The first thing you need to do before anything else is to get yourself a domain name. This is the name you want to give to your website. For example, the domain name of the website you're reading is "thesitewizard.com". To get a domain name, you have to pay an annual fee to a registrar for the right to use that name. Getting a name does not get you a website or anything like that. It's just a name. It's sort of like registering a business name in the brick-and-mortar world; having that business name does not mean that you also have the shop premises to go with it.
Hi wbs, Getting started is definitely the easy part - no doubt about that! And I take your point that it can be challenging to make a design that you're 100% happy with. So, I guess we're pretty lucky that website builders like Wix and Squarespace offer such eye-catching templates that we can edit to our liking or use as jumping off point! (Our 3-step guide can help you pick the right template too..) Not having to work with a blank canvas certainly makes things much easier and gets the creative juices flowing. I think the best thing we (as amateur designers!) can take from sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc is the simplicity of their design. Your users want to find what they need quickly and easily, so the key lesson is to keep designs eye-catching but user-friendly (oh and don't forget the importance of color on a website!). Thanks for joining the conversation, - Tom
Hi Jeremy! Thank you for giving me a very straightforward and transparent approach to making your own website. My daughter is a visual artist, and she will be applying to art schools in the next year. A website is necessary for her to show her work (all still paintings) to prospective art school admissions councilors and staff. What would be a good builder to use to "bring to life" her paintings and present them in a simple, tasteful and uncluttered way? And at this time, she is not going to use this site to sell her work, just present it to schools.
I own a small business and am looking to redesign our website. Thanks for all your comparisons of the website builders! I currently use Mailchimp to send out weekly emails to my customers. Do you know if any of these website builder sites allow you to create an email list? Then use a template to create an email (like Mailchimp) and send it out to all your subscribers. Ideally there would be a tab on your website people can click on to enter their email address…..They would then get your emails. Thanks for any feedback :)
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.
Larger businesses spend many thousands of dollars to get their custom-designed and programmed sites, but there's no need for smaller organizations and individuals to go to that kind of expense. For about $10 per month (or around $25 if you're selling products) and a few hours of your time, the services included here can help you create a unique, attractive website.
Hello Richard, Thanks for your comment and for your support! WooCommerce is a solid ecommerce tool (they were purchased by WordPress last year, I believe). They're flexible and you can bolt on a lot of different tools, but the downside for a "typical" business person is that to use WooCommerce (and WordPress) well, they'll need to invest more time into learning and managing the tools, or hire someone knowledgeable for help. A lot of new small businesses just don't have the mental bandwidth and time to learn the in's and out's of operating a WordPress site efficiently and effectively. The article you mentioned focuses more on hosted ecommerce builders, versus platform where you need to get your own hosting services (and there more technically and administratively challenging for users). We did highlight WooCommerce briefly in this guide where we dig into the differences between hosted and non-hosted ecommerce platforms. Jeremy
If you need a lot of design help and guidance. Wix offers pre-populated template designs so you can easily swap in your own business images and content without having to design your own layouts. If you want Wix to build a website for you, you can use Wix ADI. It is an artificial intelligence design software that asks you what you like and takes your ideas and build a custom website design for you.
Thanks so much for this awesome article :) I had literally no experience in building a website when I started using Weebly and I was surprised at how easy it was to make! I'm interested in looking into other platforms now that I'm up and running, particularly Wordpress? But I'll probably be sticking with Weebly for a long time until I'm ready, it really was super easy to use. Thanks again :)
Hi Jeremy, This is the most informative article on web design that I have come across. And I have read quite a number! I had a question though. I don't know anything about html/css or any code for web design, and I need to include a searchable database in a website I'm to create. Any ideas/tips on doing this on a WYSIWYG website builder? Thank you very much
Hi Laura, If you are using Mailchimp (we use Aweber ourselves), you don't need the website builder to be integrated with Mailchimp at all,unless you run an ecommerce store (I'll address this below). Newsletter services allow you to create a sign up box, then provides you with some codes where you can copy and paste these codes into your website. All website builders have a tool that allows you to embed codes into wherever you want on your webpages. Once you publish your website, then the sign up box will show up. If you are operating an online store, you can integrate Mailchimp with websites built with Squarespace, Shopify or Bigcommerce. This way, after your customer buys from you, they are automatically invited to join your newsletter so you can continue to share news with them, or even promote other products to them. Hope this helps! - Jeremy
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!
A web host is basically a company that has many computers connected to the Internet. When you place your web pages on their computers, everyone in the world will be able to connect to it and view them. You will need to sign up for an account with a web host so that your website has a home. If getting a domain name is analogous to getting a business name in the brick-and-mortar world, getting a web hosting account is comparable to renting office or shop premises for your business.
Users can get started with a free trial package, complete with template themes and hosting, then choose add-ons from the constantly updating collections of apps. Capable of creating complex sites without coding, BuilderEngine goes beyond basic text and images. If you ever get stuck you can also find one-to-one support by using their forums and Ticket Support Systems.
You will need to test your web pages as you design them in the major browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer 11 and Microsoft Edge. All these browsers can be obtained free of charge, so it should be no hardship to get them. Unfortunately, directly testing your site is the only way you can be really sure that it works the way you want it to on your visitors' machines. In addition, if you have a smartphone, try out your site there too.
First things first, you’ll want to check and see if your business name is available. To find out, enter it into the domain search tool below, powered by Bluehost. If you are taken straight to the registration page, it means your name is available, if you see a message that the domain is not available for registration, then you will have to adjust your business name.
Hey Vivy, I haven't used any of those hosting services before so I can't quite comment. I've used Bluehost and WP Engine. WP Engine is more expensive, but they're good. They're a hosting service that is dedicated to WordPress users, so their support people are quite knowledgeable about WP in general. I've had excellent experiences with them. Jeremy

Customization on WordPress requires much more technical skill than it does with website builders. You’ll need to dive into the code to make the changes you want. If you’re comfortable with HTML, CSS, and Javascript (or looking to learn more about them), this shouldn’t be an obstacle. Just be wary. WordPress offers more control than website builders, but only to those equipped to use it.
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