Top 10 Best Website Builders for Beginners in 2021

‘Simple,’ ‘Easy-to-use,’ ‘Get started within minutes’…

These words are used for every website builder. No website will ever explicitly state that it isn’t fit for beginners.

But more often than not, the website builder you select is simple and easy for those who have coding and design know-how. Or at least some website building experience. And you end up spending hours trying to figure out where to start.

So, how do you find a builder that is actually great for beginners?

Well, we made complete newcomers take the most popular website builders for a test drive. Based on the feedback gathered and our expert analysis of the website builder’s functionality, we have the top 10 best website builders for beginners.

If you have no website building experience, you can still get online with a stellar website in 2021 with these top website builders:

Wix

You probably know about Wix thanks to their big-budget marketing campaigns starring Gal Gadot, Heidi Klum, and several other big names. And with over 150 million websites built on Wix, their marketing campaigns are working too. But that’s not just because of marketing, but also because the builder is actually one of the best out there. 

Price: Free plan available. The lowest plan ‘Combo’ comes at $13/month (paid annually).

Features that make work easier for beginners –

  • Drag-and-drop builder to help you create a website without having to add even a word of code.
  • Plenty of free templates (over 100) to make sure you can get the design that suits your needs and helps you stand out from the crowd.
  • Hosting and domain name are offered by Wix (both free and paid variants available). This frees you from the stress of handling the backend. Also, you get the safety and backup features.
  • A loaded app market with all the functional attachments you need to take your website from drab to fab.
  • Mobile optimized themes and templates that make it easier for you to reach a wider audience across devices. You don’t have to spend time carrying out mobile optimization on each page.

Weebly

Most people won’t say their website building experience was fun. Easy, yes. But fun isn’t probably the right word. But that isn’t true in the case of Weebly users. Your website building experience with Weebly will be effortless as well as fun. You’ll enjoy moving around the objects and seeing your ideas materialize in front of your eyes.

Price: Free plan available. The lowest plan, “Personal,” comes at $6/month (paid annually).

Features that make work easier for beginners –

  • 60 quality themes that aren’t old and recycled but fresh and new. Arranged in categories to make finding the right option easier, good quality, and uniqueness is their USP.
  • All themes are mobile-optimized, which means your website will load perfectly on smaller screens and mobile devices too.
  • 350 plus apps are available in the App Center and that allows you to add the required functionality to your site with ease.
  • Build-in email marketing tool called Weebly Promote. This is a handy feature for those who would like to reach everyone on their mailing list without using an external service.
  • Robust eCommerce functionalities that aren’t easy to set up. But Weebly makes it easier with a straightforward, intuitive process.

SITE123

The experience that you have working with SITE123 does justice to the name. Creating a website for basic use is as simple as 1, 2, and 3.

Price: Free plan available. The lowest plan, “Premium,” costs $5.80/month (paid annually).

Features that make work easier for beginners –

  • 180 mobile-responsive templates that come with some cool customization options. Making your SITE123 website truly your own is as easy as it gets.
  • Helpful tips, tutorials, and the guided tour make the process of creating your website a breeze. Other than the user-friendly interface, you also have access to 24/7 live chat support, should you need help.
  • All essential eCommerce features like multiple payment forms, email marketing list, wishlist creation, and unlimited orders are available. Also, SITE123 does not charge any sales commission.
  • You can build your website using one of the 21 languages available. Also, your website can be displayed in 5 languages (out of over 100 options available). A truly local experience.
  • Editing options are easy. And SEO functionalities are available either in the form of apps from the App center or third-party integrations.

Squarespace

Squarespace is the website builder for those who have a design focus. If you are looking for a website that has drop-dead beautiful designs, Squarespace is the way to go. While it is beginner-friendly for the most part, you do need a little patience while handling the tech aspect. But it won’t be tough if you take a couple of minutes to understand your way around.

Price: No free plan. The lowest plan, “Personal,” costs $12/month (paid annually).

