Maybe just like you, at first we didn't have a darn clue about how to build a website, nevermind write half a line of code if our life depended on it! We wanted to build a website to start a side business, and felt overwhelmed, confused & scared about how to actually do it, which builder to use, and making wrong decisions. After years of trials & errors using different website builders, we're here to share our experiences with you.

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.

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I’m new at this and not yet ready to launch a website but want to secure a domain name. I’m wondering if I can purchase the domain name and just park it? If so, what does that actually mean? Does the web host put it up online or just put it aside for me until I’m ready to build the web-site? If they do put it up online, how visible is it and do they put any content such as their info or advertising on it; or would I be able to put up something that would say something on it which shows it will be coming soon?

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If you're on a Mac however, there's another option: RapidWeaver. This WYSIWYG webpage editor has full code access and FTP support for uploading pages. There are plenty of built-in templates to get started, all for the one-time price of $99.99. On Windows there are numerous choices. Xara Web Designer 365, for example, starts at $49.99 and promises you don't need to know HTML or Javascript to create sites based on the company's templates.
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.
"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’ve always been curious about building my own website for personal use. I see commercials and banners saying how “THEY” are ‘free’ or ‘are easy to use’ or ‘best web builder around’, etc, etc. Not knowing who to believe, I, like many others, used the best resource that money can buy… i Googled! Your site was one of the links that I decided to explore and was impressed off the back. I liked your unbiased thoughts and personal 10+ experience in the field so you know what you’re talking about. So thank you for making our research, any potential pitfalls, future headache, possible regrets that we could’ve suffered by making the the selfless sacrifice by exploring these website building companies for the masses.


Got products to sell? Online Store has you covered. Create a sleek-looking online store, sell on marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy, track inventory in one place, choose from flexible shipping and payment options, even let customers book appointments online. Whether you sell products, services or digital content, GoCentral Online Store has everything you need to successfully sell online.

Hi Jamie. I am not a web developer (yet) but I am aspiring to become one some day. I am using Django Framwork for the backend. But for the frontend , I am confused. Should I study HTML , CSS and javascript and then build a website (frontend) from scratch? Or should I not waste time , and just get a theme from wordpress? How much control over the look and feel of the website do we have, when we use these themes pre-tailored for us?
Arguably one of the most flexible and easy-to-use builders, Site123 lets you customize anything and offers a one-click installation wizard with graphics and templates. Site123 stands out as particularly helpful with its free images library, professional fonts to add visual elements to your site, and creative DIY plans for creating multiple pages (which are unlimited). Plus, since it offers web hosting domain registration, 500 MB storage space, Google Analytics, and is ad-free, you won't feel pressured to switch to a paid plan.
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.
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.

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.

Strikingly has its focus on one-page layouts. This can be especially interesting if you want to create a landing page, say for event registrations. Their responsive designs are indeed striking (no pun intended) and look great on mobile devices. You can either start with their ad-sponsored free plan or upgrade to the Limited ($8) or Pro plan ($16 per month). Limited also includes a 5-product online store, whereas PRO increases this limit to 300 products.
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.

Google Analytics is one of the most popular tools for tracking how people view your site. The Google Analytics Dashboard connects your WordPress site to Google for proper tracking. It also displays your traffic in your admin panel of WordPress in real-time. It's very useful if you want to plan content strategies or just see how people are accessing your content.
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.
After you've built a site on Webflow, you will need to transfer it to a content management system. There are some features, like drag-and-drop widgets for adding social components, maps, and videos, that don't require coding knowledge. But if you want the full benefits of Webflow, you'll need to know HTML or CSS. There's a limited set of themes, a responsive interface, and your Webflow site can be customized for desktop, tablets, or smartphones.
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.
The strict responsive approach of Simvoly, uKit, and Weeby means you get no control over the mobile-only view. Gator and Wix, by contrast, offers a mobile-site preview and lets you make customizations that only apply to mobile viewing. For example, you may want a splash page to welcome mobile viewers, or you may want to leave out an element that doesn't work well on the smaller screens.

