Great reviews, Robert. It’s unique that you bought accounts for all the builders, and showed us your sample sites. Very informative. I’m working on articles for beginners to know what they’re getting into on the web, having built websites for clients since 1998, and found what most confused and overwhelmed beginners. I’ll be linking to this set of reviews in my summary of web builders, if you don’t mind.
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.
Getting your message out these days requires good helpings of Facebook and Twitter, with maybe a dash of Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Tumblr. But that's not enough: if you want an internet presence that truly represents you or your organization, you also need a website that sets you apart from the crowd. A real website, as opposed to a social media page, gives you complete control over design and content. This lends credibility to your business, organization, or personal brand. Facebook pages all look alike in terms of design, but on your own website, you can realize a brand image, offer products for sale, and integrate third-party web services.
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.

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.


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.

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.


Starting with Wix's ADI (artificial design intelligence) tool, some of the site builders now offer a tool that lets you enter social accounts and other personal or business info, and presto bingo, they get you a no-work website. Jimdo and Simvoly now offer similar if somewhat less ambitious tools. Wix's ADI even impressed a professional designer acquaintance of ours with results we saw in testing, mostly using images and information it scraped from her LinkedIn account.
Why wasn’t 1and1’s in there? the were rated 31 by SMB trust & Consumer Reports. I love mine. The have loads of templates, & comes with literally everything. SSL Cert, 200 emails, SEO tool, Newsletter tool,Numerous payment and delivery methods, Site Analytics, mobile optimized all for less than $15 a month. 3 other things I love are they the have 24/7 US hosted Tech support, they don’t post any ads on my site and the don’t take a penny when i sell items!!
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!
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.
I am looking to build a website that serves as a flight deal hub. I want the main content of my site to feature daily flight deals aggregated from multiple external websites. I’m not sure what the technical term is called, but are there any web platforms on this list that would enable me to have content from other websites automatically uploaded on my website?
However, your presentation of Comparative Web Builders was absolutely, totally and altogether superb! It was the essence of distilled intelligence, of simplifying a complex mess, of bringing flawless order out of scuzzy chaos. I congratulate you on possessing an unusual and unique skill and talent. I am a writer and inventor, and nothing turns me on intellectually more than seeing someone do what you did! Your work is stunning.
Hey thank you so much for this article! It was really helpful. I do have a question regarding what platform I should use for my business venture though. I currently have a premium plan with Wix that I use to promote myself as an artist/ performer. I have loved working with Wix, but I am starting a marketing business online and want something that allows me to build websites for other businesses quickly, and be able to do a broad range of things since I would be building for other people I would need that flexibility. Also does Wix or WordPress offer any sort of click funnel? Thank you and look forward to hearing from you soon.
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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Some WordPress plugins conflicted with our design.  When we installed some of the tools / plugins, they broke some of the custom features that our developer built. So we had to pay our developer to re-configure our website to make things work. When you’re piecing together tools that are built by different developers, it’s not surprising that some of them won’t work well together. It’s just part of the process, and it was frustrating for us as that added to our mental burden.
Some WordPress plugins conflicted with our design.  When we installed some of the tools / plugins, they broke some of the custom features that our developer built. So we had to pay our developer to re-configure our website to make things work. When you’re piecing together tools that are built by different developers, it’s not surprising that some of them won’t work well together. It’s just part of the process, and it was frustrating for us as that added to our mental burden.

Most of the products here can tell you about your site traffic, though the amount of detail varies greatly among them, and it's often tied to premium account levels. For example, Weebly can not only show you page views and unique visitors for each day of the month, but also search terms used to get to the site, referring sites, and top-visited pages. Wix and uKit, at the other end, have nothing in the way of built-in site stats, instead requiring you to create your own Google Analytics account, and even that requires a paid account. Another drawback of that approach is that you can only see traffic from the preceding day and earlier; it's not up-to-the-minute, or even the hour. 

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I rarely comment on these sorts of reviews, but after reading your clearly unbiased and in depth review I felt it necessary to thank you. I already have a boldgrid website and domain and wanted to understand more about the limitations of that vs it’s competitors, a LOT of other articles on the subjects are clearly shills for one of the companies, it’s refreshing to see such an honest and thorough review, thanks again!
Top tip: Don’t just test your website yourself. You will be blind to some of its faults. Plus, you know how your site is supposed to work, so while you might find navigating it easy that’s not to say a stranger will. Get a fresh perspective. Ask family members and friends to test your site and give feedback. If they’re anything like our family and friends they won’t be afraid of offering criticism.

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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.
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?
The App Store is it's biggest differentiator. The Shopify core covers what 80% of online stores will need and the app store covers the other 20%— that way the core doesn't get bloated with features most stores don't need. Shopify is not the only ecommerce website builder to offer an app stores but they have significantly more apps than any competitor:
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?
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!
"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."
Even if your site’s primary purpose is not to function as a blog, you may find yourself requiring one at some point (Be sure to read the how to start a blog guide for a complete overview), either to keep your visitors updated or to use as a marketing tool. SEO, for example, is something that requires the creation of content to get your website noticed by search engines. Most website builders have built-in content management systems that allow you to write and edit blog posts in your browser. These systems make it easy to create rich content on the fly.
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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A blog should be about something you love, but it should also be an interest shared by other users as well. You can find out what categories people are interested in by using a keyword research tool and from there you can create customized content that your readers will find fresh and relevant. There is a world of information out there just waiting to be discussed. Why shouldn’t you be the one leading the discussion?
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