Themes set the tone of your site. They can be a direct reflection of the owner: If you are a person of simple tastes you might choose a minimalist template, while larger personalities might prefer something with strong colors. You should always keep in mind, however, that a website should meet the level of professionalism of the content it hosts. You might want to think twice about using Comic Sans on a medical professional site, for example.
As we said in the last step, templates provide a framework. Given how many people use builders to make a website nowadays, odds are there are a few sites out there with the same framework as yours. At the very least you will need to populate a chosen template with content specific to you. And to really stand out, you’ll need to do some customization.
Several of the services included here offer free options, too. If you choose that path, however, your site will include branding from the provider, which necessarily makes your site less impressive to savvy surfers—and shoppers. Free offerings vary greatly in the amount of storage and bandwidth they allow, so read the small print to find out how much you get with each provider. Weebly, Wix, and WordPress.com are among the most generous with their free offerings, if that's the way you want to go.
After you've built a site on Webflow, you will need to transfer it to a content management system. There are some features, like drag-and-drop widgets for adding social components, maps, and videos, that don't require coding knowledge. But if you want the full benefits of Webflow, you'll need to know HTML or CSS. There's a limited set of themes, a responsive interface, and your Webflow site can be customized for desktop, tablets, or smartphones.
WebNode is a popular choice for both personal brands and professionals -- it's easy to use, and you can create a website in a different language or on a different platform to suit your business's needs. WebNode supports ecommerce stores, and the sites are compatible with Android, Mac, and IOS devices. WebNode will provide statistics to track your site's success, free of charge, and even with the free version, you won't have ads.
If you're ready to get going, this guide will introduce you to the services and software that can get you started building your own website, even if you have no experience. Keep in mind, none of these tools will give you an idea for a winning website—that's on you. They also won't make you a web designer, a job that's distinct from building a site. Still, these services and software will ease some of the headaches that come from a lack of extensive expertise in CSS, FTP, HTML, and PHP.
Just from these features it’s easy to see how it’s worth upgrading to unlock the best for your website. And the good news is, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg! Most basic plans start from around $5 a month. Moving from a free plan to a basic plan is a really affordable way of growing your site and adding these great features to maximise your online presence.

GoCentral Website Builder can act as your hub, the place where your friends and contacts can see your posts, photos, videos and more. With the option to link to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ on your website, your visitors can be everywhere you are on the web. Being able to cover multiple platforms gives you the opportunity to reach more people, while creating appropriate content for each of your socials (like posting all of your photos on Instagram, and tweeting about your most recent business venture on Twitter). By centrally locating all the links in one place – your new website – you are giving your website visitors a seamless experience. Linking to your social media in your website gives you an advantage in communicating with your visitors; the more they can connect with you and do so in the forum that’s most comfortable to them, the more they’ll engage with your site, and thus you or your business.

Great review, Robert! I was wondering what’s your opinion about SitePad website builder? I’m thinking of creating a website for my restaurant and I saw that this website builder is included in the web hosting plans by BGOcloud, which I will opt for. Have you tried SitePad? If yes, can you say whether it is relatively easy-to-use? Thanks in advance!

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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.
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.
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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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.

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.

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.
As we said in the last step, templates provide a framework. Given how many people use builders to make a website nowadays, odds are there are a few sites out there with the same framework as yours. At the very least you will need to populate a chosen template with content specific to you. And to really stand out, you’ll need to do some customization.
If you're on a Mac however, there's another option: RapidWeaver. This WYSIWYG webpage editor has full code access and FTP support for uploading pages. There are plenty of built-in templates to get started, all for the one-time price of $99.99. On Windows there are numerous choices. Xara Web Designer 365, for example, starts at $49.99 and promises you don't need to know HTML or Javascript to create sites based on the company's templates.

The first thing you need to do is choose what website platform to build your website on. There are many different CMS (content management systems) to choose from and choosing the right platform is a top priority. You don’t want to start building your site on a CMS platform to find out that it’s totally wrong for you and your site. There’s a load of free website building platforms that you could use, but these free websites aren’t great for the long term. You’re restricted to using their own hosting and their own sub-domain ( yourwebsite.freewebsitecompany.com ).
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.

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It’s a solid website creation suite accompanied by a decent online store. They allow website creation from start to finish using their iOS and Android apps. Another positive thing is that email accounts are integrated right into the core product and quite affordable ($12 per year per inbox). All their templates are fully responsive and display well on desktop and mobile devices.
None gets the job done better Editors' Choice award-winning Wix. It has a drag-and-drop interface, and all elements of the site are customizable. It doesn't cost a cent to get started with Wix, but you'll want to go premium, starting at $5 per month for a domain and scaling upward to $25 per month for unlimited monthly data transfers and 20GB of storage.
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.

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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Just found out after 9 years that my website builder and email addresses were tied together with my “Daddy” site. For $120 they’ll give back my email for a year. Time for a change I guess. Anyway with me having a site up and running can I bring in what I have from there or will a fresh start need to be done? Thanks for your very in depth research which I would think is current because the last update was May 2018.
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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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.
That’s a really common question and the answer is… well, it depends. Please keep in mind that in order to work with a developer you’ll have to be prepared to have a budget of at least $1.500 and that’s the low end. For any changes and further developments, you’ll pay your developer’s hourly rate. Then there is the ongoing hosting as well as domain costs (which will be another $100 per year more or less).

