This tutorial is designed to help beginners get started on their own so WordPress and a pre made theme are a great way to dive in and build a website from scratch. You can of course design your own WordPress theme or pick up a premium theme such as Bridge, Divi or X-Theme from Themeforest which you can customise a fair bit. I have a post on fronted frameworks too if that helps you.
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.
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.
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.
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Accept online payments/set up an online store: On some builders like SITE123 and Strikingly, you can create an online store on the free plan, and sell one or two items, but to sell any more you have to upgrade. On some you can create a store, but you must be on a paid plan to actually accept payments through your website, (like Wix). Others won’t let you create a store at all unless you’re paying, such as Weebly. So it varies, but one thing remains the same: in order to have a successful and scalable online store you will need to upgrade to a paid plan sooner or later. Once you’re on a paid plan you can unlock features such as connecting different payment types, (for example PayPal, credit/debit cards etc), get rid of transaction fees, track and manage your inventory, and more!
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WordPress is a big name when it comes to creating websites. But you should know that WordPress.com, which is linked to in the table above, is not what most people are talking about when they mention WordPress. What most internet-savvy people mean by the term WordPress is the free, open-source blogging platform that comes from WordPress.org. Using this requires you to find your own website hosting service. The WordPress.org software is such a popular site-building platform that many web hosting services even offer managed WordPress hosting plans. WordPress.com, on the other hand, is a service that deploys and hosts that software for you, so you don't have to go out and find your own hosting service.
Remove ads: As you know, on free plans your website builder will advertise on your site. Whether this is through a subtle banner or an annoying pop-up, this can ruin your professional image if you’re promoting your own brand or running a business. On paid plans, such as Wix’s Combo plan, these adverts are removed, leaving your website clear of any distractions. This is similar to using the free version of Spotify compared to having a Premium account – you can still listen to music on both, but on the free plan you’re interrupted with adverts!
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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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.
You can make a website for free, but there are catches. Free accounts on website builders hold a lot of important features back. You can’t use custom domains, and your free site will have ads for that website builder. If you’re looking to learn more about website building then the free options are worth a look. However, if you want a professional, feature-rich website you’re going to have to pay at least a few dollars a month.
The templates are high quality, but nobody wants to have a website which looks like another. While that might be hard to avoid with the number of websites on the internet (tens of billions), giving it your best will surely pay off. A quality theme is surely a great start for a website, but the extensive admin panel gives you a lot of creative freedom to express yourself in your website, whether it is a personal blog or an online store.
This will ensure that data submitted through a contact form, for example, is safe and can’t be intercepted. This feature is usually included for free with all major website builder companies. From the tools we tested, only Mozello and Strikingly don’t secure their free sites by default. When SSL isn’t active, it will look like this to your visitors:
Even if you don't sign up for those web hosts, you should look for services that offer similar features. You'll want a WYSIWYG editor that lets you adjust every page and add images, video, and social links. Plunking down a few extra bucks typically nets you robust ecommerce and search engine optimization (SEO) packages for improved Bing, Google, and Yahoo placement. Most advanced web hosting services include at least one domain name, free of charge, when you sign up.
Their templates look quite fresh and offer lots of functionality. The choice is limited to a handful of designs. Also, most of them are paid ones that will set you back $19-$39 (as a one-time payment). It’s also a pity we couldn’t find any blogging functionalities. Once you are happy with your result, you need to publish the site to your own web space. Of course, that’s a lot more complicated than with a hosted website builder as it requires you to set up a FTP connection and upload it to your own web space.
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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.
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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
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.
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.
Robert, while a very good review, the problem with yours and other reviews of design sites is they don’t account for growing businesses. What I mean is that they are fine if you are one- or two-person shop, but paying $5/month extra for every email quickly becomes expensive. if you grow to 10 employees and now are paying $50/month plus the cost of the website and domain hosting. Most of these sites provide either no email or very few emails (like one) as part of the plans. This is silly expense because you can get unlimited email addresses for virtually no added cost through any reputable domain hosting site, some of which also off free design sites. So, for those same 10 employees you can pay $3/month all-in with hosting including or $50/month just for the emails and more for domain and site hosting . Perhaps it would be helpful to author an article on this issue and suggest for people who want more than 1-2 email addresses to consider hosting elsewhere and, if they still want to use one of these content management design sites, point to the domain.
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.
Weebly is one of the largest site creators out there and hits the top spots in our ranking table. But since we are mainly looking at the free plans here, we have to judge our contestant with slightly different criteria. The free plan is where Weebly doesn’t shine quite as bright, mainly due to the very visible ad in the website’s footer that even sports a mouseover effect.
Then there are a few providers who offer only dated or unattractive layouts on their free plans, and keep the good designs for their paid plans. Also, free web page builders will restrict the number of pages you can build and keep their most advanced features for paying customers. Webstarts, for example, even blocks your visitors from seeing a mobile-optimized view when accessing the site via a smartphone.
Who doesn’t know GoDaddy? It’s one of the biggest hosting companies around and, of course, they also offer their own website builder. As stated before, their editor reminds us a bit of Site123 but it’s maybe even a bit easier to use. It’s great that they offer an SEO Wizard that will help you set up the basics for more visibility on Google. Pricing starts at $5.99 per month, which makes them one of the more affordable providers. Strangely, the domain name is not included in this price even though they are one of the largest domain registrars worldwide.
Great review, Robert! I was wondering what’s your opinion about SitePad website builder? I’m thinking of creating a website for my restaurant and I saw that this website builder is included in the web hosting plans by BGOcloud, which I will opt for. Have you tried SitePad? If yes, can you say whether it is relatively easy-to-use? Thanks in advance!