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.
To get your website up and running with Gator Website Builder, simply select one of our pre-built templates and drag and drop the elements you want to live on your website. If you want to have an eCommerce site or online store, Gator features built-in shopping cart functionality; simply add the shopping cart and products, and your site is ready to go!
On more than one occasions that we contacted their support (via email), we received an answer no earlier and no later than exactly 48h later. Also, it’s important to note that their social media channels have the latest updates in the middle of 2017. Considering these two factors it does awfully lot look like they have simply ditched the project and are barely serving their (yet) existing customers.
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.
You can sell products and services on your website if you have the Online Store plan. You’ll have an online store that will allow you to add products and services, set up different types of payment methods, and even specific types of shipping. Your store will be integrated into your website as a page. You can add featured products for your visitors to scroll through, make quick purchases using PayPal and Apple Pay and promote your store/products through coupons. You can also use the same type of email marketing that is included in the Business Plus plan to send email communications to your subscribers and customers about sales in your store, coupon offers and events. Establishing a strong online commerce can boost your current sales, especially if you have a brick-and-mortar store.
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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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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:
What we like: their eye for design. One of the biggest advantages is that there are hundreds of well-designed templates that you can use for free. Adapting them to your needs is super easy. And then there is the huge range of features. Thanks to their App Market you can easily add new features to your website (ex. a newsletter subscription, an events calendar, a forum etc.).
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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!
Hello. Just wondering why you didn’t include Shopify. It was recommended to me. But I haven’t tried it yet. I have tried WIX.COM and it was ok until I lost everything in my website and I could not get it back anymore. I am a novice in this field so it was really hard for me to lose everything. It seems like tech support is not very good either since it is hard to contact them.
Web Page Editors: Different web page editors will allow you to accomplish different things. HTML and CSS can be written in simple text editors, like Notepad, or they can use software like Adobe Dreamweaver to get some assistance with the pages you are creating. You may also decide to use a Content Management System, like WordPress, to build and power your website.
A website builder is an online content management system that enables users to plan and build their own websites without need for the advanced designing and technical coding skills that would otherwise be required to create one. One would generally feature a step-by-step guide that assists users with everything from choosing a domain name to selecting a template that suits their needs.
Larger businesses spend many thousands of dollars to get their custom-designed and programmed sites, but there's no need for smaller organizations and individuals to go to that kind of expense. For about $10 per month (or around $25 if you're selling products) and a few hours of your time, the services included here can help you create a unique, attractive website.
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Like Wix, Weebly has drag-and-drop functionality, as well as an integrated CMS solution, and hand-coded HTML files. The in-house editor comes with SEO tools and Google Analytics. With PayPal integration, an automatic tax calculator, digital gift cards, and more, Weebly is a smart choice for ecommerce businesses. And unlike some of its other free competitors, Weebly is ad-free.
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.
“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
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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"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."
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.
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
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If you’re trying to build a large ecommerce store, here’s how to setup WooCommerce and WordPress (one of the most popular ways to add products to your store). 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.
"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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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.
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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After all the work you put into it, I feel not a little stupid, in need to ask you anything else. The truth is I am a slightly long in the tooth septuagenarian with about as much nous as someone dropping in on a day trip from the fourteenth century. I want to promote (tell as many people as possible) about my new book, and hopefully, sell one or two.
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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.
Thank you for sharing with us. It's a great article. I start my website design business after being a Graphic Designer for 15 years. How much charge for website design is the first question with a lot of answers? I design websites in Squarespace. It's beautiful website templates and easy to use for a Graphic Designer. Its painless transition from print to web.
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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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.
None gets the job done better Editors' Choice award-winning Wix. It has a drag-and-drop interface, and all elements of the site are customizable. It doesn't cost a cent to get started with Wix, but you'll want to go premium, starting at $5 per month for a domain and scaling upward to $25 per month for unlimited monthly data transfers and 20GB of storage.
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
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.
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.
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?
“Squarespace is good for building a simple site, but not for something more serious/complex. I’m confident that Squarespace will keep improving just as they’ve done so far since 2004. All and all, Squarespace is a basic but versatile content-management system/website-building tool ideal for people who are not hard-core developers but want to create a functional, secure—and let’s not forget beautiful!” ―Pavan Kumar
Hi Emily, Thanks for your input! WordPress.com is a great option for blogging websites as it's what the platform is designed for. But, as you mentioned, there are easier options out there. WordPress.org is where you can really build powerful websites but the platform itself isn't really suitable for beginners. We definitely agree with you that the price is attractive either way though. Thanks for sharing and we're glad you've found a home online with WordPress! Charlie
We check to see if you can add additional features to your site or store! We make sure to review the website builder’s app—or, if that’s not available, at least the plugins compatible with the tool—to see how personalized your final site can actually be. If you are going to build a website, you’ve got to make sure to use software that lets you do it your way!
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.