In the internet-heavy, networking-obsessed world of today, having a website is nearly non-optional. And by website, I don’t mean a Facebook profile page, an active Twitter feed, or a Tumblr with the best cat memes in the world. I mean a website. You know, those pesky places you go for information on the internet that usually work, but frustrate you when they don’t. Your website, filled with information about you, your services, previous work, and anything else that makes you look like a marginally successful human being.
But where to start creating this electronic version of you? Unless you’re a web guru (and if you are, you’re reading the wrong blog post), you’re probably going to want to go with one of the many available website creation sites. Here’s a list of the most commonly used, their pricing, and their main strengths (in no particular order):
Squarespace costs eight dollars per month if billed annually, or twelve dollars per month if billed monthly. It has a terrifyingly long list of features, including robust free templates (and even more impressive paid ones), access to some Adobe Typekit fonts without having an Adobe subscription, a fully-optimized ecommerce section, automatic mobile conversion, and SEO support.
Wix offers a basic plan for four dollars per month, but it displays Wix brand ads. However, upgrading to $9.75 per month removes the ads and gets you a free domain for the first year, which is a pretty sweet deal. Unique features include templates for everything from restaurants to portfolios to commerce, a remarkably robust WYSIWYG editor for layout and design, an app market, and built-in email marketing.
Like Wix, Weebly also offers a free version, and while it doesn’t feature ads, you won’t get a domain name of your own. A domain name kicks in at eight dollars per month, as do features such as the super easy-to-use drag and drop website builder, real-time website statistics, basic blogging and ecommerce options, and even SSL certificates (so your visitors can be sure your site is secure) and password protected pages.
If you want to create a blog-based website, the first place you should look is WordPress. For a grand total of zero dollars(!) WordPress offers a basic website, which may feature ads. Upgrading to the ninety-nine-dollar-a-year option gets you thirteen gigabytes of server space, a custom domain name, search engine optimization, a robust plugin/modding community, and a built-in comment system. Most importantly, WordPress is licensed under the GPL, so you’re free to modify and distribute your site in any way you see fit. Plus, WordPress estimates that more than 24 percent of websites are powered by its coding, which is pretty neat.
Unlike the previous options, which are designed for creating a broad range of sites, Portfoliobox focuses on—you guessed it—portfolios. It’s seven dollars per month if billed annually, or nine dollars per month if billed monthly, and focuses on features designed to enhance portfolios. Advanced galleries, custom HTML and CSS, image control/options, and ecommerce/social media integration round out this platform.
Perhaps the most unique on this list, Coroflot combines a design-oriented portfolio website with a job board. It’s great for artists and designers who want to put themselves out there and get something quickly in return. It’s free, but because of that, it doesn’t necessarily have all the cool features that the other website builders offer. However, it does offer free unlimited storage (rare!), a personalized short link (not to be confused with a domain name), and statistic tracking. And a great job board.
This is by no means a complete list. There are dozens of other website design platforms out there. Maybe even hundreds. If you want to go totally rogue, you can try out Jekyll, which is totally free, but requires advanced coding knowledge. There’s also Webydo if you want to create a suite of sites. There’s a website designer that will satisfy your every need; you just need to go out and find it.