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Best free website builder 2021: Easy-to-use top picks



There are plenty of good reasons to build your own personal website. Perhaps you’d like to share archival photos and documents with friends and family members, exhibit your prized baseball card collection, publish a novel, or simply blog about your life and travels. These are all good motivators to sign up for a reliable and reasonably priced web content-management toolset.

Beyond the free “personal” web pages offered by Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and other social networks — in which your personal information becomes part of the network’s lingua franca — there are several excellent yet free or inexpensive web services that offer alternative ways to establish your own internet stake in the ground. These website-building products enable users to design, provision, and maintain a personal website in minutes or hours, depending upon how much time and effort one chooses to spend on the project.

Working with a website builder is relatively easy because they offer a what-you-see-is-what-you-get editing interface — meaning what you see. At the same time, you edit your site is what you will actually see if your website was live and viewed in a browser. The best website builders are rich in features that include professionally designed website templates, easy-to-use, drag-and-drop editors, and onboard hosting services.

Chief criteria used for this list include 

  • Intuitive usability (easy-to-follow instructions and performance)
  • Ease of design (drag and drop controls, wizards, pre-built templates)
  • A domain name included
  • Professional email
  • Mobile device-readiness
  • Security options
  • Special features (is it commerce-ready?)
  • Optimization for search engines

Some of these listed services will have all of the above; some will miss one or more of these but may offer other features.

See more: ZDNet’s list of best e-commerce site builders

Best of the free options


One thing that comes out clearly in research here is that Wix is a head-and-shoulders No. 1 by acclamation of the resources we used. Wix is an intuitive-to-use site builder with hundreds of page templates — most of which are attractively designed — drag-and-drop elements, easy-to-follow wizards, and a menu of helpful widgets.

For people looking to get a website online with minimal effort and maximum creative freedom, Wix should be one of your test choices. No coding or FTP knowledge is required. All a user needs is an email address to get started with Wix’s web hosting. If you don’t mind ads, you can publish a site free of charge for as long as you like. It’s that way with all the free sites.

Wix offers total creative control in that you can drag anything, anywhere. It also offers online storage for site assets, e-commerce tools, useful video backgrounds, and title animations. Wix’s new Editor X interface is intuitive to use and respected in the highly competitive field of website-building services. In summary, Wix is a simple-to-use, multi-faceted tool that is well worth a test drive–whether for its free or paid versions. 

Wix’s most important features:

  • Intuitive Editor X interface.
  • Many optional widgets.
  • Hundreds of templates for specific businesses and other uses.
  • Good mobile-site-building tools.
  • Rich web-store features.
  • Excellent uptime and customer service support.
  • Many commerce options, including the ability to sell digital downloads.
  • Free version option.

Wix pricing plans: Basic: no cost, ad-supported; Combo account (3GB of storage and 2GB of monthly data transfers), $14 per month; VIP plan (35GB of storage, a domain name, unlimited monthly data transfers, a professional logo, and priority support), $39 per month. 

Business sites with shopping carts and other features go for between $23 and $49 per month.

Enterprise-level plans require consultation with Wix and start at $500 per month. For details, go here.

View Now at Wix

Established high quality based on open source


WordPress is by far the most utilized internet content management system in the world, powering 37 million sites — about 40% of all websites in 2021, according to market analyst Kinsta and researcher Netcraft. WordPress also owns a commanding 60.8% share of the CMS market; reports that it powers 30% of the world’s top 1000 websites.

Since its founding in 2003, the open source-based WordPress provides hosting for more than 500 sites built each day somewhere in the world. WordPress’s Plugin Directory features 54 000+ free plugins; its WooCommerce version powers 22% of the world’s top 1 million e-commerce sites. The main reasons why so many people put WordPress to work are simplicity in usability, its free option and generally low cost, and numerous features, mostly from the open-source community. 

The term “WordPress” is often used interchangeably when referring to two software variations. There are significant differences between and that you’ll want to know before picking the platform for your project. is an open-source content management system, while is a popular blogging platform with basic functionality that can be accessed free of charge.

WordPress is available in 196 languages, far more than other competitors.

WordPress’s most important features:

  • Simple-to-use editing interface.
  • A forgiving design system that preemptively identifies and notifies users of mistakes.
  • A large number of optional widgets.
  • Online storage for web assets.
  • Hundreds of templates for specific businesses and other uses.
  • Free version option and other modestly priced versions.

