There are dozens of website builders to choose from as of right now – all with their own slight differences. The end goal is always the same: making it as simple and easy as possible for a beginner with no coding or design experience to create and maintain their own website. This short guide will cover a few of the most popular choices, and hopefully make it easier for you to make up your mind on which service is right for your situation.
Using a drag and drop editor, instead of the traditional HTML and CSS coding, Weebly allows just about anyone at any skill level to create a website. This is accomplished by using modules – sometimes referred to as tiles – to make up the various parts of a website. Basically, these modules allow you to drag things in to place exactly where you want them, such as text boxes, pictures, videos, and so on. You can also get more advanced than that, by adding ecommerce functionality and other features as needed, and they try to make implementing these features as simple as possible.
Now, on to the themes available. Weebly does have responsive themes, contrary to what you may have read in some other outdated reviews. It took them a while to catch up, but you can now use mobile-friendly (responsive) themes on your website which will make sure that your pages are displayed in a manner that fits the smaller screen size of mobile devices. You can use the free themes available in the directory, or buy a third-party theme for around $50.
Weebly is one of the only popular online website builders which allow you to transfer your website and contents away from the service without too much trouble. Most of the other builders are setup in such a way that the code which makes up your website is not recognizable by other platforms such as WordPress. This often results in people feeling locked in to whichever builder service they initially chose, even when they have outgrown it and would like to move on.
Prices range from $0 to $25 per month. Starting at the $8 price point you are able to use your own domain name, and the advertisements from the free plans are removed. All plans offer free hosting and unlimited pages, and all paid plans offer unlimited data storage.
You have most likely heard about Wix already. They advertise on TV, radio, and all over the internet, which means they must be doing something right. They wouldn’t have such a large advertising budget if they weren’t massively popular.
Wix operates on the same basic principle that all of the other major website builders use, which is to make it simple enough for beginners to get their own website up and running. Using their own drag and drop technology, and the App Market for extra functionality, it is possible to create anything from a small personal blog to a large online store. You can also add a large number of other functions through these apps, such as email newsletters and comment sections.
At this time, it is not possible to easily transfer your website away from Wix to another host. It is fairly simple to transfer the domain name, but not the actual design and content of your website. There are some who will offer this service to you at a price, because they must do it manually. This is due to the fact that Wix (and most other builders) are setup in a way that is incompatible with other common platforms such as WordPress.
Prices range from $0 to $16 per month. Starting at the $4 price point you can use your own domain name, but your site will still be branded with Wix advertisements. From the $8 plan and up, the advertisements are removed, and you get enough storage space and bandwidth to accomodate most types of websites. The more expensive plans come with more storage and bandwidth, and for $16 per month you can run an online store.
Another very popular and widely promoted website builder is PrestoWebsite. It is quite a bit different to the others though, in terms of pricing and what you get for your money. Instead of getting a free (or very cheap) plan from another service, and then paying extra for add-ons such as ecommerce, PrestoWebsite aims to simplify all of that with various subscriptions that will be discussed below.
This all-inclusive method of operations extends beyond things like ecommerce addons. In contrast to other popular builders, there are no third party apps or widgets available – you must use what PrestoWebsite gives you. There is also no support for third party templates and designs.
Prices range from $5 to $40 per month. There is no genuinely free option. At $5 per month you get a single page website with unlimited bandwidth and storage space. From $12 and up you can add more pages, and you can use their ecommerce solutions. The various price points offered by PrestoWebsite are much different to those from other builders, so be careful and pay attention when reviewing each plan.
If you’re still having trouble trying to decide which website builder is right for you – don’t worry, because almost all of these services allow you to start with a free account. Of course there will be restrictions, and possibly advertising, placed on the free accounts so you should upgrade to a paid plan as soon as you have decided which one to use. These paid plans are fairly cheap, and well worth the money if you are serious about creating a professional and high quality web presence for yourself or your business.