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The Three Best Ways to Make a Website

June 5, 2019

2:56 am

Starting a website of your own has never been easier, and there have never been more ways to go about getting a website. We explain how to go about publishing your own site, whether you want to do it yourself or contract a website designer.

All in all, the best way to create a website is using a website builder. These simple platforms put you in control, letting you use professional templates, then customizing everything to your own preference. You won't need any coding experience or technical know-how, either.

The good news? You won’t have to pay through the nose. You can create and publish a site using a website builder with costs of around $100 per year.

This is far cheaper than paying a designer to build a site for you. Of course, the way you create a site ultimately comes down to your budget, how much time you have and what you want your site to be like. You could try building a site for free as well, but we’ll explain in this guide why we don’t recommend this.

The most important thing is to understand which approach to website-publishing is right for you. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about each way to build a site, how much you can expect to pay, and the pros and cons of each choice.

Top 3 Ways to Create a Website

There are three main ways to go about publishing a website:

  1. Use a website builder – Quick, easy and cheap, this is the best do-it-yourself solution, and can give you a professional-looking result
  2. Pay a web designer – Perfect if you've got more money than time – or want something completely unique
  3. Create a free website – While this is definitely possible, you'll get a substandard site

In the guide below, we'll walk you through each of these main ways to create a website, and explain why we feel that a website builder is the smartest choice.

Website Builders for Beginners1) Make a Site Yourself with a Website Builder

Building a website yourself isn't as hard as you might think, and modern website builders make this very affordable, too.

Pros:

  • Cheap and easy
  • Complete control
  • You'll get a great-looking site

Cons:

  • Can be difficult to migrate your site from some website builders

The easiest way to create a website is by using a website builder. These are interactive, browser-based tools that will let you create a website using one of their off-the-shelf templates.

Just because the templates are ‘ready-made’ doesn’t mean you’ll be left with an identikit site, though. You’ll be amazed just how professional looking the templates can be, and they leave lots of room for customization at every step of the way.

There are some big names offering website builder tools, from GoDaddy to Squarespace, and even WordPress. But, our favourite overall website builder is Wix.

Wix Pros

  • Incredibly simple, even for first-timers
  • Beautiful, professional-looking templates
  • Low-cost, affordable web publishing
  • Brilliant plug-ins and apps

Wix Cons

  • Limitations if you use the free plan
  • You can't change template after publishing

From our thorough testing, Wix emerged as the best website builder platform you can choose. We invited first-time users of website builders, plus more experienced users, to try various platforms, and feed back on how they found each one. We also appraised the features, plug-ins, apps and help & support available when forming our recommendations.

Still, Wix isn't the only game in town, and there are lots of other high quality website builders you can choose. We pick out some of the top brands, below:

Wix

Weebly

Squarespace

1&1 Ionos

WordPress

GoDaddy

Site123

Wix logo tinysquarespace logo tinyWordpress logo tinyGoDaddy LogoSite123 logo
Test score4.5 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars3.5 stars3 stars3 stars
VerdictComfortably the best website builder we've tested, and brilliantly simple, even for beginnersAnother great website builder that's also very approachable for first-timersStands out with its attractive templates, though not quite as well-rated as WixA great system for producing an e-commerce websitePerfect for blogs, but can be fiddly for other types of siteSome big improvements to templates in the past year, but a little light on featuresCan help you build a website, but the options are more limited compared to rival website tools
Number of templatesOver 50056914332908188
Blogging
Portfolio sites
Business sites
Ecommerce sites
Features4 stars5 stars4 stars3 stars4 stars2 stars3 stars
Design Flexibility4 stars5 stars4 stars3 stars3 stars3 stars3 stars
Value for Money4 stars3 stars4 stars3 stars4 stars2 stars2 stars
Help and Support5 stars4 stars4 stars5 stars4 stars2 stars3 stars
Customer Score5 stars4 stars4 stars5 stars3 stars4 stars3 stars
Ease of Use4 stars3 stars4 stars4 stars3 stars4 stars4 stars
Free plan14-day free trial30-day free trial
Paid plan (monthly)Starts from $8.50Starts from $5Starts from $12Starts from $5Starts from $4Starts from $5.99Starts from $10.80
Try it TodayVisit WixVisit WeeblyVisit Squarespace*Visit 1&1 IonosVisit WordPressVisit GoDaddyVisit Site123

* Save 10% on Squarespace with code ‘TECH10'

How Do We Test and Rate Website Builders?

To work out the best website builders to recommend, we do extensive independent testing. As well as assessing the features, templates and ease of use, we take value-for-money into account, plus the help and support on offer.

