Some people assume that creating a store online is well out of reach of web design amateurs. However, eCommerce website builders can make that process just as simple as a purely informational website. Often, the design concepts are similar, in regards to entering headings, text, and images. The only real difference is the ability to operate a shopping cart through the site, and website builders that cater to eCommerce businesses make that a breeze.
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.
To get your website up and running with Gator Website Builder, simply select one of our pre-built templates and drag and drop the elements you want to live on your website. If you want to have an eCommerce site or online store, Gator features built-in shopping cart functionality; simply add the shopping cart and products, and your site is ready to go!

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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.
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

Great writeup Tom! What do you think of clickfunnels as a website builder? A lot of my friends keep telling me to use it but I don't think its a website builder from what I can see. I'm willing to pay the money for only if it's a good website builder. I was doing some research and found these share funnel things. I like that fact that I can import template that are all ready to be used. What do you think of it? Just trying to look for some real opinions so doing some research first.
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.
Where they should improve: Some of their templates are modern and slick looking, but most of them look a bit aged. A big limitation of the free plan is that your website will go down, every day, for one hour; if you ask me, this is a no go. It has some of the basic features and add-ons, but there are key elements missing (e.g. a blog or on-site search). When you change to a new template, all the content you had will be lost.
"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."
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.
Larger businesses spend many thousands of dollars to get their custom-designed and programmed sites, but there's no need for smaller organizations and individuals to go to that kind of expense. For about $10 per month (or around $25 if you're selling products) and a few hours of your time, the services included here can help you create a unique, attractive website.

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.
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?

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By creating a website, you are creating an online presence. This allows you to connect with people that you might not otherwise be able to reach. Whether you’re making a basic website with contact information for your medical practice, creating a landing page for your freelance work, a multi-page experience for your wedding photography business or you just want a place to blog about your thoughts on food, having a website will give you a dynamic advantage.

More-advanced options found in some builders let you process credit card payments and add your own cart and checkout pages. The more-powerful site builders include product promotions, email marketing, and inventory and shipping tools. Some let you sell digital downloads, while others don't; see the table above to find out which do. Only a couple of these builders let you put ads on your site, though most of them allow some degree of custom HTML code insertion.
This is a great review post on website builders. I have tried some of them myself but most of them were hard on the budget and too clunky for me to actually use. Weebly and Squarespace did have what I was looking for but decided to abandon them for lack of time. The customer service on most of these is pretty bad (except the top3). I was actually going to do a review on most of these website builders myself but you’ve done a good job here.
Mobile friendly and responsive design means that you don’t need to know how to code — this could even be your first time working with a domain — and setting up your new site requires only a few steps. GoCentral Website Builder is designed to generate style choices that you can quickly review and chose without diving into your site’s settings. This will give your visitor an enjoyable experience that feels natural from either a desktop or mobile device.
Starting a website that I prefer would be hosted with security features… a combination blog/website with “tab” for online store for a few items (or that would link to an Etsy store) accepting payments by Paypal, Visa/Mastercard. Also a “tab/dropdown” for ability to select videos that I will be posting on you-tube. I don’t want to do any coding, so drag and drop to a template plus ability to add in my own photos and SSL certificate are primary concerns. Is this all possible with wordpress choices?
All of the site builders included here let you put Facebook Like and Twitter Follow buttons on your pages, and some even let you display feeds from the social networks. Some give you help building a Facebook Page and tying it into your site design and updates. Many products offer some sort of SEO tool, but too often this is just a form on which you can enter meta tags. You're mostly left to wrestle with that black magic known as SEO for yourself. It's very important to submit and verify your site to the search engines, unless you don't want anyone to find it!
I’m pretty new to the whole web development/design aspect of things. I’ve tinkered before with free things but more specifically with forum design. I’m very interested in building a website but aside from having a main traditional website feel I’m looking to incorporate a forum to it. Would it be possible to do this with this WordPress/BlueHost tutorial here? Or would there be something you recommend for that sort of thing?
These services can host your content on their servers free of charge, but in exchange for that zero cost, your online destination will have a less-than-elegant domain, such as jeffreylwilson.tumblr.com. That might be fine for a personal blog, but it will look too low-rent for a business that wants people to trust it enough to pay for whatever it's selling.
This is great information, thank you for this article. I’m just being pulled in too many directions with what to chose. I’m building a website for my blog and podcast. I already have a hosting site for my podcast but I also want a site for my blogs and about me for my followers to reference too. I want all my social media links along with my buzzsprout link to my podcast. Which website builder would you recommend? I would like to have a player on my site if possible.

