Most of the time, the differentiating factor in a website builder—what makes it better or at least different than the rest of its competitors—comes down to one thing: the features. Maybe it’s blogging options, perhaps it’s a cool form builder or a useful membership system. It could be all of them—and believe us, this can happen! As numerous as the features may be, we go through all of the available website builder’s features to show you all the possibilities and tools offered for your website!
Regardless of your tech knowledge or experience online, we feel Weebly can help you create a website for your personal brand or small business easily. It’s an affordable choice that is ecommerce-friendly, so you can start selling your products or services right away. Plus, it offers a free plan, so you can at least try it out before you make your final decision.
What we liked: It’s cool that both their website builder and WordPress are supported for website creation. You can actually connect a domain name you purchased elsewhere with the free version. They have almost 200 templates to choose from and they are categorized by industry. Although their templates aren’t responsive, you can create dedicated versions of your site that will adapt to desktops, tablets and mobiles. Interestingly, they offer a way to easily create multilingual sites. And if you are a backup paranoid, be at rest: you’ll be able to download backups and even restore them.
A website builder is an online content management system that enables users to plan and build their own websites without need for the advanced designing and technical coding skills that would otherwise be required to create one. One would generally feature a step-by-step guide that assists users with everything from choosing a domain name to selecting a template that suits their needs.
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Starting with Wix's ADI (artificial design intelligence) tool, some of the site builders now offer a tool that lets you enter social accounts and other personal or business info, and presto bingo, they get you a no-work website. Jimdo and Simvoly now offer similar if somewhat less ambitious tools. Wix's ADI even impressed a professional designer acquaintance of ours with results we saw in testing, mostly using images and information it scraped from her LinkedIn account.
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All of the site builders included 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 tool, 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!
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On more than one occasions that we contacted their support (via email), we received an answer no earlier and no later than exactly 48h later. Also, it’s important to note that their social media channels have the latest updates in the middle of 2017. Considering these two factors it does awfully lot look like they have simply ditched the project and are barely serving their (yet) existing customers.
Accept online payments/set up an online store: On some builders like SITE123 and Strikingly, you can create an online store on the free plan, and sell one or two items, but to sell any more you have to upgrade. On some you can create a store, but you must be on a paid plan to actually accept payments through your website, (like Wix). Others won’t let you create a store at all unless you’re paying, such as Weebly. So it varies, but one thing remains the same: in order to have a successful and scalable online store you will need to upgrade to a paid plan sooner or later. Once you’re on a paid plan you can unlock features such as connecting different payment types, (for example PayPal, credit/debit cards etc), get rid of transaction fees, track and manage your inventory, and more!
WordPress.com is not to be confused with its bigger brother WordPress.org (read our beginners’ guide). The latter is fantastic if you are not scared of diving into technical terrain, but surprisingly, the .com version is not that much easier to use and has a lot of restrictions. Having said that, if all you want is just to create a blog, WordPress.com could be a great solution for you. For a website, though, we find there are better solutions. Paid plans start at $5 per month.
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It’s important to know what you want your website to do. Is it going to serve as informational only with contact information for your brick-and-mortar business? If so, you might want to consider reading through landing page reviews. If you plan to include a blog and photo slideshows to offer your customers free content, then you’ll want a website builder with a multitude of plug-ins for you to add. An ecommerce website can help you pull in revenue from an added avenue and, in that case, you’ll want to choose a website builder that’s meant for ecommerce businesses.
Yahoo's Tumblr is another incredibly popular blog platform that lends itself to shorter, more visual posts. You can, however, find themes that give your Tumblr site a more traditional website's look and feel. Google's Blogger features tight integration with Google Adsense, so making extra pocket change is a snap. Newer blogging services, such as Anchor, Feather, and Medium, stress writing and publishing more than intricate design, but they're incredibly simple to update.
Connect a custom domain: On a free plan your website address will look something like this: https://mysite.strikingly.com or https://joebloggs.wixsite.com/mysite. These web addresses can be long, confusing, and difficult to find if you’re a visitor searching for your site online. A custom domain allows you to choose a more personalized address, such as www.mysite.com which is a lot better for promoting a brand and getting found by potential visitors to your website! Even if you buy a new domain for your site or already own one that you want to transfer, you will need to be on a paid plan to actually connect and use it as the address for your website. Usually you can buy and connect your custom domain on the cheapest upgrade available, such as Weebly’s ‘Connect’ plan, so it’s an affordable option.
The short answer is web builders are suited to almost everyone. Due to their simplicity, ease of use, and expandability provided by things like extensions and apps, using one is a great way for virtually anyone to build a website. Beginners will enjoy the freedom to create a fully featured and complex websites with ease and professionals will benefit from the ability to implement their own unique style and touch.
Many people mistakenly believe that the only method for getting a professional quality website is to hire a web developer. But, by selecting the right website builder, you can achieve similar results for a much lower cost. Additionally, you maintain full control over the look of your website as you don’t have to rely on paying your original developer or finding a new one, every time you want to make a change.
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.