We also do user testing, with a panel of users of mixed expertise trying out the website builders and feeding back. That way, we can give real-world recommendations to help you decide

Create your site now with the Best Website Builders for Beginners

How Do Website Builders Work?

Website builders give you the basic building blocks to begin constructing a site. Typically, you pick a template design for your website, to which you then add your own text and images to create a uniquely designed site for your blog, online store or business site. With most website builders you’ll be able to:

  • Choose from a range of templates, which will help you build the site you want
  • Edit the style and design language of these templates to match your business’ branding (or simply look great)
  • Add tools and apps which will augment the usefulness of your website – these might be contact forms, appointment or reservation booking systems, or analytics software

The first step to creating a website is by picking a template. Rather than acting like restrictive training wheels, these templates form the rough outline of a site, which you’re free to change as you see fit.

Screenshot of Wix Website builder text editor

Website builders make editing your site straightforward, even for beginners, by using simple drag-and-drop editing tools, and easy to install apps and plugins. Most website builders use a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor, making them super easy to use. The clue is in the name – when you use the editor, what you see is, well, exactly what you’ll get when you publish your site.

This style of website creation differs from more technical website builders that rely more heavily on coding, for example. These require a level of technical expertise that very few possess. However, a WYSIWYG editor makes the process of building a site accessible to everyone, with clear, easily-navigable menus and straightforward controls.

In many ways, using a website builder is no more complex than using Microsoft PowerPoint. They also take care of the most complex parts of owning a site, such as domain hosting and HMTL coding.

After you’ve finished constructing your site (which needn’t take long at all) you’ll be able to dip back in and change anything, at any time. This gives website builders a big advantage over using a web designer to create a site – you’re in complete control, all of the time, and you won’t have to be waiting around for them to make any updates you request.

It also means that you won’t need to keep paying an expensive retainer fee to the web designer, which can always increase if you need new features or a lengthy piece of maintenance. Instead, you’ll be paying a flat, predictable and affordable fee which can be billed monthly, annually or biennially.

Want to get started?

Graphic of website designers working 2) Find a Website Designer

If you don't wish to take on the task of building a site yourself, then you can contract a design professional to do it for you.

Pros:

  • You can get a completely bespoke site
  • Saves your time

Cons:

  • Can be expensive
  • Might be locked into a long contract

Web designers can be a fantastic choice for small- to medium-sized business owners. You’ll get a completely unique website and you won’t lose any of your time building the site itself. It can also be handy to hire a web designer if you need bespoke features.

Instead of creating the site yourself from a template, you’ll brief the designer on exactly what you want your site to look like, and the features you need it to have. They’ll get on with creating draft versions of your site, while you can get on with running your business.

However, with a web designer, it can feel slightly unclear exactly how much it’ll cost to get the site you want. We’ve researched web designer fees, though, and this is what you can expect for your money:

  • $250- 650: Brochure style website with 1-5 pages including a landing page and a contact page. This budget suits someone who is not looking to regularly update their site.
  • $650-1,300: As well as the above, you get a content management system, integrated social media pages, Google My Business and Google Maps integrations, built-in analytics
  • $1,300-3,250: All the above, plus ecommerce functions
  • $3,250-13,000: A database driven website with advanced functionality for local or regional audiences – great for sites with password-restricted user areas
  • $13k+: A database driven site for huge audiences, or completely bespoke functionality.

Of course, these are guideline prices for website designer fees. However, Tech.Co can help you find the right web designer for your needs, so you can get an accurate quote in seconds.

Get your dream website with a leading web designer

Before commissioning a web designer, however, it’s worth having a good understanding of exactly what you need from your site. And, to find out exactly what you need from your site, you’ll need to understand who your website’s users will be.

Our guide to what makes a good website will help you understand the fundamentals of a good website and how to make it work.

How much does a website cost to make3) Make a Website for Free

There are various ways of publishing a website for free, including using a website builder platform. However, the downsides mean you'll have to accept a lot of limitations.

Pros:

  • Free website publishing is, of course, absolutely free

Cons:

  • Your site will be hard to find
  • You won't get a professional URL
  • You'll have to put up with adverts (that don't make you money)
  • Limited bandwidth will curb your success
  • Your site will look unprofessional

Yes, you can publish an entire website for free, without paying a dime. And sure, this may sound great, but you’ll end up with a substandard website because of all the compromises you’ll have to make.

In fact, we'd go as far as to say that you should never create a website for free.

If you’re running a business, you might even lose customers due to the limitations of free website publishing. That small saving upfront could cost you in the long run.