Features that make work easier for beginners –

  • 60 stunning mobile-optimized templates. These templates are perfect both from the perspective of beauty and features.
  • Beginners don’t need to worry about accidentally deleting a post or the pages as Squarespace lets you restore deleted posts and pages for up to 30 days.
  • If you know the basics of coding, you can make use of it. If not, you can still use the editor to create an equally stellar website. Also, you can use the Squarespace app and edit your site from your mobile phone.
  • Tons of built-in blogging features that make setting up and running a blog very easy. Also, a lot of images are available, and social media integration is possible. You can also add contributors to your blog.
  • Wide range of eCommerce functionalities that make it effortless to set up a designer storefront and manage inventory.

WordPress

WordPress powers more than a third of the web. And that is proof enough of how easy to use and feature-loaded it is. WordPress.org is a self-hosted platform. This gives you the liberty to choose your hosting. But it also gives you unprecedented ease of use.

Price: Completely free, forever.

Features that make work easier for beginners –

  • Multiple editor options to choose from. Whether you are looking for a drag and drop visual editor or a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor, WordPress has the right option for you. You can use the editor that you feel the most comfortable with.
  • 53,000+ WordPress templates are available in the WordPress directory itself. You can also find more themes on Themeforest, Themify, and more. These options are both free and paid. And you are really spoilt for choices.
  • The WordPress plugin directory has a plugin for any and every feature, form, and functionality addition that you can think of. There is nothing that you need to do yourself. You can find a (free or paid) plugin to do that.
  • WordPress is SEO-friendly out-of-the-box. You can do nothing and still rank. But for competitive niches, you can also use plenty of optimized themes and SEO plugins.
  • Managing WordPress is a breeze. Mostly because the one unified dashboard has everything that you need. And even for your security concerns, you can use one of the multiple plugins available.

WebNode

WebNode is among the fastest-growing free website builders in the market. With over 22 million active users, it is a great point-and-click website builder that is great for beginners.

Price: Free plan available. The lowest plan, “Limited,” comes at $3.95/month.

Features that make work easier for beginners –

  • An easy-to-use drag-and-drop online editor that makes building a website as easy as possible. You just have to pick up the elements, drag them where you want to see them, and drop them right there.
  • No ads ever. Even if you are on the free plan, you don’t have to deal with WebNode ads on your site. This lets users select plans without pressure. You don’t need to jump to the higher plans right away to get rid of ads. Also, it lets you use custom domains as well.
  • Hundreds of pre-designed, beautiful, and responsive templates are available. Also, when you select a theme, you can select the pages that you want on your site. Home, About, Contact, News, Products, FAQs, and Our Team are some of the pages that are created automatically. You can edit these pages with the drag-and-drop editor and get your pages ready in minutes.
  • You get a lot of in-built SEO features. You can edit the page title, URL, and metadata. There is an option to edit the Alt tags for images as well. Those who aren’t experts at SEO can use these in-built features to get a higher search engine ranking. Plus, you can create up to 20 versions of your website in different languages.
  • WebNode comes with email support. But if you are just starting and want to learn things from the basics, you can check out their community forum. There is also an FAQs page on the website that will solve all the doubts that beginners are likely to have.

Strikingly

If you want to create a single-page website where your visitors just scroll through different sections, Strikingly is the best option. It is a quick and easy-to-use website builder that lets you create simple to use websites.

Price: Free plan available. The lowest plan costs $8/month (paid annually)

Features that make work easier for beginners –

  • Strikingly offers dozens of templates to build your website. Also, these templates are customizable, and so you can make sure your website looks unique. With the paid plans, you can also edit the header and footer as per your need.
  • A simple drag-and-drop editor makes customizations easy and quick. You can also get an SEO checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything. Plus, there is an option to add animations and scroll effects.
  • Strikingly can suggest color themes based on your logo. This is especially helpful for the users who aren’t very good at the design aspects. You can take the suggestions and create a website that looks in sync with your brand logo.
  • Mobile optimized themes are available. You can also make adjustments for a mobile display to make sure there are no discrepancies. iOS and iPad apps are also available. You can use this app for order management, replying to customer responses on the contact form, and to edit the website.
  • The Integration section has a lot of options to add more functionality. From email marketing to social media and payment partners, you can add a wide range of features. Without having to add codes or do complex settings.