*Be advised that some coding is required for the upper-level editions.

WordPress pricing and monthly plans: Basic: no cost; all others go for between $5 and $100 per month, depending upon features and hosting options.

View Now at WordPress

An alternative to consider for making a fast and clean-looking site.

Site 123

Site 123 is a rising developer-created website builder with about 5 million users that wants to be the easiest-to-use platform now available for do-it-yourselfers. Of course, lots of services make the same claim, but Site123 deigns to prove their point with an easy-to-use interface and templates. 

Site 123 is best for building a small, quick website on a premade template, and it has a generous free plan along with straightforward onboarding and web design options. 

Instead of operating like a traditional drag-and-drop website builder, Site123 has users pick their preferences and customize a curated template based on that niche, which appeals to beginners with no design or development experience.

Site 123 does have limited design and technical features and doesn’t offer a lot of customer support. Again, if you’re keeping it simple, these caveats aren’t a problem. 

Site 123’s most important features:

  • Provides all the basics someone needs to get started.
  • No-frills design and layout promote fast development.
  • An adequate number of easy-to-use templates.
  • Free of charge based on ads.
  • Instead of operating like a traditional drag-and-drop website builder, Site123 has you pick your niche and then customize a curated template based on that niche, which appeals to beginners who have no design or development experience (think DIY-ers who need to create a website ASAP without having any website experience).

*Be advised that a basic Site 123 account isn’t optimal for equipping and maintaining a commercial website.

Site 123 pricing and monthly plans: Basic service is free of charge; paid plans start at $12.80/month, which includes a free domain for a year, the ability to connect your custom domain, 10GB of storage, 5GB of bandwidth, and the ability to send 100 email messages to your mailing list per month — It also removes the Site123 branding that comes with the free plan.

View Now at Site 123

Good for beginners, but the free version might be too restrictive for most users.


SimpleSite certainly lives up to its name, giving its users an easy, straightforward path to building basic websites. SimpleSite emphasizes speed over perfection, which is evident in its simple page editor. If you want creative freedom to try new things and experiment with others, a free SimpleSite won’t be the builder for you. 

It’s not particularly intuitive; straying from the chosen template can cause problems. If you want to stay on the straight and narrow, you’re fine with SimpleSite.

SimpleSite’s most important features:

  • Free version: no-frills design and layout promote fast development.
  • Software guides users through the building process; simply choose a color scheme, add images, title, and domain name, then create a login. This final step automatically publishes your site, which you can then go back and finish editing.
  • SimpleSite is beginner-friendly. It wasn’t always the most intuitive; at times, its simplicity becomes restrictive, making it difficult to do some basic design functions.

*Be advised that SimpleSite isn’t optimal for equipping and maintaining a commercial website.

SimpleSite pricing and monthly plans: Basic: no cost (includes SimpleSite ads, 15 pages, limited design options, five online store products, mobile-optimized); other options range from $15.49 to $30.49 per month for e-commerce and full-featured personal sites.

View Now at SimpleSite

Highly recommended for starting a business site.


Weebly offers step-by-step guidance on building a new website and maybe the best on this list for e-commerce business owners. Weebly can handle entire payment processes, email marketing, multiple domains, and a long list of other features — though not all of them are available in the free version.

As part of the Square product suite, Weebly’s payments are handled by the Square point-of-sale system, so it’s in effect an automated payment process — whether for a pop-up shop or an online store. Not having to worry about the financial underpinnings of a site can be a load lifted off the owner’s shoulders.

Weebly’s most important features:

  • Easy customization.
  • Integration with other apps and add-ons.
  • Intuitive and easy to use.
  • Constantly improving and adding new features.
  • Meets standards for security and cookies.
  • It has an auto-save function, so work doesn’t get lost.
  • Many template options to use as a starting point.   
  • Dynamic video background.
  • Built-in image editor.

Weebly pricing and monthly plans: Basic: no cost; other options range from $8 to $38 per month for e-commerce and full-featured personal sites.

View Now at Weebly

Good option for European website makers


Jimdo has a good set of tools for a person needing a website builder that is super-simple and straightforward — and extra credit if the user is based in Europe (it handles most European languages). Jimdo is not optimal if a user needs any kind of advanced technical features or wants flexibility over specific design changes.

