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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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?

Where they should improve: The free wireframe and blank themes aren’t very exciting if you are not a designer. Other templates are between $49-79 (one off), but it looks like the first template is on the house. The editor is very overwhelming and reminds us of Photoshop. No surprise here that they list NASA as one of their customers. And there is no SSL option for free sites.
I want to have my website to promote my Tuition Classes. I would also like to build this website though i have no technical expertise. Should i just blindly go in for WordPress.com ? I am also confused with this WordPress.org. Which one should i go for ? Further once the site is up, should i need to promote the site on the internet/on google and what will the associated costs to setup and also the annual maintenance costs ?

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You can make a website for free, but there are catches. Free accounts on website builders hold a lot of important features back. You can’t use custom domains, and your free site will have ads for that website builder. If you’re looking to learn more about website building then the free options are worth a look. However, if you want a professional, feature-rich website you’re going to have to pay at least a few dollars a month.

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In all GoCentral Website Builder plans any data transmitted from your site will be encrypted using a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. Your SSL will establish an encrypted link between your web server and the browser of the person visiting your site. This means that all data will be kept private; which is important if you want visitors to your site to be safe. If you want to sell products or services in your store, you will want to have a SSL since it protects credit card and bank numbers from being intercepted by hackers.

That’s a really common question and the answer is… well, it depends. Please keep in mind that in order to work with a developer you’ll have to be prepared to have a budget of at least $1.500 and that’s the low end. For any changes and further developments, you’ll pay your developer’s hourly rate. Then there is the ongoing hosting as well as domain costs (which will be another $100 per year more or less).

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This will ensure that data submitted through a contact form, for example, is safe and can’t be intercepted. This feature is usually included for free with all major website builder companies. From the tools we tested, only Mozello and Strikingly don’t secure their free sites by default. When SSL isn’t active, it will look like this to your visitors:
If those template customizations don’t look like enough for you (though if you’re building your first website, they will be), you might want to think about building your website on an open source platform like WordPress.org. You will get more flexibility, but if you’re not a coder, learning WordPress takes a lot of time — especially compared to drag-and-drop builders.

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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!

A (once) hugely popular free website builder that has constantly been losing market share to the competition. They feature a simple editor with plenty of themes. But the big issue with this product is that it hasn’t received a major update since 2012. And it shows. Everything (editor, themes, features) seems pretty outdated and on top of that they limit the free plan to 5 individual pages.

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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BigCommerce comes with a 15-day free trial for all plans. Their basic plans at $29.95 per month which comes with all the essential features that you will need. You can upgrade to the plus plan which costs $79.95 per month for additional conversion optimization features. Their pro plan costs $249.95 per month which has all the advanced features you may need.
GoCentral is a website product that lets you create a website that fits your personal or business needs, regardless of your skill set. You no longer have to choose between a website or an online store – now you can have both. Whether you want an online store, a pop-up site or a professional website to attract new customers, you get to choose how simple or dynamic you want your site to be. Just pick a design and go create your website with GoCentral.

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You can even go beyond the search engine and find out what users are searching for when on your site, what they’re clicking on when they reach specific pages, and what your most popular (and least popular content) is. This can be especially powerful for eCommerce shops, but is also relevant to blogs. Pages that don’t perform well can be expanded upon and improved to meet user needs and expectations.

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.
"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."
For our WordPress sites, we pay $100 per hour to a capable developer to help us out from time to time (after building websites since 2010, we still need to pay a WordPress specialist $100 per hour for some tasks).  But it wasn’t until we were quite knowledgeable about WordPress did we have the capability to determine if a WordPress developer was good or not.
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.
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.
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.

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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.
Why wasn’t 1and1’s in there? the were rated 31 by SMB trust & Consumer Reports. I love mine. The have loads of templates, & comes with literally everything. SSL Cert, 200 emails, SEO tool, Newsletter tool,Numerous payment and delivery methods, Site Analytics, mobile optimized all for less than $15 a month. 3 other things I love are they the have 24/7 US hosted Tech support, they don’t post any ads on my site and the don’t take a penny when i sell items!!
"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."
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.
This Latvian company is one of the smaller players worldwide. What strikes us about Mozello is that they allow you to create a multilingual website for free – something you won’t get anywhere else. The range of features includes a blog, an online store and decent SEO options. Fortunately, the advertisement is just a link in the footer that most of your visitors won’t even notice. 500MB of free storage is included and should be enough for most of us.
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.
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