Wix supplies built-in Google Analytics to monitor your site, and even offers additional apps for individual preferences. If you want, Wix can even design your site for you. The biggest downside of Wix's free version is it doesn't come ad-free, and each page of your site will have a prominent Wix ad. Ad-free is only an option if you pay for the premium version.


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.
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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Hello Lyubov, Thanks for your comment! Wow, that's great to hear - it sounds like you've got some fantastic experience to bring to your clients. Yes, it's a question that could go on and on isn't it! I'm so glad you find Squarespace so enjoyable - I agree, it's a stunning website builder with some really high quality tools. Sounds perfect for your business! Thanks so much for reading and for sharing your insight with us, Best, Lucy

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.
If you're ready to get going, this guide will introduce you to the services and software that can get you started building your own website, even if you have no experience. Keep in mind, none of these tools will give you an idea for a winning website—that's on you. They also won't make you a web designer, a job that's distinct from building a site. Still, these services and software will ease some of the headaches that come from a lack of extensive expertise in CSS, FTP, HTML, and PHP.

If you’re trying to build a large ecommerce store, one of the most popular ways to set up your store is with WooCommerce (here’s how to setup WooCommerce and WordPress). 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.


Because today, after 4years and half of development, well, I can code in C/C++ (advanced programs), .NET (WPF, UWP, Xamarin), Java (Softwares, Android), Go (API, WS) but I never did any website or webapp, so I would like to get into it. I feel like today it’s an important part so why not. But yeah, I feel like WordPress is high-level and I’m more a low-level dev, so what would be the best way to start or just the best approach overall?

“I’ve had a couple sites with Weebly (2 free sites and one pro site) almost since Weebly’s beginning. I won’t change because the support is top of the line when I can’t figure things out, but I have to say for a technologically challenged person like me the whole thing is exceedingly easy to figure out and to use. There are very simple tutorials for whatever is not obvious and simple tutorials that explain the updates. Thanks Weebly for these years of ease of website building.” ―Yonge Charlotte

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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.
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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If you're ready to get going, this guide will introduce you to the services and software that can get you started building your own website, even if you have no experience. Keep in mind, none of these tools will give you an idea for a winning website—that's on you. They also won't make you a web designer, a job that's distinct from building a site. Still, these services and software will ease some of the headaches that come from a lack of extensive expertise in CSS, FTP, HTML, and PHP.
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!

Eric narrowly averted a career in food service when he began in tech publishing at Ziff-Davis over 25 years ago. He was on the founding staff of Windows Sources, FamilyPC, and Access Internet Magazine (all defunct, and it's not his fault). He's the author of two novels, BETA TEST ("an unusually lighthearted apocalyptic tale"--Publishers' Weekly) an... See Full Bio

Although people tend to find your site through a branded search in Google, it’s still important to make your domain easy to spell/type out. If it requires a lot of effort to type correctly, due to trying to spell it, the length or the use of un-memorable words or sounds, you’ve probably kissed goodbye to a good portion of your branding and marketing value.

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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.

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Weebly is a great software. The high rating says that other people are also satisfied with it which is always nice. I have a free account there and I like creating websites with it. I’m still considering upgrading to a premium package. However, I’m still not sure how I’ll create my site – I might use a blank template. About WordPress and other CMS options, I think that browsing through the hundreds, upon thousands of available themes could is very time consuming, and results in failure of finding the right theme for a certain subject, which leads to confusion. Getting started with a service just makes you take action, it surely helped me.
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?
Remove ads: As you know, on free plans your website builder will advertise on your site. Whether this is through a subtle banner or an annoying pop-up, this can ruin your professional image if you’re promoting your own brand or running a business. On paid plans, such as Wix’s Combo plan, these adverts are removed, leaving your website clear of any distractions. This is similar to using the free version of Spotify compared to having a Premium account – you can still listen to music on both, but on the free plan you’re interrupted with adverts!
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.
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.
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