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!

So very thankful to find this article!! I have been using Blogger for two weeks and am finding it so plain and am ready to upgrade to a real site. It is possible to move an existing Blogger site to WordPress? I also already have a domain purchased from Google, would I need to purchase a new one when I sign up for a hosting site? I’m so ready to go with a more professional looking blog that doesn’t show up as a blogspot URL. Thank you again….

"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."

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With more than 11 million sites built on IM Creator, it's a popular option for a few reasons: there's an easy point-and-click interface, an extensive range of templates and images, and unlimited web hosting and domain services. Plus, the platform is scalable, and you can have either single or multipage layouts. This builder is unique for its built-in ecommerce tools, and offers SEO and Google Analytics to fully optimize your site for search engines.

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SITE123 free website builder is designed to suit anyone. You don’t need to have any design skills or purchase any design software whatsoever. Our web builder provides a range of ready-made styles and layouts that allow you to set up a totally professional website in mere minutes. What you need to do is upload your contents and pick the appropriate mockup for each tool from the offered variety. All styles and layouts are easily replaceable at any given moment.
Wow! I cannot even begin to thank you for this article. I spent hours today with a site that was supposed to be easy to use. Their tutorials didn’t actually match the user experience, the tech support was haughty, and it was NOT beginner friendly. After reading your review I accomplished more in 45 minutes with Sitebuilder than I did in 4 hours! Meanwhile, still trying to figure out how to cancel my web.com account for an old site.
Site123 has everything you need – excellent uptime, decent speed, competent customer support, and really good pricing options. The usability is good enough to start with for novices. More experienced users will find plenty to tinker with as well. The intuitive editor is easy to use and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the quality of their templates.
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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Well, it depends on what you are looking for. It’s great that they hardly have any restrictions on the free plan in terms of features and templates. On desktop computers, they place a pretty visible ad at the top of your website that is sticky (i.e. it will stay even when you start scrolling the page). Fortunately, on mobile phones, it far less visible and also not sticky. To use your own custom domain name, you’ll need the Combo plan at least, which is $11 per month.

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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.

"I am really impressed with the work put into creating Mobirise. I love the ease with which Websites can be built in a few minutes using this awesome product. I like the intuitive drag and drop process and the mobile-first approach. I love this product, but it seems incapable of creating corporate Websites, because of the simple designs. Generally, I want to commend you for your work. The product is awesome. With more block options, increased flexibility, Mobirise would favorably compete with the top free website builders - wix, weebly, squarespace. I'll be standing by. Your product has great potential. Keep working." 
What we like: The most exciting feature about Webnode is that they offer an easy way to create multilingual sites; very few website builders have a feature like that. We also like their designs, which are modern and responsive – so they automatically look good on all devices. Their SEO features are also solid and have everything that most sites will need.
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.
If you're ready to get going, this guide will introduce you to the services and software that can get you started building your own website, even if you have no experience. Keep in mind, none of these tools will give you an idea for a winning website—that's on you. They also won't make you a web designer, a job that's distinct from building a site. Still, these services and software will ease some of the headaches that come from a lack of extensive expertise in CSS, FTP, HTML, and PHP.
Yahoo's Tumblr is another incredibly popular blog platform that lends itself to shorter, more visual posts. You can, however, find themes that give your Tumblr site a more traditional website's look and feel. Google's Blogger features tight integration with Google Adsense, so making extra pocket change is a snap. Newer blogging services, such as Anchor, Feather, and Medium, stress writing and publishing more than intricate design, but they're incredibly simple to update.

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.).

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.

Well, it depends on what you are looking for. It’s great that they hardly have any restrictions on the free plan in terms of features and templates. On desktop computers, they place a pretty visible ad at the top of your website that is sticky (i.e. it will stay even when you start scrolling the page). Fortunately, on mobile phones, it far less visible and also not sticky. To use your own custom domain name, you’ll need the Combo plan at least, which is $11 per month.
I am currently looking at setting up a blog for the area I specialise in. I am aware of wordpress.org but have been a bit daunted by the number of webhosts out there offering this and that. One particular issue is that I use macs and I was wondering whether bluehost is compatible with the mac, and whether there are any other extra steps I have to take when using a mac over windows. Would it be as simple as registering with a webhost then clicking one-step installation on a mac?

