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.
One of the most common questions I get is whether to try to use a website builder or hire a web designer/developer.  The answer to this question depends on your situation of course.  If you have a really unique project and you have the money to support it then by all means a good web designer will be your best bet.  However, the cost for a truly customized website from a knowledgeable professional can easy run into the multiple thousands of dollars.  For some people that cost is justified, but for most it is not.
Thanks for the article Jermey. I was looking into making a site that serves dual functions. I wanted to create an entertainment news site that also functions as an online business. I purchased a subscription with godaddy for an online shop, but the templates are pretty bland and the customization is dreadful. Is there a site you could recommend for something like that?
With all that being said, I want to share some things you can do to improve your website’s SEO. To keep things simple, we’ll take an 80/20 approach here – as in 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts. Yes, there are lots of tiny little tweaks you can make to marginally improve SEO – and if you’re curious about them, you might want to check out this set of tutorials.
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.
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.
Here at SWB, we believe that online website builders are probably the best option for those who have no programming training, but want to get full control over the process of website creation. Site builders are easy-to-use, fast and affordable. These web services let you focus on what really matters – your product/business, doing all the heavy lifting for you.
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.
This guide is your training plan. As your trusty web host and coach, we’re here to keep you on track as you build, grow, secure, and promote your new site. We’ve broken this website workout plan into goals and tasks to complete each quarter throughout 2018, but feel free to work at your own pace. You do the sweating, and we’ll be right beside you with water cups and cheese-tastic motivational signs.
Hey Grant, Glad you're finding our discussions helpful! GoDaddy is a pretty good website builder and we've discussed it in more details here. In general, while using website builders with hosts does give you access to a broader range of services, at times, their support teams may not be the best in terms of answering very specific website builder related questions. For instance, Weebly offers really good website building services, and you can reach them by going to Weebly.com. You can also use Weebly through hosts such as Bluehost. Both will work and enable you to build your website, but when it comes to support, if you are using Weebly through Weebly.com directly, you get Weebly's direct customer / technical support team. If you reach out for help through Bluehost, you get Bluehost's support team. We have a much deeper discussion about this specific scenario here. While some of the website builders don't provide you with email accounts, you can also easily sign up for Google Business App's email services for a few dollars a month. This way, you can take advantage of having your own custom domain email addresses, a familiar Gmail interface, and also that your email is stored on Google's servers which is probably a lot safer / reliable / accessible. - Jeremy

The service also provides step-by-step tutorials for importing pages from other sites. It provides forums and even workshops to get you up to speed regarding nearly all aspects of the site. You can’t customize the mobile experience and the platform lacks on-page ad tools, but there a lot to be said for its hands-off approach and immense selling capabilities.
Overall SquareSpace is a high quality website builder that comes with a variety of modern templates to choose from.  The builder interface takes a few minutes to get accustomed to, but once you do it is intuitive and easy to use.  The only real downside is the price.  You won’t be disappointed with your website design, but you can make an equally great site with Wix while paying less.  I basically look at SquareSpace as a more expensive version of Wix.

Hi Jeremy, It's a fantastic article. I admire you the way you articulated this. I am planning to build a website. It would be more like, subscribers can post a question and the reply to this question feed will comprise an attachment that needs to send to a specific mail id. Could you please suggest me which website builder suits most for this use case? Thanks, Sri