Your site will be covered in adverts, and you won’t be able to get a custom domain name – leaving you with something generic and ugly. Here’s an example of the domain name you’ll get with a free website:

Make a Website for free example of a bad URL

german regulator blocks facebook data collectionWhat about making a Facebook page?

Building a Facebook page for your business is definitely a good idea, as long as you keep it up to date and use it to engage with customers quickly.

However, using a Facebook page in place of a proper website will make your business look a little amateurish and unprofessional. It also won’t give you access to features that are easy to implement on a website builder, and are highly valued by users. If you run a restaurant, for example, you won’t be able to add a food menu.

Moreover, being restricted to a Facebook page means that you won’t be able to build your brand, and you’re less likely to appear at the top of Google rankings when someone searches for businesses like yours.

There are no benefits in the long or short term to be had from trying to create a website for free. You’ll lack advanced features, look amateurish and users will have a hard time even finding your site or Facebook page.

When building your own website or hiring a website designer are both affordable and quick options, there’s no reason not to have your own site in 2019.

How to Create a Website in 5 Simple Steps

Thanks to website builders, creating a website is so easy nowadays that even a complete beginner could build a website in minutes. In fact, the most complicated thing you’ll have to do is remembering the password for your website builder account.

The days of expert coding, setting up servers and IP addresses are, thankfully, gone. These days, creating a website using a website builder is more akin to creating a smart-looking Powerpoint presentation, rather than hacking into the Pentagon.

Modern website builder tools help you every step of the way. You’ll be able to use professionally-created, smart-looking website templates that help you create a great website. Plus, there’s loads of jargon-free help available should you get stuck.

If you’ve been putting off creating a website because you think it’s too hard or too time-consuming, now’s the time to prove yourself pleasantly wrong. In this guide, we’ll walk you through all the steps along the way to creating your website.

Five Easy Steps to Create Your Own Website:

Step 1: Choose The Best Website Builder

First things first: You can’t build a website without a website builder. Website builders are software programs designed to make the process of creating a website fast and easy. When using one, you'll be able to control the content and design of a website without contracting out to a high-priced web developer to hardcode the website.

Anyone can use a website builder: They're aimed at complete beginners. You won't need design skills or coding degree, just a laptop with an internet connection.

Create your own websiteThere are loads of website builders out there, and at Tech.Co, we've meticulously reviewed the top performers, judging them on features, ease of use, help and support options, and more. Squarespace is one of the best, thanks to its vast suite of useful templates, and Weebly is a strong contender as well, but our highest-scoring website-builder is Wix.

We think Wix is great because it’s incredibly easy to use, has tons of help and support options and is priced very competitively. Its high approval rating from users doesn't hurt, either. If you want to know more about Wix, you can read our full review here.

Still, there are plenty of website builders to choose from. We've put the main ones through extensive independent tests to work out which are the best. Here's a quick comparison that might help you figure out which is best for you.

Create your first website with Wix in minutes now

Step 2: Choose a website template

We’re going to be using Wix as an example here, as it's our top choice. While it might not be exactly the same with every website builder, the experience isn’t that different.

Pick the Type of Site 

A Wix restaurant website templateYou’ll be asked to choose what your website is going to be for – will it host an online store, are you going to run a blog, is it going to be for a restaurant or a business? There’s also an “other” option which will take you straight through to the template editor – more on that later.

You’ll then be presented with a filtered list based on the selection you’ve just made. Some of the categories are filtered even further – if you pick “Restaurants & Food”, for example, the templates are then filtered by what type of business: Catering & Chef, Cafe & Baker, Bar & Club, etc.

Once you’ve picked your template – and don’t worry, they’re all pretty darn good – you can go straight into editing your site.

Template-Free Option

If you don’t fancy any of these templates, though, you can always pick a blank one – although it will be a bit more work.

If you're wondering why you haven’t even picked a name for your website yet, fear not, we’ll come to that later.

Step 3: Editing Your Website

So now you’ve picked your template, we’re onto the actual website-development-y part of the process. The template will be pre-loaded with stock words and images which you can chop and change to your liking.

Want to see just how easy it can be? Click on the image below to see a website editor in action!

Adding Images

Uploading an image is as easy as it is when uploading one to Facebook or Twitter. If you don’t have any to include, you’re typically loads of stock images to choose from as well.

Editing Text

Changing the text is, again, pretty straightforward – all you have to do is click on the bit of text you’d like to change and you’ll be able to type straight into the text box. You can also adjust the size and style of each bit of text, but it’s worth remembering that each font will generally be consistent with the template, so making radical changes might make it look a bit odd.

