Getting your own website used to require a lot of tech wizardry, such as knowledge of servers, HTML, FTP, site registrars, and web hosting services. Thankfully, we now live in the age of easy online site builders. The services included here let you make a well-designed, mobile-friendly site with minimal technical knowledge. They can even take a small or sole-proprietor business to profitability with buy links, online stores, and other money-making options.
Thanks, Robert. I guess it is what you get used to. I went to Weebly several years ago from both Yola and Wix. At the time they were the only one that could easily do drop down menus which was important to me. Also have found them very innovative and have rarely suffered any downtime. Their tech support is excellent. While their selection of templates may be limited, they work closely with another company, Baamboo Studios who produce impressive templates for their users.
The major player in the blog game is WordPress, a content management system (CMS) that powers millions of websites, including The New York Times, Quartz, and Variety. WordPress-powered sites are incredibly easy to set up, customize, and update—ideally on a daily basis. You aren't required to learn fancy-schmancy FTP tricks (though you can certainly use them if you like), and there are ridiculous numbers of free and paid WordPress themes and WordPress plug-ins to give your website a pretty face and vastly expanded functionality. Though WordPress dominates the blogging space, it isn't the only blogging CMS of note, however.

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About.me and Flavors.me are examples of nameplate services. You simply upload one big photograph as the background for your personal webpage, then artfully overlay information and links to create your digital nameplate. These free sites help you pull images from your social networks or from a hard drive, then provide the tools to make the text and links work unobtrusively, though it really behooves you to check out other personal pages for an idea of what works.

Templates provide a framework for your website — a coherent, attractive canvas for you to paint the content of your site onto. They’re how you can have a site that looks good without having to hire a designer. Templates dictate color scheme, what your homepage header and menu bar look like, and the content width on your site, so it’s essential to pick the right one.


Trouble is, and I’ve tried to navigate quite a few, but within minutes, as a complete Luddite – I get completely bogged down. I even managed to make a mess of the WordPress option. All I need is the most basic site with detail and a pic of my book. I don’t need a pay page and am happy just to direct people to Amazon etc. should they wish to purchase. Even writing this I feel sure you have covered everything I am asking here. But could you offer some suggestions on the best way forward? I should add here (and I know there would be options for me should money not be a problem) that unfortunately throwing a lot of money at this is (unfortunately) not an option.

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These days most people clearly prefer hosted website builders such as Wix, Weebly and Jimdo due to their added simplicity. You can edit your site from different computers, no matter if it’s a Mac or PC. If you absolutely want an installable website builder software, I would recommend you check out Mobirise. The basic version is free, you only pay if you purchase one of their premium designs or extensions.
I bought a condo in Puerto Vallarta this last year that I am wanting to make available to friends and family. I want to create a simple, yet attractive, website with photos, descriptions, local information and an availability calendar that I can keep updated. I don’t want to use one of the major vacation rental websites as I don’t want to open the property to the world. I have no experience at all in website design, however I’m a reasonably intelligent person. How reasonable is it that I would be able to create the website I am imagining using your tutorial, and would you still think WordPress is the best option for what I am envisioning?

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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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These days most people clearly prefer hosted website builders such as Wix, Weebly and Jimdo due to their added simplicity. You can edit your site from different computers, no matter if it’s a Mac or PC. If you absolutely want an installable website builder software, I would recommend you check out Mobirise. The basic version is free, you only pay if you purchase one of their premium designs or extensions. 

Templates provide a framework for your website — a coherent, attractive canvas for you to paint the content of your site onto. They’re how you can have a site that looks good without having to hire a designer. Templates dictate color scheme, what your homepage header and menu bar look like, and the content width on your site, so it’s essential to pick the right one.
We tried to quickly get some questions answered on their live chat. We logged on, and the estimated wait time was 35 minutes! Really? For “live” chat? By this point in time, we had already been able to research everything on their site to be able to answer our questions. But we didn’t want to give up just yet. When a rep finally connected, they immediately said, “To access your account we will need your 4 digit support PIN. Please provide your PIN with this secure form I am sending you.” But… what if I didn’t have an account? What if I was just looking to buy and had a few simple questions?
Copy-past customer support answers. For example, we tried asking how many users they have, how many template options, etc. Yet, they wouldn’t be transparent and answer anything, instead of responding with, “In our webtool support department we do not have access to information concerning how many clients we have.” Seems more like they just didn’t feel like finding the answer for us. And when we asked a few other standard questions, they would just give us a link for the answer. Not very professional, but at least they have a 24/7 live support.

