This is the actual “website builder” that we’re looking at here.  No matter how good the template you choose is you will definitely need to do a least some customization in order to get your site looking the way you like.  So an easy-to-use and intuitive website builder is a must.  You want something that offers the ability to make the changes you want, and that doesn’t require you to spend hours learning how to do it.
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.
One of the easiest ways to appear illegitimate as a company is to shirk on paying for a domain name. If you were looking for a freelance writer, would you more likely hire from Carolineforsey.weebly.com or Carolineforsey.com? A .weebly or .wordpress extension is an indicator you didn’t pay for the full service, which might seem unprofessional or lower in quality -- worst case, a consumer might wonder why you can’t afford the full service, and draw conclusions that you’re not fully established.
Thank you for writing this “How To” guide for first-time website builders! Up until now I honestly thought the only way to make a personalized website for a business or with a unique domain name was by hiring a website designer. It was such a huge help to read about the pros and cons of each site builder and to see what costs would actually be associated with each. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Speaking of usability, website builders are also made to be extremely functional and usable by even novice users. An average website can be built in a matter of hours and changes can be made in minutes. Something that users often fail to keep in mind is that a website is never completed. It is always a work in progress that requires changes and edits and they give users the ability to make snap edits and changes.
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

Hi there and thank you wor this fantastic WP resource. So much useful information. I have a question, though, I am not finding an answer anywhere but I’m sure you’d be able to point me in the right direction. I have a webpage that I had built with weebly time ago but I finally have time and wish to turn it into a more professional site and blog. I want to move to WP.
If the .COM version of your business name is available, consider using this for your website. Otherwise, try different phrases before settling for an alternate suffix, like .NET or .INFO. Consumers overwhelmingly use .COM when entering a web address. So even if you promote your .NET website, you could lose customers who typed in the .COM version instead.
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.
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
Caution: In my opinion, WordPress is not something I will suggest for people with no or limited technology skills, or for those who have never owned a website before. Why? Because WordPress has a much steeper learning curve and setup costs than fully managed website builders like Wix, Squarespace or Weebly. WordPress also doesn’t offer you a dedicated support team so you’ll need to troubleshoot issues yourself (or hire someone).

Support among the services varies widely, from free WordPress.com account's only offering community support, to Jimdo's email-only service, to Wix's telephone-callback service—even for free accounts! Many of the site builders offer rich online support knowledge bases and FAQs, so there's a good chance you won't even need to contact the company. I test each service's support as part of the review process by asking how to connect a domain bought elsewhere to my site and how to sell digital downloads.
Hi Mike, Interactive map building is something I have very little experience with - I haven't ventured much beyond embedding google maps in iframes such as yourself. I would suggest browsing the app market and 3rd party plugins available on builders like Wix and Weebly, who both offer a huge amount of additional features. It would surprise me if there wasn't a plugin that could help get you on your way. Similarly, you can also find membership area functionality through these app markets. I believe Wix also offers the ability to add member areas and logins though its editor too. Hope that points you in the right direction, - Tom
The first thing to do when building your website is to develop a plan. Before you move forward, think about what you want your website to do, and decide what success looks like for your website. When you look back at your results a few months after your website is complete, how will you know it was worth it? Make sure you are planning your site to match your goals.
3. Now, you’re ready to add content to your site. For instance, I added the title, “Caroline’s Consulting Business”, by using the “Text box” tool in the Insert panel. The Insert panel also includes options to embed images or links, or connect to your Google Drive or Google Docs. For example, I circled “Google Docs” in the image below -- I clicked that button to embed my “How to Take a Screenshot on Windows” Google Doc into my landing page.
Superb article! Don't know if you can help here; My dad is a vegetable farmer and he sells his products to a small group of organic customers. I wonder if you could recommend a website builder so his customers can view the veggies available, rate them and even purchase online. Only thing I think it would be best if they would have to log in to get their individual pricing. Any idea? Thanks already. BTW I don't necessarily need the easiest builder, I do some tech work; just a professional looking, free solution with our own domain cause my Dad won't spend a dime on this until I make him see the benefits.

If you are right about to create a website, then the best way to do that quickly and at no cost is to use a website builder. These services cover a broad spectrum of web design needs and allow launching a decent project on your own. There is no need to deal with web design studios or hire web developers. Instead, you get an opportunity to save big, availing the top notch result, which will certainly exceed your expectations.


While the the best of them offer surprising amounts of flexibility, they also impose stringent enough restrictions to page design that you shouldn't be able to create a really bad looking site using one of these services. Typically you can get a Mysite.servicename.com style-url with no commerce abilities for free from one of these services; you have to pay extra for a better URL and the ability to sell. One issue to consider is that if you eventually outgrow one of these services, it can be hard to export your site to a full scale advanced web hosting like Dreamhost or Hostgator. If you know that's where you are eventually going, it may be better to skip the sitebuilder step.
For example, if you’re creating a site for a restaurant, you might have a Home page, a Menu page, a Reservation page and an Access page. If you’re creating a fan site for your favorite soccer team you might have a Home page, a Players page, a Results page and a Blog page. If you take a look at your current site, you should see two pages already in the menu bar – Home and Sample Page.
For those who don't have Windows 10 but need Microsoft Edge, and those who run a Mac (and thus do not have either Edge or Internet Explorer), all is not lost. You can use a piece of software called a virtual machine, which mimics a completely separate computer running within your real computer. Information about this can be found in the article How to Check Your Website with Multiple Browsers on a Single Machine (Cross-Browser Compatibility Checking).
Great Article and the only one that gives a step by step guide. This might be a silly question but I keep reading about buying a hosting space on the internet and you haven't mentioned that at all. Is that same as buying a domain? Does it mean that if i get one of the website builder plans with the domain included, then I dont need to go anywhere else?
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