Steve Kowal

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Website Builders

What is a website builder and how to check who is the best?

The name explains it all - website builders are tech-tools, perfect for small businesses and individuals to create a website without hiring a developer and designer. These online builders are easy to use, user-friendly, and most of them are free to use. Simple as that!

Do you know, that more than 1/3 of internet users said they first find out about small businesses when researching online? That's why your internet presence is so vital for your business. 

There are many benefits of using such website builder:

  • You can create and maintain a website without any knowledge of web development frameworks and coding languages;
  • You don’t have to manage your own web hosting;
  • There are a lot of free website builders /We don't recommend a free website builder - all of them are serving advertisements on your website and you cannot use your own domain name. You are renting a subdomain from the builder/;
  • You pay your bill in one place for the domain, hosting and builder;
  • You can add hundreds of apps with a simple click - Wix has more than 250 apps available /analytics, forum, gallery, calendar, comments, booking system and etc./;
  • If you have an Internet connection, you can access/edit/manage your website from everywhere.

What sites can be created with a website builder?

The answer is simple: any small and medium size websites (less than 100k monthly visitors).

Who should use a website builder?

If you don't want to spend:

  • too much money (an average website costs between £500 and £10,000 in total, depending on the type of website you want to create);
  • time (from one month to six months, depending on complexity),

and you have no coding and design skills, website builders are for you!

With a website builder, you can get a website up and running in just a few hours, with no prior design experience required.

Our list of the best website builders

As we mentioned above, in the beginning, we've tried to search for a UK website builder, but all of them were a big disappointment - lack of templates/features and support.

In this Google Trends graph, we've compared the search volume of most popular website builders in the UK - "Wix", "Squarespace" and "Weebly".

It’s easy to see that, measured by search volume, Wix has more than 2 times more searches than Squarespace. The search term Weebly is used about five times less than Wix.

#1 Wix Website Builder

Editor's Choice - Most Popular and Easy to Use

Wix Website Builder

Is Wix The Right Website Builder For Your Idea?

Wix is for anyone who needs a professional and good-looking website, without having any knowledge in programming or designing. Wix will save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars of hiring a pricey designer and developer.

With Wix, you can make a stunning and powerful interactive website for any personal or business idea, but It's not for you if you're looking to build a complex site.

We would recommend WIX without reservations for smaller websites – less than 20 pages, for small businesses, restaurants, online stores, freelancers and artists such as actors, musicians, and photographers.

 

Pros and Cons

Extremely easy to use.

500+ exceptional templates in 16 Categories: Business, Photography, Food, Travel, Freelancer and etc.

300+ apps from the Wix Market.

99.9% Uptime and relatively fast loading time - 500ms.

Flexible website builder.

Very Important! If you want to switch your template at a later stage, you’ll have to add and customize all your content again from zero. 

No live chat.

Wix Templates

Wix has 500+ pre-made templates in 16 categories and 60 subcategories, ready to install and customize right away in just a few clicks.

Wix Templates

 

Summary

All started back in 2006 when Wix was one of the first to offer end to end website creator without any advanced technical skills or knowledge.

Wix reached 110 million users in 2017, which is way bigger when compared to some of its competitors – Weebly /over 40 million users/ and Squarespace /millions of users/. WIX is listed in NASDAQ and it also had commercials on the Super Bowl games. Yes, for a little more than 10 years of history, WIX is doing amazing.