Weebly is a great software. The high rating says that other people are also satisfied with it which is always nice. I have a free account there and I like creating websites with it. I’m still considering upgrading to a premium package. However, I’m still not sure how I’ll create my site – I might use a blank template. About WordPress and other CMS options, I think that browsing through the hundreds, upon thousands of available themes could is very time consuming, and results in failure of finding the right theme for a certain subject, which leads to confusion. Getting started with a service just makes you take action, it surely helped me.

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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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Their approach to site design is somehow different. Instead of having a set of elements (e.g. headline, text, images, icons, etc.) that you combine into a design, they have prebuilt sections that you can customize. This makes it less flexible, but you are less likely to mess your design up – a good approach for beginners without much time to experiment with design and layouts.

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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.
Copy-past customer support answers. For example, we tried asking how many users they have, how many template options, etc. Yet, they wouldn’t be transparent and answer anything, instead of responding with, “In our webtool support department we do not have access to information concerning how many clients we have.” Seems more like they just didn’t feel like finding the answer for us. And when we asked a few other standard questions, they would just give us a link for the answer. Not very professional, but at least they have a 24/7 live support.

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“Wow! I mean WOW. Stupid easy and brilliant website builder software. How did it take so long for this to be created. I have been out of Web Dev since 2010 so maybe just being away from it all impresses the hell out of me but you guys deserve a GOOD JOB! Award. I will pass on your name to all I know. Best of luck to you and I can not wait to see what is next.”
Thank you so much for your comprehensive review of the website builders. I’m a writer with a need to add affiiate advertising to a website and blog and I want to have E-commerce capability. #1: I basically want to upload articles I’ve written so I’ll have a digital archive. #2: Write a blog. #3: Sell products or affiliate products. I’ll continue to explore SiteBuilder, Wix and WordPress. I would not be able to pick these 3 without your reviews. Thanks again!
"You have a great basic product formula that appeals to entrepreneurs wanting to build their own web sites without any coding. If you continue to refine this basic concept — no code at all — the Mobirise website builder software will gain more and more users - do-it-yourself entrepreneurs - independent, freelance, contract, solo and other non-traditional workers.. If you add more prebuilt blocks to drag and drop into the web pages, that will help growth."
"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!"
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.
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.
There’s a huge library of goodies for you to use at Envato Elements, which range from ready to use stock images for your blog posts (250,000+ fully licensed stock photos), web templates, fonts, backgrounds and much much more.  Elements like these can save you so much time and are all ready for you to use for a single monthly subscription by signing up to Envato Elements.
A website builder might be the right choice for you or your business if you have limited coding knowledge or limited time. With a website builder, you don't need any special software or prior experience designing a website. It's the perfect solution for anyone looking to affordably and quickly get a website live and get new customers to your business.

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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 (once) hugely popular free website builder that has constantly been losing market share to the competition. They feature a simple editor with plenty of themes. But the big issue with this product is that it hasn’t received a major update since 2012. And it shows. Everything (editor, themes, features) seems pretty outdated and on top of that they limit the free plan to 5 individual pages.

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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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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.
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?

You can sell products and services on your website if you have the Online Store plan. You’ll have an online store that will allow you to add products and services, set up different types of payment methods, and even specific types of shipping. Your store will be integrated into your website as a page. You can add featured products for your visitors to scroll through, make quick purchases using PayPal and Apple Pay and promote your store/products through coupons. You can also use the same type of email marketing that is included in the Business Plus plan to send email communications to your subscribers and customers about sales in your store, coupon offers and events. Establishing a strong online commerce can boost your current sales, especially if you have a brick-and-mortar store.


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
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!

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
"You have a great basic product formula that appeals to entrepreneurs wanting to build their own web sites without any coding. If you continue to refine this basic concept — no code at all — the Mobirise website builder software will gain more and more users - do-it-yourself entrepreneurs - independent, freelance, contract, solo and other non-traditional workers.. If you add more prebuilt blocks to drag and drop into the web pages, that will help growth." 

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I had a website with domain and hosting at godaddy. My site was deleted completely by godaddy due to a problem in payment processing of my hosting fees. I do have a backup of that website on my desktop. My domain is still registered with godaddy. My question is: I want to revise my site on my desktop before uploading to any hosting provider. I want to make it a responsive design and mobile friendly site. How can I do the revision of my old site on my desktop so that I can finally upload it to my hosting provider?
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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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.
My name is Jamie Spencer and I have been building websites since the beginning of the internet ( shows my age a bit! ) I’ve also been blogging as my main source of income for the past eight years. I have created and sold a wide variety of websites and blogs in different niches which means I am probably in a great place to help you create your first website.
This is a great review post on website builders. I have tried some of them myself but most of them were hard on the budget and too clunky for me to actually use. Weebly and Squarespace did have what I was looking for but decided to abandon them for lack of time. The customer service on most of these is pretty bad (except the top3). I was actually going to do a review on most of these website builders myself but you’ve done a good job here.
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