Websites can be expensive to build and maintain if you are not an experienced webmaster. Even minor changes or updates can be frustrating if you must rely on outside programmers. If you only have a limited budget and cannot afford a web designer, you can consider building your website by using website builder software, or by downloading a web template file. Both would cost much less than hiring a web designer, and you can update the website yourself. There are many website builder software available. Even if you do not know how to use them, you might have already heard of products such as Dream weaver, Flash, GoLive, etc

However, unless you already have the skill sets and experience, the learning curve of this software might make it difficult for most home or small business owners. This commercial software usually costs several hundred dollars just to purchase. You would then have to learn the coding and do all the layout design by yourself.

Not everyone is a web designer. Experts who know HTML well could build the whole site using Windows Note Pad. But you have a lot more things to do besides HTML coding and web design. Therefore, an easy website builder or web page creator can be very helpful, they usually cost less than $100, and can save you time.

When choosing a website builder, ensure the website builder you purchase is software, not a service. Many online website builder companies insist you must sign up and build your website by logging in to their online service, and you cannot host your website anywhere else except theirs.

You need to pay a subscription fee (monthly or quarterly) for your website, and the created website cannot be uploaded to any other web host or your client’s server. As soon as you cancel your subscription with them, your entire website will be deleted including all your content and images. There is no option for you to buy your website with a once-off payment.

A  website builder software, in contrast, can be installed on your local desktop, so you and your staff can all use it to build or edit websites any time for your own company or for reselling purposes, and upload them to your web hosting account.

Why are they so popular?

Website builders have boomed over the years because everyone wants to get a website published and, in many cases, does not have the confidence or experience to do it themselves. Also, many people may not want to hire a professional company or designer solely because of the costs involved. They then turn to website builders which are tipped to take out a lot of the hard work such as designing a layout and coding, and you simply put in the information you want.

Which one to choose?

With so many website building tools out there, it is a minefield because each of them varies on how good they are overall, how much they cost, how easy they are to use, the features included, SEO, customization, and customer support.

Your main considerations

Before you consider using these resources, there are four big considerations you need to think about before committing yourself.

1) Which template design? Many website builders, including the free services, come with generous selections of templates that include fluid layouts and mobile website designs. You must ensure that the templates offered are current and include mobile device support.

2) How much control do you get? How much control do you get through the website editor? You should be able to ensure that it is constructed according to the layout you want. Make sure you can customize your website the way you want to with the tools provided. Essential tools must include SEO and customizing page titles, meta keywords and descriptions, and body text.

3) How easy to use are they? The site builder must be intuitive and easy to use. If the interface is so confusing that you can’t figure out how the do the basics, do not bother with the service. Avoid services that just seem to overload the screen with options and choices.

4) What features are there? As with ease of use, you must see what features are available with the provider you are looking at. These typically include domain name support, depth of navigation, SEO, contact forms, HTML support, e-commerce, and others.

In addition, you can read reviews online about the website building services and make use of comparison websites that compare the features of these building providers. Then you will be able to make an informed decision as to which one to choose.