 

#2 Weebly Website Builder

Easiest to use

Weebly website builder

Pros and Cons

Extremely easy to use

Very user-friendly, drag & drop website builder

50+ pre-set page layouts

Access to the templates’ HTML / CSS codes

Change the template and all existing content will be automatically transferred into the new

Limited theme selection

Some low-quality apps

#3 Site123 Website Builder

Simple and Straightforward

Site123

Pros and Cons

Easy to integrate apps and widgets

Templates are fully mobile and tablet responsive

Speedy and helpful ADI system

Can’t change templates once your site goes live

Lack of flexibility

#4 Squarespace Website Builder

Beautiful & elegant

Squarespace website builder

Pros and Cons

Beautiful, mobile-responsive, designer templates

Extensive styling options

Easy to use style editor

All plans are ad-free

Very expensive

It's hard to create multilingual websites

#5 GoDaddy Website Builder

Fastest to work with

godaddy website builder

Pros and Cons

Very cheap, compared to others

Create a website in a couple of minutes

Easy to use

The new GoDaddy builder - GoCentral is speedy and simple

Lack of some features

It's hard to customize

#6 Jimdo Website Builder

Good site performance

In recent years, Jimdo has become one of the major website builders, with its easy to use drag and drop builder.

jimdo website builder

Pros and Cons

Very intuitive with drag and drop

All designs are optimized for mobile devices

Easy to use style editor

All plans are ad-free

The drag and drop builder has no preview function

It's not a good choice for online store

Lack of flexibility of some templates

Footnotes

[1] TOTAL SCORE - We took 10 vital criteria, each scored from 0 to 100 - Easy To Use, Cost, Uptime, Support, Design, Blogging, Customization, E-Commerce, Features, Innovative. With the "total score" element, we've tried to summarize the key points, that may help you make a better decision. For a better understanding of our comparison table, we highly suggest you read our detailed reviews for each website builder.

[2] WHY WE CHOOSE? - This is to summarize it all with a few simple words. What is the biggest advantage of each website builder and/or who it’s most suited to?

[3] WEBSITES POWERED - The total number of websites powered from each website builders in millions. The data is provided by the companies themselves. We use this data to give a rough idea, how big is the specific website builder! This is not the number of paid subscriptions or active users!

[4] FREE PLAN - Some website builders are providing "free plans" or "free trials", but these plans have a lot of limitations. !IMPORTANT - if you want a free website builder, you’ll get ads on Wix, Weebly, and SITE123 (which doesn’t look super professional). You will not be able to connect your own domain name (you have to use their subdomain, for example, http://YOURNAME.jimdofree.com)

[5] TYPES OF SUPPORT We checked all the support types of each website builder - whether there are 24/7 or not.

  • Wix – Phone support is available - Monday-Thursday, 5am-5pm. 
  • Weebly – has email, phone, and live chat support, available Monday-Friday, 6am-6pm; Saturday-Sunday 5am-5pm.
  • Site123 – Live chat is available 24/7 and the support team is extremely helpful
  • Squarespace – 24/7 email support. Live chat support - Monday-Friday, 4am-8pm ET.
  • GoDaddy – GoDaddy doesn't currently offer support through email. GoDaddy offers 24/7 phone, and live chat support - all Day Mon - Fri.
  • Jimdo - doesn't have live chat and phone support; Does have E-Mail and knowledge base

[6] NAME OF THE PLAN - We picked and compared the cheapest plan of each website builder, who is not serving any ads.

[7] PRICE - The monthly price for the compared plan, paid yearly.

  • Wix - £3/month - Connect a domain; £6/month - Combo; £8.50/month - Unlimited; £18/month - VIP
  • Weebly - £3/month - Connect a domain; £5/month - Starter; £8/month - Pro; £17/month - Business
  • Site123 - $ 10.80/month - Premium
  • Squarespace - $ 12/month - Personal; $ 18/month - Business
  • GoDaddy - £4.99/month - Personal; £6.99/month - Business; £10.99/month - Business Plus; £19.99/month - Online Store
  • Jimdo - €5/month - Pro; €15/month - Business

[8] BILLED - All the prices are for a full year of revenue all at once.

[9] STORAGE - The web space, also known as storage space, means the amount of space on a web server that is allocated to your website by the website builder (total quantity of all text files, images, scripts, databases, emails and other files).

[10] BANDWIDTH - the level of traffic, and amount of data that can transfer between your site, users, and the rest of the internet.

