Michael Muchmore is PC Magazine's lead analyst for software and web applications. A native New Yorker, he has at various times headed up PC Magazine's coverage of Web development, enterprise software, and display technologies. Michael cowrote one of the first overviews of web services for a general audience. Before that he worked on PC Magazine's S... See Full Bio
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.
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.
Where they should improve: The free wireframe and blank themes aren’t very exciting if you are not a designer. Other templates are between $49-79 (one off), but it looks like the first template is on the house. The editor is very overwhelming and reminds us of Photoshop. No surprise here that they list NASA as one of their customers. And there is no SSL option for free sites.
This is a massive plus of website builders compared to web developers. A web developer can cost between $300 and $1,000 for template customization alone, and a fully customized website built from scratch will often amount to thousands. Making your own website using a builder, meanwhile, allows you to get a fully functioning website up and running for less than the price of a coffee.

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As far as actually doing the nuts and bolts building and design of your site, you also have plenty of options. You can hire someone to design and code a website, or you can try your own hand. You can use an online service to create web pages, or build it offline using a desktop software tool. Or, if you're a coding dynamo, use a plain text editor to create a site from scratch. How you mix and match these decisions depends on your skills, time, budget, and gumption.
WordPress doesn’t have the most user-friendly layout design. For example, if you want to add large slideshow at the top of your page, you may need to add a plugin or custom code snippet (if the template doesn’t have a slideshow tool pre-built into the layout).  If you want to move some content around the page, you have to edit codes.  It felt like every time we wanted to make edits to the design, we had to pay our developer to help us, since we didn’t know how to code back then.
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.

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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.
"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!"

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Where they should improve: The free wireframe and blank themes aren’t very exciting if you are not a designer. Other templates are between $49-79 (one off), but it looks like the first template is on the house. The editor is very overwhelming and reminds us of Photoshop. No surprise here that they list NASA as one of their customers. And there is no SSL option for free sites.
I hear your pain. I know creating a website can be daunting, especially to someone who has never ventured into the online world, but let me assure you that it is really quite simple. If you don’t want to head down the road of building your own self hosted WordPress site, then I would suggest signing up to WordPress.com. This is the free version of WordPress where you can get your site up and running in no time and with no costs whatsoever. Sounds like you just need a no frills, no bells, no whistles type of website. If that’s the case then WordPress.com could be the option for you.

A website builder is an online content management system that enables users to plan and build their own websites without need for the advanced designing and technical coding skills that would otherwise be required to create one. One would generally feature a step-by-step guide that assists users with everything from choosing a domain name to selecting a template that suits their needs.


Topics: How to Create a Website How to Start a Blog Build an Online Store with Shopify How to Start an Online Store (with WooCommerce & WordPress) How to Register a Domain Name Customizing WordPress WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal WordPress.org vs WordPress.com Install Google Analytics in WordPress Add Contact Form in WordPress Best Website Builders Website Costs Articles

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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.
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.

As website builders become more sophisticated, they are also becoming more user-friendly. Often, one of the biggest fears a person has about investing in a website builder is not knowing how to create a website. Luckily, many of the top offerings in the category are simple to use. Some companies even offer included tutorials and step-by-step instructions to complete certain tasks.
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.
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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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. 

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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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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.

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.
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
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!

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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!

I consider myself tech savvy, well with everything up to this point anyway. I have zero coding or website building experience. The 1st & only one I’ve tried is Weebly, which was nothing but a waste if time for me. I named the pages I want on my website, but beyond that, couldn’t accomplish anything at all. Tried for about an hour. Couldn’t even figure out how to get our logo to show up properly anywhere on the website. So hopefully Wix will be more user friendly for me. Not a fan of Weebly, but I admit it could have a lot to do with my lack of knowledge & experience building websites.

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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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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.
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.
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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"I just wanted to tell you how much I love your product — after coding sites since 1999 — I can have a world class landing page or simple site up in minutes. I’m having a freaking blast using this product of yours! :-) I am a perfect user for Mobirise Simple Website Builder, as I am that entrepreneur, the guy needing to frequently put up great web pages and small sites for new ideas, products, events, etc. in the course of running my busy business. Coding dumdums like me all over the world will flock to Mobirise Free Website Builder by the thousands and thousands for such a drag and drop platform for producing gorgeous, responsive, static sites with truly ZERO coding."

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Don’t forget – we guarantee that you will need to re-design your website at some point. It can be a big revamp, or just re-designing portion of your website. You will be making a lot of changes to the layout and content as you better understand what your website visitors are looking for, and what’s working on your website and what isn’t. Keep this in mind and plan accordingly. We wished someone told us about this back then.
On more than one occasions that we contacted their support (via email), we received an answer no earlier and no later than exactly 48h later. Also, it’s important to note that their social media channels have the latest updates in the middle of 2017. Considering these two factors it does awfully lot look like they have simply ditched the project and are barely serving their (yet) existing customers.
When you install WordPress, a default theme is installed. Of course, you can stick with that one if you want, but that’s no fun. You want to install a theme that reflects who you are and what you do. If you’re an elegant person, your theme should be elegant. If you’re a punk rocker, choose a punk rock theme. You’ve got thousands of options on WordPress. 

Like Wix, Weebly has drag-and-drop functionality, as well as an integrated CMS solution, and hand-coded HTML files. The in-house editor comes with SEO tools and Google Analytics. With PayPal integration, an automatic tax calculator, digital gift cards, and more, Weebly is a smart choice for ecommerce businesses. And unlike some of its other free competitors, Weebly is ad-free.
"I thinks the world of Web development is becoming easier and easier but it's also making it harder for guys like me to find work because so many people want to use out-of-the-box responsive layout sites that are easy to implement and launch. I personally would much rather make a site from scratch than use a template. The app is quite cool though as it provides a drag and drop interface that can create decent looking and original websites that has a mobile website design as well."
Thank you for sharing with us. It's a great article. I start my website design business after being a Graphic Designer for 15 years. How much charge for website design is the first question with a lot of answers? I design websites in Squarespace. It's beautiful website templates and easy to use for a Graphic Designer. Its painless transition from print to web. 

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Hi, Robert. I want to build a bilingual (Urdu, English) website for Pakistanis who have suffered physical abuse as children. I want it to have a free MOOC like the kind you have on Future Learn: discussion forum, sign-in account, videos, downloadable material in the form of .pdfs, photos. Currently, websites providing PTSD MOOCs are in English and/or too expensive for us Pakistanis. Could I use WordPress to build the kind of website I’m talking about? Also, what do mean when you say that a website integrates with GSuit and costs 5 dollars a ‘pop’? Can’t one leave out that feature all together? Thank you.

You can get started for roughly $10 per month for shared or WordPress hosting if your website doesn't require much server horsepower. As your business expands, however, your website may need greater horsepower. That's when you should look into cloud, VPS and dedicated hosting. These levels of services are for when you really need a web host that offers lots of storage, a significant amount of month data transfers, and numerous email accounts.

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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.

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