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.

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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.

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? 

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You may be able to add colorful charts, attractive galleries, and fun videos to your site. But if it takes 30 seconds to load all that beautiful content, nobody will ever wait to see how amazing your page is. Would you as a customer wait that long? The loading speed is very important for your users/customers—and it is for us too—therefore, the website builder of your choice should be up to par in this category.
Web hosting is like paying rent for your website's virtual storefront, including the pages, images, documents, and other resources needed to display that site. Web hosting uses a web server, which is where you put those website resources so others can access them through the Web. You can build a fully functional website on your personal computer, but if you want other people to be able to see it, you will need to use a web host.
“Wow! I mean WOW. Stupid easy and brilliant website builder software. How did it take so long for this to be created. I have been out of Web Dev since 2010 so maybe just being away from it all impresses the hell out of me but you guys deserve a GOOD JOB! Award. I will pass on your name to all I know. Best of luck to you and I can not wait to see what is next.”
What they should improve: Their blogging system is missing some key features like tags or a native commenting system. If you are looking to create an online store, look elsewhere – their solution is pretty basic. Unlike Wix or Weebly they don’t have an app store; these can be really convenient as they let you install extensions that enhance your site’s capabilities.
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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Graphic design, like coding, is another skill that few are experts in. Website builders feature templates with modern styles and visually appealing designs that are tried and true. While they may follow a certain “look,” they often conform to the desires of contemporary web users. They also convey a level of professionalism that may be difficult to reproduce without a large investment.
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.

A domain name is the bit of the URL (the long address in your browser’s search bar) that identifies a web page — in this case your website. You can register them separately at sites like GoDaddy and Namecheap, but website builders offer to do it for you when you sign up with them. Most provide it for free (at least initially), while a handful charge a few extra bucks.

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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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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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Now that we’ve covered the main advantages of using a website builder vs. a web developer, and we’ve established which businesses website builders work best for, let’s discuss the process we follow when we rate and review website builders. If you’ve already decided to use a website builder, you can use this as a guide when evaluating website builders and choosing which one will suit you best.
WebNode is a popular choice for both personal brands and professionals -- it's easy to use, and you can create a website in a different language or on a different platform to suit your business's needs. WebNode supports ecommerce stores, and the sites are compatible with Android, Mac, and IOS devices. WebNode will provide statistics to track your site's success, free of charge, and even with the free version, you won't have ads. 

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! 

Doodlekit is one of the most unusable and unintuitive website builders on the market. Editing the limited number of templates is confusing and convoluted and taking advantage of the advertised features is more trouble than it’s worth. Despite my extensive history with site builders and web design, I found myself confused and frustrated when trying to make even the simplest changes on my Doodlekit website.
With WebStarts the drag and drop editor provides a true 'what you see is what you get' experience. You're empowered to create a unique website that conveys the value of your products and services. In addition, WebStarts is jam packed with powerful features that would cost extra with our competitors. All of this is backed up with live support, based right here in the USA. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is happy to help bring your website to completion.

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.


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.

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.
Hi there and thank you wor this fantastic WP resource. So much useful information. I have a question, though, I am not finding an answer anywhere but I’m sure you’d be able to point me in the right direction. I have a webpage that I had built with weebly time ago but I finally have time and wish to turn it into a more professional site and blog. I want to move to WP.
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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Just from these features it’s easy to see how it’s worth upgrading to unlock the best for your website. And the good news is, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg! Most basic plans start from around $5 a month. Moving from a free plan to a basic plan is a really affordable way of growing your site and adding these great features to maximise your online presence.

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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Before you can start building your home on the web, you need an address for it. Most of the site builders here can register a unique domain for you, and all can give you a web address using the provider's domain, for example, yourname.sitebuilder.com. Some include a custom domain name with their plans, usually requiring a year's commitment. The services also let you use a domain you've acquired from a third-party registrar such as pairNIC, but you usually must pay the site builder for that privilege.
One of the things that sets WordPress apart from its competitors is the large range of plugins available for download. There are currently over 40,000 plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory than can be installed in just a few seconds. In most cases, all you have to do is find a plugin you’d like to install, click “Install Now”, then click “Activate”.
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.

Although Yola has more than 270 themes for their customers to choose from, nearly all of these themes are outdated to the point of incompetence. Yola would have been a fantastic site builder if you were building a website back in 2008. However, in the modern world of web design with responsive themes, video backgrounds, and exceptionally complex interfaces, Yola simply cannot compete with any of the major site builders out there.


Hey thank you so much for this article! It was really helpful. I do have a question regarding what platform I should use for my business venture though. I currently have a premium plan with Wix that I use to promote myself as an artist/ performer. I have loved working with Wix, but I am starting a marketing business online and want something that allows me to build websites for other businesses quickly, and be able to do a broad range of things since I would be building for other people I would need that flexibility. Also does Wix or WordPress offer any sort of click funnel? Thank you and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Hi there and thank you wor this fantastic WP resource. So much useful information. I have a question, though, I am not finding an answer anywhere but I’m sure you’d be able to point me in the right direction. I have a webpage that I had built with weebly time ago but I finally have time and wish to turn it into a more professional site and blog. I want to move to WP.

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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.
"We needed a simple web site creation tool. We needed to quickly and easily get an attractive web site. We needed to do all of this without having to work through a “developer.” And, since 1995, I and millions of others have been living in frustration, because that tool has never, ever existed. Never. This tool is the holy grail, a flying unicorn… the loch ness monster… rare and amazing, and something nobody has ever actually seen."
How is 7.5 okay? I think that it’s a great score, especially when you take into consideration that it’s an averaged score of several hundred people’s opinion… Shopify and BigCommerce (I don’t agree that they should have the same score) are very good builders. Yes, they are only for stores, and there are different free website creators that might take their place due to them being free, but they do their job very well. It’s better to be a master at a trade, unlike the other builders – jack of all trades, master of none. 

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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.

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.
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?
Things to look as you vet hosts for ecommerce include drag-and-drop store builders, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) software for safeguarding financial transactions, and email marketing plug-ins, so that you don't have to work with an outside vendor to promote your business. There's nothing wrong per se with using an unconnected marketing service, but anything that adds convenience means more time to spend on the rest of your business. For more in-depth advice on getting started selling online, you should consider our story on the 6 Factors Companies Need to Consider When Choosing a Web Host.
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Although Yola has more than 270 themes for their customers to choose from, nearly all of these themes are outdated to the point of incompetence. Yola would have been a fantastic site builder if you were building a website back in 2008. However, in the modern world of web design with responsive themes, video backgrounds, and exceptionally complex interfaces, Yola simply cannot compete with any of the major site builders out there.
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.

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"I am very happy that you guys released this, not only it is a great idea it was executed properly. I will use this to build a basic AMP site for a customer. i looked at the video and demo sites and was very happy with what could be done. I would really like for Mobirise team to add more widgets to your free website design software. I am confident that you will be at the top of the market if you add more functionality without loosing intuitiveness! What makes products like this great is many features but so easy to use Thanks!"

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


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

Blogs are swell, but sometimes you need a simple place to park your persona on the internet for branding purposes. In this case, you can just get a nameplate site, or as we prefer to think of them, a personal webpage (rather than a multipage site). Instead of linking internally to your store or other pages of note as you would with a more traditional web page, a personal site usually has links that go elsewhere—to your social networks, wish lists, playlists, or whatever else is linkable.

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