I bought a condo in Puerto Vallarta this last year that I am wanting to make available to friends and family. I want to create a simple, yet attractive, website with photos, descriptions, local information and an availability calendar that I can keep updated. I don’t want to use one of the major vacation rental websites as I don’t want to open the property to the world. I have no experience at all in website design, however I’m a reasonably intelligent person. How reasonable is it that I would be able to create the website I am imagining using your tutorial, and would you still think WordPress is the best option for what I am envisioning?

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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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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.

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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WordPress is not an all-in-one package. It’s a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS allows you to create and organize digital content. Other elements like hosting and domain registration are best done separately. It’s up to you to bring these together in service of a WordPress site. This isn’t nearly as complicated as you might think, but it’s not the easiest way to make a website. We wouldn’t recommend it to people uncomfortable with technology.

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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In many cases, it’s actually a very good approach to familiarizing yourself with the task of creating a website. Even if, in the end, you decide to hire a web designer, you’ll have a much better idea of what person you should be looking for and what your website should look like. Our free ebook “Website Creation for Absolute Beginners” will explain all the important parts of a website project.
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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WebStarts is everything you need to create and maintain your very own website. Traditionally websites are written in HTML code, that code is stored on a server, and a domain is pointed to it. The process of setting up a traditional website is tedious, technical, and expensive. If you don't know how to code you might hire a web developer. Next, you need to purchase server space. Finally, you need to register a domain. It's a hassle to manage three different bills and three different companies. The whole process is so confusing it leaves a lot of people wondering how to make a website at all.
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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Great reviews, Robert. It’s unique that you bought accounts for all the builders, and showed us your sample sites. Very informative. I’m working on articles for beginners to know what they’re getting into on the web, having built websites for clients since 1998, and found what most confused and overwhelmed beginners. I’ll be linking to this set of reviews in my summary of web builders, if you don’t mind. 

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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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I am in the process of rejuvenating my current website. I have someone out of house running it remotely, but want to switch to run it in house myself. I’ve decided to run it via Wix.com, simply because I found it easier to use. However, in some of their more premium (and expensive) packages, they offer x amount of email campaigns with the more expensive packages.. I already have four email accounts set up via the pre-existing website and don’t want these to become void.. I own the pre existing domain already (and want to keep it, which is possible via Wix). Will my pre existing email accounts remain viable even if I switch to a new website company? Can you give me some clarity on the repercussions of switching to Wix.com (I am planning to pay the minimum which allows me get rid of any Wix adverts) will have on my pre existing site in reference to the email accounts already set up.

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SITE123 is more basic compared to Wix and Weebly, but it’s still got a lot to offer! As well as the standard features seen across all three free builders, SITE123 allows you to create an ecommerce store on the free version! You can only accept offline payments (for example you enter a phone number or wire transfer details), but if you upgrade you can connect online methods such as PayPal.

I have an online store on eBay and sell collectible postage stamps from all parts of the world. Their auction site is awesome but their fees are becoming outrageous. When you add that to the fees from PayPal, I’m not sure who I am really working for. First of all, is there an auction house plugin that resembles eBay what you recommend. And secondly, what is the minimum amount of memory my computer should have? I would have about 250 listings at any one time that would last 7-10 days.


It’s important not to be blinded by the word “free.” If you can afford it, stay away from free plans for your business site, even if it’s a small business. Of course, if the alternative is no website, then a free one is still better than nothing. But free plans come with certain restrictions that can give your business website an unprofessional look, such as strange domain names and an obtrusive advert.

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.

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"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."

As we said in the last step, templates provide a framework. Given how many people use builders to make a website nowadays, odds are there are a few sites out there with the same framework as yours. At the very least you will need to populate a chosen template with content specific to you. And to really stand out, you’ll need to do some customization.

This is a bit of an odd company: they use three different brands that sell exactly the same site creator. And we couldn’t find any company details as there is no ‘about’ page on either of the three websites (even their own domain names seem to be registered privately). At first glance Sitey & Co. looks pretty sweet: they offer a vast number of flawless templates. Once you get to the editor you’ll start to notice some similarities to another well-known player: Wix. Everything is really similar (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). However, we see little reason not to opt for the original. The free plan is limited to 5 pages only and their paid plans are all more expensive than Wix’s.
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.
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.
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.

Hello Robert, thank you for the comprehensive review. I would really appreciate your recommendation for my specific case (I have studied your review carefully and still I’m not sure). I am an artist and want to build a website showcasing my paintings (photographed high resolution), and an online store selling paintings. It is essential that I can add items to the store on weekly basis. It is also essential the site loads quickly to get high google ranking. Cost is an issue, and I don’t mind a learning curve. I want a clear and clean website, no confusion / getting lost elements. Would you recommend Bold Grid?

