Online Website Builder

online website builderAn online website builder is a great way to create your own website even if you have no technical knowledge. In many ways, an online website builder is very similar to WordPress. Both provide a “WYSIWYG” (or “What You See Is What You Get”) interface allowing for the average user to choose a design, write your own copy, and upload photos, and videos.

An Online Website Builder can be easier to use than WordPress in a few ways. First off, there is no installation required. A typical online website builder like Weebly or Wix comes with its own hosting, and once you sign up the website is ready to go. It’s literally as simple as setting up an email account. But there are drawbacks too.

Online Website Builder: Free Versus Paid

The average online website builder will offer a free service or trial period to test out and explore their product. Sites like Webs, Weebly, and Wix allow you to have a free website indefinitely, with no obligation to ever pay a thing. (Same thing goes for “WordPress.Com”, which is separate from the WordPress self hosted sites we’ve been discussing here. What’s up with all these online website builders and the letter “W”?)

Since most online website builders come with their own hosting, you don’t have to pay for monthly hosting. The downside is that you don’t have control over many elements you would if you have your own hosting service or use a paid service.

A Free Online Website builder is usually pretty good for basic blogging or a personal portfolio. But these free websites will usually have the sites domain built in (for ex. “yoursite.weebly.com” or “joeshmoe.wix.com”). You can’t get your own domain unless you upgrade. Also, in their free versions, a typical online website builder will have ads for other products or their own site on your website. This definitely gives an unprofessional feel to the website.

Of course the free option does allow you plenty of time to explore each service and play with all the various features and designs. Wix, for example, features a ton of flash ready websites that you can launch with just a click of a button. Intuit is known for its small business friendly sites. And Weebly provides analytics and statistics date about your visitors. (Intuit has a 30 day trial before payment of $7.99 a month begins, but no indefinite free trial).

Upgrading to Premium service makes your site into a “real” website. Just like hosting your own WordPress site, a Premium account typically eliminates whatever ads the service had running and allows you to use your own domain name. (So “www.joeshmoe.wix.com” becomes “joeshmoe.com”)  The cool thing is paying for an online website builder is usually about as much money as regular hosting: typically between $4.99 to $9.99 a month. Not much to have your own website!

Pitfalls of Free Web Hosting

In addition to the aforementioned problems with a free hosting account or free versions of a site builder, the final one is this: a free hosting setup is out of your control. When you pay to be a customer of a company you also get their customer service and technical support. But when something is free, you’re not entitled to anything from the company providing it (think of the last time you could call Facebook with a pressing issue).

So if you have an important online shopping cart, or even your resume for potential employers, on the free version of a website… there’s no guarantee it will always by up. And if you have any problems, you my be SOL. It costs so little to upgrade to the premium versions of most online website builder services it should be a no brainer.

Online Website Builder: Our Recommendations

First off, we obviously prefer WordPress to using a premade site builder. It allows for more customization, and having your own hosting account with Bluehost or Hostgator not only allows you to install multiple websites it also allows you a lot more freedom in terms of how you make your site look and how much control you have over the interface and technical back end of the site, even if you are  newbie.

We review a few online website builders on this site. But basically, it breaks down to this:

1. Wix.Com is our favorite and our top recommendation. We’ve even seen decent e commerce sites hosted with Wix.

To find out why we favor this online website builder, read our Wix Review by clicking here.

2. Weebly.Com is pretty clunky and old school. Many people love it, but we don’t recommend it.

To find out why read our Weebly review here.

3. Intuit is good for business sites, but also very plain jane

Click here to visit Intuit’s website.

Other site builders include Webs.Com and Yola. Our take: meh. They are alright. But they all look pretty bland.

 

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