Michael Muchmore is PC Magazine's lead analyst for software and web applications. A native New Yorker, he has at various times headed up PC Magazine's coverage of Web development, enterprise software, and display technologies. Michael cowrote one of the first overviews of web services for a general audience. Before that he worked on PC Magazine's S... See Full Bio
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Some web designers/developers like to install WordPress manually to get a custom install of the components they want and don’t want. Others will need to manually install because their web host does not have the “1-click-installation” capability. If this applies to you then you’ll need to have a quick read through of my Manual WordPress Set-Up Guide.
WordPress doesn’t have the most user-friendly layout design. For example, if you want to add large slideshow at the top of your page, you may need to add a plugin or custom code snippet (if the template doesn’t have a slideshow tool pre-built into the layout). If you want to move some content around the page, you have to edit codes. It felt like every time we wanted to make edits to the design, we had to pay our developer to help us, since we didn’t know how to code back then.
Support among the services varies widely, from free WordPress.com account's only offering community support, to Jimdo's email-only service, to Wix's telephone-callback service—even for free accounts! Many of the site builders offer rich online support knowledge bases and FAQs, so there's a good chance you won't even need to contact the company. I test each service's support as part of the review process by asking about some less-common site-building procedures.
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This is great information, thank you for this article. I’m just being pulled in too many directions with what to chose. I’m building a website for my blog and podcast. I already have a hosting site for my podcast but I also want a site for my blogs and about me for my followers to reference too. I want all my social media links along with my buzzsprout link to my podcast. Which website builder would you recommend? I would like to have a player on my site if possible.
While the the best of them offer surprising amounts of flexibility, they also impose stringent enough restrictions to page design that you shouldn't be able to create a really bad looking site using one of these services. Typically you can get a Mysite.servicename.com style-url with no commerce abilities for free from one of these services; you have to pay extra for a better URL and the ability to sell. One issue to consider is that if you eventually outgrow one of these services, it can be hard to export your site to a full scale advanced web hosting like Dreamhost or Hostgator. If you know that's where you are eventually going, it may be better to skip the sitebuilder step.
Mobile friendly and responsive design means that you don’t need to know how to code — this could even be your first time working with a domain — and setting up your new site requires only a few steps. GoCentral Website Builder is designed to generate style choices that you can quickly review and chose without diving into your site’s settings. This will give your visitor an enjoyable experience that feels natural from either a desktop or mobile device.
In February 2009, Netcraft, an Internet monitoring company that has tracked Web growth since 1995, reported that there were 215,675,903 websites with domain names and content on them in 2009, compared to just 19,732 websites in August 1995. After reaching 1 billion websites in September 2014, a milestone confirmed by NetCraft in its October 2014 Web Server Survey and that Internet Live Stats was the first to announce—as attested by this tweet from the inventor of the World Wide Web himself, Tim Berners-Lee—the number of websites in the world has subsequently declined, reverting to a level below 1 billion. This is due to the monthly fluctuations in the count of inactive websites. The number of websites continued growing to over 1 billion by March 2016, and has continued growing since.
Although people tend to find your site through a branded search in Google, it’s still important to make your domain easy to spell/type out. If it requires a lot of effort to type correctly, due to trying to spell it, the length or the use of un-memorable words or sounds, you’ve probably kissed goodbye to a good portion of your branding and marketing value.
WordPress.com is built for blogging, and it shows. Extensive blogging features are automatically built-in such as analytics, a search feature, comments, display categories, archiving, and more. Combine this with intuitive design, such as being able to choose your settings for feature images and which blog posts should appear on your home page, and it’s clear why WordPress.com is so successful.
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The strict responsive approach of Simvoly, uKit, and Weeby means you get no control over the mobile-only view. Gator and Wix, by contrast, offers a mobile-site preview and lets you make customizations that only apply to mobile viewing. For example, you may want a splash page to welcome mobile viewers, or you may want to leave out an element that doesn't work well on the smaller screens.
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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!
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Facebook is a well-oiled, data-collecting machine, and you can use its power to target advertising directly to your ideal audience. You can create a Facebook ad that reaches users based on specific info such as age, gender, interests, etc. As with Google Adwords, you’ll set a budget and pay for clicks. Get on Instagram and leverage your feed and stories for some great free advertising for your brand. Follow this guide to narrow down which social networks you should use for your business.
Advanced marketing tools: Marketing is a massive part of promoting your website – whether it’s your own portfolio, brand, or business, you want people to find you! While free plans do often have basic marketing or newsletter tools, if you’re paying then you will have access to much more advanced marketing tools such as email campaigns and better site analysis and statistics. This way you can reach out to your visitors and then track how successful your campaigns have been to help spread the word!