If you want to create a site for free without getting hobbled by a lack of features, give Jimdo a try. All of its plans offer everything you need to create a professional-looking HTML5-powered website, including templates, photo galleries, Google Maps integration, plenty of storage and unlimited bandwidth, and it's easy to put everything together. Step up to one of its paid services from $5/month and you'll get your own domain, an online store, SEO, widgets and stats.

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
Hello. Just wondering why you didn’t include Shopify. It was recommended to me. But I haven’t tried it yet. I have tried WIX.COM and it was ok until I lost everything in my website and I could not get it back anymore. I am a novice in this field so it was really hard for me to lose everything. It seems like tech support is not very good either since it is hard to contact them.

Hi Jeremy I have a desire to make an easy solution for my users who can make their own website / theme for wordpress. A plugin that allows my users, through frontend on my site, to choose between menu, (text / grib layout - blog styles, magazin) photo slide, footer, etc. - so they can make there style theme Do you know if there is a plugin that can this? (So I upload the different layouts examples that they can choose from)?
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.
If you build a website that’s optimized for search engines, then yes it will. It’s a common myth that you can’t rank as well with website builders – you definitely can! How to create a website that ranks in Google will require good content, and a bit of background research into SEO. Building websites that people can find is key to a good website marketing strategy, and not that hard to do.

Thanks for the time you put into this. Has been very helpful along side the hours that I have already put in myself scouring and trialling sites. Any recommendations for sites where they assist in interactive map building such as the magicseaweed.com site. I can build a location map and embed it onto my site (that I am building at the moment through Wix) but it's very limited and I cannot link it to a specific page or location on my website pages. I would also like to create a service where subscribers can access more information on the website than non subscribers. Any thoughts on the best site to use?


For those who prefer to use a commercial program, thesitewizard.com has numerous online tutorials for a web editor called Dreamweaver, a program with features on par with that of Expression Web. The Dreamweaver Tutorial takes you through all the steps needed to design a complete website, in addition to providing you with the theoretical and practical foundations that will help you create and maintain that site.
Back in the days, knowing how to create your own website required knowledge about HTML code, CSS and Flash. Making your own website nowadays doesn’t require you to have these skills anymore. Content Management Systems (CMS) like Shopify, Wix or Wordpress can help anyone build their website from scratch. These website building platforms are user-friendly and help you manage your online content easily. Most websites make use of Wordpress, so we’d suggest that you do too.
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?
Starting with Wix's ADI (artificial design intelligence) tool, several 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.

WordPress (either version) is a blog-focused content management system that accepts plug-ins and themes that extend its capabilities to most of what the other products here offer, including commerce. In fact, WordPress.com uses plug-ins such as JetPack to provide many of its features. As a whole, WordPress (either .com or .org) is not as easy to use as the other options in this roundup, but if blogging and site transferability are of key importance and you don't mind digging into its weeds a bit, you should consider the platform. Furthermore, the ability to use WordPress is a valuable skill, as some estimates say that WordPress powers 30 percent of the internet.
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.
WordPress is popular for novice builders and has a reputation for being easy to use. There are thousands of free templates and plugins available at WordPress.org to make a good-looking site and extend the features of your website. After deciding on a template, update the images and text through the WordPress dashboard to customize your site. To make working with WordPress even easier, consider using GoDaddy Managed WordPress.
All of the web services listed here have you start by choosing from a selection of templates for your site. The better ones, such as Duda, Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix, use templates that automatically reformat your site for viewing on mobile devices. They also offer specifically targeted templates based on your site's purpose, such as for promoting a bakery's sales, getting gigs for a musician, or keeping wedding guests informed.
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.

A web browser can display three types of images on your website: GIF, JPG, and PNG. GIF images are great for logos or images with limited color in them. They make your image file size smaller, which means they load much faster for visitors. JPGs are great for photos, while PNGs are ideal for full-color website images like button and menu backgrounds.
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.
Absolutely. You have the option to customize your website based on your business needs. You can add site content wherever you’d like in a variety of sections; from multiple site pages, to scrollable sections that you can add to each of those pages, to a gallery of images, menus and price lists, and YouTube or Vimeo videos. Each section in your website is customizable as well, from the name of the page, to your website’s navigation bar. You’ll also have the ability to change text colors, styles and font. It’s important to have a mobile and desktop-friendly website. With Website Builder you’ll be able to choose tablet and desktop layouts to give your visitors the experience you want them to have.
I want to create a website where can I post the restaurant and retirement home business of my hubby. I would like to edit the website at least monthly depending on our promotional activities. No payment option needed yet but a simple information for local customers and travelers as well. We want our website displays when people searched from their phone while on their travel since our place is in between 2 big cities. I trust you, and since I described my main objective which one do you highly recommend?
Weebly is one of the pioneers in creating HTML5 based websites and templates. It's an entirely online website builder with lots of goodies for designers. Its designs are immaculate and its features are mind-blowing. Every template and website design created using Weebly is compatible with mobile devices and works smoothly on all major platforms. You can create websites with Weebly using either your own domain name or a Weebly subdomain.
Personally, I find the free Simple theme to be enough for my needs. If you need additional features and even more flexibility, though, Ultra is my top recommendation. Note: Since Simple and Ultra are made by the same people and use the same foundation, you can start out with Simple and transfer everything you’ve created to Ultra if you end up needing it.

