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!

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I would like to launch an online platform where people can leave reviews. Think of Yelp. In the future I’d like my users to be able to upload data as well. You can imagine this will be a complex platform long-term. Do you recommend to start with an online website builder like WordPress, Wix, etc or to have actual developers start from scratch? Looking forward to your response! Thanks!

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While we do have strong programming experience and know what a good website builder should be able to do, we also took the experiences of real users into account. By reading and evaluating the thoughts and opinions of other users—what they liked about the website builders and what they struggled with—we were able to provide you with more detail about these companies.

With WebStarts you don't need to know any code to create a beautiful website. Our easy to use drag and drop editor makes it a breeze to place photos, text, and other elements exactly where you'd like them to appear on your page. And when it's time to add a domain name, you simply choose one and it's automatically set up to work with your site. You'll never have to worry about hiring an expensive web designer or not being able to make changes to your website in a timely manner again.
Are their prices comparable to the other options on the market? We review not only the different website builders’ prices, but also the features included under each package, the price models, the paying options, any hidden discounts, and even their billing practices. When it comes to money—especially yours—we want to make sure everything is safe and sound!
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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I’m using wix right now for my own personal blog. I know I don’t have my own domain name and the wix add is always on my website, however, the page can still be easily reached and I will be able to add basic content like article entries and videos. Products or merchandise and affiliate links could still also be used without having to pay a premium for a registered domain and hosting service. Pay feature may possibly be enabled as well, depending on how you set it up, so that no percentage would be deducted from sales through the site or from a sales widget.
I have personally built two different sites using WordPress and found it very easy to use, setup and configure. Once it is initially setup, maintaining the site is as easy as logging into the WordPress admin site and adding your content. I was initially very surprised by the ease of the setup to get my sites up and running. I was able to get the site online and running on a customer domain within 15 minutes. This was a welcome surprise to me the fist time I used WordPress. While WordPress sites are not as simple as drag and drop configuration for the novice computer user, average users will find it easy to edit text and add content using the built in templates. The price is possibly the most attractive feature of WordPress. The word free will often attract users but the usability and ease of the software is what will make users stick with the platform. After building two sites on WordPress, I would strongly recommend it and will surely use it for my future website building projects.
Don’t forget – we guarantee that you will need to re-design your website at some point. It can be a big revamp, or just re-designing portion of your website. You will be making a lot of changes to the layout and content as you better understand what your website visitors are looking for, and what’s working on your website and what isn’t. Keep this in mind and plan accordingly. We wished someone told us about this back then.

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WordPress (either version) is a blog-focused content management system that accepts plug-ins and themes that extend its capabilities to what most of what the other products here offer, including commerce. In fact, WordPress.com uses plug-ins such as JetPack to provide many of its features. As a whole, WordPress (either .com or .org) is not as easy to use as the other options in this roundup, but if blogging and site transferability are of key importance and you don't mind digging into its weeds a bit, you should consider the platform. Furthermore, the ability to use WordPress is a valuable skill, as some estimates say that WordPress powers 30 percent of the internet.

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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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While we do have strong programming experience and know what a good website builder should be able to do, we also took the experiences of real users into account. By reading and evaluating the thoughts and opinions of other users—what they liked about the website builders and what they struggled with—we were able to provide you with more detail about these companies.

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I have tested all the above, I found that the best editor by far is Wix. They have elements that others don’t have such as being able to use your own fonts and delete elements in templates. However their customer support is really bad. They refer you to their on line tutorials and make it incredibly difficult to actually speak to them when you need to. I had something random happen that was not addressed In their online help section. It took a lot of searching to work out how to submit a help ticket. There is no chat and although they say you can call them, that number is not there. When I finally found how to submit a support ticket, which was buried, they did not reply to it. My account showed I had submitted a ticket but they just didn’t deal with it. I also read many other people complaining about the same thing. Its a real shame. Because its so important to get support, as in my case the random technical error meant I had to take the site down, and they just didn’t get back to me. I found a close second to be My website builder, and they provide chat support.

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I am currently looking at setting up a blog for the area I specialise in. I am aware of wordpress.org but have been a bit daunted by the number of webhosts out there offering this and that. One particular issue is that I use macs and I was wondering whether bluehost is compatible with the mac, and whether there are any other extra steps I have to take when using a mac over windows. Would it be as simple as registering with a webhost then clicking one-step installation on a mac?