I started WebsiteToolTester to help beginners just like you (and me!) find an easy way to create your own website. Funnily enough, for a very long time, we used the Webnode website builder to run this site. But when it grew to more than 200,000 monthly visitors and 7 different languages – bigger than any website builder could support – we made the switch to WordPress. 

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I think you should consider mentioning some of the options available for the open source version of WordPress (WordPress.org). The most notable option we have now I think is the page builder plugin Elementor from Pojo. The free version has tons of widgets one could use to build a responsive website for free without touching a line of code. I believe the space in WordPress.org is no longer for just for Developers. Anyone in the beginner stage can build sites on WordPress with much more flexibility than anything like WIX could ever offer since they are a closed platform. Mathew from LaunchParty has provided an amazing FREE course that will guide you how to build amazing sites with WordPress and Elementor. And he even provides you with amazing Elementor templates that you can use. Lastly, please note that not every thing that is meant to be sustainable is truly free. Last time I checked, in order to have a proper website with WIX, it was only free when you use their domain extension. If you ever wanted to remove WIX from the domain name, then you would have to pay for that. On the other hand, WordPress.org is open source, meaning free. But hosting is not, neither is your own domain name. There are many WordPress plugins that are worth paying for as well, including Elementor as well as others that will handle other important features such security.
Sure, there are more advanced hosting topics to consider, such as Domain Name Servers and multi-cloud connectivity, but this guide is meant to introduce you to the basics. Whether you decide to do build a website yourself or hire coding experts to do the dirty work is up to you. But for now, rest easy knowing you have the information to get started in taking your business online.

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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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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?

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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.
What about Webydo? I’ve seen other blogs that recommend them as cloud based website software, but it doesn’t even seem to make your list. Could you at least write a review to help us understand why it isn’t included in this list. I’ve heard very good things about it. It is a bit expensive, but I’m sure that you can justify/disprove that price very easily.
If you don't have a design already in place and think templates are too limited, consider Adobe Muse CC. This unique little program concentrates on letting you design. Templates are handy, embeddable web fonts are great, and the sitemap view may be the best way to get an overall feel for what your site will have. Export it to HTML and you're ready for upload. It's part of the Creative Cloud bundle and also available individually for $14.99 a month with a yearly plan.
WordPress.com is not to be confused with its bigger brother WordPress.org (read our beginners’ guide). The latter is fantastic if you are not scared of diving into technical terrain, but surprisingly, the .com version is not that much easier to use and has a lot of restrictions. Having said that, if all you want is just to create a blog, WordPress.com could be a great solution for you. For a website, though, we find there are better solutions. Paid plans start at $5 per month.

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!!

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Hi Jamie. I am not a web developer (yet) but I am aspiring to become one some day. I am using Django Framwork for the backend. But for the frontend , I am confused. Should I study HTML , CSS and javascript and then build a website (frontend) from scratch? Or should I not waste time , and just get a theme from wordpress? How much control over the look and feel of the website do we have, when we use these themes pre-tailored for us?
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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I think you should consider mentioning some of the options available for the open source version of WordPress (WordPress.org). The most notable option we have now I think is the page builder plugin Elementor from Pojo. The free version has tons of widgets one could use to build a responsive website for free without touching a line of code. I believe the space in WordPress.org is no longer for just for Developers. Anyone in the beginner stage can build sites on WordPress with much more flexibility than anything like WIX could ever offer since they are a closed platform. Mathew from LaunchParty has provided an amazing FREE course that will guide you how to build amazing sites with WordPress and Elementor. And he even provides you with amazing Elementor templates that you can use. Lastly, please note that not every thing that is meant to be sustainable is truly free. Last time I checked, in order to have a proper website with WIX, it was only free when you use their domain extension. If you ever wanted to remove WIX from the domain name, then you would have to pay for that. On the other hand, WordPress.org is open source, meaning free. But hosting is not, neither is your own domain name. There are many WordPress plugins that are worth paying for as well, including Elementor as well as others that will handle other important features such security.

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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?
First, let's discuss why you even need a webpage in this day of social media domination of the web. On a personal level, you wouldn't want to send prospective employers to your Facebook page, so a personal website makes more sense as an online, customized resume. Another reason worth consideration, for both personal and business sites, is that building your own site gives you endless design choices. You also have total control over products and services you may sell and how they're delivered.

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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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