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.
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All this comes at a price: Duda is not exactly cheap. The lowest plan (Basic starts at $14.25 per month and doesn’t include a domain name or email accounts. However, they have another, unique payment option: Site for Life is a one-time fee of $299 for one website (Update: they seem to have removed this option, we’re still trying to get confirmation from Duda). If you are planning to keep your website for at least two years, this can make sense for you.
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.
All of the web services listed here have you start by choosing from a selection of templates for your site. The better ones, such as Duda, Gator, Squarespace, and Wix, use templates that automatically reformat your site for viewing on mobile devices. They also offer specifically targeted templates based on your site's purpose, such as for promoting a bakery's sales, getting gigs for a musician, or keeping wedding guests informed.
The list on the top of this page was compiled after an extensive review process. All of the good and bad components of each website builder were considered and used to create a grade system on a scale of ten. We even included a star rating system so that users can share their assessments with us and our readers. Although Wix has our most favorable score, it is not necessarily suited to every user (check Weebly also). We encourage you to read up and determine which one best suits your needs.
SITE123 is more basic compared to Wix and Weebly, but it’s still got a lot to offer! As well as the standard features seen across all three free builders, SITE123 allows you to create an ecommerce store on the free version! You can only accept offline payments (for example you enter a phone number or wire transfer details), but if you upgrade you can connect online methods such as PayPal.
I personally don’t think site builders will ever replace web designers/developers completely. Most site builders are targeted at small businesses and could never meet the demands required for larger businesses with all their complex requirements. I think Shopify plus is the only product trying to take on the larger CMS platforms right now (e.g. Magenta, Demandware) in the eCommerce space
Site123 claims to be “by far” the easiest website builder, and while their tool is certainly not too difficult to use, we’d say that there are even more user-friendly ones. What’s great about their builder is that they have some pretty good looking themes that are all responsive. Paid plans start at $9.80 per month and include a basic ecommerce store as well as an email marketing tool. Be prepared to receive multiple daily emails after signing up. Free websites show a little banner stripe at the bottom of the page.
In the end, you are likely to find one or two that can provide the services you need. At that point, you can compare pricing models and see which one works for you over the long-term. And, if it ever stops being the right solution for you, don’t be afraid to look into transitioning to a different format because, even though you signed up for a specific website builder today, that doesn’t mean you have to use it forever.
I’m using wix right now for my own personal blog. I know I don’t have my own domain name and the wix add is always on my website, however, the page can still be easily reached and I will be able to add basic content like article entries and videos. Products or merchandise and affiliate links could still also be used without having to pay a premium for a registered domain and hosting service. Pay feature may possibly be enabled as well, depending on how you set it up, so that no percentage would be deducted from sales through the site or from a sales widget.
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Some sources state that 25% of the websites using content systems are using WordPress. Although started purely for blogging, now you can create amazing websites for any vertical using pre-made themes and templates. The advantages of WP is a huge community (that works to improve the product), and large marketplaces to cater for plugins, designs, technical help and much more. The learning curve is not too steep, but possibilities are endless.
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….
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Hi Edith, thank you for commenting and updating us with your story. Website creation might sound difficult to some people, but come to think of it, it is really easy as pie. I know kids and elderly alike that have learned to use a website building software so quickly that it is just amazing. Producing multiple sites is than easy, even taking it a step further and starting services to build stores and web sites for others! Thank you for sharing Edith, Good Luck with all!
The research for this site is exhaustive and, for the most part, understandable. Some of the detail was a bit over my head, but for those who are seriously seeking the right website builder for their needs, this is an unbeatable resource. I am wondering why WordPress is not mentioned, but perhaps it is not considered a website builder. Congratulations on a job well done, providing valuable information on a subject that often seems too complex to unravel.
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Very nice of you to give us this understandable and detailed description of how to make a website. To be honest I haven´t started yet but I do have one question before that: is there a time frame of how long the website (letś say build through wordpress) will exist? i have built some blogs previously which experied at one point, the domain simply did not exist anymore. I am looking to build a website which will develop throughout time, ideally lifetime. thanks!
