Jennifer Young is a specialist in educational technology with experience in web design and development. She also has 12 years of editorial experience writing for print and the web. Jennifer is passionate about covering topics related to web tools and technologies and enjoys learning about tech as much as she loves teaching it. She embraces the challenge of making web hosting accessible for every type of user and is delighted to share her knowledge with the HostingAdvice.com audience.
Maybe just like you, at first we didn't have a darn clue about how to build a website, nevermind write half a line of code if our life depended on it! We wanted to build a website to start a side business, and felt overwhelmed, confused & scared about how to actually do it, which builder to use, and making wrong decisions. After years of trials & errors using different website builders, we're here to share our experiences with you.
Telling someone what I do for a living is always an interesting experience. Either we’re totally in sync, both lost in conversation about WordPress woes or some time-saving program update, or it’s me talking with crickets in response. There’s just something about web hosting. It’s hit-or-miss whether someone is up to speed on the nuances of all that this industry has to offer.
Finally, I would like also to draw attention to another interesting CMS that I used a decade ago and really enjoyed using at the time: it was originally known as Article Manager, and its current incarnation is CMS Builder, from InteractiveTools (a company based in Vancouver). At the time I was using it, I remember that the developers were very helpful, and the forum was lively and helpful too. Now that I am using WP, I would not really consider moving to CMS Builder (although I own a license), since WP offers much more in my view. But some people might have reasons to prefer it. However, one should pay attention to the fact that some of the add-ons can make it more expensive than the initial $200 price for a single site.
We believe that managed hosting is a way to empower our clients to focus on their core business and take the hosting maintenance off their chores list. We offer automatic WordPress updates that you can leave on auto-pilot or schedule. We run the latest PHP versions, but allow you to switch between versions. We enable static caching for your website, but you can easily switch it off or add more layers, like dynamic cache and memcached so you get the performance you want.
GoDaddy Website Builder can act as your hub, the place where your friends and contacts can see your posts, photos, videos and more. With the option to link to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube on your website, your visitors can be everywhere you are on the web. Being able to cover multiple platforms gives you the opportunity to reach more people, while creating appropriate content for each of your socials (like posting all of your photos on Instagram, and tweeting about your most recent business venture on Twitter). By centrally locating all the links in one place – your new website – you are giving your website visitors a seamless experience. Linking to your social media in your website gives you an advantage in communicating with your visitors; the more they can connect with you and do so in the forum that’s most comfortable to them, the more they’ll engage with your site, and thus you or your business.
Imagine just letting your website sit around for a year without ever editing its content. After a year, the WordPress CMS version is old and probably susceptible to hacking. Most website builders, on the other hand, are silently updated and maintained behind the scenes by the provider. As long as your password is secure, you have almost nothing to fear.
All that being said, October’s gets pretty rough the closer you look. The community isn’t deep or broad enough to support a wide enough range of prebuilt plugins or themes, and to make that worse the October crew has set up a weird cloud-based “project” validation thing, in the interest of being security conscious I believe. Regardless of the intent, it makes it super-difficult for newbies to figure out how add, update, or edit any of the plugins on their site. And heaven help you if you decide to ‘detach’ your site from a project … ::sigh::
Emit is right, there is no perfect plan or company. For instance, I park a handful of domains, one of which serves as a basis for all my personal emails. Additionally, I dabble... one or two WordPress websites. There is only one plan among the hundreds offered out there that really suits my needs. Most good deals are for 1 website, and if you need two they want you to pay for "unlimited". Here's the kicker, it looks cheap initially, but it won't be later on. It's the same game that the cable ISP providers play. I will not stay out of principle; don't play games with me. Another thing I consider, many of these hosting companies, are being managed in places like Lithuania, Cypress, somewhere in Eastern Europe. I'm old enough to plainly state that I am not a naive millennial. Am I supposed to all of a sudden trust these folks? Russia, Ukraine, Romania aren't those the places where the most vicious hacker thieves come from? I'm thinking, if I get screwed by a hosting company, why not El Segundo, California. If your host is based in Lithuania, and you suffer a loss as a result of their actions, or lack thereof, what recourse will you have? Disclaimer: There is always that possibility that I could be wrong, so bear in mind, that if you think I'm wrong, be advised that it doesn't matter.
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.
Comparatively not so advanced, Squarespace is ideal with the simplest method to build a basic website. Unlike traditional Page Builder, you do not need to sign up for hosting, purchase a domain or go through the extra hassle. Instead, you simply create an account on Squarespace and that’s about it. After answering a few more questions on your preference you end up with a working website in a matter of minutes. While it includes a drag and drop builder that you can use to add and customize the elements of the site, it does not provide much control to the users.
You can create a free website with Wix that comes with a Wix domain. To instantly look more professional online, get a custom domain name. It adds credibility to your brand and helps visitors find you online. You can start building your brand by using your domain in a custom email address ([email protected]), your social channels, email marketing campaigns and more.
Just imagine Medium shuts down as did Posterous back in the days (which was a similar service). You will not necessarily lose all your content but all the SEO rankings you ever created. To get it right you need to publish on your own domain name and preferably on your root domain (www.yoursite.com/blog) and not a sub-domain (blog.yoursite.com). This has numerous SEO advantages.