[11] - All compared plans are ADS free. For example, Wix is not serving ADS in these plans: the Combo, Unlimited, VIP, Business Basic, Business Pro, and Business VIP Premium Plans.

[12] CONNECT DOMAIN - All the compared plans are with the option to connect your own domain, for example, your site may look like YOURNEWWEBSITE.COM, instead of YOURNEWWEBSITE.WIX.COM.

[13] EASY TO USE - for a tech guy, all the website builders are easy to use. We based our score on the feedback, we received from you. (How complex is the interface and drag and drop builder? Do you require any coding/designing skills? In how many minutes, your website could be live and etc.?).

[14] COST - Website builders companies are selling so many things to you, like plugins, themes, apps, custom designs, even some complex support queries. We scored, based on the minimum amount you required, your site to be fully functional and live.

[15] UPTIME - is a metric that represents the percentage of time that your website is live. For example, if your site is down for one day, each year, the uptime will be 99,73%.

[16] SUPPORT - This metric is based on the support types, time to respond, how accurate is the first solution and etc.

[17] DESIGN - How many themes, are they free, responsive and professional coded? What is the design quality?

[18] BLOGGING - What specific functions for blogging are provided (analytics, categories, embed a comments section, social bookmarking, a search feature and etc.)? Actually, the best blogging platform is WordPress! Other good platforms are Tumblr and Blogger.

  • Wix - you can add analytics, social bookmarking, comment section on a post and a search feature + dozens of beautiful blog templates, but no way to add archives and RSS feed on a blog
  • Weebly - Detailed analytics on your blog’s performance, add an RSS Feed, easy-access archive, comment section, a search feature and social bookmarking.
  • Site123 - Does have analytics, social bookmarking, a search feature and an RSS feed, but doesn't have categories, archiving, and a comments section.
  • Squarespace - Detailed analytics, Display blogging categories, allow comments, add an RSS Feed, a search feature and social bookmarking.
  • GoDaddy - I don't suggest you use GoDaddy for a simple blogging site. For example, you currently can’t archive or add comments to a post.
  • Jimdo - Jimdo is a good platform to build a blog on. The old-school design is the weakest point of Jimdo.

[19] CUSTOMIZATION - How flexible is the website builder, meaning how you can make a substantial amount of site customizations?

  • Wix - The templates are fully customizable, but once you chose your template, you cannot change it! Advanced customization isn't currently supported in Wix stores.
  • Weebly - Not as flexible on customizing design templates and no control over what site looks like on mobile.
  • GoDaddy - The worst from all, it's almost impossible to create a unique website!

[20] E-COMMERCE - We've evaluated how good is the platform for eCommerce, does it allows you to design, develop, market, and sell any type of goods to consumers around the world.

Shopify is one of the best eCommerce platforms that has everything you need to sell online, on social media, or in person.

  • Wix - you can add analytics, social bookmarking, comment section on a post and a search feature + dozens of beautiful blog templates, but no way to add archives and RSS feed on a blog
  • Weebly - Detailed analytics on your blog’s performance, add an RSS Feed, easy-access archive, comment section, a search feature and social bookmarking.
  • Site123 - Does have analytics, social bookmarking, a search feature and an RSS feed, but doesn't have categories, archiving, and a comments section.
  • Squarespace - Detailed analytics, Display blogging categories, allow comments, add an RSS Feed, a search feature and social bookmarking.
  • GoDaddy - I don't suggest you use GoDaddy for a simple blogging site. For example, you currently can’t archive or add comments to a post.
  • Jimdo - Jimdo is a good platform to build a blog on. The old-school design is the weakest point of Jimdo.
Read more...

The BEST Magento hosting in the UK? {Detailed Guide}

Magento E-commerce

Magento is, without doubt, one of the most popular and robust e-commerce platforms with more than 250 000 merchants around the globe using it.

Due to its complexity and nature, Magento requires particular set up and hosting environment that supports its features.