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Their development speed is breathtaking, which also makes them the best website builder in our table. Hardly a month passes without Wix announcing a major new feature. Among them: Wix Bookings, a convenient self-service appointment booking system for your clients. Wix Restaurants, a (commission free) addon that lets your customers book tables, order food from you and check out your menus.

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Easy-to-understand analytics ensure you're able to see at a glance exactly how well your website is performing with all Gator Website Builder accounts. Simple social media tools allow you to add live feeds from Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook in order to stay engaged. You can add G Suite productivity tools to your domain, enabling Gmail, Docs, Slides, and more.
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.

For more than a decade, Jeffrey L. Wilson has penned gadget- and video game-related nerd-copy for a variety of publications, including 1UP, 2D-X, The Cask, Laptop, LifeStyler, Parenting, Sync, Wise Bread, and WWE. He now brings his knowledge and skillset to PCMag as Senior Analyst. When he isn't staring at a monitor (or two) and churning out web... See Full Bio

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.


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.
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!

Usually, we’re big advocates of hosted site builders that run in your web browser. But we do of course acknowledge that some of you are more comfortable with an installable Windows or Mac website software. Mobirise is such a program: you install it on your computer and within minutes you’ll be able to start dragging and dropping a free website together – even when you’re offline.
Using your domain name you can also get your very own email address (e.g. [email protected]). That’ll make a much more professional impression than an address from Gmail or Yahoo. This email address can be managed either through your website builder, domain provider or an external service. Most website builders work with G Suite these days. It’s a great service but it comes at a fairly high cost: $6 per email address.
Themes set the tone of your site. They can be a direct reflection of the owner: If you are a person of simple tastes you might choose a minimalist template, while larger personalities might prefer something with strong colors. You should always keep in mind, however, that a website should meet the level of professionalism of the content it hosts. You might want to think twice about using Comic Sans on a medical professional site, for example.
Weebly has some great things going for it in terms of price – its intuitive design, and high value per dollar offers. Sadly, when it comes time to actually build a website, Weebly falls awfully short compared to its competition. Their drag and drop website builder is really limited in its utility and forces you to adhere to pre-formatted templates strictly.

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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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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

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.

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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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.
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.
Let's face it, one of the things we like best about the web is looking at pictures. The site builders here all offer some degree of photo and gallery display. Some, like Gator, Squarespace, and Wix, also offer loads of stock photography for you to use. Some let you touch up images with editing tools such as cropping, brightness, and in some cases even Instagram-like filters. Others, such as Gator, Simvoly, and uKit offer no photo editing at all, aside from resizing and positioning.

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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.
Some web designers/developers like to install WordPress manually to get a custom install of the components they want and don’t want. Others will need to manually install because their web host does not have the “1-click-installation” capability. If this applies to you then you’ll need to have a quick read through of my Manual WordPress Set-Up Guide.
Webs.com is one of the only free website builders to have an integrated membership function. What is this? It basically means that your visitors can sign up to be members directly through Webs.com using their very own Members app, and you can view, manage, and interact with your members through your Webs.com dashboard (like your own control center). This is instead of bringing in a third party to manage your membership sign ups – for example having to install an external app, which can get complicated!

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Connect a custom domain: On a free plan your website address will look something like this: https://mysite.strikingly.com or https://joebloggs.wixsite.com/mysite. These web addresses can be long, confusing, and difficult to find if you’re a visitor searching for your site online. A custom domain allows you to choose a more personalized address, such as www.mysite.com which is a lot better for promoting a brand and getting found by potential visitors to your website! Even if you buy a new domain for your site or already own one that you want to transfer, you will need to be on a paid plan to actually connect and use it as the address for your website. Usually you can buy and connect your custom domain on the cheapest upgrade available, such as Weebly’s ‘Connect’ plan, so it’s an affordable option.

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