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 will necessarily make 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.
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?
The modern website builder allows you to create an HTML5-compliant site with a heavy focus in commerce, yet, it also hits its stride when it comes to analytics tools and its resounding ability to accommodate mobile devices. Buttons for adding and editing content line the left-hand side of the straightforward interface, as well a button for quickly previewing how your content will look once live, all of which adhere to your respective theme.
The basic plan is free, but is extremely limited. Their personal plan starts with $4 per month billed annually and includes a custom domain. Premium plan costs $8.25 per month billed annually and it gives you the ability to monetize your site and advanced design customization. Business plan costs $24.92 per month billed annually, and it gives you the ability to have Ecommerce and custom plugins.
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?
Get advanced capabilities with all the design features of the Wix Editor. Build custom web applications and robust websites. It’s serverless, hassle-free coding. You can set up your own database collections, build content rich websites, add custom forms and change site behavior with our APIs. Plus, anything you create is SEO compatible. With our website builder, you can create anything you want.
Jeremy, I believe this article is really helpful to cross the initial mental hurdle of making a website. I do also want to build a website. But before getting started few questions are coming into my mind. Brief about my planned website: A website strictly user login based. User can upload audio, video, image and text files or may be youtube/soundcloud links. Those uploaded files should be played or displayed on the website UI only. Users can view/like/share other users' uploaded files or can download on basis of permission given during upload. Now my questions: 1. Is this really possible to build this kind of website though the online website builders? if yes, then: 2. Which builder will be best suited for my requirements? 3. Who will give me this amount of cloud storage? How much will it cost? 4. How do I write decision making codes inside? 5. How do I maintain database and run query on database? 6. How can I get money from my website (without advertisements)? Who will pay me money and how? See, I am an IT professional (though not working in web development domain). I have no issue in writing codes, but I was wondering if I could do it with shorter timespan and lesser amount of maintenance effort. That's why I was going through your blog. Lastly, if you really believe that it is quite impossible to build this kind of website online, please suggest me what should be the best way to build it from scratch. What framework should I use (I know Java and Python both)? But in that case also, one question still remains: how can I earn from this kind of website? Thanking you in advance.
For most users, free themes are the best place to start. When you install a new theme, it doesn’t change the content on your site, only the layout. This means you can download and install a number of different themes to see which theme suits you best. If you feel like you need something more advanced than a free theme, you can always install a paid theme at a later date.
WordPress – is the most popular free Content Management System. It initially started as a blogging platform, but quickly developed into a universal web building solution. The system somewhat differs from standard website builders in terms of its complexity. This is not the best solution for newbies, who have zero web design skills, yet it works great for web designers, who have at least a bit of web building experience.
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.
Web hosting is like paying rent for your website's virtual storefront, including the pages, images, documents, and other resources needed to display that site. Web hosting uses a web server, which is where you put those website resources so others can access them through the Web. You can build a fully functional website on your personal computer, but if you want other people to be able to see it, you will need to use a web host.
Hey Jeremy, Awesome article. I especially like the flow and the logical approach that you took to educate people. This is the article I point clients to, to get them up to speed before starting projects. I think it's important for them to know how their products work. While they aren't making their own sites, it definitely still fits the bill. Also, I'm curious as to what you think about WooCommerce these days. I didn't seem them on the list in the other article you wrote "Best Ecommerce Software". Anyways, I've been sending my clients here for a while now and just want to give you a shout out at a job well done! If you are able to send me an email, I do have a question I'd like to ask if you have the time.

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.


Hi Joe, I'm not entirely sure to be perfectly honest. I'd imagine you would have to have the ability to host the domain name, help your customers connect the domain names to their websites, etc. The website builders mentioned above are probably not equipped for the unique requirements that a domain name registrar need in order to run its business properly. I'd imagine a lot of the functions will be pretty customized. Jeremy
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.
More-advanced options found in some builders let you process credit card payments and add your own cart and checkout pages. The more-powerful site builders include product promotions, email marketing, and inventory and shipping tools. Some let you sell digital downloads, while others don't; see the table above to find out which do. Only a couple of these builders let you put ads on your site, though most of them allow some degree of custom HTML code insertion.
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.
Kevin, With website builders like Wix or Weebly, you can use them for free and there isn't a time limit. However, with the free plans, you won't be able to connect your own domain name to the website, and you will be limited to certain functions. But you can definitely publish a website. Further, all hosting services are provided by the website builders listed above. So you don't have to get your own hosting services. Jeremy

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.

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.
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!!

Strikingly offers a good variety of template options that are well-designed and modern.  The website builder doesn’t make it as easy as some of the others to customize things, but it’s fairly good. The real downside is the price.  At $16/mo it is the most expensive option (they have an $8/mo package but it is really limited), and with some other website builders offering a better product for a cheaper price, Strikingly is not the best choice.

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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