Of these free website makers, we’ve ranked Wix, Weebly and SITE123, as the top three because of a few important factors. Wix has a very generous free plan, which is super easy to use – it combines creative freedom with tons of features. Weebly’s simple, stylish designs and handy tools make it ideal for small businesses. SITE123 is very beginner-friendly, with a focus on helping you get online.
You can also host your website on WordPress.com, but that's different from the kind of hosting mentioned above. WordPress.com uses the same code from WordPress.org, but it hides the server code and handles the hosting for you. In that sense, it resembles entries in our online site builder roundup. It's a simpler but less flexible and customizable way to approach WordPress hosting. It's definitely easier, but if you want to tinker and adjust and optimize every aspect of your site, it might not be for you.
I found CMS Made Simple to be very easy to template, for instance. And I used ModX for years before using WP, and it is also very easy to template, and offers a lot of nice features. They will appeal to someone who wants to develop, but is generally uncomfortable in PHP. You can mostly get by with HTML and template tags. This tends to prevent the “white screen of death”.
I am biased towards WordPress, just FYI. I train new bloggers and website owners (non-profits and small businesses, etc) in setting up WordPress.org with an SSL and I do it in an 8-hour class. My point being I recommend you setup: 1) WordPress.org NOT WordPress.com; 2) Go with 1and1.com “Unlimited” + SSL (costs about $62 for 12 months, includes: domain name, SSL Certificate + web hosting). This will get you a web hosting account with a domain name, SSL and 1-year of web hosting for the cost of a SSL Certificate (most are $60+). Why SSL? because your site will display https and you can process online payments using Stripe.com (Payment processor similar to PayPal, Authorize.net, etc). I have setup at least 6 of these accounts exactly like this for attendees and clients. This will work for you and it will not have any ads popping up unless you put them there. Any questions just reply.
However, WordPress might not always be the right option for you. Although it is surely one of the most popular CMS platforms, there are certain circumstances where you want to see if there are better options for you out there! Especially if you are new to creating and running a website, it might take longer than you think to actually get things right at first. Although there are plenty of helpful tutorial sites like Beautiful Themes and WPBeginner dedicated especially for the purpose, sometimes it is a hassle.
Thx for your article Colin 🙂 As u said Joomla is great for an intranet-like web site. I made a lot of knowledge bases and a bunch of intranets with Joomla and since 1.6 version, new ACL Management helped a lot i must say. I found out very lately about WP and i think it’s like going Mac after a long period of Windows struggling (kind of). Anyway there is also a very good database based/self hosted CMS which deserves IMHO some interest: MODx. Not very well known but probably the most flexible CMS when it comes to templating. You literally design your website in Photoshop, export the HTML then put wherever you want some snippets and Boom! Incredible tool. Learning curve is however longer than Drupal, Joomla or WP obviously. WP ecosystem and simplicity out of the box + universality made it the winner. Just a thought 🙂 thx again for sharing.
While WordPress offers an unbelievably wide range of designs, we had to realize that customizing these designs to match our needs meant loads of tedious work and custom code. Building a Wix site is different. You move the elements around with a click of the mouse, dropping them right where you want them. All plans (even the free one!) come with the same design options.
Like Wix, Weebly has drag-and-drop functionality, as well as an integrated CMS solution, and hand-coded HTML files. The in-house editor comes with SEO tools and Google Analytics. With PayPal integration, an automatic tax calculator, digital gift cards, and more, Weebly is a smart choice for ecommerce businesses. And unlike some of its other free competitors, Weebly is ad-free.
Although Craft CMS is not that famous, it is extensively being used by Netflix and Salesforce websites. It is developer friendly due to its extensive back end features for your application. It does not provide any front-end themes. Unlike WordPress, it does not have a predefined content type and hence it allows the user to set up their own content by making use of 18 different types of fields. It provides user view to the admin console and also enables side by side changes that they can make. The admin can create groups that can help in restricting or enabling different users from accessing some specific features. It supports different environments which can help in creating site locally. It deploys to staging and then to production. The flexible fields can also help in creating perfect interfaces with complete developer control.
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.
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