That is why for this article we have invited the guys from AionHill with more than 15 years of Magento development and consulting experience to shed light on some important questions:

  • How to choose the best web hosting company for your Magento project?
  • Is Magento a good fit for your e-shop?
  • What questions to ask your future hosting company to make sure they are a good fit for Magento?

Choosing the right host for your e-commerce project can be crucial regarding user experience, sales, revenue and the overall success of your e-shop so make sure to read it to the end.

What is Magento and is it a good fit for your e-store?

Without a doubt, Magento is currently the most feature rich and popular open source webshop engine in the world.

Favoured by hundreds of thousands of merchants all over the world  It all started at around 2008 developed by a small company called Varien and was quickly embraced both by the developer community and the shop owner. Hosting providers also liked Magento due to its unique features and extensibility.

Magento is designed from ground up to accommodate all the general functions a shop owner might need including integrated multi domain and multi store capabilities, flexible category and attribute system, customer management streamlined checkout process, and even basic ERP functions like shipment management invoicing. 

Even more impressive is the number of 3rd party extensions available for Magento, which extend the robust core features in virtually every possible way.

Through different extensions, it supports hundreds of payment gateways shipping providers. There are modules that add unique value for navigation and search, customer management, promotions, improve UX order management, SEO, check out and many other aspects. There is also a great number of available 3rd party themes.

Magento is especially notable for its integration capabilities. It has a full fledged API interface, which inspired enterprise grade integrations to the leading ERP systems like SAP, Microsoft NAV, Netsuite and many others.

Magento has gone through a major refactoring lately with the launch of version 2 incorporating the most up to date backend and frontend technologies.

Magento is recommended to all e-commerce businesses from middle size up. Even though it is open source,  due to its complexity it needs considerable expertise to set up and run properly.  

Magento EE is the Enterprise Edition of Magento with support for enterprise grade clients. Magento EE features cloud support for database sharding, utilisation of Rabbit MQ queuing technology, out of the box Elasticsearch support and many B2B functions.

Magento is suitable for merchants who want to build a feature rich, extensible web shop with no compromises and are willing to handle it as a long time investment. Magento has relatively high development and hosting cost which usually pay off pretty well in the end.

Basic Magento hosting requirements

Magento 2 is built on top of the latest versions of the Apache/Nginx - Mysql - PHP stack, which most of the shared hosting providers already support. It should be noted, however, that to utilise the full potential of Magento cloud or dedicated hosting is highly recommended.

The full specifications of technology stack requirements are listed here.

Basic technical requirements of Magento 2:

  • Apache 2.2 or 2.4 or Nginx 1.8 (or latest mainline version)
  • PHP 5.6.5 or PHP7, PHP OPcache is recommended
  • Mysql 5.6 or compatible MariaDB/Percona
  • SSH access for the command line to

Extra server-side or 3rd party features, recommended on cloud and dedicated hosting:

  • Redis cache
  • CDN (CloudFlare, Fastly, CloudFront)
  • Search engine (Elasticsearch)
  • Http front end cache:  Varnish or SiteGround’s front end cache called Supercharger, at the moment only available for Magento 1
  • Rabbit MQ (Magento EE only)

What to look for in the BEST Magento hosting

As mentioned earlier, Magento performs best on a cloud or dedicated hosting, partly because it has some turbo features like Redis and Varnish cache and that requires particular software setup.

Also, it works best if the server resources and settings are fine tuned for the actual Magento configuration. Managed version of cloud or dedicated hosting fits best for Magento, where the hardware and software are customized for the exact needs of the Magento shop with full support and monitoring.

All this provides the best care and performance without the need for the merchant to fathom the technical details.

For a basic Magento shop, however, a Magento optimised shared hosting that meets the basic technical requirements stably can be a right choice in the beginning, too.