Doodlekit is one of the most unusable and unintuitive website builders on the market. Editing the limited number of templates is confusing and convoluted and taking advantage of the advertised features is more trouble than it’s worth. Despite my extensive history with site builders and web design, I found myself confused and frustrated when trying to make even the simplest changes on my Doodlekit website.
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
Ready to race right off the starting block into building your website? We love the enthusiasm. But before even reaching the starting line, you need to get in some warm-ups and conditioning to establish a solid foundation. Every good website begins with a thoughtful plan. Open a fresh new digital doc (or grab a pen and paper if you’d prefer to go old school) and complete the following exercises.
W3Schools is optimized for learning, testing, and training. Examples might be simplified to improve reading and basic understanding. Tutorials, references, and examples are constantly reviewed to avoid errors, but we cannot warrant full correctness of all content. While using this site, you agree to have read and accepted our terms of use, cookie and privacy policy. Copyright 1999-2018 by Refsnes Data. All Rights Reserved.
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 that it's messy and would require a level of technical competence that most users of website builders don't have.
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.
If you're on a Mac however, there's another option: RapidWeaver. This WYSIWYG webpage editor has full code access and FTP support for uploading pages. There are plenty of built-in templates to get started, all for the one-time price of $99.99. On Windows there are numerous choices. Xara Web Designer 365, for example, starts at $49.99 and promises you don't need to know HTML or Javascript to create sites based on the company's templates.
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
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 undeniable uKit highlights is its stunning price/quality correlation – $3/mo if you enter our special code SWB-25 during checkout. The service has a free 14-day trial, which is more than enough to check and test all its functional features. At the end of the trial, you’ll be able to subscribe to one of the paid plans that come with multiple benefits. By that time, your website will be stored for a year on uKit hosting, but it won’t be accessible on the web.
And finally we have the fastest growing websites, which use a blog platform to publish blog posts. In my work experience, most of our websites are revenue-generating blogs, so becoming familiar with WordPress was a requirement. If you’re a web developer, it’s crucial to learn everything about WordPress. And if you’re a business owner, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with the WordPress admin interface and website maintenance.
Thanks for a great review! My only “con” would be that you didn’t included customer service. But I understand the work it would have involved. I LOVE WIX. I have been with them since they started. But their customer service stinks. I don’t like having to search through a database of questions other users have submitted to find an answer to my problem. They make it hard to find a phone number. Otherwise, besides a few technical beefs I have, it is a great option.

Disclaimer: Reviews on FitSmallBusiness.com are the product of independent research by our writers, researchers, and editorial team. User reviews and comments are contributions from independent users not affiliated with FitSmallBusiness.com's editorial team. Banks, issuers, credit card companies, and other product & service providers are not responsible for any content posted on FitSmallBusiness.com. As such, they do not endorse or guarantee any posted comments or reviews. Post Your Comment

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.
Hi Kahil, I think it will be challenging to find a free website builder that will allow you to connect your own domain name to the website. All of the good website builders I know of, such as Wix or Weebly, even though they allow you to build websites for free, they do require you to upgrade to at least their lowest plan before you can connect your own domain to the website. I suppose this is just a trade off - they can brand their names on your free website, in return for allowing you to build a website for free. If you want the ability for each customer to log in to view his/her own specific / individual pricing, it's not a feature that most website builders have. Builders such as Wix and Weebly has membership functions, but they just protect pages behind a membership gateway, where all members can access the same pages. So you can't set pages up that each member has his/her own unique pages, if you know what I mean. If you want that function, I think you'll have to use a more powerful membership software. Perhaps WordPress has a plugin for that, but I'm not familiar with one. Jeremy

Disclaimer: We spend hours researching and writing our articles and strive to provide accurate, up-to-date content. However, our research is meant to aid your own, and we are not acting as licensed professionals. We recommend that you consult with your own lawyer, accountant, or other licensed professional for relevant business decisions. Click here to see our full disclaimer.