I have no experience with blogs other than what I read online. I would appreciate your help regarding a “shared” blog. A friend and I are considering contributing posts to the same blog. Is it allowed? …to “own” a blog together? If so, how would we do it; should we both follow the steps installing WordPress etc. and then one of us create it and the other just logs in with the username and password?
After all the work you put into it, I feel not a little stupid, in need to ask you anything else. The truth is I am a slightly long in the tooth septuagenarian with about as much nous as someone dropping in on a day trip from the fourteenth century. I want to promote (tell as many people as possible) about my new book, and hopefully, sell one or two.
Hi Ben, Thanks so much for the great feedback, so glad you enjoyed reading the article! Please do share it on if you think your friends will find it useful too. It's true Wix isn't for everybody, but it did do extremely well in our research (which is why it's our best all-round website builder)! WordPress is another great option and I'm glad you're happy with them - Bluehost is certainly a great choice of provider for your WordPress site! If you were looking at changing or setting up another site why not check out our comparison chart or our article on the best Wix alternatives? I've included the links in case you find them interesting. Thanks for reading, Lucy
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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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.
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Speaking of usability, website builders are also made to be extremely functional and usable by even novice users. An average website can be built in a matter of hours and changes can be made in minutes. Something that users often fail to keep in mind is that a website is never completed. It is always a work in progress that requires changes and edits and they give users the ability to make snap edits and changes.
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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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Think of templates as ‘clothes’ for your website. If you don’t like one set of clothes, just change to another one to give your website a completely different feel. And again, don’t rush into it. Choose different templates, browse them, see if they fit. The whole point of templates is choice, so dive in and find one that feels right for what you want to achieve.
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.
You can even go beyond the search engine and find out what users are searching for when on your site, what they’re clicking on when they reach specific pages, and what your most popular (and least popular content) is. This can be especially powerful for eCommerce shops, but is also relevant to blogs. Pages that don’t perform well can be expanded upon and improved to meet user needs and expectations.
The best place to find themes is through WordPress’s own Theme Directory. Search for the types of themes you’d be interested in. If you’re setting up a newspaper search ‘newspaper’, if you need a site for your café search ‘cafe’. There’ll be dozens, if not hundreds, of contenders. Clicking on a theme takes you to its own page where you can see user reviews and preview the theme in action.
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
"As someone who came to web design from graphic design I work visually & use WYSIWYG web builders with some limited code knowledge - enough to do some minor editing, insert code into head/body etc but that's about it. However the spectre of responsive web design has been weighing on my mind of late, even though I can & do create dedicated mobile pages it is a lot more work, although I do prefer the look of dedicated pages as responsive tend to be quite plain & all the same. But I know having a responsive option would be a good thing to be able to offer if I get clients that want it. Your Mobirise is the first responsive web builder I have seen that is actually easy so importantly - intuitive!! Thanks!"
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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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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Got products to sell? Online Store has you covered. Create a sleek-looking online store, sell on marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy, track inventory in one place, choose from flexible shipping and payment options, even let customers book appointments online. Whether you sell products, services or digital content, GoCentral Online Store has everything you need to successfully sell online.
"Enormous potential with this product, it's just what I've been looking for. I've looked at all the online website builders and they are mostly monthly subscription or a bit complicated to use and will take me quite some time. Your program Mobirise looks like it will so easy to use. Great work everyone involved in the development of Mobirise page creator, and perfect timing with the new Google Responsive rules in mobile search."
Gator Website Builder has more than 200 templates that are professionally designed and available for free. And yes, all of them are mobile design compatible. You don't need to do anything to activate the mobile design. Gator does allow you to edit the content in your mobile version without affecting the desktop version. Editing content on the mobile version can be handy if you have special mobile-only sales or if you want to optimize the experience people have on their phone.