If you’re wondering about how to build a website (even for free), then this article will be helpful for you. If you don’t know exactly where to start, don’t worry – you’re not alone as for most people, building a website online is still a bit of a mystery.
For most people (including us a few years ago), creating a website is something that only IT geeks are capable of doing. These coder lock themselves in the basement, has no friends, and wears glasses. Right? Right??
Well, that was the old school stereotype that most people had for coders (including us – we confess!). I’m not sure if it’s because of the media, movies, whatever. But that’s definitely not how a lot of websites are built nowadays, and that’s definitely not how coders behave!
You don’t need to be an IT geek to learn how to build a website from scratch today. You don’t even need to know code (a bit will help, but not a necessity and it won’t hold you back), you don’t need to manage hosts / servers, and you don’t need to have a lot of money.
Keep reading and we’ll show you how to you can create a website in less than a day, and almost for free.
HOW A LOT OF WEBSITES ARE BUILT NOWADAYS
Technology has really advanced over the past few years. The internet has grown faster than ever before. Facebook has taken over, Google is king, and normal folks like yourself can build your own website for free.
More and more people are creating websites online as a way to express themselves and get in touch with others. Businesses cannot afford not to have websites as a way of reaching more potential customers.
If you want to build a business, or if you already have a business but haven’t built your website yet, you’re falling further and further behind.
But is building websites easy? What is a good website builder? How much does it cost to build a website?
In the past? Very challenging. Today? Not challenging or super expensive at all.
Think about it. Facebook made it easy for you to connect with hundreds, if not thousands of people. Smartphones make it easy for you to surf the web on a tiny device. It’s not that hard to believe that building websites can also be easy, right?
There are a lot of website creators that have emerged over the past few years that enable you to build websites without knowing code. They programmed the website building software so now you literally just have to use your mouse and drag a slideshow, a block of text, images, videos, into the website. You can then insert your own text, upload your own pictures, insert your own videos (such as YouTube), and click publish. That’s it.
I know it sounds ridiculously easy. After all, we’ve been taught that if something is too good to be true, it’s probably not, right?
Well, that’s a good rule of thumb, but not always the case. In terms learning how to build a website from scratch, this is definitely not the case.
For sure you will have to invest time into creating your own content and setting things up, but being a super freak in technology or codes is no longer a barrier to entry if you want to create a website all by yourself.
ARE ALL WEBSITE BUILDERS GOOD & EASY TO USE?
All website builders are built differently – each has it’s pros and cons. Some are easier, some are more challenging. I think the general guideline is that the more sophisticated and powerful the builder is, the higher the learning curve. That makes sense, right?
So for instance, WordPress is a very powerful website builder. It is flexible, advanced, and can almost be programmed to do almost anything you want as a website.
However, the learning curve to become proficient with using WordPress is rather steep. You will most likely have to invest quite a bit of time to learn how to use it well, and perhaps you will have to pay some freelancer or WordPress expert to help you set up your website.
Then there are WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), drag and drop website builders. These are the ones that do not need you to know any code to get a website up and running in a little amount of time.
(The following promo video is from Squarespace – Click here to see Squarespace)
These builders are ideal for people who don’t have the time to learn code (life is busy, right?), or don’t have the budget to hire someone to help build a website.
It’s great for people who enjoy DIY (Do-It-Yourself).
WHAT ABOUT WEBSITE DESIGN AND TEMPLATES? MY SITE HAS TO LOOK GOOD!
Website builders nowadays give you a really good selection of design templates to choose from. Let’s face it, the majority of us don’t know how to design well, let alone coding up our own web design!
So what do website builders do? They create design templates so you can use them for your website, allowing your site to look good. Think about them as “clothes” for your website. If you don’t like one set of clothes, just change to another one to give your website a completely different feel.
Almost all website builders give you these templates for free, and hands down, using these design templates will give your website the biggest visual impact in the least amount of time. You don’t need to touch any codes whatsoever!
POPULAR DRAG & DROP WEBSITE BUILDERS
If you don’t want to learn code, or have a budget to hire freelancers to help you build a website from scratch, there are a few good website builders that you may want to test out to see if they can help you out, and if you like using them.
