Build your own website, no code required

In the old days, having your own website meant learning how to code or settling for the now-deceased Geocities. Those days are over.
In the old days, having your own website meant learning how to code or settling for the now-deceased Geocities. Those days are over. (Christin Hume via Unsplash/)

It doesn’t matter if you’re showing off your work, promoting your small business, or creating a hub for a community group—you don’t need to know a single line of HTML or CSS code to get a professional-looking, fully functional website.

Even if your needs extend to more advanced features, like an online shop or a web-based booking system, website builders out there have all sorts of tools and will surely be able to help you get what you need.

You might actually be surprised at how quickly you can get a webpage up and running.

1. Squarespace

Squarespace will make it easy to get the website of your dreams.
Squarespace will make it easy to get the website of your dreams. (David Nield/)

Squarespace is undoubtedly one of the most comprehensive website builders out there. You can use it to build sites for everything from small businesses to your upcoming wedding, and at the heart of it you’ll find dozens of superbly designed templates to get you started.

You definitely won’t have to settle for the default look Squarespace gives to your favorite template or even worry about running into another website that looks exactly like yours. Just pick a new color or a new font from the menus and let your creativity loose. You can drag around preset page elements or start fresh with a blank page and arrange text, images, forms, and other objects as you like.

Another area where Squarespace is strong is in the sheer number of extras you can quickly and easily add to your site: booking forms, audio snippets, event calendars, e-commerce elements, and more. All of these automatically adopt a style that matches the template you’ve chosen, so it’ll all look cohesive. If you want to build a particular type of website, such as a photography portfolio or a band showcase, you can say so before you even start customizing your website, and some of these extras will be automatically added for you.

From the website builders we’ve tried, we’d say Squarespace has the best template selection out there, and the best process for getting you up and running quickly. Its site-editing tools are impressive, too, letting you change colors, fonts, and layouts with just a few clicks.

There’s no free plan here, just a free trial, so if you don’t want to spend any money at all, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Squarespace starts at $12 per month, with a free 14-day trial available.

2. Weebly

Weebly is balanced and free.
Weebly is balanced and free. (David Nield/)

Weebly hits a nice balance between being easy to use and offering some advanced site features (including a suite of e-commerce tools). As soon as you sign in, you can quickly pick from a wide variety of templates, which you can then tweak to suit your needs.

The drag-and-drop editor is one of the more straightforward ones out there—it’s just like designing a newsletter in a word processor. Though Weebly’s editor doesn’t offer quite the level of flexibility as some of its rivals, you’ll still be able to easily put together some attractive-looking pages.

You can add plenty of extras to your site, too, including tables, contact forms, and social media feeds. If you’re setting up an online store, Weebly shines above the rest thanks to a partnership with Square, which makes it simple to handle online payments.

Whether Weebly is right for you or not will only depend on how much time you want to spend arranging boxes and headings. You won’t get as much control over every aspect of your site as you do with some competitors, but Weebly shines in terms of ease-of-use and intuitiveness.

Weebly is a great option if you need a professional website but nothing too ambitious—and we mean that in a good way. Maybe you want a website builder that can cope with online stores, photo portfolios, and more, but you don’t need all the editing bells and whistles that the likes of Squarespace and Wix offer.

You can use Weebly free of charge, but paying gets you a custom domain name plus additional features like extra online storage and more advanced e-commerce tools.

Weebly is free, with paid plans from $6 per month.

3. Jimdo

If you want something easy and simple, Jimdo is the way to go.
If you want something easy and simple, Jimdo is the way to go. (David Nield/)

Jimdo tries to boil website building down into as few steps as possible—if you want something that looks good and you want it in the fastest time possible, this platform might be for you.

As with most services, once you’ve signed up for Jimdo, you’ll be asked to pick a template. They’re all smart, without being spectacular, and cover all the basics, including portfolios, blogs, and small businesses. Its editing tools are far from being the most advanced we’ve seen, but that’s not necessarily a problem if you’re looking for something straightforward and easy to use.

Each template gives you the basic options to customize your website, like tweaking covering fonts, page design, and colors. If you know how, you’ll also be able to play around with the HTML code yourself. E-commerce features are available, though other website builders do this better, and the options for extra widgets such as social media feeds, contact forms, and embedded music and video are more limited than on some of Jimdo’s competitors.

Where Jimdo does excel is in its elegant, modern interface—the editing and creation tools are a pleasure to use, and will help you get your site up and running in no time.

You can use Jimdo for free, but with a paid monthly subscription, you can remove ads on your site, use a custom domain name, get more online storage, create an online shop, and more.

Jimdo is free, with paid plans from $9 per month.

4. Tumblr

Don't be mistaken—Tumblr may seem too simple, but it's way more flexible than you'd expect.
Don’t be mistaken—Tumblr may seem too simple, but it’s way more flexible than you’d expect. (David Nield/)

If you want your website to be primarily blog-based, Tumblr is an appealing option. It’s part social network, part blogging platform, and it’s much more flexible than its simple, straightforward interface might suggest. For starters, you’ve got a long list of themes to choose from, though some will cost you money, as will extras like your own domain name.

Posts are built around particular types of content—text, images, video, and links—and the emphasis of the platform is to get them up as quickly and as easily as possible. If you know some HTML, you can also tweak posts (and your theme) as required, though Tumblr includes plenty of customization options for non-coders, too.

Dig a little deeper into Tumblr and its credentials as a website builder become apparent. You can create static pages (like “about” or a “contact” pages) alongside your blog posts; you can assign your own domain name to your site rather than using a free .tumblr address, and you can invite multiple users to manage and post to your site.

While Tumblr lacks the advanced features that a certain group of users will want—easy e-commerce integration and full control over layouts, for example—it’ll get you up and running faster than most other website builders. You’ll be able to easily upload and manage posts from the Tumblr mobile app, too.

Tumblr is free, with paid extras.

5. Wix

Wix is as comprehensive as webpage builders get. It'll even create one for you automatically after you answer a couple of questions.
Wix is as comprehensive as webpage builders get. It’ll even create one for you automatically after you answer a couple of questions. (David Nield/)

With Wix, you get two choices when it comes to building your first website. First, you’ve got the Wix ADI (artificial design intelligence) creator, which asks you a few questions and then produces a website for you. Second, you have the Wix Editor, which gives you a bit more of a hands-on experience in terms of layout, fonts, colors, and other page elements.

This shows just how versatile Wix is—whether you’ve never built a website before or have some previous experience, the platform can adapt accordingly.

The ADI creator works well at getting a professional-looking site up in minutes, while the more detailed Editor option gives you plenty of control over page design, graphics, text, and widgets. You can load in contact forms, chat boxes, online stores, booking facilities, Instagram feeds, music, and more. Whether you’re a restaurant or an up-and-coming band, Wix has you covered.

Wix impresses in both its scope and its ease of use, whether it’s the drag-and-drop interfaces, the dozens of site templates available, or the way you can dig into every part of your site and tweak the design.

But deciding whether this is the platform for you is a whole other thing, and eventually, it all comes down to potential—if you want a website builder that will grow with you, Wix is an ideal choice. But if you just want to put a couple of pages together and make a few minor edits over time, Wix is probably more than you need.

You can use the service for free with a custom .wix URL and ads on your site, or pay a monthly fee for extras, including no ads, a custom domain name, and more online storage.

Wix is free, with paid plans from $13 per month.

Source: popsci
Build your own website, no code required