Great article, comments and discussion thread...thanks to everyone. My question is which of the site builders would be best for constructing a service business (versus selling and shipping a product) where different service event activity dates/times must be scheduled, payments processed and confirmations and follow-up details sent after purchase? Appreciate your insight. Thx!

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2016 was a tremendous year for web-based services & software, including e-commerce and web-creation platforms. This is overall good for us, the consumers, as competition between these providers ensures a better product, lower price points and more versatility in the long run. Be sure to stick with known brands which offer low monthly payments and even free plans.
Some sources state that 25% of the websites using content systems are using WordPress. Although started purely for blogging, now you can create amazing websites for any vertical using pre-made themes and templates. The advantages of WP is a huge community (that works to improve the product), and large marketplaces to cater for plugins, designs, technical help and much more.  The learning curve is not too steep, but possibilities are endless.
Some of the website builders will give you a free custom domain name for the first year if you sign up to their annual plans.  After the first free year, it typically costs around $20 to renew every year. If you prefer to buy your own custom domain name elsewhere as it is usually cheaper, you can purchase your domain name is through GoDaddy, and it will cost you about $12 – $15 per year. From a bigger picture perspective, it’s not a significant difference.
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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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.
I’m pretty new to the whole web development/design aspect of things. I’ve tinkered before with free things but more specifically with forum design. I’m very interested in building a website but aside from having a main traditional website feel I’m looking to incorporate a forum to it. Would it be possible to do this with this WordPress/BlueHost tutorial here? Or would there be something you recommend for that sort of thing?
I’ve always been curious about building my own website for personal use. I see commercials and banners saying how “THEY” are ‘free’ or ‘are easy to use’ or ‘best web builder around’, etc, etc. Not knowing who to believe, I, like many others, used the best resource that money can buy… i Googled! Your site was one of the links that I decided to explore and was impressed off the back. I liked your unbiased thoughts and personal 10+ experience in the field so you know what you’re talking about. So thank you for making our research, any potential pitfalls, future headache, possible regrets that we could’ve suffered by making the the selfless sacrifice by exploring these website building companies for the masses.

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I manage a running club. On the advice of a pal, we used Drupal to develop the club website. This went well enough when my pal managed the Drupal site, but when he got too busy, the thing became a nightmare. Our club management (a handful of runners) ended up spending an inordinate amount of time and money addressing Drupal updates and hacks and technical stuff that was far removed from doing what we loved and were good with (managing a running club.)
While our competitors limit you to creating a boring static website, at WebStarts we give you the ability to build a website that includes rich, interactive features, we call them apps. Our integrated apps range from form builders, calendars, memberships, video hosting, music playlists, music stores, maps, SEO, and much more. These interactive apps are designed to help your website attract more visitors, capture more leads, and make your website more sticky.

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Hello Robert, thank you for the comprehensive review. I would really appreciate your recommendation for my specific case (I have studied your review carefully and still I’m not sure). I am an artist and want to build a website showcasing my paintings (photographed high resolution), and an online store selling paintings. It is essential that I can add items to the store on weekly basis. It is also essential the site loads quickly to get high google ranking. Cost is an issue, and I don’t mind a learning curve. I want a clear and clean website, no confusion / getting lost elements. Would you recommend Bold Grid?

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.

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Our Squarespace support experience was not great. There are tons of resources available, but that’s also kinda the problem. There’s too much stuff and it’s not easy to find your way. We went looking for the live chat option, and unfortunately, that wasn’t much better. In order to reach the live chat, we had to fill out three drop-down boxes regarding our issue. Then, it still tries to send you over to an article or email. This repeated multiple times while we were waiting in the queue. They kept trying to send “how-to” articles, instead. Finally, we got on with an agent. But even that was slow. The entire process took around twenty minutes to get a simple answer to our question. And then, how did the support rep help? By sending us another link to a how-to article.

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Just from these features it’s easy to see how it’s worth upgrading to unlock the best for your website. And the good news is, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg! Most basic plans start from around $5 a month. Moving from a free plan to a basic plan is a really affordable way of growing your site and adding these great features to maximise your online presence.
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