Here are a few that we recommend you taking a look at:
All of them have their own pros and cons, and some of them are better at certain things.
When we started building websites ourselves, we researched for days as it was hard to figure out which one best fit our needs. There is so much information out there that it overloaded us, and pretty much paralyzed us in terms of choosing which website builder to use.
So we decided to test a lot of them. After investing hundreds of hours in using many different website builders ourselves (gosh those days were painful!), we’ve compiled a few different comparison resources so to help make your research (and life) a bit easier:
At the end of the day, there really isn’t a “one website builder fits all” type of solution. We recommend that you narrow down your search to 2 or 3 website builders, and just invest a day to try them out. It’s almost like shopping for a car (except MUCH cheaper). It makes a lot of sense to test drive a few of them just to see if they work out for you.
All of the website builders that we recommend are free to sign up, or at least they have a free trial period where you can give it a test drive.
WHAT ABOUT E-COMMERCE WEBSITE BUILDERS?
If you are thinking about building an online store, there are e-commerce website builders for you as well!
The best of the bunch that we recommend is Shopify if you need a very comprehensive e-commerce solution. Their themes are great, and they have a very powerful App Store to add more powerful tools to your store.
Shopify is great if you have many products that you want to see online, or if you already have a physical store and you just want to start selling products online. They have a Point of Sale system where you can take advantage of using iPads to run your physical store, while having all the inventory, sales records, fully integrated with your online store. If you use Shopify, there is no need to separate both your online and offline store anymore.
If you don’t need too many advanced tools and only have a handful of products to sell, Squarespace, Weebly and Jimdo are also excellent candidates to consider. These are great e-commerce solutions if you are selling unique, boutique products, photographs, art, or just anything that are not mass produced.
WHAT ABOUT DOMAIN NAMES, HOSTING, SECURITY EMAILS?
One of the best things about these growing website builders is that they take care of a lot of your concerns so you can focus on just learning how to build a website, creating content and growing your website.
They provide all the hosting services for you so you don’t have to pay for it separately. They also take care of all the security upgrades for the hosts so you don’t have to bother with all this techie stuff. They ensure that your website is always up and running, and doesn’t get hacked.
As for domain names, you can either purchase your own custom domain name through the website builder, or you can purchase it on your own through registrars such as GoDaddy. Some website builders such as Wix, Squarespace, Jimdo and Webs will give you a free custom domain name if you sign up to their premium plans.
Keeping your own domain name requires you to pay an annual fee and the yearly investment is roughly around $12 for most people. So signing up to their premium plans will save you the domain name fee, which will effectively lower your yearly investment in the website builder if you sign up to their premium plans.
Just bear in mind that when you purchase a domain name from a website builder or through separate registrars, you own the domain name and can take it to wherever you want. This is a very common question we get (and certainly one of our own question when we first started as well!) so hope this clarifies things a bit for you.
A lot of you also wonder about how to get your own custom email address. Not all the website builders provide email services built into their platform. If you see our comparison chart, you’ll see that Jimdo, IM Creator and Webs provide email services if you subscribe to their premium plans.
If you decide to use the other website builders what don’t offer email services – fear not. Windows Live offers you the ability for you to create your own custom domain email address for free – you just have to verify to them that you own the domain name. Or, if you prefer to use the Gmail interface, Google Apps can also help you create your own email address for a few dollars a month. If you sign up to our free Top 8 Tools newsletter, we have more details on where you can find these resources.
CONCLUSION – HOW TO BUILD A WEBSITE
There are plenty of drag and drop website builders available in the market that literally allow you to drag content into a website, and publish it without touching any codes.
The learning curve of using these website builders is not too steep, but you do have to invest a day or so to test them out. Not a bad investment if you are serious about building and growing your own presence online for years to come!
Once you become comfortable with these builders, it doesn’t hurt to pick up some very basic coding knowledge so you can modify your website if you want. It’s not a must, but just something to consider if you want to have a bit more flexibility in terms of styling of your website.
Again, here are a few helpful links to get you started in comparing which website builder can help you get your website online!Click to see Website Builder Comparison Chart
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