The latest fashion in website building are intelligent assistants. Bookmark, Wix ADI and, to a lesser extent, Jimdo Dolphin, all promise to use some kind of magic formula to get your website right with the first draft. Using Bookmark’s AiDA assistant we were left wondering where the intelligent assistant should get the information of what to put on your website. All you enter is your business name and the industry. The outcome was not terrible but it’s also not better than a website created without an assistant.
You have probably heard about the Wix web builder, when the company advertised their product during the 2015 SuperBowl games. As a publilcy traded company and market leaders, they aggressively advertise their product, neglecting the fact the the main product is free of charge. If the name Weebly rings a bell, it could be the fact that Tim Ferris, publisher of several best selling books and a top tier consultant recommends it with passion, stating it is one of the top website builders available, helping him build a fully functional web site in less than 2 hours. The rest are widely known as well, may it be for Ecommerce uses, or being a leading internet services company like Web, which is publicly traded at the NASDAQ stock exchange.
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You know what they say—there’s a match for everyone. What may work for, let’s say, an ecommerce site may not be the ideal option for a blog or portfolio. And we want to emphasize that in this section. Our final goal is to make your decision and even your learning process for a website builder easier, faster, more fun, and smoother overall. We work hard to provide you with an in-depth review and, ultimately, an unbiased overview of the website building software that best suits your needs and goals.
What we liked: It’s cool that both their website builder and WordPress are supported for website creation. You can actually connect a domain name you purchased elsewhere with the free version. They have almost 200 templates to choose from and they are categorized by industry. Although their templates aren’t responsive, you can create dedicated versions of your site that will adapt to desktops, tablets and mobiles. Interestingly, they offer a way to easily create multilingual sites. And if you are a backup paranoid, be at rest: you’ll be able to download backups and even restore them.
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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They are also currently running a massive 50% discount. So if you purchase a 12 or 24-month plan, you’ll not only get a free domain for 1 year, but a lot of savings, too. For example, we paid $143.76 for two full years. The $16 domain was free as well. Just keep in mind that renewal prices will adjust back to the normal rate. That means you’ll often lose the initial discount. You’ll notice below that pretty much all website builders do this. Therefore, try to lock in a longer term if possible to save the most.
Many of the top website builders support free trial options for potential customers. Some even allow a site to remain free, though with limited function and heavy branding. So, if you aren’t sure which platform is right for you, then consider starting trials with more than one. This allows you to experience the website builders simultaneously and can make a direct comparison easier. Then, as you find that certain website builders don’t meet your needs, simply remove them from contention.
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.
On top of that, there are two areas where they manage to outshine their competitors: for once, you can create multilingual websites with it (an area that barely any site builders masters). Plus, they also offer what they call “website personalization tools”. Using them you can show fully customized content to your visitors, for example, based on their location or the time of the day. A very powerful feature!
While the the best of them offer surprising amounts of flexibility, they also impose stringent enough restrictions to page design that you shouldn't be able to create a really bad looking site using one of these services. Typically you can get a Mysite.servicename.com style-url with no commerce abilities for free from one of these services; you have to pay extra for a better URL and the ability to sell. One issue to consider is that if you eventually outgrow one of these services, it can be hard to export your site to a full scale advanced web hosting like Dreamhost or Hostgator. If you know that's where you are eventually going, it may be better to skip the sitebuilder step.