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Saturday, September 5, 2015

What Website Creator should I use?


This is just a quick outline of different website creators and what I think of them. I am adding links at the bottom that will let you know what others are saying also. I had not realized until I started writing this how many sites there are now for creating webpages! If I don't mention one that you would like to know more about go to the links below and most likely it will be there. Each list of top ten sites is different!  I am speaking here of my own experience, so I am leaving out any that I have not used.

When you make a website you need two main things. First you must have a Domain Name. Most of these sites will help you choose a domain name and it is free to use for one year. After that year there is a charge annually for the use of the name. Next you need a HOST or a place to put your website. When you sign up with these sites you are hosting your website on their server (a server is just a computer that puts things out on the internet). There is usually some sort of monthly charge for this service and there are different levels of price and benefits for using them. You will have to look at each site and compare the prices and value.

Know that when you create a website with one of these programs you are putting your files on their computer. It is good to make sure you know how to download an archive of your own files and have a sense of what access you have to them before paying money.



WORDPRESS - Wordpress is not mentioned in most lists as a website creator. I am not sure why. I have used it as a website creator. It may be that the learning curve for Wordpress is too steep and most people who are new to creating sites do not want to deal with it.

Wordpress is an open source web page tool. There are two ways to use it. You can sign up at Wordpress.com and create a site there which will be stored on their server OR you can download all of the code to create your own site on your own computer and then upload it to a server.

Strengths
  • Wordpress can grow with you. It is challenging to use at first, but it is deep. You can keep learning and improving your website. Many of the easier ones are limited and if you learn new things you may not be able to do them on your site.
  • There are tons of templates for Wordpress. Many of them are free and they have been designed by professionals, so they look polished. If you want to use a template that costs you pay one time and have the template to use.
  • Because it is open source there are many people creating 'widgets' which are small programs that you can use on your site. For example there are widgets that will report the local weather, run a slideshow of pictures, or flash the current news. 
Weaknesses
  • Wordpress has a steep learning curve. I didn't find it to difficult, but I  have heard others say that it is too frustrating.
  • There are so many choices. Rather than 15-20 templates there are hundreds to choose from in Wordpress. There are also tons of widgets. You can spend your whole day just looking at templates and trying to make a decision. There is also an abundance of advice and support.
  • If you want to be totally in control of fonts, colors and sizes you need to sign up to use CSS and pay a bit extra. 
SQUARESPACE - This is the website creator that I chose to use for my website. Take a look at it at http://imnot-ageek.com.

Strengths
  • Squarespace offers some beautiful templates which can be personalized so that they do not look like each other. I liked that on the site I could see what others had done using the same template.
  • It is fairly easy to use, although I did have one client who said she thought Wix was easier. 
  • Excellent and responsive support.
  • You have the ability to customize font size and color and other things that sometimes are not available in other builders
  • Try one theme, without changing content switch to another theme to see how it looks!
Weaknesses
  • Not as many templates as Wix, but the ones that are available are beautiful
http://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/wix-vs-weebly-vs-squarespace-vs-jimdo/


GODADDY

Strengths
  • very easy to use
  • lots of customers
  • good phone support
  • on the low cost side
Weaknesses

  • core business is selling domains. Website creation secondary.
  • frustration sometimes with resolving payment issues. 
  • maybe not as up to date as other providers in this area.
  • no free trial
WIX

Strengths
  • one of the most popular website creation platforms
  • easy to use
  • lots of templates
  • comprehensive support and active user forum
  • You can try it for free
Weaknesses
  • cannot change themes for the same website without rebuilding website

WEEBLY - I have actually not tried Weebly, so I do not feel like I should tell you its strengths and weaknesses. I am listing it here because it was rated high on most of the lists that review website builders. 







STRENGTHS
  • best free builder
  • easy to use
  • switch templates without changing content
WEAKNESSES
  • does not have all of the bells and whistles of some builders
  • need to know code to do fine edits like font color
GOOGLE SITES

Strengths

  • automatic save
  • part of Google Drive
  • always FREE
Weaknesses
  • Ugly templates
All in all there are lots of choices out there. You can see that the samples I have collected here are all very different. That is not only because of the website maker, but also the purpose of the site. If you want a really professional site with things like shopping carts and analytics it might be worth paying someone who knows what they are doing. I know someone who will actually take a site done by a relative and redo it so that it is better.

If you want to do it yourself you can look over these choices and decide which works best for you. It all depends on what YOU think is easy, how you will be using your site and how much time you want to spend on it.

Take a look at these sites for more reviews and advice:

Robert Mening has done a thorough trial and review of 10 top website builders. He also has tutorials on their use.
http://websitesetup.org/website-builders/

http://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/

http://www.sitebuilderreport.com/

http://website-creation-software-review.toptenreviews.com/

http://www.top10bestwebsitebuilders.com/

http://website-building-tools.no1reviews.com/

http://www.creativebloq.com/web-design/best-website-builder-8133804

Here is a link to a site that has a wizard that will tell you the benefits and drawbacks of the different sites. You will still need to think about design. Look at their templates and see what matches what you want to do.

http://satoristudio.net/website-builders/#wizard