Things to look as you vet hosts for ecommerce include drag-and-drop store builders, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) software for safeguarding financial transactions, and email marketing plug-ins, so that you don't have to work with an outside vendor to promote your business. There's nothing wrong per se with using an unconnected marketing service, but anything that adds convenience means more time to spend on the rest of your business. For more in-depth advice on getting started selling online, you should consider our story on the 6 Factors Companies Need to Consider When Choosing a Web Host.
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
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?
Hi there Shannin, What you're looking to create is a bit too advanced for the website builders we suggested above. You'll probably need a more specialized website builder (perhaps search for a "marketplace website builder"?) or have one custom built for you. If you decide on the latter, take a look at our guide on how to hire a website developer. Jeremy
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.
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.
Although people tend to find your site through a branded search in Google, it’s still important to make your domain easy to spell / type out. If it requires a lot of effort to type correctly, due to trying to spell it, the length or the use of un-memorable words or sounds, you’ve probably kissed goodbye to a good portion of your branding and marketing value.
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

I really wouldn’t recommend hiring someone to help you on a website builder unless you are trying to build something incredibly complex, in which case it would be worth hiring a developer to do it from scratch anyway. These platforms may seem a little complicated to non-technical users at first, but you’ll find that you’ll get to grips with it eventually – and quicker than you might think! It’s definitely better to save your money and spend a little more time mastering the platform yourself!
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 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.
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.
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.

Hi HARVEY, I recommend looking at Wix and Weebly as both are very easy to use. You won't have any trouble getting to grips with them as they been designed to be user-friendly. You'll have no trouble creating a simple one-page website with either one. As a heads up, Weebly has a smaller selection of templates, but they are generally simpler and more basic templates, so this might save you some time. And remember, just because all the bells and whistles are available, doesn't mean you necessarily have to use them! I've linked to our Weebly + Wix reviews for you. Hope that helps, - Tom

Great Article jeremy! VERY informative!! I'm working on making a job-board type of site. Where users can post jobs and and possible create profiles to frequently post job vacancies. The applicants should be able to filter through and search for jobs, so some sort of filteration system would be useful. If possible, I'd like for the job posters and the people searching for jobs to be able to create a profile on the website. What web-builder would you suggest? So far word press with cetains plug-ins seems to be the best bet but I'd appreciate your advice on this. Thank You

With WebStarts the drag and drop editor provides a true 'what you see is what you get' experience. You're empowered to create a unique website that conveys the value of your products and services. In addition, WebStarts is jam packed with powerful features that would cost extra with our competitors. All of this is backed up with live support, based right here in the USA. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is happy to help bring your website to completion.
The cost of making a website depends on a lot of different factors. If you decide to build your site with WordPress, you can get a new site for less than $50. For example, hosting a WP site with Bluehost will cost you only $2.95 per month, and that includes the registration of a custom domain! You will definitely need to invest a few bucks extra on a premium theme (which will probably be something in a range of $40-120), maybe a few premium plugins (on average, a plugin will cost you about $70), but that’s pretty much it.
WebStarts is everything you need to create and maintain your very own website. Traditionally websites are written in HTML code, that code is stored on a server, and a domain is pointed to it. The process of setting up a traditional website is tedious, technical, and expensive. If you don't know how to code you might hire a web developer. Next, you need to purchase server space. Finally, you need to register a domain. It's a hassle to manage three different bills and three different companies. The whole process is so confusing it leaves a lot of people wondering how to make a website at all.
I personally don’t think site builders will ever replace web designers/developers completely. Most site builders are targeted at small businesses and could never meet the demands required for larger businesses with all their complex requirements. I think Shopify plus is the only product trying to take on the larger CMS platforms right now (e.g. Magenta, Demandware) in the eCommerce space
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.
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.
Hello Mart, I don't think WYSIWIG website builders have any built in searchable databases - at least not the ones I've used before anyway. I "think" I've seen an external widget that you can use and plug it into a website. Have you tried searching for one? If there isn't any, I'd imagine you'd have to have one custom built to work the way you want it to. One "hack" you might want to consider is to use the website builder's search bar tool. So you would insert all your data into your website as pages, and let people use the sitewide search bar to find what they're looking for. It's not an elegant solution, but worth considering or testing. Jeremy
The free Wix version lets you build a good-looking website on a Wix-branded subdomain. With a free plan, you can use almost all functional features of Wix website builder. The plan is never-ending, which makes it possible for everyone not only to test the features of the service, but to create multiple types of websites with it to practice and improve your skills. Mind, however, that a free plan comes with the system ad banner, subdomain and some other limitations.
Excellent article! After surfing the Internet and reading many websites on how to create a website, I can honestly say that it is the most complete and easy to understand, for a complete beginner! Your step by step guide is comprehensive and very informative and has given me the confidence to move forward and try to set up my own commercial website ... A big thank you!
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?

Hello, I used BigCommerce to build the website, tenbrookeleanne.com, for my girlfriend's brick and mortar boutique. I do not know any code and before making this website, I knew nothing about ecommerce. The customer service for BigCommerce is awesome! Even though they are a WYSIWYG drag and drop site builder, they helped me customize my website by editing the code for me. They changed the background for my chosen (free) template and added an instagram social button even though it wasn't in the template. When making the website I had a ton of questions and they were always happy to help, now I very rarely have to call support. The BigCommerce University and question forums are very resourceful at well. I would highly recommend BigCommerce to anyone who is looking to make an ecommerce site. My only complaint about BigCommerce is that they do not have a native solution to integrate with the brick and mortar store POS to keep the inventory up to date (though they say they are/have been working on it). I have to use an expensive and less than satisfactory third party software for the two platforms to communicate with each other.
Hi Jeremy! Thank you so much for posting this! I found this to be very helpful!! So I do have a few questions though... First off, I am wanting to build a website that advertises a service I offer, displays images in two separate galleries, can be involved with a separate calander that can be accessed from my phone and be up to date on available times to schedule an appointment, and, most importantly, can have a payment option to prepay for my service to secure a time slot with a possible escrow type function to be able to add payments onto the set appointments. Does this make any sense? If it does, does this sound possible? Which website builder would you recommend to have access to these functions? I am just starting out so cost is also a factor, although I am willing to pay a reasonable amount of money to get this set up and to maintain it. Thank you in advance!!
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 :)
I agree with Jeremy. The purchase of the website should really go hand-in-hand with the business startup or company formation. Many startups think it doesn't really matter to get that best domain name, whether it is an exact match keyword, or a brandable name keyword, until after they've started up the business. This is so backwards thinking. Your domain name should be an integral part of your business and development plan, if any significant part of your business is going to come from your online presence. Taken to the extreme, if you are an online marketer, you don't want you domain name to be AppleTurnover.com, because your business premises are in Apple Street. and your company domain is Apple Online Marketing Agents, and AppleTurnover.com (which is anyway surely taken) was the closest name available. It needs careful planning. Of course depending on the size of your business. rgds stu
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.
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