Drag and Drop

Wix, like most other website builders uses a grid-based, drag-and-drop system for page editing. This means that it’ll be straightforward to keep each element on your page in line and when you want to add a new text box, image, or any other type of element, you’ll be able to see, at a glance, how to fit it onto your page.

You’re also able to change the pages on your site, whether they scroll straight into one another, and a host of other site-wide factors from the settings or pages menu, rather than with the grid-based editor. This can feel slightly confusing at first, but it works to keep the page-specific content separate from the overall site navigation and usability.

Extra Tools and Functions

You’ll also be able to add elements beyond text boxes and images with Wix and other website builders. These might include, for example, restaurant menus, contact forms or social media feeds.

Again, you’ll be able to drop these onto the page and line them up using the gridlines. You might find that some apps and functionality is reserved for paid-for plans but typically this is for ecommerce functions such as stock tracking and shipping costs.

Step 4: Create a Domain

When we talk about a website’s domain, we’re basically talking about the website’s address. For example, Tech.Co is the name of our website, and the domain is https://tech.co.

Writing down domain name suggestions on paperYou’ll typically want your website’s domain to correspond with the name of your business, blog or whatever purpose you’re running it for – just so you don’t confuse people. Try writing up a list of possibilities and pick the best.

Most website builders will give you a free domain to get started with – but they’ll often have the name of the website builder shoehorned in. My imaginatively named cupcake restaurant, Cupcakes, would have the domain https://tomfogden.wixsite.com/cupcakes. It’s not exactly catchy, and you probably wouldn’t want to have your Wix username at the front of it.

In order to remove this paraphernalia from your domain name – yep, you guessed – you’ll have to pay. Fortunately, with most website builders, including Wix, this comes as part of the cheapest plan.

Should you already be the proud owner of a domain, you’ll be pleased to know that you can connect a pre-existing domain to the website builder. You’ll find the option to do this on the site settings page.

While you can connect an existing domain with Wix, this feature isn’t universal for website builders, so it’s worth investigating beforehand. Don’t get started with a website builder only to find out later there’s an additional fee for connecting an existing domain, or that it’s not possible at all.

Step 5: Publish Your Website!

That’s it, with all your content loaded up and the design perfected, a registered domain and having signed-up for the perfect payment plan – you’re ready to publish.

Before you do, though, it’s probably worth getting someone you trust to take a look over the site – an errant spelling mistake might be the difference between a sale, a booking or a commission!

The fun isn’t over though. You’ll be able to – and you should – go in and update your website in case anything changes, or you just fancy changing some of the content. This will keep your site looking and feeling fresh for anyone who visits.

Costs of Creating a Website

Website builder pricingMost website builders will let you create and run a simple website for between $8-15 per month. You might want a larger website or greater functionality. More advanced sites will cost another $5-10 per month.

If you’re just starting out though, it’s always worth investigating whether the website builder package you’re after offers a free trial or a free version. What free versions are good for is giving you a bit of leeway to get your site right before publishing it – otherwise you might worry you’re throwing money down the drain.

Wix offers five pricing packages, including a free version. Technically you can make your whole website on this free version, but we wouldn’t recommend it as it will limit your options significantly. With Wix, the cheapest option is the $11/month Combo plan, which doesn't remove adverts, and limits your bandwidth – which might create issues for visitors to your site. The VIP plan offers the most storage and features such as email campaigns and VIP support, but costs $29/month. But we'd recommend the Unlimited plan: At $14 a month, it probably offers the best compromise between all of the packages.

Here's a quick comparison chart to help you gauge typical website builder prices:

WixWeeblySquarespace
Wix logo tinysquarespace logo tiny
Free TrialN/AN/AYes
Free VersionYesYesNo
Cheapest Plan$11 per month$12 per month$12 per month
Most Expensive Plan$25.50 per month$38 per month$40 per month

Next Steps in Creating Your Own Website

If you follow these five steps, creating a website is incredibly straightforward — especially with a great website builder such as Wix.

Whether you need a blog, business site or an online store, the easy, drag-and-drop editing tools and attractive pricing packages make it the perfect place to start.

Of course, it's not the only website builder out there — check out our round-up of the best website builders for beginners for more options.

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Some of the links on our page will take you directly to a provider or retail website, where you may find deals and discounts. If you make a purchase at this stage, we may receive a payment. This has no additional cost to you, and never affects the editorial independence of our reviews.

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Tom Fogden is a writer for Tech.co with a range of experience in the world of tech publishing. Tom covers everything from cybersecurity, to social media and website builders when he's not reviewing the latest phones, gadgets, or occasionally even technology books.