Full Disclaimer: If you choose to use the domain and hosting option I recommend in this tutorial and click my links to get to it, I’ll earn a commission (though there is no extra cost to you – it will actually be quite a bit cheaper since I’m able to offer a coupon code). I want to be very clear that there are definitely other good choices for your domain and hosting out there. This is simply the one I’ve been using since the beginning, and I’m very satisfied. If you do choose to use my link, thank you! 

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


Hey Theo, Generally speaking, Weebly is a solid website building platform. You don't need how to code, their probably one of the most user-friendly web builders, and their support is good. Best way to decide is to sign up for a free account and start testing their tools. You're not obligated to subscribe to a premium paid plan at all. You can upgrade whenever you want to, and only if you find them being to provide the tools and services that you need. Jeremy

Hey David, I think that IM Creator is a pretty good website builder, especially if you want to build a very basic website really quickly. Their tools are not he most comprehensive, but in a way that reduces confusion and allows you to focus on the basics which work really well in way. If you haven't seen our review on IM Creator yet, check it out. You can also take a look at our website builder comparison chart here to get a high level overview of who are some of the leading platforms available today. If you want great looking templates, definitely take a look at Squarespace. As for great quality stock images, see our resources guide here. Hope this helps! - Jeremy
1) A website isn’t static; it’s dynamic. It’s ever-changing. The moment you accomplish something, you can add it to your website. When you complete a project, you can put it in your portfolio for all to see. You don’t need to print new copies of it and send it out to your contacts over and over; you just update it. People can continually come back and see what you’re up to.
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.
Finally, for the sake of completeness, I should mention Compass.You don’t need to think about it at the very beginning, because it’s not essential for your ability to make websites, but when you reach a point where you’re writing a lot of intermediate/advanced CSS, and begin to find it a bit tedious, you should definitely keep it in mind. Compass makes the process of writing CSS way faster and more enjoyable, so if you can invest a couple of hours into learning that, that will be one of the best productivity boosters you can imagine.

This tutorial is designed to help beginners get started on their own so WordPress and a pre made theme are a great way to dive in and build a website from scratch. You can of course design your own WordPress theme or pick up a premium theme such as Bridge, Divi or X-Theme from Themeforest which you can customise a fair bit. I have a post on fronted frameworks too if that helps you.


Many of the top website builders support free trial options for potential customers. Some even allow a site to remain free, though with limited function and heavy branding. So, if you aren’t sure which platform is right for you, then consider starting trials with more than one. This allows you to experience the website builders simultaneously and can make a direct comparison easier. Then, as you find that certain website builders don’t meet your needs, simply remove them from contention.
Getting your message out these days requires good helpings of Facebook and Twitter, with maybe a dash of Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Tumblr. But that's not enough: if you want an internet presence that truly represents you or your organization, you also need a website that sets you apart from the crowd. A real website, as opposed to a social media page, gives you complete control over design and content. This lends credibility to your business, organization, or personal brand. Facebook pages all look alike in terms of design, but on your own website, you can realize a brand image, offer products for sale, and integrate third-party web services.
If you are comfortable using a word processing program to write your content, be sure to copy everything and paste it into a text file when you are done. Word processors can add extra formatting to your text that make it display incorrectly if you paste it directly into site building programs or HTML editors. Remembering this easy step can save you hours of frustration during the layout of your website.
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.
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.
Our final best pick isn't website design software but rather a custom website creation service from Blue Fountain Media. For some SMBs, the investment in a hand-designed, fully original website that does not use templates is worthwhile, and we were impressed with Blue Fountain Media's past design projects, customer service, approach to strategy, and options for integration and growth.
Most of the products here can tell you about site traffic, though the amount of detail varies greatly among them, and it's often tied to premium account levels. For example, Weebly can not only show you page views and unique visitors for each day of the month, but also search terms used to get to the site, referring sites, and top-visited pages. Wix and uKit, at the other end, have nothing in the way of built-in site stats, instead requiring you to create your own Google Analytics account, and even that requires a paid account. Another drawback of that approach is that you can only see traffic from the preceding day and earlier; it's not up-to-the-minute, or even the hour.
“Wow! I mean WOW. Stupid easy and brilliant website builder software. How did it take so long for this to be created. I have been out of Web Dev since 2010 so maybe just being away from it all impresses the hell out of me but you guys deserve a GOOD JOB! Award. I will pass on your name to all I know. Best of luck to you and I can not wait to see what is next.”