You can absolutely do that. If you want to upgrade to a paid plan to get some of the features you want, then you can switch at any time through the My Products option in your account or with the help of a GoDaddy Guide. Once you upgrade your site will have all the same customizations and work that you've already put in place, just with the added features. See Website Builder plans and pricing for more info.
It is also much more flexible and extensible than WordPress. The best part is also that unlike WordPress with predefined content type, it allows the user to set up their own content type using 18 different types of field. But like we mentioned before, this is not the perfect place to start if you are looking for a simplistic website and are a beginner.
Thank you! I tried to sign up for your list and freebie, but you use Aweber, which has blacklisted me for years! I put a half dozen quite spammie emails into Spam ("Hurry, Last day for ___") and was forever and unforgivably condemned to their ship list... I have fought through to a human at Aweber twice, and both swore they could do nothing about it! Sad, but thus far and no farther! Thanks for the analyses, Sam
Larger businesses spend many thousands of dollars to get their custom-designed and programmed sites, but there's no need for smaller organizations and individuals to go to that kind of expense. For about $10 per month (or around $25 if you're selling products) and a few hours of your time, the services included here can help you create a unique, attractive website.
Start from scratch or choose from over 500 designer-made templates to make your own website. With the world’s most innovative drag and drop website builder, you can customize or change anything. Make your site come to life with video backgrounds, scroll effects and animation. With the Wix Editor, you can create your own professional website that looks stunning.
HOW TO MAKE A WEBSITE + ONLINE STORE (in 15 minutes!)
Blogs are swell, but sometimes you need a simple place to park your persona on the internet for branding purposes. In this case, you can just get a nameplate site, or as we prefer to think of them, a personal webpage (rather than a multipage site). Instead of linking internally to your store or other pages of note as you would with a more traditional web page, a personal site usually has links that go elsewhere—to your social networks, wish lists, playlists, or whatever else is linkable.
WordPress (either version) is a blog-focused content management system that accepts plug-ins and themes that extend its capabilities to what most of what the other products here offer, including commerce. In fact, WordPress.com uses plug-ins such as JetPack to provide many of its features. As a whole, WordPress (either .com or .org) is not as easy to use as the other options in this roundup, but if blogging and site transferability are of key importance and you don't mind digging into its weeds a bit, you should consider the platform—especially WordPress.org. Furthermore, the ability to use WordPress is a valuable skill, as some estimates say that WordPress powers 30 percent of the internet.
You gain the most web-building functionality if you create a self-hosted site. This typically involves transfering the free WordPress CMS to server or signing up for a web host's optimized WordPress plan. With an optimized plan, the host automatically handles backend stuff, so you don't have to worry about updating the plug-ins and CMS, and enabling automatic backups. In these instances, the WordPress environment typically comes pre-installed on the server.
Website builders make website development a breeze if you know their strengths, limitations, and opportunities. Some are better to create stellar designs; others make reliable e-commerce platforms. Picking one should not be that hard once you made up your mind about what your website wants to be, whom it addresses, and what outcomes you want it to yield.
If you find WordPress too complicated, you can stop right here. The Joomla! CMS definitely has some nifty features built right in, most importantly, management for multilingual web pages – but it’s complicated! While WordPress sometimes almost feels like a website builder for beginners, you’ll find Joomla! much more complex. Just look at the screenshots below.
Even if you don't sign up for those web hosts, you should look for services that offer similar features. You'll want a WYSIWYG editor that lets you adjust every page and add images, video, and social links. Plunking down a few extra bucks typically nets you robust ecommerce and search engine optimization (SEO) packages for improved Bing, Google, and Yahoo placement. Most advanced web hosting services include at least one domain name, free of charge, when you sign up.
I agree with you that Pulse CMS offers an interesting way to go, without databases. Before moving all my sites to WP over the past two years, I had always felt reluctant to use databases: but testing WP had convinced me to go ahead. Although I do not use it at this point (I played a little bit with previous versions), I bought a Pulse CMS license, if only in order to support that interesting project. I do not rule out using it for a site some day, at least experimentally.
There are three main ways to build a website. If you’re a beginner, by far the easiest way to build and launch a site is to use a website builder provided by your web host. If you’re at least somewhat web-savvy, you could use use WordPress or a content management system (CMS) such as Drupal or Joomla. If you are already well-versed at coding, you can start from scratch and use HTML to build the site from the ground up. Each approach has its merits and challenges:
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.
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.
Things to look as you vet hosts for ecommerce include drag-and-drop store builders, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) software for safeguarding financial transactions, and email marketing plug-ins, so that you don't have to work with an outside vendor to promote your business. There's nothing wrong per se with using an unconnected marketing service, but anything that adds convenience means more time to spend on the rest of your business. For more in-depth advice on getting started selling online, you should consider our story on the 6 Factors Companies Need to Consider When Choosing a Web Host.
Now, whether you choose to use a content management system like WordPress, a website builder tool like Weebly, or an e-commerce platform like Magento, you’ll need to install the software on your server. The same goes for other external applications you want to use for your website, but that aren’t inherently part of your chosen content management system.