, and more. Blocks are designed considering the latest web design trends, and they are flexible and full of customizing options.
None gets the job done better Editors' Choice award-winning Wix. It has a drag-and-drop interface, and all elements of the site are customizable. It doesn't cost a cent to get started with Wix, but you'll want to go premium, starting at $5 per month for a domain and scaling upward to $25 per month for unlimited monthly data transfers and 20GB of storage.
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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Most of the products here can tell you about your site traffic, though the amount of detail varies greatly among them, and it's often tied to premium account levels. For example, Weebly can not only show you page views and unique visitors for each day of the month, but also search terms used to get to the site, referring sites, and top-visited pages. Wix and uKit, at the other end, have nothing in the way of built-in site stats, instead requiring you to create your own Google Analytics account, and even that requires a paid account. Another drawback of that approach is that you can only see traffic from the preceding day and earlier; it's not up-to-the-minute, or even the hour.


I manage a running club. On the advice of a pal, we used Drupal to develop the club website. This went well enough when my pal managed the Drupal site, but when he got too busy, the thing became a nightmare. Our club management (a handful of runners) ended up spending an inordinate amount of time and money addressing Drupal updates and hacks and technical stuff that was far removed from doing what we loved and were good with (managing a running club.)
Great writeup Tom! What do you think of clickfunnels as a website builder? A lot of my friends keep telling me to use it but I don't think its a website builder from what I can see. I'm willing to pay the money for only if it's a good website builder. I was doing some research and found these share funnel things. I like that fact that I can import template that are all ready to be used. What do you think of it? Just trying to look for some real opinions so doing some research first.
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The short answer is web builders are suited to almost everyone. Due to their simplicity, ease of use, and expandability provided by things like extensions and apps, using one is a great way for virtually anyone to build a website. Beginners will enjoy the freedom to create a fully featured and complex websites with ease and professionals will benefit from the ability to implement their own unique style and touch.

WordPress.com is not to be confused with its bigger brother WordPress.org (read our beginners’ guide). The latter is fantastic if you are not scared of diving into technical terrain, but surprisingly, the .com version is not that much easier to use and has a lot of restrictions. Having said that, if all you want is just to create a blog, WordPress.com could be a great solution for you. For a website, though, we find there are better solutions. Paid plans start at $5 per month.
While our competitors limit you to creating a boring static website, at WebStarts we give you the ability to build a website that includes rich, interactive features, we call them apps. Our integrated apps range from form builders, calendars, memberships, video hosting, music playlists, music stores, maps, SEO, and much more. These interactive apps are designed to help your website attract more visitors, capture more leads, and make your website more sticky.

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Hello Lyubov, Thanks for your comment! Wow, that's great to hear - it sounds like you've got some fantastic experience to bring to your clients. Yes, it's a question that could go on and on isn't it! I'm so glad you find Squarespace so enjoyable - I agree, it's a stunning website builder with some really high quality tools. Sounds perfect for your business! Thanks so much for reading and for sharing your insight with us, Best, Lucy
If you prefer a more traditional URL, you'll need to purchase one from the likes of GoDaddy or Namecheap. Domain name pricing can range from extremely cheap to extremely expensive, depending on whether or not domain squatters are looking to flip a valuable piece of online real estate. You'll want to get something short but evocative and catchy, and depending on what you do, you may find that many of your first choices are taken by either other legit domains, or by squatters who've scooped up the names as an investment. For more, please read How to Register a Domain Name.
"If you are a beginner and want the easiest, most professional, web-building site - then this is the one. I cannot recommend this company highly enough. The customer support is brilliant. I am in the UK but they replied to my query on a Sunday. A wide selection of templates which are very adaptable plus new features regularly being added. Very cost-effective hosting. Simply the best. Peter Murray, CEO, Goldfella ltd."
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