Things to look as you vet hosts for ecommerce include drag-and-drop store builders, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) software for safeguarding financial transactions, and email marketing plug-ins, so that you don't have to work with an outside vendor to promote your business. There's nothing wrong per se with using an unconnected marketing service, but anything that adds convenience means more time to spend on the rest of your business. For more in-depth advice on getting started selling online, you should consider our story on the 6 Factors Companies Need to Consider When Choosing a Web Host.
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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Hi I’m starting a new non profit org and am looking to get the best bang for my buck. However; I also am thinking about scaling up my site within 6 months or so. I’m considering site builder. Do you think that’s a good option? We’ll have video clips, emails, blogging, PayPal donation button and other options not yet identified. Do you believe this site would be best option?
It’s a solid website creation suite accompanied by a decent online store. They allow website creation from start to finish using their iOS and Android apps. Another positive thing is that email accounts are integrated right into the core product and quite affordable ($12 per year per inbox). All their templates are fully responsive and display well on desktop and mobile devices.
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?
Site123 has everything you need – excellent uptime, decent speed, competent customer support, and really good pricing options. The usability is good enough to start with for novices. More experienced users will find plenty to tinker with as well. The intuitive editor is easy to use and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the quality of their templates.

I am in the process of rejuvenating my current website. I have someone out of house running it remotely, but want to switch to run it in house myself. I’ve decided to run it via Wix.com, simply because I found it easier to use. However, in some of their more premium (and expensive) packages, they offer x amount of email campaigns with the more expensive packages.. I already have four email accounts set up via the pre-existing website and don’t want these to become void.. I own the pre existing domain already (and want to keep it, which is possible via Wix). Will my pre existing email accounts remain viable even if I switch to a new website company? Can you give me some clarity on the repercussions of switching to Wix.com (I am planning to pay the minimum which allows me get rid of any Wix adverts) will have on my pre existing site in reference to the email accounts already set up.

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The strict responsive approach of Simvoly, uKit, and Weeby means you get no control over the mobile-only view. Gator and Wix, by contrast, offers a mobile-site preview and lets you make customizations that only apply to mobile viewing. For example, you may want a splash page to welcome mobile viewers, or you may want to leave out an element that doesn't work well on the smaller screens.
For years Adobe Dreamweaver has been synonymous with web page creation. It's gone from being a creator of HTML pages in a WYSIWYG interface to being able to handle programming pages in Cold Fusion, JavaScript, PHP, and other formats. Its liquid layout lets you see how pages look at different browser and screen sizes—even on smartphones and tablets. It's about as code-heavy as you want it to be.
Several of the services included here offer free options, too. If you choose that path, however, your site will include branding from the provider, which necessarily makes your site less impressive to savvy surfers—and shoppers. Free offerings vary greatly in the amount of storage and bandwidth they allow, so read the small print to find out how much you get with each provider. Weebly, Wix, and WordPress.com are among the most generous with their free offerings, if that's the way you want to go.
What about Webydo? I’ve seen other blogs that recommend them as cloud based website software, but it doesn’t even seem to make your list. Could you at least write a review to help us understand why it isn’t included in this list. I’ve heard very good things about it. It is a bit expensive, but I’m sure that you can justify/disprove that price very easily.
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.
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.
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.

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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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If you’re trying to build a large ecommerce store, here’s how to setup WooCommerce and WordPress (one of the most popular ways to add products to your store). 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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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.
As we said in the last step, templates provide a framework. Given how many people use builders to make a website nowadays, odds are there are a few sites out there with the same framework as yours. At the very least you will need to populate a chosen template with content specific to you. And to really stand out, you’ll need to do some customization.
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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If you are going to use a website builder you can usually purchase it there. That makes handling it slightly easier as you’ll only be dealing with one company. If you are going to use WordPress or you’ll be programming the website yourself, you will also need web space, where you can upload your website’s files and data. With a website builder you don’t need web space as it’ll be already included.
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.
WordPress is not an all-in-one package. It’s a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS allows you to create and organize digital content. Other elements like hosting and domain registration are best done separately. It’s up to you to bring these together in service of a WordPress site. This isn’t nearly as complicated as you might think, but it’s not the easiest way to make a website. We wouldn’t recommend it to people uncomfortable with technology.

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WordPress.com is built for blogging, and it shows. Extensive blogging features are automatically built-in such as analytics, a search feature, comments, display categories, archiving, and more. Combine this with intuitive design, such as being able to choose your settings for feature images and which blog posts should appear on your home page, and it’s clear why WordPress.com is so successful.

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.

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.


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.
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.
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.
They are also currently running a massive 50% discount. So if you purchase a 12 or 24-month plan, you’ll not only get a free domain for 1 year, but a lot of savings, too. For example, we paid $143.76 for two full years. The $16 domain was free as well. Just keep in mind that renewal prices will adjust back to the normal rate. That means you’ll often lose the initial discount. You’ll notice below that pretty much all website builders do this. Therefore, try to lock in a longer term if possible to save the most.
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.
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!

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