The quickest way to get a website online is to use a site-building service -preferably one that provides web hosting. We look at six services that get your site up and running with the least amount of fuss.
It sounds like a DIY emporium when you say its name aloud, but Wix provides far more than just the basic nuts and bolts for website building. In fact, you get a brilliant array of templates, tools, and add-ons for creating a stunning website that’s as complex and personalized as you want it to be.
Wix’s basic web-building tools are the best you’ll find in this test. You can choose to build a site using one of two approaches: either the design-focused, broad-brush ADI tool, which lets you choose high concepts of color and topic, then creates a design it thinks you’ll like or you can use the plentiful supply of templates, many of which are free. After this initial process, your site is completely customizable, so if you don’t like an element, or want to change things from one page to the next, that’s completely within your power.
The Editor lets you make changes and add content to your site. Its superb interface is driven by a simple menu down the side and context-sensitive elements that appear when you click a relevant part of the page design. The menu is visual and dynamic without unnecessary faff – the perfect balance of design and function – popping out options as you click it.
Typefaces are illustrated to show how they’ll look on your site, while backgrounds and design elements always offer illustrative thumbnails. Likewise, the contextual panels bring up buttons that, when clicked, pop out into more useful panels.
What’s more, a Wix website doesn’t remain static once you’ve published it because you can animate almost every element on a page. If used with subtlety, these tools provide everything you need to create a dynamic and sophisticated-looking website.
WordPress is a content-management system that originated as a blogging tool, but it can create a standard website, too. There are two ways to use it: upload it to a web host from wordpress.org (most web hosts do this automatically): or go to wordpress.com and create a site on WordPress’s own servers.
Both options are free, but the former provides more control, while the latter, which we’re looking at here, includes paid-for add-ons such as a personalized domain name.
To build your site, first, choose a template – there are thousands, including many free ones. You then create new pages by filling out a form and entering the title, words, images, and the like, which are automatically transferred to the template.
Weebly is more like Wix than WordPress. in that it’s another online web-building tool for creating attractive, modern-looking websites. It provides the means for building a range of sites for free, from blogs to basic online shops.
The interface uses drag-and-drop tools: you simply pick up an element from the menu of options on the left, then drag it to the position you require on the page on the right. As you hover elements over the page, other items shuffle and shift out of the way to make room, then expand further as you add content to them.
The sites created in Weebly adapt automatically depending on whether they’re viewed on a desktop monitor or a mobile device.
Jimdo’s interface ditches standard menus in favor of pop-up panels. So, if you want to add an element to a page, just click an empty space and you’ll be presented with a range of items you can add. including pictures, text, videos. forms and tables.
In theory, this means you only see the menus you are currently using. but we found our page soon became cluttered with panels and buttons obscuring our site design.
Site123 lets you create a simple. the smart-looking website with very little fuss, but we found the interface too basic. It focuses on working around existing templates, and pages are then added using a content-management system.
Which at least looks less like an online form than WordPress’s equivalent. However, Site123 just doesn’t have as many tools and features as its rivals.
Silex’s free web-design tool is the only service here that doesn’t offer to host your site. Its web-building service is a little like using a standard PC page-layout program, but once you’ve built your site, you have to download it and upload it elsewhere.
If you want a more traditional web-page design that you craft yourself, Silex is a decent tool for the job, but its lack of hosting is an inconvenience.