Hey, Jeremy, thanks for an informative article. I'm planing to start my own blog but choosing the right hosting provider gets me a bit confused... I'm still a beginner at this, so would prefer something that would offer a free plan, at least for testing purposes. A (very!) user friendly interface is obviously a must... Could you please share some hosting companies that match my requests or at least point me in the right direction where to find them? Many thanks.
All of the site builders here let you put Facebook Like and Twitter Follow buttons on your pages, and some even let you display feeds from the social networks. Some give you help building a Facebook Page and tying it into your site design and updates. Many products offer some sort of SEO tools, but too often this is just a form on which you can enter meta tags. You're mostly left to wrestle with that black magic known as SEO for yourself. It's very important to submit and verify your site to the search engines, unless you don't want anyone to find it!
"Enormous potential with this product, it's just what I've been looking for. I've looked at all the online website builders and they are mostly monthly subscription or a bit complicated to use and will take me quite some time. Your program Mobirise looks like it will so easy to use. Great work everyone involved in the development of Mobirise page creator, and perfect timing with the new Google Responsive rules in mobile search."
Squarespace — There are a suite of beautiful apps: Commerce lets you manage your store. Blog lets you compose blog posts and manage your blog. Metrics gives you website analytics. Portfolio lets you manage photos and galleries— but it's iOS only. Having a suite of apps is great— rather than stuff everything into one app, they're able to make a beautiful interface for each use case.
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
When it comes to comparing the features offered by each website builder, our research team conduct exhaustive desk research to construct a feature map for each builder. This allows for objective, side-by-side comparisons of the quantity of features. Based on this user testing, we can also assess the relative quality of the features available on each website builder – for example, most website builders offer app marketplaces and integration, but that doesn’t mean they’re equally good.
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Website builders are a perfect solution for individuals and small businesses to start a website without hiring a developer. The problem is finding the best website builder can be tricky for beginners. With so many website builders out there, how do you know which is the right solution for you? In this article, we’ll help you choose the best website builder by going over the pros and cons of the most popular options.
A (once) hugely popular free website builder that has constantly been losing market share to the competition. They feature a simple editor with plenty of themes. But the big issue with this product is that it hasn’t received a major update since 2012. And it shows. Everything (editor, themes, features) seems pretty outdated and on top of that they limit the free plan to 5 individual pages.

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Top article Jeremy ! I own a cosmetics company, pre start up and I am looking at a web presence. I want to keep costs down but quality very high due to the nature of my business, lipbalm. Can I run my own video ad on a homepage of any of the drag and drop site s? I will be creating one for initial social media marketing campaigns) I want it to start playing as soon as someone lands on the homepage. And are they mobile / cell friendly ? Thanks Paul

I hear your pain. I know creating a website can be daunting, especially to someone who has never ventured into the online world, but let me assure you that it is really quite simple. If you don’t want to head down the road of building your own self hosted WordPress site, then I would suggest signing up to WordPress.com. This is the free version of WordPress where you can get your site up and running in no time and with no costs whatsoever. Sounds like you just need a no frills, no bells, no whistles type of website. If that’s the case then WordPress.com could be the option for you.
"I thinks the world of Web development is becoming easier and easier but it's also making it harder for guys like me to find work because so many people want to use out-of-the-box responsive layout sites that are easy to implement and launch. I personally would much rather make a site from scratch than use a template. The app is quite cool though as it provides a drag and drop interface that can create decent looking and original websites that has a mobile website design as well."
Now, this is not to say that you shouldn't choose a website builder for an ecommerce website— in the last few years website builders such as Wix, Weebly and Squarespace have aggressively built out strong ecommerce features. Instead, I'd suggest choosing a website builder for your ecommerce website if you're website needs to do things other than ecommerce. For example, if you also want to have a blog or other content heavy pages.
A (once) hugely popular free website builder that has constantly been losing market share to the competition. They feature a simple editor with plenty of themes. But the big issue with this product is that it hasn’t received a major update since 2012. And it shows. Everything (editor, themes, features) seems pretty outdated and on top of that they limit the free plan to 5 individual pages.
As the name suggests, Strikingly is an HTML5 website builder you can use to create beautiful websites and designs. Its templates are not only eye-catching but are also completely responsive and compatible with major mobile platforms. They are also visibly optimised for search engines with extremely quick load times. Strikingly also offers in-depth analytics for every site you build with it.
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.
Another drawback for Squarespace is its responsiveness. While the site claims to tout fully responsive designs, the site’s contents can often shift when viewed on mobile devices. This means that users are likely to not have complete control over their sites’ appearance, which can certainly be problematic for agencies, as clients demand certain levels of uniformity and professionalism.
There are plenty of template designs in Zoho’s website creator. The downside is that only a small fraction of them are responsive. Also, they probably looked excellent five years ago but now have a bit of a dated feel. The editor itself is super easy to use and covers all basic features you can imagine. Using Zoho Creator you can even add dynamic content blocks to your site. Also, you have full access to the HTML and CSS of your website. All in all, a very decent product, especially if you work with other Zoho products.
How is 7.5 okay? I think that it’s a great score, especially when you take into consideration that it’s an averaged score of several hundred people’s opinion… Shopify and BigCommerce (I don’t agree that they should have the same score) are very good builders. Yes, they are only for stores, and there are different free website creators that might take their place due to them being free, but they do their job very well. It’s better to be a master at a trade, unlike the other builders – jack of all trades, master of none.
Some sources state that 25% of the websites using content systems are using WordPress. Although started purely for blogging, now you can create amazing websites for any vertical using pre-made themes and templates. The advantages of WP is a huge community (that works to improve the product), and large marketplaces to cater for plugins, designs, technical help and much more.  The learning curve is not too steep, but possibilities are endless.
There are plenty of template designs in Zoho’s website creator. The downside is that only a small fraction of them are responsive. Also, they probably looked excellent five years ago but now have a bit of a dated feel. The editor itself is super easy to use and covers all basic features you can imagine. Using Zoho Creator you can even add dynamic content blocks to your site. Also, you have full access to the HTML and CSS of your website. All in all, a very decent product, especially if you work with other Zoho products.

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Hi Latisha, Shopify is great for those who are not super technical as they are much easier to use compared to other e-commerce platforms. This is not to say that you can make unlimited number of customizations to the themes without ever touching codes, as some levels of modifications does require touching some codes. But if you just choose a theme, and work within the capability of the theme with Shopify's tools, then you can get a really good store up and running fairly quickly. But if there is a certain look / feel / feature that you want to achieve that is outside the design of the theme, then you may have to code it yourself, or hire a Shopify expert to do so. Hope this gives you a bit more guidance! - Jeremy
Thank you so much – your evaluations will save my artist group members so much time and frustration. Wix and Weebly were my short list too. I recommended Weebly to them last year, as most members are not tech-literate and Weebly seemed the least frustrating for a first timer. Also, fewer and simpler templates were a plus in this case, rather than a problem. I will have another look at Wix now to see if the issues I had in my test site have been fixed. I agree with your comment on the Weebly statistics (e.g. it counted my edit tweeks as hits) and the constant upsell ads. As noted here by others, Weebly’s support by phone or online chat are excellent. I will have another look at Wix now and see if that might work better for us now that more members have some online experience. Thank you again for your excellent and well-written research.
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