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

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Sometimes, you don't need a traditional website to get your message across. Adobe Spark Page is ideal for projects that don't require more than one page, such as portfolios, resumes, presentations, blog posts and photo galleries. For businesses, a Spark Page can showcase a product catalog, advertise a special offer, or act as a weekly or monthly newsletter.
Speaking of usability, website builders are also made to be extremely functional and usable by even novice users. An average website can be built in a matter of hours and changes can be made in minutes. Something that users often fail to keep in mind is that a website is never completed. It is always a work in progress that requires changes and edits and they give users the ability to make snap edits and changes.
All of the web services listed here have you start by choosing from a selection of templates for your site. The better ones, such as Duda, Gator, Squarespace, and Wix, use templates that automatically reformat your site for viewing on mobile devices. They also offer specifically targeted templates based on your site's purpose, such as for promoting a bakery's sales, getting gigs for a musician, or keeping wedding guests informed.

As far as actually doing the nuts and bolts building and design of your site, you also have plenty of options. You can hire someone to design and code a website, or you can try your own hand. You can use an online service to create web pages, or build it offline using a desktop software tool. Or, if you're a coding dynamo, use a plain text editor to create a site from scratch. How you mix and match these decisions depends on your skills, time, budget, and gumption.
We tried to quickly get some questions answered on their live chat. We logged on, and the estimated wait time was 35 minutes! Really? For “live” chat? By this point in time, we had already been able to research everything on their site to be able to answer our questions. But we didn’t want to give up just yet. When a rep finally connected, they immediately said, “To access your account we will need your 4 digit support PIN. Please provide your PIN with this secure form I am sending you.” But… what if I didn’t have an account? What if I was just looking to buy and had a few simple questions?
The best way to begin your search is to sort the themes by category. If you are opening an eCommerce store (using Bigcommerce for example), there is no reason to browse through blog-optimized themes. Most online website creation services use categories like portfolios, online shops, and blogs to differentiate their templates. Some go even further by creating more specific categories like sites designed to showcase bakeries or sell sunglasses.
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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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.

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"As someone who came to web design from graphic design I work visually & use WYSIWYG web builders with some limited code knowledge - enough to do some minor editing, insert code into head/body etc but that's about it. However the spectre of responsive web design has been weighing on my mind of late, even though I can & do create dedicated mobile pages it is a lot more work, although I do prefer the look of dedicated pages as responsive tend to be quite plain & all the same. But I know having a responsive option would be a good thing to be able to offer if I get clients that want it. Your Mobirise is the first responsive web builder I have seen that is actually easy so importantly - intuitive!! Thanks!"
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. 

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Gator Website Builder has more than 200 templates that are professionally designed and available for free. And yes, all of them are mobile design compatible. You don't need to do anything to activate the mobile design. Gator does allow you to edit the content in your mobile version without affecting the desktop version. Editing content on the mobile version can be handy if you have special mobile-only sales or if you want to optimize the experience people have on their phone.
After all the work you put into it, I feel not a little stupid, in need to ask you anything else. The truth is I am a slightly long in the tooth septuagenarian with about as much nous as someone dropping in on a day trip from the fourteenth century. I want to promote (tell as many people as possible) about my new book, and hopefully, sell one or two.

GoCentral is a website product that lets you create a website that fits your personal or business needs, regardless of your skill set. You no longer have to choose between a website or an online store – now you can have both. Whether you want an online store, a pop-up site or a professional website to attract new customers, you get to choose how simple or dynamic you want your site to be. Just pick a design and go create your website with GoCentral.


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.

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!
If you’re trying to build a large ecommerce store, here’s how to setup WooCommerce and WordPress (one of the most popular ways to add products to your store). Less tech-savvy beginners may prefer using a simplistic website builder. The most common choice is to build an online store with Shopify. Although website costs can vary, but consider reading up on the top questions to ask when hiring a website designer.
Webstarts Complete online store Webstarts not only lets you add up to 10 products, but you can also accept credit card payments through Stripe, WePay or Authorize.net. Inventory management is included and there’s even an option to sell digital goods. The only downside is that you are limited to 20 sales per day. But hey, then you should really think about a paid upgrade.
2016 was a tremendous year for web-based services & software, including e-commerce and web-creation platforms. This is overall good for us, the consumers, as competition between these providers ensures a better product, lower price points and more versatility in the long run. Be sure to stick with known brands which offer low monthly payments and even free plans.
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.
Thanks for a great review! My only “con” would be that you didn’t included customer service. But I understand the work it would have involved. I LOVE WIX. I have been with them since they started. But their customer service stinks. I don’t like having to search through a database of questions other users have submitted to find an answer to my problem. They make it hard to find a phone number. Otherwise, besides a few technical beefs I have, it is a great option.
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.
Support among the services varies widely, from free WordPress.com account's only offering community support, to Jimdo's email-only service, to Wix's telephone-callback service—even for free accounts! Many of the site builders offer rich online support knowledge bases and FAQs, so there's a good chance you won't even need to contact the company. I test each service's support as part of the review process by asking about some less-common site-building procedures.
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Even if you don't sign up for those web hosts, you should look for services that offer similar features. You'll want a WYSIWYG editor that lets you adjust every page and add images, video, and social links. Plunking down a few extra bucks typically nets you robust ecommerce and search engine optimization (SEO) packages for improved Bing, Google, and Yahoo placement. Most advanced web hosting services include at least one domain name, free of charge, when you sign up.
“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
“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
Their approach to site design is somehow different. Instead of having a set of elements (e.g. headline, text, images, icons, etc.) that you combine into a design, they have prebuilt sections that you can customize. This makes it less flexible, but you are less likely to mess your design up – a good approach for beginners without much time to experiment with design and layouts.
Have just started to use their e-commerce features and agree they are awesome. By comparison I have just built an e-commerce site using BigCommerce and it has been a chore using their site builder. Also have a Shopify site on standby, but I think Weebly will end up being my site of choice, mainly because the guys listen and make every effort to accommodate the users.

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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.

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Hi there and thank you wor this fantastic WP resource. So much useful information. I have a question, though, I am not finding an answer anywhere but I’m sure you’d be able to point me in the right direction. I have a webpage that I had built with weebly time ago but I finally have time and wish to turn it into a more professional site and blog. I want to move to WP.
GoCentral Website Builder can act as your hub, the place where your friends and contacts can see your posts, photos, videos and more. With the option to link to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ on your website, your visitors can be everywhere you are on the web. Being able to cover multiple platforms gives you the opportunity to reach more people, while creating appropriate content for each of your socials (like posting all of your photos on Instagram, and tweeting about your most recent business venture on Twitter). By centrally locating all the links in one place – your new website – you are giving your website visitors a seamless experience. Linking to your social media in your website gives you an advantage in communicating with your visitors; the more they can connect with you and do so in the forum that’s most comfortable to them, the more they’ll engage with your site, and thus you or your business. 

Great review, Robert! I was wondering what’s your opinion about SitePad website builder? I’m thinking of creating a website for my restaurant and I saw that this website builder is included in the web hosting plans by BGOcloud, which I will opt for. Have you tried SitePad? If yes, can you say whether it is relatively easy-to-use? Thanks in advance!
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.
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
Then there are a few providers who offer only dated or unattractive layouts on their free plans, and keep the good designs for their paid plans. Also, free web page builders will restrict the number of pages you can build and keep their most advanced features for paying customers. Webstarts, for example, even blocks your visitors from seeing a mobile-optimized view when accessing the site via a smartphone.
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