Others here have stated this, but I'll add some further insights from what I've learned over the past decade or so of learning to build websites on my own: Website Builders like Weebly, Wix, SquareSpace, etc are the easiest for newbies to build something relatively basic without any real web skills needed. The downside is that you don't really own your website, and must pay the monthly fees charged by these platform providers to keep your site up. Also, particularly with Wix, the SEO...
A little while ago, I left you a message asking for help figuring out some basics about website design and hosting. I think I’ve got the answer I was looking for. I contacted TotalChoice Hosting and they do only hosting, no web design help. So, I am going to read your articles about WIX and SquareSpace again and go with one of them to develop and host the website for my new domain name. Sorry to waste your time. I just had to realized that domain registration, website hosting and website development are all 3 totally separate things, even though some companies combine some or all of these services. Thanks again.
Hey Ben, thank you for all the information. I think web site builders in general are a great tool for novice computer users such as myself. I started my own website and it took me only a few hours to do so! I know I might sound childish, but this is unheard of for me. I used the Wix website builder software which was free of charge, and I am contemplating upgrading to the 2nd plan in order to remove the banner ads.
Good article - but to make my choice easier, i must say this web site is awesome. What website builder did you build this site on Jeremy? Because all other website templates from the builders that i see operate nowhere near as good as this site. This site looks great in all devices, it runs quick - looks really professional and has so many features that i see. It just works well. The others look good on the surface but when you realy start to see how they look (changing browser window) and how they run and load this web site is light years ahead. So which website builder did you use for this site? This would be my choice for sure.
This is AWESOME! I always like step-by-step tutorial and this one is really comprehensive. I hope I found this article when I first building my own website. (Sorry for bad English) You really did a great job, especially step 3! Most articles I found did not explain how to choose the right plan. As I am from Malaysia, due to the currency, the monthly payment of Wix in USD is quite expensive for me. I strongly recommend new starters to follow exactly all the steps above to get familiar with building websites. After having some basic knowledge, you may start to learn some basic coding skills or switch to a one-time-payment customization tools available on the internet to save cost.
Whether you have chosen to create your site with a CMS or a Website Builder, the first step is to open a new (free) account with your platform. Once you have opened your account, you will need to select a template (or theme if using WordPress) which is essentially the layout of your site’s design. Templates are usually categorised according to the industry or business types to which they are best suited. Make sure you take time to browse through the categories that best match your business until you find the template you like. Rushing it here might cost you much more time later on.
The software uses a layer based editing functionality which gives the user the ability to create images, apply filters to different layers and aspects of the image, add masks and filters, shadows and so much more. You can adjust absolutely any aspect of an image, illustration or graphic. For example, you could adjust saturation of colors, colors, blurs, contrast, tone, sharpness….the list is endless.
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.

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What’s awesome about Lightshot is that it integrates with your operating system’s default screenshot taking feature (Cmd + Shift + 9 on Mac or Print Scr on Win). When triggered, it lets you select a specific area of the screen, and then save it or share directly with other people. You can also edit the screenshot before saving (annotate it, add text, arrows, etc.).
Hi Laura, If you are using Mailchimp (we use Aweber ourselves), you don't need the website builder to be integrated with Mailchimp at all,unless you run an ecommerce store (I'll address this below). Newsletter services allow you to create a sign up box, then provides you with some codes where you can copy and paste these codes into your website. All website builders have a tool that allows you to embed codes into wherever you want on your webpages. Once you publish your website, then the sign up box will show up. If you are operating an online store, you can integrate Mailchimp with websites built with Squarespace, Shopify or Bigcommerce. This way, after your customer buys from you, they are automatically invited to join your newsletter so you can continue to share news with them, or even promote other products to them. Hope this helps! - Jeremy
Eric narrowly averted a career in food service when he began in tech publishing at Ziff-Davis over 25 years ago. He was on the founding staff of Windows Sources, FamilyPC, and Access Internet Magazine (all defunct, and it's not his fault). He's the author of two novels, BETA TEST ("an unusually lighthearted apocalyptic tale"--Publishers' Weekly) an... See Full Bio
What about Webydo? I’ve seen other blogs that recommend them as cloud based website software, but it doesn’t even seem to make your list. Could you at least write a review to help us understand why it isn’t included in this list. I’ve heard very good things about it. It is a bit expensive, but I’m sure that you can justify/disprove that price very easily.
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.
Hello Jeremy and Connie, I really have to first say, Thank You for all of your time and energy that you put into providing us, with informative and helpful education! I am starting an online business in women's clothing, So I am extremely into design. Shopify seems to be a strong interest for me but, I do not know too much about codes. So does Shopify have alot of codes? and do you think this would be too much of a challenge for a beginner of codes?
(Note: The free SSL certificate can sometimes take up to 24 hours to activate on your account after you purchase hosting. If Really Simple SSL doesn’t work at first, please try waiting 24 hours and then activating it again. In this case, you can still safely create new pages and add text in the mean time – I’d just advise you to wait on uploading any images until Really Simple SSL is active.)
Hi Gertrudes, I think if you want to build a simpler website, then Squarespace, Weebly and Wix are good candidates for you to test and see which one suits you better. Weebly has the lowest learning curve, then Wix and Squarespace. But from a design perspective, I think Squarespace will give you the most professional and beautiful looking website. All of them are mobile device friendly and so your visitors will be able to find more information about your website through their mobile devices. I think the best way forward is to sign up for them for free, then invest some time to play around with their tools and see for yourself which one you prefer. It's a very personal choice when it comes to which builder interface you prefer, so investing a bit of time in testing them out is well worth it. - Jeremy
Maintenance on a large site can easily be a full-time job, so build the costs of continuing maintenance into your budget. If you're working with a web developer who is helping with aspects of your project, the company may offer a maintenance agreement as part of the contract. Ask about this at the beginning of the project. Working with the same people throughout ensures consistency; a new person or company won't have the same working knowledge of your site.
Hello Vivy, I was in the same situation some time ago, so I tested the free hosting providers, the ones you mentioned above and even a few more. Took some time, yet saved me money. If you want to start from free plan, my favorite was Hostinger. I believe it will match your requests: the cPanel is "(very!) user friendly" - you'll be able to install WordPress with only a click of a button and it also provides many great plugins, don't be afrait to experiment! Since you're a beginner, having customer support is a great bonus and theirs will definitely help if you have any issues (sure helped me), don't be shy to contact them. Good luck with your blog! Hope I could help.
If your website will have more complicated requirements such as interactive features or online transactions, you may need the services of a developer. Web developers can cost anywhere from $45 USD to $200 USD per hour, depending on your needs, geographic location, and their skills. Some web designers also offer web development as part of their services. You can also locate qualified developers by doing an online search. Make sure you see some examples of similar previous projects before you hire anyone.

Image Editors: Whilst high in quality,the images you download may not always be the correct size (or proportion) to fit your website’s template. Online image editors provide a convenient platform not only for resizing your images, but for adding text or graphics and filtering the colors of your chosen image. And the best part is- you don’t have to be a photoshop wiz to use them!
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
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