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.
Templates provide a framework for your website — a coherent, attractive canvas for you to paint the content of your site onto. They’re how you can have a site that looks good without having to hire a designer. Templates dictate color scheme, what your homepage header and menu bar look like, and the content width on your site, so it’s essential to pick the right one.
Thank you for writing this. I am about to start this endeavor. I have a couple questions that maybe you can help me with if you don't mind. First I am afraid of my idea getting out there and someone taking it. Is there a way to protect it? I have heard patents are not recommended for Web ideas. Also, my idea is an interactive one, not just a way to advertise etc. Not quite a game but maybe more so than just a web page. That's where my confusion really comes in. I am about to do exactly what you have recommended with the drag and drop but I am naively assuming it won't be something I can use with the public because of the interaction involved. I know I will need the program to watch out for many things and organize them as well. Any advice you can give me on that would be very appreciated.

Higher renewal rates. This is a perfect example of what happens when discounts expire. We’ve had this test site for a few years now. And you’ll see in the image above that years two and three were more expensive. The new customer discount expired. Hence, if you see a website builder offering two or 3-year terms, you’re better off paying for it to save as much as possible with the new customer pricing.


If you prefer a more traditional URL, you'll need to purchase one from the likes of GoDaddy or Namecheap. Domain name pricing can range from extremely cheap to extremely expensive, depending on whether or not domain squatters are looking to flip a valuable piece of online real estate. You'll want to get something short but evocative and catchy, and depending on what you do, you may find that many of your first choices are taken by either other legit domains, or by squatters who've scooped up the names as an investment. For more, please read How to Register a Domain Name.

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WordPress.com is not to be confused with its bigger brother WordPress.org (read our beginners’ guide). The latter is fantastic if you are not scared of diving into technical terrain, but surprisingly, the .com version is not that much easier to use and has a lot of restrictions. Having said that, if all you want is just to create a blog, WordPress.com could be a great solution for you. For a website, though, we find there are better solutions. Paid plans start at $5 per month.
I just wanted to thank you for your execellant review of the web builders. I am a professional Art Director who at my clients requests, needs to start building sites for them. I started a site for a film Director last year who wanted to feature his personal photography. So at the time, I used Square Space which seemed to be very versitle, however, I was never able to finish the site due to other job commitments. I have now been hired to design/build a site for a wonderful luthier. So I think I am going to go with WIX per your review. (Unless you think SP would be better.) please let me know and thanks again!!!!
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.
If you prefer a more traditional URL, you'll need to purchase one from the likes of GoDaddy or Namecheap. Domain name pricing can range from extremely cheap to extremely expensive, depending on whether or not domain squatters are looking to flip a valuable piece of online real estate. You'll want to get something short but evocative and catchy, and depending on what you do, you may find that many of your first choices are taken by either other legit domains, or by squatters who've scooped up the names as an investment. For more, please read How to Register a Domain Name.
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.

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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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I am currently looking at setting up a blog for the area I specialise in. I am aware of wordpress.org but have been a bit daunted by the number of webhosts out there offering this and that. One particular issue is that I use macs and I was wondering whether bluehost is compatible with the mac, and whether there are any other extra steps I have to take when using a mac over windows. Would it be as simple as registering with a webhost then clicking one-step installation on a mac?
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.
"Just thought I should tell you that we are doing SEO trials on websites designed with your free website building software. We are testing it against our best performers and you are holding up well. There are a lot of website creation programs that are more concerned with design than performance. We are more interested in performance than design. As the saying goes… if you can’t be found on Google, you can’t be found. Keep up the good work!"
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!
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).

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I have a WordPress site that I am seriously considering shutting down. I love that i get to work with my creativity building sites, but I don’t love that I have been in a cycle of getting the site up, after a month or so, I start getting those Jetpack notifications that my site is down, it’s still not loading, it’s back up. I mean I’ve gotten at least 50 in the last couple of days. I can never figure out what’s wrong with the site so I end up stripping or deleting the whole site and and starting over. I don’t use a lot of plugins (the basics security, backup, some kind of form, elementor, etc). I’d really love to believe that the benefits outweigh

A website builder is an online content management system that enables users to plan and build their own websites without need for the advanced designing and technical coding skills that would otherwise be required to create one. One would generally feature a step-by-step guide that assists users with everything from choosing a domain name to selecting a template that suits their needs.
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.

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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.

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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Mobirise Website Builder offers 50+ themes and 150+ demo pages that include sliders, galleries with lightbox, articles, counters, countdowns, full-screen intros, images & videos, features, data tables & pricing tables, progress bar & cycles, timelines, tabs & accordions, call-to-action, forms, Google maps, social blocks, testimonials, footers, and more. Blocks are designed considering the latest web design trends, and they are flexible and full of customizing options.
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.
The list on the top of this page was compiled after an extensive review process. All of the good and bad components of each website builder were considered and used to create a grade system on a scale of ten. We even included a star rating system so that users can share their assessments with us and our readers. Although Wix has our most favorable score, it is not necessarily suited to every user (check Weebly also). We encourage you to read up and determine which one best suits your needs.
Weebly is one of the largest site creators out there and hits the top spots in our ranking table. But since we are mainly looking at the free plans here, we have to judge our contestant with slightly different criteria. The free plan is where Weebly doesn’t shine quite as bright, mainly due to the very visible ad in the website’s footer that even sports a mouseover effect.

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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.
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.

