Stop whatever you're doing and ask yourself this simple question: "Do I need a website?" If your response was anything other than "yes," you need to think again. It doesn't matter if you're the head of a multinational corporation who employs thousands of people or a local mom-and-pop shop from around the way, you need a website to help potential customers find you online. If you have a business, failure to establish an online home is a failure to grow.
None gets the job done better Editors' Choice award-winning Wix ($4.08 at Wix) . It has a drag-and-drop interface, and all elements of the site are customizable. It doesn't cost a cent to get started with Wix, but you'll want to go premium, starting at $5 per month for a domain and scaling upward to $25 per month for unlimited monthly data transfers and 20GB of storage.
Sure, there are more advanced hosting topics to consider, such as Domain Name Servers and multi-cloud connectivity, but this guide is meant to introduce you to the basics. Whether you decide to do build a website yourself or hire coding experts to do the dirty work is up to you. But for now, rest easy knowing you have the information to get started in taking your business online.
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.
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About.me and Flavors.me are examples of nameplate services. You simply upload one big photograph as the background for your personal webpage, then artfully overlay information and links to create your digital nameplate. These free sites help you pull images from your social networks or from a hard drive, then provide the tools to make the text and links work unobtrusively, though it really behooves you to check out other personal pages for an idea of what works.
The selection below should be plenty to get you started. Read the blurbs and then click through to the linked reviews to find the one that best suits your needs. And don't hesitate to chime in below in the comments section to report your experience with a site builder or praise one that's not included. For more advice and alternatives to DIY website building, check out our primer, How to Create a Website.
Yes. Wix offers a few different ways to create your own free website, so you can choose the creation process that works best for you. Need to get online fast? Answer a few simple questions and Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) will build a professional website for you in under 10 minutes. If you want 100% design freedom, start from scratch and drag and drop the website design features you need in the Wix Editor.
You can get started for roughly $10 per month for shared or WordPress hosting if your website doesn't require much server horsepower. As your business expands, however, your website may need greater horsepower. That's when you should look into cloud, VPS and dedicated hosting. These levels of services are for when you really need a web host that offers lots of storage, a significant amount of month data transfers, and numerous email accounts.
For more than a decade, Jeffrey L. Wilson has penned gadget- and video game-related nerd-copy for a variety of publications, including 1UP, 2D-X, The Cask, Laptop, LifeStyler, Parenting, Sync, Wise Bread, and WWE. He now brings his knowledge and skillset to PCMag as a Lead Analyst. When he isn't staring at a monitor (or two) and churning out web hosting, music, utilities, and video game copy, Jeffrey makes comic books, mentors, practices bass and Jeet Kune Do, and appears on the odd podcasts or convention panel. He also collects vinyl and greatly enjoys a craft brew.
There are lots of ways to add content and customize your site. Click the Add button on the left-hand menu for a swath of options — text, buttons, slideshows, menus, et cetera. Under the Apps button, there are many features you can add to your site for additional functionality such as comments, live chat, and an online storefront. You can also upload your own multimedia content, such as fonts, images, videos, and music, and start a blog.
Building a website with a free website builder is a quick, easy, and straightforward process. You may have already signed up for a hosting account in Step 1, in which case your web host’s site will have specific step-by-step instructions for you to install and use your free, included website builder. Generally, we find that Wix is the most popular website builder, so we will use it as the example here.
Most of the products here can tell you about your site traffic, though the amount of detail varies greatly among them, and it's often tied to premium account levels. For example, Weebly can not only show you page views and unique visitors for each day of the month, but also search terms used to get to the site, referring sites, and top-visited pages. Wix and uKit, at the other end, have nothing in the way of built-in site stats, instead requiring you to create your own Google Analytics account, and even that requires a paid account. Another drawback of that approach is that you can only see traffic from the preceding day and earlier; it's not up-to-the-minute, or even the hour.