Several of the services included here offer free options, too. If you choose that path, however, your site will include branding from the provider, which necessarily makes your site less impressive to savvy surfers—and shoppers. Free offerings vary greatly in the amount of storage and bandwidth they allow, so read the small print to find out how much you get with each provider. Weebly, Wix, and WordPress.com are among the most generous with their free offerings, if that's the way you want to go.
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Top tip: Don’t just test your website yourself. You will be blind to some of its faults. Plus, you know how your site is supposed to work, so while you might find navigating it easy that’s not to say a stranger will. Get a fresh perspective. Ask family members and friends to test your site and give feedback. If they’re anything like our family and friends they won’t be afraid of offering criticism.
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
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Sure, there are more advanced hosting topics to consider, such as Domain Name Servers and multi-cloud connectivity, but this guide is meant to introduce you to the basics. Whether you decide to do build a website yourself or hire coding experts to do the dirty work is up to you. But for now, rest easy knowing you have the information to get started in taking your business online.
One downside of most of these services is that, should you someday want to move to another web host, you'll likely be out of luck because of the custom code they use to display your site. Only a few of the services here let you take your site to another web hosting service: The most complete example of this is Weebly, which lets you download the standard site server folders. Squarespace offers some transferability by letting you output your site in standard WordPress format. As you might expect, the same transferability holds for WordPress.com.
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Google Analytics is one of the most popular tools for tracking how people view your site. The Google Analytics Dashboard connects your WordPress site to Google for proper tracking. It also displays your traffic in your admin panel of WordPress in real-time. It's very useful if you want to plan content strategies or just see how people are accessing your content.
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I think you should consider mentioning some of the options available for the open source version of WordPress (WordPress.org). The most notable option we have now I think is the page builder plugin Elementor from Pojo. The free version has tons of widgets one could use to build a responsive website for free without touching a line of code. I believe the space in WordPress.org is no longer for just for Developers. Anyone in the beginner stage can build sites on WordPress with much more flexibility than anything like WIX could ever offer since they are a closed platform. Mathew from LaunchParty has provided an amazing FREE course that will guide you how to build amazing sites with WordPress and Elementor. And he even provides you with amazing Elementor templates that you can use. Lastly, please note that not every thing that is meant to be sustainable is truly free. Last time I checked, in order to have a proper website with WIX, it was only free when you use their domain extension. If you ever wanted to remove WIX from the domain name, then you would have to pay for that. On the other hand, WordPress.org is open source, meaning free. But hosting is not, neither is your own domain name. There are many WordPress plugins that are worth paying for as well, including Elementor as well as others that will handle other important features such security.
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.
You can sell products and services on your website if you have the Online Store plan. You’ll have an online store that will allow you to add products and services, set up different types of payment methods, and even specific types of shipping. Your store will be integrated into your website as a page. You can add featured products for your visitors to scroll through, make quick purchases using PayPal and Apple Pay and promote your store/products through coupons. You can also use the same type of email marketing that is included in the Business Plus plan to send email communications to your subscribers and customers about sales in your store, coupon offers and events. Establishing a strong online commerce can boost your current sales, especially if you have a brick-and-mortar store.
Webs.com is one of the only free website builders to have an integrated membership function. What is this? It basically means that your visitors can sign up to be members directly through Webs.com using their very own Members app, and you can view, manage, and interact with your members through your Webs.com dashboard (like your own control center). This is instead of bringing in a third party to manage your membership sign ups – for example having to install an external app, which can get complicated!
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GoCentral is a website product that lets you create a website that fits your personal or business needs, regardless of your skill set. You no longer have to choose between a website or an online store – now you can have both. Whether you want an online store, a pop-up site or a professional website to attract new customers, you get to choose how simple or dynamic you want your site to be. Just pick a design and go create your website with GoCentral.