SimpleSite

SimpleSite’s name says all that it has to offer. Simple sites. If you haven’t built a website before and have never taken a look at a website builder’s backend, this one is perfect for you.

Price: Free plan is available. The lowest plan, “Pro,” costs $15.49.

Features that make work easier for beginners –

  • Starting with SimpleSite is, well, too simple. You just have to choose a color theme. Then add images and titles. Go on to add a domain name and create a login setup. With that, your website will be ready to go live. You can then return to the fine-tune editing later. Plus, you also get five professional email ids with the SimpleSite account.
  • A quick editor. With SimpleSite, you don’t have to pull your hair trying to edit an element. The no-fuss editor is a quick way to make your site look like you want it to.
  • For those who are baffled by choices, SimpleSite selects the templates for you. Based on the type of website you want to create, you get a suitable template. But that doesn’t mean you have no choice. You can choose the Business option while selecting templates and browse through the available options.
  • The free plan that lets you see up to 5 products. If you just want to sell a few products without opening a full-blown eCommerce store, you can do with the SimpleSite free plan. A great way for beginners to test waters before taking the plunge.
  • Mobile optimized themes are given. Plus, you can also edit your website from your mobile’s browser. No need to download yet another app.

Jimdo

More than 20 million websites have been created with Jimdo. And that number is set to rise with the introduction of Jimdo’s AI-based editor. The AI-powered Dolphin editor takes the driver’s seat and makes website building a cakewalk for beginners.

Price: Free plan available. The lowest plan costs $10/month (paid annually).

Features that make work easier for beginners –

  • Jimdo Creator, the basic website builder, has a drag-and-drop editor that can be used to add style, sophistication, and uniqueness to your website with ease. The Dolphin editor goes a step forward by creating the website for you. You just have to answer a few questions and then sit back and relax. Once the website is built, you can fine-tune the site to make it fit your needs.
  • Jimdo has a modern arsenal of templates and themes. You can edit the style and text and add images. All the templates are mobile-optimized by default. You can also see the mobile preview during site-building.
  • Jimdo’s interface can be accessed in one of the eight available languages. The editor lets you add text in any language of your choice. And there is an option to create multilingual websites without much hassle or coding.
  • Widgets can be added to make sure your site looks fine and has the required functionality. The Gallery widget and social media widgets are especially useful for adding advanced features with ease.
  • Jimdo also comes with a form builder that lets you create effective contact forms right then and there. Also, you get all the SEO and eCommerce functionalities that you’d need for a beginner-level website.

IM Creator

IM Creator’s website builder IM XPRS is a decent website builder for personal and business use. You get eCommerce functionality with all the plans, and it is designed with ease of use in mind.

Price: Free plan available. The lowest plan, “Premium,” costs $9.95/month.

Features that make work easier for beginners –

  • Plenty of responsive and customizable templates arranged in 14 categories. Also, IM Creator doesn’t stop at its promise of simplicity for beginners. When you choose a template, you get the option to watch a YouTube video. The video details how to edit the template. If you are confident, you can skip the video and start editing right away.
  • The eCommerce functionality and storage upgrade options are available without having to pay too much. You also get an array of feature enhancement additions. These include checkout management, management console, and analytics.
  • If you want a multilingual website but aren’t adept at using plugins and adding code, IM Creator feels Godsent. You can create multiple versions of your website in different languages. Available at no additional cost.
  • IM XPRS mobile app lets you stay in control of your website even when on the go. You can edit all aspects of your site from the app itself.
  • The IM Creator website has two self-help sections for beginners. You can check out the FAQs and How-To section to get details about how things work. If you still have doubts, you can use the online ticketing system to contact support.

Now that you know what are the best website builders, it is time to select the most suitable option from the list and get started.

From this list of website builders for small business, you can choose the one that you feel the most comfortable with and create your online presence with ease.

 

Google Guaranteed GMB Listings

As business owners, we are all at least somewhat familiar with Google My Business (GMB) and what it has to offer. Some of us are only beginning to build our GMB profiles, while others have been using GMB actively for years. But what if I told you there is a new paid feature that will allow eligible businesses to upgrade their GMB listing even further? Let’s take a look at the details of the new Google Guaranteed feature below. 

