The words website builder probably make you think of some horrendous tool supplied free from your hosting company, but these days there are lots of hosted CMS solutions that create professional looking websites with extensive features and good underlying code. These solutions allow you to quickly set up a website packed full of features without any coding knowledge, with everything from hosting to tech support covered within the monthly fee. In this post we’ll take a look at some of the most popular hosted CMS website builders to help you decide which one is right for you.
The heavyweight solutions
The two big names that spring to mind when considering hosted website builders are Squarespace and Virb. These solutions don’t have free versions, but you know you’re going to get a comprehensive website that looks and works exceptionally. Squarespace and Virb both offer an extensive range of cool templates and themes, and both have a friendly support team ready to solve your problems.
The free solutions
If you don’t like the idea of paying out $10 per month for a hosted CMS solution, these free website builder alternatives might be up your street. Site123, Wix and LightCMS have plenty of designs to choose from and include all the great features you need from a hosted CMS solution, but both have a free version that can be upgraded to their premium services at any time. Their free versions are limited though, each in their own way. For example, LightCMS only offers 3 pages, while Wix sites display ads.
Site123 makes things really simple for you. You can choose from one free version, or one paid version – there aren’t any packages or upsells for you to think about. The free version allows you to do almost everything that the paid one does, but you can not use your own domain. You also have to keep Site123’s footer link, do not have as much storage or bandwidth as in the premium version.
The eCommerce solutions
Selling stuff? You’ll probably need an ecommerce solution that allows users to add products to their cart and give you their money. Setting up an eCommerce site soon gets complicated when you consider things like security, but hosted ecommerce solutions make it easy to set up an online store. Shopify and Magento’s Go variant are the two main competitors. Both are trusted companies that will host your store, process your payments and offer helpful reporting tools to keep track of your business growth.
The blogging solutions
If you’re looking to share your passion with the world, a blogging platform is definitely for you. Blogs by nature are social tools that allow you to interact with fellow members of a community. Two of the largest blogging website communities out there are WordPress.com and Tumblr. Both services allow you to set up your own site with tools to easily share photos, links and videos. Best of all they’re completely free.
The unknown solutions
Big names like Squarespace, Shopify and WordPress often spring to mind when thinking of ways to build a website, but there are plenty of smaller solutions that are relatively unknown. Website builders such as Weebly and Edicy offer the same features as those big name brands, but often include more advanced features that would otherwise only be part of a more expensive plan. Weebly has just about every feature you could ever desire in a free package, whereas Edicy is the cheapest of all the premium services featured in this post.
The lightweight solutions
Building a website for your client? We all know the risks of giving them full control of everything! This is where lightweight CMS solutions such as CushyCMS and Surreal CMS come in. Both services allow you to build the site exactly how you want it, then designate editable areas with some simple code to allow clients to then manage and update their own site via the CMS. Being a hosted application also means you don’t have to continuously apply updates or manage your client’s hosting bill.