Getting your own website used to require a lot of tech wizardry, such as knowledge of servers, HTML, FTP, site registrars, and web hosting services. Thankfully, we now live in the age of easy online site builders. The services included here let you make a well-designed, mobile-friendly site with minimal technical knowledge. They can even take a small or sole-proprietor business to profitability with buy links, online stores, and other money-making options.
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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Webs.com is one of the only free website builders to have an integrated membership function. What is this? It basically means that your visitors can sign up to be members directly through Webs.com using their very own Members app, and you can view, manage, and interact with your members through your Webs.com dashboard (like your own control center). This is instead of bringing in a third party to manage your membership sign ups – for example having to install an external app, which can get complicated!

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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.
Languages seem to be Site123’s thing. Not only is the editor available in more than 20 of them (including languages such as Turkish, Arabic, Romanian), they also feature multilingual websites. The editor is relatively restrictive, a bit like GoDaddy’s GoCentral. If you just want to get the website job done, without becoming too creative this might suffice. But you have to be aware that their template system can be a bit on the restrictive side.
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.
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.
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.
What we like: their eye for design. One of the biggest advantages is that there are hundreds of well-designed templates that you can use for free. Adapting them to your needs is super easy. And then there is the huge range of features. Thanks to their App Market you can easily add new features to your website (ex. a newsletter subscription, an events calendar, a forum etc.).

Great comparison! But did you compare these website builders from the search engine friendless point of view? Which builder creates the better SE-optimized pages? I tried to make some pages on Wix but it generates a really mess JS code, w/o normal HTML and very strange page urls like domain.com/#!toasp/c1f7gfk. What do you thinks about it? Also is the mobile-first approach so important for good SE ranking as mentioned all over the web?
One downside of most of these services is that, should you someday want to move to another web host, you'll likely be out of luck because of the custom code they use to display your site. Only a few of the services here let you take your site to another web hosting service: The most complete example of this is Weebly, which lets you download the standard site server folders. Squarespace offers some transferability by letting you output your site in standard WordPress format. As you might expect, the same transferability holds for WordPress.com.

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.
"We needed a simple web site creation tool. We needed to quickly and easily get an attractive web site. We needed to do all of this without having to work through a “developer.” And, since 1995, I and millions of others have been living in frustration, because that tool has never, ever existed. Never. This tool is the holy grail, a flying unicorn… the loch ness monster… rare and amazing, and something nobody has ever actually seen."

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A domain name is the bit of the URL (the long address in your browser’s search bar) that identifies a web page — in this case your website. You can register them separately at sites like GoDaddy and Namecheap, but website builders offer to do it for you when you sign up with them. Most provide it for free (at least initially), while a handful charge a few extra bucks.

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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!
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.
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.
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.

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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!
In many cases, it’s actually a very good approach to familiarizing yourself with the task of creating a website. Even if, in the end, you decide to hire a web designer, you’ll have a much better idea of what person you should be looking for and what your website should look like. Our free ebook “Website Creation for Absolute Beginners” will explain all the important parts of a website project.
Languages seem to be Site123’s thing. Not only is the editor available in more than 20 of them (including languages such as Turkish, Arabic, Romanian), they also feature multilingual websites. The editor is relatively restrictive, a bit like GoDaddy’s GoCentral. If you just want to get the website job done, without becoming too creative this might suffice. But you have to be aware that their template system can be a bit on the restrictive side. 

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Jimdo can also help you to create a free online store! You do only have a limited number of products you can sell on the free plan, and there is a transaction fee unless you upgrade. But, this is still a great way of getting your online selling started without the fear of financial risk. You can create your site for free and start selling, and then look at your upgrading options as your business grows.

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Hey Ben, thank you for all the information. I think web site builders in general are a great tool for novice computer users such as myself. I started my own website and it took me only a few hours to do so! I know I might sound childish, but this is unheard of for me. I used the Wix website builder software which was free of charge, and I am contemplating upgrading to the 2nd plan in order to remove the banner ads.
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?
Arguably one of the most flexible and easy-to-use builders, Site123 lets you customize anything and offers a one-click installation wizard with graphics and templates. Site123 stands out as particularly helpful with its free images library, professional fonts to add visual elements to your site, and creative DIY plans for creating multiple pages (which are unlimited). Plus, since it offers web hosting domain registration, 500 MB storage space, Google Analytics, and is ad-free, you won't feel pressured to switch to a paid plan.
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.
Our Squarespace support experience was not great. There are tons of resources available, but that’s also kinda the problem. There’s too much stuff and it’s not easy to find your way. We went looking for the live chat option, and unfortunately, that wasn’t much better. In order to reach the live chat, we had to fill out three drop-down boxes regarding our issue. Then, it still tries to send you over to an article or email. This repeated multiple times while we were waiting in the queue. They kept trying to send “how-to” articles, instead. Finally, we got on with an agent. But even that was slow. The entire process took around twenty minutes to get a simple answer to our question. And then, how did the support rep help? By sending us another link to a how-to article.
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.
A domain name is the virtual address of your website. Ours is websitebuilderexpert.com. That’s where you find us. The New York Times’ is nytimes.com. That’s where you find them. And so on. Your site needs one too, and when setting up a WordPress site it’s something you may have to take care of yourself. Bluehost lets you choose a domain for free as part of the signup process.
Doodlekit is one of the most unusable and unintuitive website builders on the market. Editing the limited number of templates is confusing and convoluted and taking advantage of the advertised features is more trouble than it’s worth. Despite my extensive history with site builders and web design, I found myself confused and frustrated when trying to make even the simplest changes on my Doodlekit website.
If you’re trying to build a large ecommerce store, one of the most popular ways to set up your store is with WooCommerce (here’s how to setup WooCommerce and WordPress). Less tech-savvy beginners may prefer using a simplistic website builder. The most common choice is to build an online store with Shopify. Although website costs can vary, but consider reading up on the top questions to ask when hiring a website designer.

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But they seriously fall short with their support. We have had so many awful experiences with them. If you’re really really lucky you can connect to their live support under 5 minutes and talk with a good and helpful support representative. Unfortunately, in most cases, you’re going to be on the waiting list for 30+ minutes and get a copy-paste unuseful answers and even upsells to fix your problems. 
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