Shared hosting suitable for ~1000 products  in catalogue and less than 50 orders daily

  • Storage: 5-10GB
  • Server: Apache
  • PHP: 5.6.5+ with the option to instal php extensions or PHP pre-configured for Magento 2
  • Mysql: 5.6
  • SSH access

For cloud/dedicated hosting a starter setup for less than 10 000 products and less than 5000 users and less than 100 orders daily might be the following:

  • Storage: SSD, 10GB
  • Memory: 4GB
  • Processor 2 cores
  • Server: Nginx
  • PHP: 7.0.6+
  • Mysql: 5.6 with min. 512MB InnoDB buffer pool.
  • Redis for cache
  • Optional: Varnish front end cache

Advanced cloud/dedicated setup for 50 000 products and 10 000 users daily:

  • Storage: SSD, 30GB
  • Memory: 8GB
  • Processor 4-8 cores
  • Server: Nginx
  • PHP: 7.0.6+
  • Mysql: 5.6 with 1 GMB InnoDB buffer pool.
  • Redis for Cache
  • Optional: Varnish front end cache

The monthly cost of Magento shared hosting starts about at £10 but as mentioned before this is only recommended for very basic Magento shops. It is the best to choose the premium or the most advanced option right away to make sure the resources will fit Magento.

As far as managed and dedicated hosting is concerned, prices for a construction suitable for Magento start about £80-100 depending on the provider, resources and the level of the managed services.

As far Magento development costs are concerned, there is, even more, dispersion since Magento can be used for a single product e-shop as well as for a B2B business integrated to an enterprise ERP

Some Questions to Ask your Hosting provider

Without any doubt, hosting is a critical part of running a Magento store. Hosting implications are in many ways related to software development, so it is always the best to ask for the advice of your Magento developers when it comes to choosing a hosting provider and server configuration.

If your Magento developer agency takes the responsibility of hosting your store, it is a good practice to make sure they have dedicated IT professionals who are specialised in system administration, or the hosting company itself is providing these services itself. To make sure you are in the best hands, these are the questions to ask:

Questions covering essential managed hosting services

  • Is regular backup provided for the Magento database media and system files?
  • If so, for how long the backups are stored and how much time does it take to restore the system from the time it is requested?
  • Do you have a 7/24 support?
  • Do you provide any uptime guarantee?
  • Do you have a monitoring system in place to detect bottlenecks and issues in time?
  • Do you perform regular OS(Linux) and server software updates?

Of course, the answer to all these questions is ideally YES.

Questions for mission critical setups

  • Do I get reports from the monitoring software?
  • Is there any mechanism to make sure automatic alerts are sent in case of infrastructural failure or service problems?
  • Can the server configuration scaled up to serve increasing traffic or reduced to same money in case of less demand? Is automatic increase of recourses possible?
  • Is horizontal scale up possible with adding new server nodes?

These questions are only relevant for high traffic sites where fine tuning of resources to comply with heavy fluctuating demands is essential.

This is not the case for new businesses, but it can be a good idea to make sure a hosting provider is chosen right in the beginning where it is possible to hire a scalable environment. From the perspective of scalability, cloud offerings are the best.

Questions to  your managed hosting provider specific of Magento

  • Do you have any offering optimised for Magento?
  • How many Magento sites do you host?
  • Is a Vagrant or Docker based virtual environment provided by you that is identical to your staging and live environments?
  • Do you support Redis?
  • Do you support Varnish?
  • Is a staging environment of multiple staging environments part of the service?
  • How easy is it to make a functional copy of the live environment?

Magento and especially Magento 2 has some unique requirements regarding system resources and deployment process.

Properly tested infrastructure can significantly improve the quality of software.

Caching is especially important when it comes to Magento. Redis is memory based caching software to store configuration and other data in memory while Varnish is a front end HTTP cache, which can make the site fast but needs extra care and expertise on the part of a hosting provider.