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It’s a solid website creation suite accompanied by a decent online store. They allow website creation from start to finish using their iOS and Android apps. Another positive thing is that email accounts are integrated right into the core product and quite affordable ($12 per year per inbox). All their templates are fully responsive and display well on desktop and mobile devices.
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.
For more than a decade, Jeffrey L. Wilson has penned gadget- and video game-related nerd-copy for a variety of publications, including 1UP, 2D-X, The Cask, Laptop, LifeStyler, Parenting, Sync, Wise Bread, and WWE. He now brings his knowledge and skillset to PCMag as Senior Analyst. When he isn't staring at a monitor (or two) and churning out web... See Full Bio
Responsive design is a popular web design strategy used by some of these site builders. This approach reformats the same webpage content to fit different screens. But in terms of SEO (search engine optimization), the search engines only care about whether a site displays suitably on mobile screen sizes. Both Bing and Google have pages where you can enter your URL to see if your site plays on mobile acceptably.
Site123 has everything you need – excellent uptime, decent speed, competent customer support, and really good pricing options. The usability is good enough to start with for novices. More experienced users will find plenty to tinker with as well. The intuitive editor is easy to use and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the quality of their templates.
The research for this site is exhaustive and, for the most part, understandable. Some of the detail was a bit over my head, but for those who are seriously seeking the right website builder for their needs, this is an unbeatable resource. I am wondering why WordPress is not mentioned, but perhaps it is not considered a website builder. Congratulations on a job well done, providing valuable information on a subject that often seems too complex to unravel.
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.
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.

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.


Most website viewers visit via a mobile device, just as you may be reading these very words from the tiny shiny screen of your smartphone. This is why it’s so important that the user experience of your site—especially for the mobile visitors—is absolutely top notch. It should at least be as good as the regular website itself. We examined technology used in themes and the functionality of the mobile editor, as well as loading speed on mobile devices.


We go through all the SEO features available in the builder and review them one by one. From meta description options to the URL editable features to SEO plugin-compatible alternatives, we make sure we reveal how SEO friendly the software really is. If you want to find the website builder that will take you to the number one ranking in Google, we’ve got you covered!

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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.

What they should improve: the aforementioned SEO flaws are pretty disappointing for a product at this price. There is no backup and restore feature, which, again, at this price point should be a given. It’s not the easiest website builder to use, other alternatives are better suited for beginners. Finally, when we tested their page speed (also an important SEO factor), it wasn’t exactly impressive. A Wix-like app store for external applications would be desirable as well.


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?


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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.

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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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But they seriously fall short with their support. We have had so many awful experiences with them. If you’re really really lucky you can connect to their live support under 5 minutes and talk with a good and helpful support representative. Unfortunately, in most cases, you’re going to be on the waiting list for 30+ minutes and get a copy-paste unuseful answers and even upsells to fix your problems.

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.

Hi Chad, Thanks for the great feedback I'm so glad you found it interesting! Depending on the level, scale and budget of your business, I would recommend using Wix. The Wix Bookings App means you can take bookings 24/7, accept secure payments, offer appointments, classes, workshops etc., sync with your Google Calendar, send out auto-reminder emails to clients, and manage your business right from your phone with the Wix Mobile App. You can use Wix Bookings for free, but you will need to sign up to a Business Premium Plan to accept payments through your site, and unlock other advanced features. The cheapest Business plan is the Business Basic plan at $20 a month. You can read our Wix Pricing Review for a full look at each plan. If you wanted a more ecommerce focused builder, check out Shopify or BigCommerce. Both are specialized ecommerce builders which have powerful tools to grow and support your business. While they are more focused on physical goods, you can download apps and use their in-built features to sell services and digital goods. You can read our in-depth reviews on each by following the links. Hope that helps and best of luck with the business, Lucy
You can get started for roughly $10 per month for shared or WordPress hosting if your website doesn't require much server horsepower. As your business expands, however, your website may need greater horsepower. That's when you should look into cloud, VPS and dedicated hosting. These levels of services are for when you really need a web host that offers lots of storage, a significant amount of month data transfers, and numerous email accounts.

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