Once you have an overview of your website plan/sitemap, you can drill down to the specifics of the content you need to create for a website launch. It will be important to create evergreen content (content that will not be changing much and will appear on the static pages) and also important to have fresh content appearing on your website on a regular basis.
A self-hosted WordPress solution is the most versatile and future-proof way of using WordPress. It gives you total freedom to do anything you want with your website. The only caveat is that it also allows you to install junky and poorly coded plugins or themes that might break your website, and it means you have to take the security of your website into your own hands.
Stop whatever you're doing and ask yourself this simple question: "Do I need a website?" If your response was anything other than "yes," you need to think again. It doesn't matter if you're the head of a multinational corporation who employs thousands of people or a local mom-and-pop shop from around the way, you need a website to help potential customers find you online. If you have a business, failure to establish an online home is a failure to grow.
Another great video-based learning library is Treehouse. Their library isn’t as extensive as Lynda’s, but they still have a lot to offer – especially in the area of web development. I actually prefer Treehouse over Lynda, as they include code challenges and quizzes with their video-based projects. In fact, I learned to build an iPhone app in just two days by using Treehouse. Unfortunately, I have yet to see any schools offering free subscriptions to their students – but that doesn’t stop your from asking!
Website uptime is a measure how often your website is available to everyone on the internet.  Ideally we are striving for 100%.  Websites are loaded from what’s basically a big computer called a server, and since it’s a computer it occasionally needs to be restarted, updated, etc. in order to continue to function well.  Because of this maintenance 100% uptime isn’t realistic, but somewhere in the 99% or greater range is.  What we are basically looking for here is any red flags where the site is not working for long periods.
Just found out after 9 years that my website builder and email addresses were tied together with my “Daddy” site. For $120 they’ll give back my email for a year. Time for a change I guess. Anyway with me having a site up and running can I bring in what I have from there or will a fresh start need to be done? Thanks for your very in depth research which I would think is current because the last update was May 2018.
If you're on a Mac however, there's another option: RapidWeaver. This WYSIWYG webpage editor has full code access and FTP support for uploading pages. There are plenty of built-in templates to get started, all for the one-time price of $99.99. On Windows there are numerous choices. Xara Web Designer 365, for example, starts at $49.99 and promises you don't need to know HTML or Javascript to create sites based on the company's templates.
Hi Jamie. I am not a web developer (yet) but I am aspiring to become one some day. I am using Django Framwork for the backend. But for the frontend , I am confused. Should I study HTML , CSS and javascript and then build a website (frontend) from scratch? Or should I not waste time , and just get a theme from wordpress? How much control over the look and feel of the website do we have, when we use these themes pre-tailored for us?
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!!
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 :)
Sure, there are more advanced hosting topics to consider, such as Domain Name Servers and multi-cloud connectivity, but this guide is meant to introduce you to the basics. Whether you decide to do build a website yourself or hire coding experts to do the dirty work is up to you. But for now, rest easy knowing you have the information to get started in taking your business online.

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.
Next, you’ll see a section for Hosting Add-ons. Honestly, I don’t think you need any of these, with the exception of an SSL certificate – which is automatically included for free. This will enable your site to have that little “Secure” lock icon, which you can probably see up in the address bar for this site. Having that there makes your site more trustworthy to visitors.
Hey Xylvia, The website builders that we suggested above aren't built specifically to stream videos for a price (sort of like Netflix). However, that's not to say it's not possible with a few simple workarounds. What you can do is set up a membership access only area (Wix and Weebly has this feature). You'll have to manually insert a payment button of some sort (such as using PayPal). Once your customer pays you, you can then email them links to pages that are "locked" behind the membership gateway, so they can access the videos. It's a bit manual and not as smooth as multi-billion dollar companies like Netflix, but it will work in concept. Alternatively, take a look at Sentry Login, which is a membership widget that works with Wix, Squarespace and Weebly. With Sentry, I think you can unlock a membership area once your customer pays. So it connects the payment system with the membership access system for you, which streamlines the process so you don't have to manually grant access to pages. Another thing you should consider is how big are the videos you want to upload. While you can upload pretty large movie / video files into the website builders, there are certain reasonable limits. For instance, if you're going to have 1,000 people viewing your HD movie that's 3 GB large all at the same time, that might be problematic. A workaround might be to get your own hosting solution for such large videos, then embed the videos into your membership only pages. It goes without saying that make sure you have distribution rights for the movies! But I'm not a lawyer, so best to consult proper advice in that regards! Jeremy
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
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.
Creating a website is like making a coffee now. With the help of awesome online website building sites like wix, it is very convenient to just drag and drop elements...and create a basic site within hours. For a bloggers, wordpress is the best option, but they have to learn a bit about wordpress first. After creating website, especially a blogging one, there are some necessaries like a good hosting like godaddy.com, social share plugin (I recommend social share plugins by social9.com), cdn service for protection against attracts (cloudflare.com).
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
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.
You can take photos on your own or find stock photography websites that sell professional photos at a reasonable price. Some websites charge a fee for their images, and other provide them for free. If you decide to use images found online, make sure they are from royalty-free sources. Many images have copyrights and you need permission to use them on your website.

We’ve put together a regularly updated list of our favorite website builders to walk you through finding the right one. Keep in mind nearly every free website builder on our list also offers a set of premium packages, many of which include expanded storage and bandwidth, as well as features often lacking from their freemium counterparts. The premium plans also remove unwanted ads on your page and the subdomain housed in your website URL, which is a must if you’re breaking into a professional field.
Hi TomN, Thanks for reading and joining the discussion. What you are looking to build is beyond the scope of our discussions here. It is possible but you'll either need to be very proficient with coding or have a healthy budget to hire a capable developer to assist you with your efforts. The reason is that the project you have seems like a very customized project. -Jeremy
×