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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Many people mistakenly believe that the only method for getting a professional quality website is to hire a web developer. But, by selecting the right website builder, you can achieve similar results for a much lower cost. Additionally, you maintain full control over the look of your website as you don’t have to rely on paying your original developer or finding a new one, every time you want to make a change.
Maybe just like you, at first we didn't have a darn clue about how to build a website, nevermind write half a line of code if our life depended on it! We wanted to build a website to start a side business, and felt overwhelmed, confused & scared about how to actually do it, which builder to use, and making wrong decisions. After years of trials & errors using different website builders, we're here to share our experiences with you.

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.


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.

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.
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.
This Latvian company is one of the smaller players worldwide. What strikes us about Mozello is that they allow you to create a multilingual website for free – something you won’t get anywhere else. The range of features includes a blog, an online store and decent SEO options. Fortunately, the advertisement is just a link in the footer that most of your visitors won’t even notice. 500MB of free storage is included and should be enough for most of us.
What they should improve: the aforementioned SEO flaws are pretty disappointing for a product at this price. There is no backup and restore feature, which, again, at this price point should be a given. It’s not the easiest website builder to use, other alternatives are better suited for beginners. Finally, when we tested their page speed (also an important SEO factor), it wasn’t exactly impressive. A Wix-like app store for external applications would be desirable as well.
Webstarts Complete online store Webstarts not only lets you add up to 10 products, but you can also accept credit card payments through Stripe, WePay or Authorize.net. Inventory management is included and there’s even an option to sell digital goods. The only downside is that you are limited to 20 sales per day. But hey, then you should really think about a paid upgrade.
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.
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
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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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!
You can choose from their numerous, and admittedly, beautiful themes. They are all tablet and smartphone-compatible and feature different types of photo galleries. While there are a lot of good things, there are also flaws. With regards to SEO, Squarespace doesn’t let you fully customize the titles for blog and product pages. This can be a show-stopper in competitive industries.

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?

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