With Jimdo, there are two ways of creating your website: Jimdo Creator and Jimdo Dolphin. Jimdo Creator is Jimdo’s main platform, a full-fledged editing interface. Users can add in their own content, resize items, and drag elements into different positions. Jimdo Dolphin is an ADI (artificial design intelligence) package. Answer a few questions about what you want on the site, and Jimdo will create it for you. Both are excellent ways to build a website but focus on very different requirements.

Jimdo’s most important attributes:

  • Inexpensive to publish an advertisement-free website.
  • Unlimited storage space on the business plan or higher.
  • Help and support are concise and to the point.
  • Middle of the road in terms of ease of use; some people found it straightforward, while others were left frustrated by Jimdo’s restrictive template design.

Jimdo pricing and monthly plans: Basic: no cost; other options range from $9 to $15 per month for e-commerce and full-featured personal sites.

View Now at Jimdo

Visual CMS design is a plus.


Webflow is another contender for grabbing market share that some of the larger, more well-known web-building tools don’t have. Users have marveled at the ease of creating sites on Webflow, and since everything is linked to CSS-style classes, the designs stay fairly clean compared to other drag ‘n drop / WYSIWYG editors. Some users are sold on the Visual CMS design functionality, which helps design custom-tailed CMSes. The CSS Grid and Flexbox layout options are also a nice aid in designing and aligning elements.

Reviewers have noted that the client editor isn’t the most intuitive and makes it hard to edit certain aspects, such as background images.

Webflow’s most important attributes:

  • Strong tools for crafting phone and tablet sites.
  • Good web store tools.
  • It offers a customized database.
  • Enables use of custom CSS and HTML code.
  • Strong e-commerce options, with support for digital downloads.
  • Unlimited storage and monthly data transfers with all plans.

Webflow pricing and monthly plans: Basic: no cost; other options range from $12 to $36 per month for e-commerce and full-featured personal sites. 

View Now at Webflow

What are the advantages of using DIY website builders?

Especially for smaller companies and self-employed people, website builders offer great value because you can create your own website within a short time and without great cost. 

The interface is very intuitive, and programming skills are not necessary. The creation of a blog or online store is also easily possible with many providers.

How long does it take to create a homepage with a website builder?

Thanks to ready-to-use templates (usually sorted by industry), you can quickly create the first draft. Afterwards, modules for texts, image galleries, videos, contact forms, and other elements can be placed on the page and filled with content. In most cases, they can be easily placed in the right position by simply dragging and dropping. 

How much time you need varies greatly depending on the project, preparation, and maintenance. Some websites go online within five minutes; others take one to two days of work.

How much does it cost to create your own online presence?

Many providers offer their users a permanently free version of their website builder. Compared to the paid ones, however, the free plans come with some restrictions. This means that there may be tools and functions that you cannot use as a free user. In addition, websites created for free have advertising references to the provider both on the homepage and in the domain. 

If you don’t want this, you should consider upgrading your plan for a monthly fee of about $5 to $40.

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Nomad Summer Sale kicks off: Get 30% off everything



Image: Nomad

Nomad Goods produces some of the best high-end and high-quality accessories for Apple products, and for the next week, you can get 30% off of all full-priced items on the site.

One of my favorite Nomad accessories right now is the recently launched leather AirTag Loop. At $24.95 before the discount, the leather loop adds a stylish way to carry your AirTag. Plus, it’s a worthy alternative to Apple’s official AirTag cases. You can even change the battery, when that time comes, without removing the AirTag from the loop. 

Other Nomad products I recommend include charging cables, which have a braided Kevlar on the outside of them to ensure they don’t easily break. Nomad’s iPhone cases and Apple Watch bands are also popular and come in plenty of color options that include MagSafe compatibility.

I reviewed the Base Station Pro wireless charging system that allows you to place any Qi-compatible device anywhere on the pad, instead of worrying about precisely lining the charging coil. 

To take advantage of the 30% off promotion, you’ll need to use coupon code SUMMER30 at checkout on Nomad’s website.

If you pick up some new Nomad gear, let us know in the comments what you decided on.

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Verizon to bring RCS to all Android smartphones by 2022



Verizon will be working with Google to bring the Rich Communications Service (RCS) standard to Android users in the US starting next year, joining T-Mobile and AT&T which both announced the switch earlier this year. 

Verizon announced the collaboration with Google on Tuesday and said the RCS standard provides “a more interactive and modern messaging experience right from Messages by Google.”

According to a statement from Verizon, Messages by Google will be preloaded onto every Verizon Android device by next year. 