What is the upgraded profile and the Google Guaranteed Badge?

This feature was initially rolled out in the US, but has recently come to Canada for testing and further rollout. Eligible businesses will first need to pass a screening process (similar to what Google currently has in place for Local Services Ads) in order to get the Google Guaranteed Badge to appear on their profile. According to Google, the badge will help your business stand out to potential customers as a legitimate, professional, and trusted local business. 

Basically, the Google Guaranteed badge lets customers know that your business has been vetted and approved by Google – more details about their screening process are below. Having this badge on your GMB profile helps to build your reputation and gives your clients some peace of mind knowing that they are dealing with a vetted business.

The key factor about the Google Guaranteed badge is that it protects your customers from poor and unsatisfactory service. For customers who hire a service via an ad with the Google Guaranteed Badge, they are eligible to claim up to a maximum of $2,000 as a reimbursement from Google for a bad experience. This is a lifetime maximum per customer, and it is paid out directly by Google.   

Google Guaranteed GMB listings won’t be replacing their Local Services Ads feature any time soon, but it acts as a transition or supplement into the Local Services Ads program. It looks like Google is looking to increase their advertiser base and get businesses on board who aren’t currently using Google Ads or Local Services Ads.

How much does it cost and what is included?

Upgrading your GMB profile and receiving the Google Guaranteed Badge will cost you $50 USD per month, which comes out to $600 USD annually. It runs on a subscription based program, so if you decide to cancel, your Google Guaranteed Badge will be removed. 

The subscription covers add-ons such as recorded phone calls and dedicated support. Enabling this upgrade will create a Local Services Ads account, so the interface will be very similar once you make the change to your GMB profile. The badge itself appears as a green checkmark with ‘GOOGLE GUARANTEED’ written under the name of your business. 

When looking at the price, add-ons are definitely important – but what is more important is your perceived value of having the Google Guaranteed Badge on your GMB profile. How much of an edge will your business have if your business is one of the first to be listed as guaranteed? How will this affect your potential customers’ likelihood to choose your business over one of your competitors? 

Which businesses can currently access this feature?

Since this service only became available in Canada in summer 2020, it is still fairly new and limited to a small number of business categories. So far, this new feature is only available to “eligible businesses” in certain sectors. The first business categories eligible for this upgrade include HVAC, plumbers, electricians, roofing, pest control, cleaning services, tree and landscaping services, and water damage restoration. It looks like the service will continue to grow and include more business categories in the near future, although that exact timeline is unclear. 

How to apply for a Google Guaranteed GMB listing:

If you own an eligible business, you should be able to upgrade to the Google Guaranteed feature within your GMB dashboard. If you don’t see anything there, it is likely not yet available for your business. 

Once you do apply, Google will begin the screening process for your business. This process appears to be the same as the one used for Local Services Ads. For most businesses, Google will perform license, insurance, and background checks to validate the legitimacy of your business. Here is a little more information about the screening process.

You may be thinking that businesses who have already completed the screening process for Local Services Ads would be logically some of the first to have access to the Google Guaranteed Badge. But it actually looks like that this feature is intended for businesses who aren’t already using the Local Services Ads feature. These two features definitely go hand in hand, so it may make sense for a lot of business to try out both. 

Have you been able to upgrade your GMB listing to include the Google Guaranteed Badge? Want to talk more about how to use the GMB features available to you? Contact us today.

Protect Your Website from Hacks

protect website against hackers

In the online world you’ll find lots of great things, but there are also many hidden dangers that are easy for the average person to forget about. If you have a website of any kind, there is always the potential of a cyberattack. Hackers are a real threat, and they perform attacks for all kinds of reasons. I’ve had to deal with a few of our clients websites which have come under attack.

Whether your site is a personal blog, a hobby, or a business platform, you’ll want to make sure that it’s protected from online vulnerabilities that can have real life consequences. In this post I’ll share some tips on how to keep your website secure and protect it from hackers.

Broadly speaking, a cyberattack is an attempt by a hacker to expose, alter, disable, destroy, steal or gain unauthorized access to a computer network or system. You may think it can’t happen to you, but it can and it likely will if you do not take the steps to secure your website. To a hacker, any vulnerability is an opportunity, so the key is to be proactive and take the steps to protect your assets ahead of time.