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Get unlimited/increased storage and bandwidth: It is common for your storage and bandwidth to be capped on free plans. The amount you get often increases as you work up through price tiers, which allows you to scale and grow your website at your own pace. A lot of website builders like Wix will give you unlimited bandwidth and up to unlimited storage too!
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.
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.

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Advanced marketing tools: Marketing is a massive part of promoting your website – whether it’s your own portfolio, brand, or business, you want people to find you! While free plans do often have basic marketing or newsletter tools, if you’re paying then you will have access to much more advanced marketing tools such as email campaigns and better site analysis and statistics. This way you can reach out to your visitors and then track how successful your campaigns have been to help spread the word!
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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For more than a decade, Jeffrey L. Wilson has penned gadget- and video game-related nerd-copy for a variety of publications, including 1UP, 2D-X, The Cask, Laptop, LifeStyler, Parenting, Sync, Wise Bread, and WWE. He now brings his knowledge and skillset to PCMag as Senior Analyst. When he isn't staring at a monitor (or two) and churning out web... See Full Bio

"Just thought I should tell you that we are doing SEO trials on websites designed with your free website building software. We are testing it against our best performers and you are holding up well. There are a lot of website creation programs that are more concerned with design than performance. We are more interested in performance than design. As the saying goes… if you can’t be found on Google, you can’t be found. Keep up the good work!"


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.

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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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Hi Ben, Thanks so much for the great feedback, so glad you enjoyed reading the article! Please do share it on if you think your friends will find it useful too. It's true Wix isn't for everybody, but it did do extremely well in our research (which is why it's our best all-round website builder)! WordPress is another great option and I'm glad you're happy with them - Bluehost is certainly a great choice of provider for your WordPress site! If you were looking at changing or setting up another site why not check out our comparison chart or our article on the best Wix alternatives? I've included the links in case you find them interesting. Thanks for reading, Lucy


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!!

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Well, it depends on what you are looking for. It’s great that they hardly have any restrictions on the free plan in terms of features and templates. On desktop computers, they place a pretty visible ad at the top of your website that is sticky (i.e. it will stay even when you start scrolling the page). Fortunately, on mobile phones, it far less visible and also not sticky. To use your own custom domain name, you’ll need the Combo plan at least, which is $11 per month.

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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.
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?
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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This will ensure that data submitted through a contact form, for example, is safe and can’t be intercepted. This feature is usually included for free with all major website builder companies. From the tools we tested, only Mozello and Strikingly don’t secure their free sites by default. When SSL isn’t active, it will look like this to your visitors:

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The best place to find themes is through WordPress’s own Theme Directory. Search for the types of themes you’d be interested in. If you’re setting up a newspaper search ‘newspaper’, if you need a site for your café search ‘cafe’. There’ll be dozens, if not hundreds, of contenders. Clicking on a theme takes you to its own page where you can see user reviews and preview the theme in action.
First, let's discuss why you even need a webpage in this day of social media domination of the web. On a personal level, you wouldn't want to send prospective employers to your Facebook page, so a personal website makes more sense as an online, customized resume. Another reason worth consideration, for both personal and business sites, is that building your own site gives you endless design choices. You also have total control over products and services you may sell and how they're delivered.

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Easy-to-understand analytics ensure you're able to see at a glance exactly how well your website is performing with all Gator Website Builder accounts. Simple social media tools allow you to add live feeds from Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook in order to stay engaged. You can add G Suite productivity tools to your domain, enabling Gmail, Docs, Slides, and more.
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.
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.
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?

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BigCommerce comes with a 15-day free trial for all plans. Their basic plans at $29.95 per month which comes with all the essential features that you will need. You can upgrade to the plus plan which costs $79.95 per month for additional conversion optimization features. Their pro plan costs $249.95 per month which has all the advanced features you may need. 

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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.
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.
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.
"I am very happy that you guys released this, not only it is a great idea it was executed properly. I will use this to build a basic AMP site for a customer. i looked at the video and demo sites and was very happy with what could be done. I would really like for Mobirise team to add more widgets to your free website design software. I am confident that you will be at the top of the market if you add more functionality without loosing intuitiveness! What makes products like this great is many features but so easy to use Thanks!"
The best way to begin your search is to sort the themes by category. If you are opening an eCommerce store (using Bigcommerce for example), there is no reason to browse through blog-optimized themes. Most online website creation services use categories like portfolios, online shops, and blogs to differentiate their templates. Some go even further by creating more specific categories like sites designed to showcase bakeries or sell sunglasses.

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.

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Responsive design is a popular web design strategy used by some of these site builders. This approach reformats the same webpage content to fit different screens. But in terms of SEO (search engine optimization), the search engines only care about whether a site displays suitably on mobile screen sizes. Both Bing and Google have pages where you can enter your URL to see if your site plays on mobile acceptably.

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.
I have personally built two different sites using WordPress and found it very easy to use, setup and configure. Once it is initially setup, maintaining the site is as easy as logging into the WordPress admin site and adding your content. I was initially very surprised by the ease of the setup to get my sites up and running. I was able to get the site online and running on a customer domain within 15 minutes. This was a welcome surprise to me the fist time I used WordPress. While WordPress sites are not as simple as drag and drop configuration for the novice computer user, average users will find it easy to edit text and add content using the built in templates. The price is possibly the most attractive feature of WordPress. The word free will often attract users but the usability and ease of the software is what will make users stick with the platform. After building two sites on WordPress, I would strongly recommend it and will surely use it for my future website building projects.
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