Making a website doesn’t require you to be a coding wizz. In fact, you’d probably prefer not to get bogged down in code and error messages and workarounds that leave the end-product looking more like a Geocities site. If you just want to make a nice looking website in a hands-on way, similar to styling a Word document. Then these tools are for you – they’re called content management systems (CMS’s), and they make the layout, styling, content creation and hosting (getting it up on the internet) mostly automatic.

Geocities-bad-web-design

It didn’t turn out like you imagined…

Table of Contents

Why not to Code your Website

Despite what experienced coders will tell you, not coding your website has three major advantages:

  1. You don’t have to be an expert on layout and styling. Many novice webmasters aren’t aware of committing classic design mistakes which could have been averted if they had used a web design tool. For more info, see: A Design Language can make your Web Design Work.
  2. You’re attention won’t be divided between finicking with the code and producing the actual content. On the web, ‘Content is King’. This is a term we end up using a lot in our blog posts because we are strong believers in ‘content marketing’ – attracting people to your website with good content.
  3. Better Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). These are techniques for making your website rank higher on Google results pages. Many of these tools do the technical parts of SEO automatically. But for professional SEO, consider the services of dLook.

The website builders that we’re not recommending are Dreamweaver and blogging platforms.

Dreamweaver, despite its popularity and hands-on ease of use has a deal-breaker for the novice webmaster. This is that it doesn’t host your site for you. You still have to work out how to somehow get it from your computer onto the web and without experience, this is a hefty feat. There are more reasons why we don’t like Dreamweaver, but that’s enough for now…

Blogging platforms like Blogger are simple and easy-to-use and hosted on the web but… they’re for blogs. Blogs have a different format to traditional websites – they are usually composed of chronologically-ordered ‘posts’. If you’re looking for a blog, we recommend Blogger. Otherwise, see our CMS Recommendations below if you’re looking for a traditional website structure – which is better for showcasing your business, online portfolio, etc. Some of these even have blogging capabilities in addition.

CMS Recommendations

WordPress

Wordpress-website

This CMS is so popular that it would be disorientating not to start with it. It’s popular with novice website owners who appreciate its easy set up, to advanced webmasters who take advantage of its customisability. In fact, it’s the platform of this dLook blog that you’re reading right now.

Pros:

  • It’s free!
  • Easy to set up and get working.
  • Very customisable.
  • Enormous theme library.
  • Automatic SEO.
  • You can edit a lot of the code if you want to.
  • Analytics viewer (site stats like page views).

Cons:

  • Hard to integrate e-commerce.
  • WordPress sites look similar, or at least have a distinctly ‘WordPress’ feel.
  • Speed – WordPress contains lots of code which your actual website might not need, increasing page load time.

Squarespace

Squarespace-website

Pros:

Cons:

  • The Business plan costs US$18 per month.
  • e-Commerce costs extra.
  • The styling options are very comprehensive. This may be a con if the user feels overwhelmed or if they don’t know how to style a website well.

Weebly

Weebly-website-builder

Pros:

  • Hands-on drag-and-drop interface.
  • Integrated e-commerce platform.
  • Integrated blogging platform.
  • Analytics viewer.

Cons:

  • The Business plan costs US$25 per month.
  • Design templates are very simple and not very customisable.
  • Blogging platform is basic.

Wix

Wix-website-builder

Pros:

  • HTML5 websites. ‘HTML5’ is the latest version of HTML – the layout language for websites. Wix uses it to better handle multimedia content and to make the website better adapt to mobile phone screen sizes.
  • Modern designs.
  • Innovative features.
  • Very customisable – with an app store, templates, etc.
  • Blogging platform
  • SEO, Analytics, etc.

Cons:

  • The most affordable pricing plan is $4.08 per month. However, for increased bandwidth, no ads, e-commerce and other features, plans can cost up to $19.90 per month.

The Best CMS?

If you’re expecting an anticlimax at the end of this article with a generality like; ‘there is no best CMS, they all have pros and cons which you should compare to see which is best for you’ – you’re not wrong. That cop out still stands as our concluding statement. But two CMS’s which have a slight edge are the free and customisable WordPress and the low priced, innovative and stylish Wix.

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