Google and Verizon said the switch will offer consumers “higher-quality photos and videos, chatting over Wi-Fi or data, knowing when your message is read, enjoying more dynamic and engaging group chats, and securely chatting with other Messages users in available one-on-one conversations with end-to-end encryption.”

Ronan Dunne, executive vice president and CEO of Verizon Consumer Group, said that by working with Google, Verizon would be able to offer Android users “a robust messaging experience that allows them to engage with loved ones, brands and businesses in new and innovative ways.”

“Our customers depend on us to provide a reliable, advanced and simple messaging platform to stay in touch with the people that matter the most in their lives,” Dunne said.

Google has spent years pushing the RCS standard as an update to SMS because it offers features similar to those seen in WhatsApp, Apple’s iMessage and Facebook Messenger. Apple has refused to use RCS and messages sent between Android phones and iPhones will continue to be SMS, making them less secure than messages sent between users on either platform. 

Dirk Schrader, vice president of security research at New Net Technologies, noted that using RCS as the underlying standard is interesting because it can be seen as a message to services like Whatsapp by offering the same features without sharing the user’s contacts. 

In a statement, Verizon explained that Messages will “work with Verizon’s network and RCS messaging service” and “Google will work with Verizon to provide a robust business-to-consumer messaging ecosystem using RCS.”

Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s senior vice president of Platforms & Ecosystems, said the two companies have been working together on Android for years. 

The GSMA reports that more than 473 million monthly active users in 60 countries are using the RCS standard and Verizon said Android users will have a “more advanced messaging experience as they interact with each other and businesses on networks that support the RCS standard.”

By the end of the year, those using Verizon’s Message+ app will also get full access to RCS capabilities including the ability to embed high-res pictures and videos, get real-time conversation notifications, and send animated GIFs.

The RCS standard will also allow businesses and Verizon Android users to communicate more easily for things like product purchases, reservations and more. 

Setu Kulkarni, vice president of strategy at NTT Application Security, said that by making their end users available to brands and businesses, Verizon has taken on a new level of responsibility to keep its customers’ personal and private data on their phones secure from data breaches. 

“Since the app is backed by Google, there is certainly a greater degree of confidence that security measures are taken but let’s not forget that the state of cyber security is dynamic — and that no app is guaranteed to be breach free forever,” Kulkarni said.

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Adversaries continue to abuse trust in the supply chain



We trust so much in our organizations — systems, partners, and vendors — for deploying software, monitoring network performancepatching (both systems and software), procuring software/hardware, and performing so many other tasks. A recent ransomware attack used one such system to successfully target thousands of victim companies.  

In this most recent example, attackers targeted Kaseya VSA IT Management Software, which was designed to allow IT admins to monitor systems, automate mundane tasks, deploy software, and patch systems. Attackers were able to exploit a zero day to access customer instances of the product and use its native functionality to deploy ransomware to those customers endpoints.

Further compounding the problem, managed service providers (MSPs) use Kaseya software to manage their customer environments. When the attackers compromised Kaseya, the MSPs inadvertently and unknowingly spread the ransomware to their customers.  

This is only one example of how attackers continue to abuse trust in unique ways that leaves many security and IT practitioners to wonder, “Why didn’t something like this happen sooner?” 

Attackers Are Getting Bolder  

Ransomware group REvil continues to get even bolder. Make no mistake, an attack like we saw against Kaseya was prescriptive and purposeful to inflict the maximum amount of damage to the most amount of targets. Immediately after the attack, they bragged about infecting more than a million devices and set a ransom demand of $70 million. If one organization paid, they promised that the decryptor would work across all organizations that were affected.  

This shines a light on a troubling trend we’re seeing, where attack targets are shifting from individual organizations to exploiting platforms, like Kaseya or SolarWinds, that allow for multiple organizations to be affected. Attackers continue to research the tools we all rely on to find ways to abuse the native functionality to effectively execute an attack. This latest attack abused an old copy of Microsoft Defender that allowed sideloading of other files.  

Software Is Vulnerable All The Way Down The Chain  

All the tools that organizations rely on — such as tax software, oil pipeline sensors, collaboration platforms, and even security agents — are built on top of the same vulnerable code, platforms, and software libraries that your vulnerability management team is screaming from the hills to patch or update immediately.  

Organizations need to both hold their supply chain partners, vendors, and others accountable for addressing the vulnerabilities in the software that they’ve built on top of this house of cards as well as understand the exposure they have by deploying said software within their environments. 

