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


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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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.

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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.


Just found out after 9 years that my website builder and email addresses were tied together with my “Daddy” site. For $120 they’ll give back my email for a year. Time for a change I guess. Anyway with me having a site up and running can I bring in what I have from there or will a fresh start need to be done? Thanks for your very in depth research which I would think is current because the last update was May 2018.

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Everyone needs a little help! Like we said before, if you are going to embark upon a DIY website, you might as well choose a builder that’s going to be easy to use! But even with the most comfortable, intuitive software on the market, questions will be inevitable. We know that. That’s why we want you to find a website builder that offers only the best customer support.

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.
Several of the services included here offer free options, too. If you choose that path, however, your site will include branding from the provider, which necessarily makes your site less impressive to savvy surfers—and shoppers. Free offerings vary greatly in the amount of storage and bandwidth they allow, so read the small print to find out how much you get with each provider. Weebly, Wix, and WordPress.com are among the most generous with their free offerings, if that's the way you want to go.
If you are putting all that thought, time, effort, and sometimes even money into your brand-new website, you probably aren’t looking to just enjoy it yourself. You want the whole world to know about it! SEO helps you get there! That’s why the SEO (search engine optimization) options of a website builder come in handy for you. We determined how many feature a particular website builder has and evaluated them one by one.
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.
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.

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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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.

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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’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?

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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WordPress doesn’t have the most user-friendly layout design. For example, if you want to add large slideshow at the top of your page, you may need to add a plugin or custom code snippet (if the template doesn’t have a slideshow tool pre-built into the layout).  If you want to move some content around the page, you have to edit codes.  It felt like every time we wanted to make edits to the design, we had to pay our developer to help us, since we didn’t know how to code back then.
Many people have asked me about using a website builder such as Squarespace, Wix or Weebly. The problem is that these services come at a price – you’ll generally have to pay between $10 and $40 a month for a single site. You’ll also be limited to basic customization of the template designs they offer, which means that there’s a good chance your site will look just like everyone else’s site.
Copy-past customer support answers. For example, we tried asking how many users they have, how many template options, etc. Yet, they wouldn’t be transparent and answer anything, instead of responding with, “In our webtool support department we do not have access to information concerning how many clients we have.” Seems more like they just didn’t feel like finding the answer for us. And when we asked a few other standard questions, they would just give us a link for the answer. Not very professional, but at least they have a 24/7 live support.
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.
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.
The best place to find themes is through WordPress’s own Theme Directory. Search for the types of themes you’d be interested in. If you’re setting up a newspaper search ‘newspaper’, if you need a site for your café search ‘cafe’. There’ll be dozens, if not hundreds, of contenders. Clicking on a theme takes you to its own page where you can see user reviews and preview the theme in action.

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You can choose from their numerous, and admittedly, beautiful themes. They are all tablet and smartphone-compatible and feature different types of photo galleries. While there are a lot of good things, there are also flaws. With regards to SEO, Squarespace doesn’t let you fully customize the titles for blog and product pages. This can be a show-stopper in competitive industries.


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.


At WebStarts we know the most important thing for most people who create a website is getting found. That's why WebStarts was built from the ground up to be search engine friendly. That means websites created with WebStarts are more likely to be found on search engines like Google. So when you make a website with WebStarts rest assured people are going to be able to find the website you created online.

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So very thankful to find this article!! I have been using Blogger for two weeks and am finding it so plain and am ready to upgrade to a real site. It is possible to move an existing Blogger site to WordPress? I also already have a domain purchased from Google, would I need to purchase a new one when I sign up for a hosting site? I’m so ready to go with a more professional looking blog that doesn’t show up as a blogspot URL. Thank you again….
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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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.

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WordPress doesn’t have the most user-friendly layout design. For example, if you want to add large slideshow at the top of your page, you may need to add a plugin or custom code snippet (if the template doesn’t have a slideshow tool pre-built into the layout).  If you want to move some content around the page, you have to edit codes.  It felt like every time we wanted to make edits to the design, we had to pay our developer to help us, since we didn’t know how to code back then.

Many people mistakenly believe that the only method for getting a professional quality website is to hire a web developer. But, by selecting the right website builder, you can achieve similar results for a much lower cost. Additionally, you maintain full control over the look of your website as you don’t have to rely on paying your original developer or finding a new one, every time you want to make a change.
When we started WebStarts we knew everyone was going to need a website, that means everyone. Knowing the wide range of uses for a website we decided to make the basic version of WebStarts free. That way everyone from the student to the biggest corporation can create a great looking website with our free website builder. We also know people are going to love using WebStarts so much they'll want to upgrade to a paid subscription to get even more advanced features for their business or organization.
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.

"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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I am looking to build a website that serves as a flight deal hub. I want the main content of my site to feature daily flight deals aggregated from multiple external websites. I’m not sure what the technical term is called, but are there any web platforms on this list that would enable me to have content from other websites automatically uploaded on my website?
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.
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