If want a great looking website, you have several choices. You can build it yourself provided you have the time and expertise to do so. You can spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars hiring a website designer. Or you can look for another solution – one that is both inexpensive and doesn’t require any technical abilities.
When I was searching for a way to build a website, this was my dilemma. I didn’t have the time to learn programming or computer languages. Nor did I have the budget to hire a professional web designer. Yet I wanted a site that would attract plenty of visitors and even help me make some extra money.
I have tried quite a few website building systems over the last few years. What follows is a summary of some of the best solutions I’ve come across.
A website builder is a system that makes it easy to create a website. You are guided every step of the way, so there’s no need to have any technical abilities. Just about every web hosting company includes a website builder as a free feature.
Unfortunately, these site builders are not usually very good. They tend to produce very ordinary and amateurish websites. I made a few of these when I first started out 10 years ago, and wasn’t very happy with the results. They are certainly less than ideal if you are trying to build a business.
There are, however, a couple of companies that offer excellent website builders. Two in particular are worth noting. They are either very reasonable or free, depending on which options you choose.
Weebly is one of the best known free website builder on the web right now. Although they encourage you to upgrade to their paid version, you can actually build a very professional looking website for free.
With Weebly, you get all of these benefits:
A large selection of themes
This allows you to customize your site by choosing the most appropriate theme. There are many specialized themes for different businesses, hobbies and interests.
User friendly Drag & Drop Website Builder
You can easily start building a website, even if you have no technical knowledge whatsoever. The user friendly drag & drop editor is simply marvelous. Very easy to use, even for a beginner who has never built a website before!
You can add videos, image galleries, slide shows and audio players to make your site more interesting and exciting to visitors.
It’s also very easy to add a blog to your website, or to make your whole site a blog.
Traffic statistics and reports
You can track important data such as how many visitors you’ve had, which pages on your site they’ve visited and what keywords they used to find you.
Some free website builders make you put up with their ads. On Weebly, even with the free version there is no forced advertising. On the other hand, you can advertise yourself if you want. Weebly is fully compatible with Google AdSense. So, you can even earn some money online from advertising networks such as AdSense!
Free domain hosting
If you have a domain of your own, you can host it for free on Weebly. Otherwise, you can use their domain.
These are some of the features that make Weebly a good choice to create a website for free (and also host it for free). If you opt for their paid version, you have even more advanced options!
Wix is another excellent free website builder (they also offer a Premium version). They offer most of the same benefits as Weebly, such as hundreds of website templates to choose from and an easy drag & drop system for creating your site.
Let’s look at some of the features that makes Wix unique:
One advantage that Wix offers is that they are the only website builder that has HTML5 capabilities. This gives you greater multimedia options, and gives your visitors a better experience when viewing your images or videos.
The Wix App Market allows you to add many interesting extras to your website, such as form builders, group chat, appointment booking and e-commerce features.
You can get hold of Wix support by phone (800 number), email and online on their support forum.
There are several options for upgrading as well, such as an E-Commerce plan and a Connect Domain plan (though with Weebly you can do this for free).
Wix vs Weebly
Both of these services offer a wide range of features for free, and both give the option of upgrading. I would recommend looking at both sites and seeing which you prefer.
Overall, I think that Weebly is simpler for a beginner to use as it has lots of built in features. Wix, however, is probably better for building a larger, more complicated site.
Now let’s look at still another option for building a great website at a cheap price.
Pre-made website templates are also an easy way to build a site. If you’re using WordPress, there are some great premium themes you can find at a reasonable price.
All major web hosting companies now offer free installation of WordPress, so this won’t be a problem if you have hosting already.
If you are using WordPress, I’d strongly suggest getting a premium theme rather than using one of the many free themes that are available. This is what will differentiate your site from the millions of other ones out there. Two highly recommended premium WordPress theme providers are ThemeForest and Elegant Themes.
ThemeForest has more than 9,000 templates to choose from. There are themes not only for WordPress, but also ones for regular websites, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, Concrete5, ExpressionEngine, and many more. If you are looking for a good theme for your e-commerce website, they have great themes for Magento, Shopify, OpenCart, osCommerce, PrestaShop, Zen Cart, Jigoshop and a few other e-commerce shopping cart applications.
In short, there are all kinds of themes to choose from, starting at $3, though most are between $10 and $40. When you compare this to hiring a web designer, however, you are still saving lots of money and time!
Below are some of the themes from ThemeForest which my clients are using.
A fully responsive WordPress theme made especially for real estate brokers and costs only $15. This theme is built on HTML5, includes Flickr and Twitter widgets and has many more great features.
Bazar Shop is great e-commerce template that makes use of the highly popular Woo Commerce plugin to enable you to build a very versatile e-commerce website. It has unlimited layout options and has a lot of unbelievable features. You can get this theme for $60.
News Plus is a flexible responsive theme designed for online magazine, technology and news websites. This theme is retina ready and the key features include language localization, SEO optimized, a list of short-codes, custom templates, post formats, custom widgets, and many more. Get this theme for only $40.
Elegant Themes is a popular premium WordPress themes provider that can make your WordPress site stand out. They let you download and use 82 different themes for only $39. This means that you are paying less than 50 cents per theme! More themes are added every month, and you can use all these newly added themes as well… no, you do not need to pay even a cent more!
Some of the themes you get with this package include:
This is a location based theme that uses Google maps technology.
Starting an online store? Check out StyleShop, it’s an attractive e-commerce theme that lets you create a very professional looking online store.
Fusion is a very modern looking theme that’s great for technology or business sites.
All Elegant Themes come with full support and perpetual updates.
The above are some of your options for building a great website without spending much money. These solutions are also very newbie friendly, though you can get a lot out of them if you’re more experienced as well.
Which solution is best for you? This depends on your needs and preferences. If you want to build a WordPress site, I’d suggest getting a theme from Elegant Themes or Theme Forest.
If you want to build a website using a good website builder, you can look at Wix and Weebly and see which appeals to you most. However you do it, you can be reassured that it’s possible to have a professional looking website without investing too much time or money into it.