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With WebStarts the drag and drop editor provides a true 'what you see is what you get' experience. You're empowered to create a unique website that conveys the value of your products and services. In addition, WebStarts is jam packed with powerful features that would cost extra with our competitors. All of this is backed up with live support, based right here in the USA. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is happy to help bring your website to completion.
The first thing you need to do is choose what website platform to build your website on. There are many different CMS (content management systems) to choose from and choosing the right platform is a top priority. You don’t want to start building your site on a CMS platform to find out that it’s totally wrong for you and your site. There’s a load of free website building platforms that you could use, but these free websites aren’t great for the long term. You’re restricted to using their own hosting and their own sub-domain ( yourwebsite.freewebsitecompany.com ).

Thank you for writing this. I am about to start this endeavor. I have a couple questions that maybe you can help me with if you don't mind. First I am afraid of my idea getting out there and someone taking it. Is there a way to protect it? I have heard patents are not recommended for Web ideas. Also, my idea is an interactive one, not just a way to advertise etc. Not quite a game but maybe more so than just a web page. That's where my confusion really comes in. I am about to do exactly what you have recommended with the drag and drop but I am naively assuming it won't be something I can use with the public because of the interaction involved. I know I will need the program to watch out for many things and organize them as well. Any advice you can give me on that would be very appreciated.
Where they should improve: Some of their templates are modern and slick looking, but most of them look a bit aged. A big limitation of the free plan is that your website will go down, every day, for one hour; if you ask me, this is a no go. It has some of the basic features and add-ons, but there are key elements missing (e.g. a blog or on-site search). When you change to a new template, all the content you had will be lost.
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.
You have probably heard about the Wix web builder, when the company advertised their product during the 2015 SuperBowl games. As a publilcy traded company and market leaders, they aggressively advertise their product, neglecting the fact the the main product is free of charge. If the name Weebly rings a bell, it could be the fact that Tim Ferris, publisher of several best selling books and a top tier consultant recommends it with passion, stating it is one of the top website builders available, helping him build a fully functional web site in less than 2 hours. The rest are widely known as well, may it be for Ecommerce uses, or being a leading internet services company like Web, which is publicly traded at the NASDAQ stock exchange.

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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.
“Hi Megan, we are using Shopify here in Brazil. I manage the control panel. We are happy with it since it is ahead of the options in Brazil, specially the SEO capabilities. We don’t get much sales direct in the Shop. Our business is B2B. Our clients use the site to know more about our products and then contact us at the end of the sales process. Almost 100% of our sales has an Estimate before the close.” ―Fabio Dudus Carelli

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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!
I’m pretty new to the whole web development/design aspect of things. I’ve tinkered before with free things but more specifically with forum design. I’m very interested in building a website but aside from having a main traditional website feel I’m looking to incorporate a forum to it. Would it be possible to do this with this WordPress/BlueHost tutorial here? Or would there be something you recommend for that sort of thing?

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"Enormous potential with this product, it's just what I've been looking for. I've looked at all the online website builders and they are mostly monthly subscription or a bit complicated to use and will take me quite some time. Your program Mobirise looks like it will so easy to use. Great work everyone involved in the development of Mobirise page creator, and perfect timing with the new Google Responsive rules in mobile search."
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.

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Absolutely. You have the option to customize your website based on your business needs. You can add site content wherever you’d like in a variety of sections; from multiple site pages, to scrollable sections that you can add to each of those pages, to a gallery of images, menus and price lists, and YouTube or Vimeo videos. Each section in your website is customizable as well, from the name of the page, to your website’s navigation bar. You’ll also have the ability to change text colors, styles and font. It’s important to have a mobile and desktop-friendly website. With Website Builder you’ll be able to choose tablet and desktop layouts to give your visitors the experience you want them to have.
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.
Hi Edith, thank you for commenting and updating us with your story. Website creation might sound difficult to some people, but come to think of it, it is really easy as pie. I know kids and elderly alike that have learned to use a website building software so quickly that it is just amazing. Producing multiple sites is than easy, even taking it a step further and starting services to build stores and web sites for others! Thank you for sharing Edith, Good Luck with all!

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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.
Great reviews, Robert. It’s unique that you bought accounts for all the builders, and showed us your sample sites. Very informative. I’m working on articles for beginners to know what they’re getting into on the web, having built websites for clients since 1998, and found what most confused and overwhelmed beginners. I’ll be linking to this set of reviews in my summary of web builders, if you don’t mind.
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