Tip #1: Create Strong Passwords

This might sound obvious, but passwords are always your first line of defence against a hacker. This means that you need to develop strong passwords for both your server and website’s admin services. A strong password should include uppercase and lowercase characters, special characters, and numbers. While some people will suggest using a random phrase, the strongest passwords are actually random sequences of letters, numbers and symbols.

If you find yourself struggling to keep track of all of your passwords, I would recommend using Last Pass. This tool can help you create strong new passwords as well as keep track of multiple passwords across your platforms in a secure way. It will also save you time and aggravation trying to remember all of your passwords. It also is an Iphone app which makes it more useful than browser password managers as you can access to any passwords all the time.

Tip #2: Prevent SQL Injection Attacks

An SQL injection attack is a specific cyberattack in which the attacker will use a URL parameter or web form file to access your website’s database. Even though the SQL injection is over 15 years old, it is still proven to be a successful attack method for hackers across the world. For websites with a standard Transact SQL, the attacker can just insert a piece of code into a query that will allow them to change tables and access or delete data. You can prevent this simply by using parameterized queries. If you are not a web developer, speak to your web development service provider to make sure they implement parameterized queries for your website.

Tip #3: Install Security Plugins

A great way to enhance the security of your website is to install dedicated security plugins. If you use a web host such as WordPress, there are several plugins available for you to download such as 6Scan Security, Sucuri Security, and WordFence. These plugins offer a wide range of features from automatic vulnerability fixes to protection against various types of attacks to firewall protection. It’s best to compare the plugins available and select one with the features that work best for you.

Tip #4: Stay Up to Date

One of the most common vulnerabilities that lead to successful cyber attacks is out of date software. Whether it be website themes, plugins, or other software, it is crucial to keep it up to date at all times. Updates are released for a reason: and that reason is to patch potential vulnerabilities, fix mistakes, and keep your website secure and running smoothly.

Tip #5: Set Up File Permissions

File permissions: do you understand how they work and what they can do for you? A website is made of many files including plugin files, media files, design files, and more. If one of these files is granted an incorrect permission, a vulnerability can be created which a hacker can then exploit. You especially want to avoid giving important files the execute permission, which grants full control. To avoid creating accidental vulnerabilities, learn how your permissions work or ask your web developer to double check the file permissions for you.

When you’ve put so much effort into building your website or brand, you don’t want it to be ruined by some anonymous hacker on the other side of the globe. Following the above 5 tips will help your website stay secure so that you can protect your content and data and keep doing what you love. Remember: you can never be to careful when it comes to website security.

Want to talk about web development? Contact us and I’d be happy to chat about keeping your website secure.

Choosing A Web Host

how to choose a web host

If you want your website to stand out, there is a good chance that you have sunk a lot of time and energy into making it look great. Your content and design are on point and your site is optimized for searches – so now what? It’s time to go live! But that might be easier said than done as there are so many web hosting service providers to choose from. If you aren’t sure which web hosting provider to go with, you are in the right place. Below I will go over some things to look out for when you are choosing a web host.

There are always multiple varying factors that will change based on each individual website (e.g. audience location, how much traffic you are expecting), and this may influence which web host service that you choose to go with. But, when it comes down to it, the four main items that everyone should look for in a good web host are speed, reliability, scalability, and security. I’ll go through each one below.

Speed

When you talk about a website’s speed, you are most likely talking about how fast your site will load. A good service speed will allow your content to load quickly on the browsers of all site visitors, no matter where they are accessing your site from.

If your website’s files are hosted on one server in one place, the speed will decrease as the visitor gets further and further away from that server. The solution to this is store and distribute the assets in a content distribution network (CDN). CDNs distribute your files through data centres across the world and will deliver your content to your visitors via the data centre that is closest to them. Look out for at least one, if not two, CDNs if you want the fastest speeds.

Reliability

How can anyone view your website if it doesn’t load? One of the most key elements that your web host should offer is 99.99% reliability. If your web host is constantly scheduling “down time” or a shared server can’t handle spikes in traffic, this can damage your website’s success. At the end of the day, down time equals missed opportunities for potential customers to visit and view your site.