Run Faster Than The Next Guy; Take Defensive Steps Now  

Forrester blog, Ransomware: Survive By Outrunning The Guy Next To You, discusses protecting against ransomware by hardening systems to make your organization a hard target. Supply chain attacks bypass defenses by exploiting your trust in systems. To protect against them, you have to scrutinize the inherent trust you’ve placed on your supply chain.  

To start, organizations should take an inventory of the critical partners that have a large foothold within their environment, such as the vendors used for collaboration/email, MSPs that manage and monitor infrastructure, or security providers that may have an agent deployed to every system. After compiling your list, you should:  

  • Ask those partners what they’re doing to prevent you from being the next victim of a destructive attack. Ask about the gating process for pushing updates to your environment. How do they QA updates before they’re pushed? Ask solution providers how they secure their code and assess that code for vulnerabilities. 
  • Find out if they have the appropriate processes and architecture in place to prevent the type of lateral movement we saw with the latest attack. Ask how they secure their own environments, especially their update servers. Ask to see audit or assessment results from third-party assessors.  
  • Review your service agreements to find out what contractual responsibility those partners have to keep you safe from ransomware and malware. Understand what rights you have to demand compensation, if you are the victim of an attack due to a service provider’s systems being used as a delivery vehicle.  

Organizations should take aggressive steps to implement prescriptive ransomware advice as well as take a look at additional ransomware resources to limit the blast radius of an attack.  

This post was written by Analyst Steve Turner, and it originally appeared here

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Qualtrics Q2 surprise profit blows away expectations, forecast higher as well



In its second quarter as a public company, Qualtrics, the subsidiary of SAP AG that brands itself as the customer experience management platform, reported Q2 revenue that topped expectations by 3%, and a surprise profit where analysts had expected a loss. The company’s forecast for this quarter, and the full year, is higher as well.

The report sent Qualtrics stock up about 2% in late trading.

“It was an outstanding quarter for us,” said CEO Zig Serafin in an interview with ZDNet via telephone. “What you’re seeing is that the technology that we provide has never been more relevant, more impactful.”

Serafin pointed to evidence of that relevance in the company’s 38% rate of revenue growth, year over year, and the company’s 48% rate of subscription revenue growth. “This is building on strong growth in the first quarter,” he said. “You’re seeing an acceleration in demand.”

Qualtrics’s net dollar retention rate, how much it makes from customers, on average, versus the prior-year period, was 122%. That was up from 120% in the prior quarter. 

Qualtrics is known as a program for managing the interaction with customers, from first attracting customers to maintaining the relationship.

However, Serafin said the software is increasingly helping companies to attract new employees as well.

Customers are using Qualtrics’s program to “tune in better into the needs of their existing employees, but also attract new candidates and employees that could be coming into their company,” said Serafin.

“Our research is showing that about 50% of people will be out there looking for a new job in the next twelve months,” said Serafin. “How people leverage the employee experience management product portfolio on top of our platform, helping  companies to listen and take action on the changing nature of work.”

Also: Qualtrics Q1 report, forecast top Wall Street expectations: The C-suite is buying in, says CEO

That includes companies using the software to “design the physical work space and the digital space,” he said.

Revenue in the three months ended in June rose to $249.3 million, yielding a net profit of 4 cents a share, excluding some costs.

Analysts had been modeling $241.7 million and a 2-cent net loss per share.

Profit was helped in part by reduced expenses such as travel and entertainment, but “the majority of the outperformance is due to the outperformance on the revenue,” CFO Rob Bachman told ZDNet in the same phone call.

For the current quarter, the company sees revenue of $257 million to $259 million, and net loss in a range of 1  cents to 3 cents, again, excluding some costs. That compares to consensus for $246.6 million and a 5-cent loss per share.

For the full year, the company sees revenue in a range of $1.007 billion to $1.011 billion, and EPS in a range from breakeven to negative 2 cents per share. That compares to consensus of $984 million and an 11-cent net loss per share.

Regarding the forecast, Serafin told ZDNet that “what is most exciting to me is that our guidance is putting us on track to surpass one billion dollars in revenue in 2021, which puts us in a very different league of SaaS companies,” said Serafin.

The company plans to continue to invest in the business, said both Bachman and Serafin. Qualtrics hired 400 people in the quarter, and plans to keep spending.  

“We will continue invest deeply in the business,” said Bachman. “We have a unique opportunity to invest, we will  continue to do so.”

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