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.

All of the site builders included here let you put Facebook Like and Twitter Follow buttons on your pages, and some even let you display feeds from the social networks. Some give you help building a Facebook Page and tying it into your site design and updates. Many products offer some sort of SEO tool, but too often this is just a form on which you can enter meta tags. You're mostly left to wrestle with that black magic known as SEO for yourself. It's very important to submit and verify your site to the search engines, unless you don't want anyone to find it!
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!
Using your domain name you can also get your very own email address (e.g. [email protected]). That’ll make a much more professional impression than an address from Gmail or Yahoo. This email address can be managed either through your website builder, domain provider or an external service. Most website builders work with G Suite these days. It’s a great service but it comes at a fairly high cost: $6 per email address.
These services can host your content on their servers free of charge, but in exchange for that zero cost, your online destination will have a less-than-elegant domain, such as jeffreylwilson.tumblr.com. That might be fine for a personal blog, but it will look too low-rent for a business that wants people to trust it enough to pay for whatever it's selling.

Thank you for such a wonderful article. I work for a church and we need to start a new website from scratch due to problems we are experiencing with the currently listed owner of our Weebly site. I like the reviews on WIX.com and think we may go with them. I just had a question about using our current domain on the new site, not sure if you can answer this. Do you know if WIX.com accepts domains already established, like a transfer over or if even needed?
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.

These days most people clearly prefer hosted website builders such as Wix, Weebly and Jimdo due to their added simplicity. You can edit your site from different computers, no matter if it’s a Mac or PC. If you absolutely want an installable website builder software, I would recommend you check out Mobirise. The basic version is free, you only pay if you purchase one of their premium designs or extensions.

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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.
It is important to be consistent with your blogging. You won’t acquire much of a readership if you only post once a year. Additionally, that kind of posting frequency might actually hurt your site as it could make users wonder if the page is still being tended to. Posting on a weekly or bi-weekly basis can be a really effective way to keep people interested in your work. If you don’t have the time to write something new on a consistent basis, you can schedule pre-written content to be posted automatically.

On top of that, there are two areas where they manage to outshine their competitors: for once, you can create multilingual websites with it (an area that barely any site builders masters). Plus, they also offer what they call “website personalization tools”. Using them you can show fully customized content to your visitors, for example, based on their location or the time of the day. A very powerful feature!

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Our Squarespace support experience was not great. There are tons of resources available, but that’s also kinda the problem. There’s too much stuff and it’s not easy to find your way. We went looking for the live chat option, and unfortunately, that wasn’t much better. In order to reach the live chat, we had to fill out three drop-down boxes regarding our issue. Then, it still tries to send you over to an article or email. This repeated multiple times while we were waiting in the queue. They kept trying to send “how-to” articles, instead. Finally, we got on with an agent. But even that was slow. The entire process took around twenty minutes to get a simple answer to our question. And then, how did the support rep help? By sending us another link to a how-to article.

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.
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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"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."
There’s a huge library of goodies for you to use at Envato Elements, which range from ready to use stock images for your blog posts (250,000+ fully licensed stock photos), web templates, fonts, backgrounds and much much more.  Elements like these can save you so much time and are all ready for you to use for a single monthly subscription by signing up to Envato Elements.

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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.
The App Store is it's biggest differentiator. The Shopify core covers what 80% of online stores will need and the app store covers the other 20%— that way the core doesn't get bloated with features most stores don't need. Shopify is not the only ecommerce website builder to offer an app stores but they have significantly more apps than any competitor:

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Although Yola has more than 270 themes for their customers to choose from, nearly all of these themes are outdated to the point of incompetence. Yola would have been a fantastic site builder if you were building a website back in 2008. However, in the modern world of web design with responsive themes, video backgrounds, and exceptionally complex interfaces, Yola simply cannot compete with any of the major site builders out there.
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.
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?
The App Store is it's biggest differentiator. The Shopify core covers what 80% of online stores will need and the app store covers the other 20%— that way the core doesn't get bloated with features most stores don't need. Shopify is not the only ecommerce website builder to offer an app stores but they have significantly more apps than any competitor:

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.

Hello. I’m very thankful to you for finding this information before pursuing getting my website started!! I know absolutely nothing, technical wise, so I need a builder that can assist me with just that. I want to have a site with: my Photography, my Poetry, Verses from the Word, & Encouraging words for the day. Simple, not complicated. Also to where people can interact with me as well if they choose to, & be Facebook accessible. I’m praying that you would be willing to guide me a little bit. I’m a TRUE amateur at this!! Wix.com is who I think I’m going to go through. Please, let me know what you think. I appreciate the information you shared, more than you know!! TY!!
One of the things that sets WordPress apart from its competitors is the large range of plugins available for download. There are currently over 40,000 plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory than can be installed in just a few seconds. In most cases, all you have to do is find a plugin you’d like to install, click “Install Now”, then click “Activate”.
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.
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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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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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.
“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
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. 

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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