Scalability

Scalability goes hand in hand with reliability. This element looks at how well your site handles a higher than normal amount of web traffic, and what your server does when it gets an overload of requests. The best web hosting services will automatically spin up servers in response to traffic flow, so your site will be able to handle any amount of traffic. This means that if your brand goes viral, your website won’t crash.

Security

Lastly, security should always be on your mind when it comes to the web. When a website URL starts with “http://”, it is not secure. On the other hand, websites that begin with “https://” show an indication that all communication between your web browser and the website itself are encrypted with an SSL certificate. It’s useful to note that some browsers will show a lock icon instead of “https://” to indicate that the website is secure.

Security is especially essential for any websites that collect personal information of any kind. SSL certificates not only help keep this data secure, but they also impact your Google rankings. Sites without an SSL certificate rank lower, so if you are serious about improving your rankings you will want to look out for a web host that promises and delivers security.

While those are the four main items that you should definitely look out for in a web host, there are also other bonus features that can impact your website’s SEO and performance. These should be seen as non-essential but “nice to haves”. I’ve listed those below.

  • HTTP/2: the newest version of the hypertext transfer protocol brings faster websites, but not all hosting platforms support it yet. If you are able to find a web host that does offer it, it could be worth it as there is evidence that Google may be including HTTP/2 in their ranking algorithm. With features like multiplexing and header compression, HTTP/2 is worth searching out.
  • Auto backups and version control: This will stop you from losing valuable changes made to your site!
  • Site-wide/per page password protection: To help your passwords stay secure.
  • Simple publishing workflow: This makes it easy to publish on your site so you can spend your time doing more important things like building your brand.
  • DDoS attack protection: Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are malicious attempts to disrupt normal traffic. They can be serious – so it might be nice to have protection from these attacks included in your web hosting service.

After reading this article you should have a pretty clear idea of which web hosting service you want to go with. Never be afraid to ask potential service providers lots of questions when it comes to speed, reliability, scalability, and security. Still not sure which web host to go with? I am happy to answer questions about web hosting, website design, or SEO – contact me to get started.

Google Ads & SEO Are A Deadly Duo

google ads and seo are a dealy combo

If you are wanting to improve your SEO rankings but aren’t sold on Google Ads, I want you to rethink that. The are a couple of reasons why, which I’ll explain in a bit. Read on to find out what those are.

I’ve already talked about how long it can take to increase SEO rankings. Depending on a few factors, it’s going to take an SEO company time and patience to do the job properly so that a website sticks highly on the first page. There will be money spent and it will take some time to see some organic traffic visit the website.

For many business and website owners, that’s a tough pill to swallow. That’s why I’ve always said SEO is a long term investment as you won’t have to keep paying for SEO services and subsequent organic traffic after the rankings stick. But this is also the reason why people aren’t sold on Google Ads and having to continuously pay for traffic.

Let me introduce you to a deadliest tag team in online marketing.

Google Ads and SEO

I would like to propose an idea, and that is to invest in both Google Ads and SEO at the same time. This will increase the monthly budget but it’s worth it. Here’s why.

While the SEO campaign is working away in the background and your search rankings are improving, driving traffic to your website will help the SEO company and it will also help the business owner.

Here’s how it helps the SEO company:

Show Me The Data!

This will give the SEO company very sound data on what keywords are generating the most amount of engagement on the website. Whether that’s simply average time spent on website or goal conversions, the data will help the SEO company make any tweaks to the keywords being targeted.

Here’s how it helps the business owner:

Offsetting Costs

The business owner will be able to generate leads from the Google Ads campaign. Then hopefully close some sales to offset the cost of both the Google Ads spend and the SEO services. This will cost more than just running an SEO company but it’s money well spent for both parties.

It’s hard for many business owners to shell out money on SEO as it’s a process that might not see much in the way of results, traffic and leads. But as I explained above, it can a great option to also invest in a Google Ads campaign.

Fill out our discovery form if you are interested in this approach or using either of our SEO or Google Ads management services.