Questions for your Magento developer related to website hosting

  • Do you have in-house managed hosting services? What parts of the web hosting is run by you directly and what is managed by a 3rd party?
  • What managed hosting services do you use? Do you have managed host partners with cloud offerings?
  • Do you have a testing infrastructure? Do you use automated tests? Do you use any performance tests?
  • Do you support continuous integration with automated tests and continuous integration with streamlined deployments?
  • What is the expected downtime for the e-store on deploying the code?
  • Do you support any deployment software by default, like Capistrano, Jenkins or Gitlab CI?
  • What version control infrastructure do you use? How is your version control support integrated to your ticketing system, testing infrastructure and deployment mechanism?
  • What is your deployment process, what software do you use for deployment? Can the deployments be automated?
  • How do you handle Magento system logs?
  • What is your software update schedule?

Magento is a system that requires especially close coordination between a hosting provider and a developer

Both must have an in-depth understanding of Magento’s internals, and the developers should be familiar with all the server side implications of its features. In this sense, we are not only talking about simply hosting but rather “DevOps” where expert IT engineers support the whole development cycle, including local development environment, testing, deployments and hosting.

The hosting side can provide these DevOps engineers, the developer team can be 3rd party, or they can be even in-house within the developer agency. In any case without proper DevOps expertise, it is challenging to work efficiently on any serious Magento project.

Magento consulting

A successful e-commerce business has many aspects, which are closely related in most of the cases. Being a leading e-commerce platform, Magento is designed to address all these needs and requirements with the latest methodology and technologies.

Even the hosting aspect of Magento can be so complicated that it is best to entrust experts with its management. That is what we call managed hosting.

Magento consulting is an even broader service, which provides support for all sides of e-commerce form from business analysis and project management through web development, 3rd party integrations and managed hosting to SEO and online marketing. A good consulting agency can deliver all this to a merchant in a trustable way. In this way e-shop owners can focus on growing their business.

This article is provided for Top5hosting by AionHill which is one of the leading Magento development and consulting companies in Europe with more than 15 years of experience. Here is a bit more info about them and the author.

AionHill is a dedicated Magento development & full service eCommerce Agency operating since 2001. In the past seven years, we have successfully carried out some complex, international Magento projects that are all still considered pioneers in the online market with their unique solutions.

The guys at AionHill are focused on Magento AWS hosting and Magento Project Rescue.

About the Author

 

Varga Ferenc Andras AionHill

FERENC ANDRÁS VARGA
Magento Architect

Ferenc is a very experienced senior developer having a Magento Developer Plus certification. He loves all aspects of e-commerce development, especially designing complex Magento extensions and integrations. He enjoys spending his time with his family.

The BEST Magento hosting in the UK? {Detailed Guide} - 5.0 out of 5 based on 4 votes
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A2Hosting Review

A2 Hosting has been providing high-powered hosting for more than 15 years. Whether you're an expert in web development or you've never dabbled into building a website, the company is able to provide an array of web hosting solutions that are easy to use and tailor-made to address your various web hosting needs.

A2Hosting Logo
UPTIME
 
975
SPEED
 
965
SUPPORT
 
970
PRICE
 
988
FEATURES
 
965
GREEN
 
945
INNOVATIVE
 
960
Read more...

How to Start a Blog?

Step-by-step Guide

Do you regularly have experiences, both good and bad, that are worth sharing with others? Do you always find something worth talking about online? Are you just bursting with writing talent but have no outlet for release?

If you answered yes to most or all those questions, maybe it’s time you set up a blog.

What exactly is a blog?

A blog is a regularly updated website or web page, typically run by an individual or small group, which is written in an informal or conversational style.

A blog entry can be anything from a funny story, a sharing of information or even a rant. You can say a blog is a kind of personal journal, but a personal journal that is open for all the world to read.

“But I’m not tech-savvy,” you might say. You’ll be surprised, how easy (and quick) it is to set up a blog online.

How to Start a Blog? - 4.1 out of 5 based on 11 votes
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