If you don't have a design already in place and think templates are too limited, consider Adobe Muse CC. This unique little program concentrates on letting you design. Templates are handy, embeddable web fonts are great, and the sitemap view may be the best way to get an overall feel for what your site will have. Export it to HTML and you're ready for upload. It's part of the Creative Cloud bundle and also available individually for $14.99 a month with a yearly plan.
Hey man, you’re the best. Even if I haven’t started yet, it really sounds easy. I want to create a site where people will upload their school notes from high school to university level and sell them. Then I will get a commission form that. I believe I will profit from that idea in my country. If you’ve any useful info on that please you can tell me. Thanks

Thank you so much – your evaluations will save my artist group members so much time and frustration. Wix and Weebly were my short list too. I recommended Weebly to them last year, as most members are not tech-literate and Weebly seemed the least frustrating for a first timer. Also, fewer and simpler templates were a plus in this case, rather than a problem. I will have another look at Wix now to see if the issues I had in my test site have been fixed. I agree with your comment on the Weebly statistics (e.g. it counted my edit tweeks as hits) and the constant upsell ads. As noted here by others, Weebly’s support by phone or online chat are excellent. I will have another look at Wix now and see if that might work better for us now that more members have some online experience. Thank you again for your excellent and well-written research.


Hey Amanda, Yes. Squarespace has partnered up with Google Apps to offer you the ability to create custom email addresses. The interface is the same as Gmail, which we like as it's user-friendly, reliable and secure. If you sign up to annual Business or higher plans, you get a custom email address for free for your first year. After the first year, you will pay about $4 per month for the email address. If you sign up to Squarespace's Personal plan, you won't get a free custom email but you can definitely pay $4 per month for this. In our view it's a pretty reasonable price so you can brand your email and business (or whatever you are building) properly. Looks so much more professional than just using a generic Gmail address. Jeremy
Hi Jeremy, Thanks for your article. I have a question I am hoping you can help me with. The original site I started was a free blog through wordpress website. I then decided to go towards an actual site with a blog attached, I made the switch to Hostgator. During this switch Hostgator took our domain name and is requesting $700 to get it back even though we paid the yearly fee. They are now saying they will not release our domain name until May. Does this seem correct? Thanks Kate
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 want to create a website where can I post the restaurant and retirement home business of my hubby. I would like to edit the website at least monthly depending on our promotional activities. No payment option needed yet but a simple information for local customers and travelers as well. We want our website displays when people searched from their phone while on their travel since our place is in between 2 big cities. I trust you, and since I described my main objective which one do you highly recommend?

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.


In all GoCentral Website Builder plans any data transmitted from your site will be encrypted using a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. Your SSL will establish an encrypted link between your web server and the browser of the person visiting your site. This means that all data will be kept private; which is important if you want visitors to your site to be safe. If you want to sell products or services in your store, you will want to have a SSL since it protects credit card and bank numbers from being intercepted by hackers.
Hello Kate, Based on your comment, that doesn't sound right at all! Did you give you a very detailed and sensible reason of why they are requesting the $700? Normally, domain names cost about $12 - $15 to renew on an annual basis. You can see more discussions about domain names that we've put together here. You should definitely demand a reasonable and detailed explanation. Good luck with that. Jeremy
Good article - but to make my choice easier, i must say this web site is awesome. What website builder did you build this site on Jeremy? Because all other website templates from the builders that i see operate nowhere near as good as this site. This site looks great in all devices, it runs quick - looks really professional and has so many features that i see. It just works well. The others look good on the surface but when you realy start to see how they look (changing browser window) and how they run and load this web site is light years ahead. So which website builder did you use for this site? This would be my choice for sure.
WordPress is popular for novice builders and has a reputation for being easy to use. There are thousands of free templates and plugins available at WordPress.org to make a good-looking site and extend the features of your website. After deciding on a template, update the images and text through the WordPress dashboard to customize your site. To make working with WordPress even easier, consider using GoDaddy Managed WordPress.
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.
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