For six years, Microsoft FrontPage was an important tool that offered non-technical users an easy way to build websites. In addition to its intuitive desktop publishing interface, it allowed novice webmasters to incorporate basic interactive elements. FrontPage achieved this through a combination of a Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) editor application and server-side scripting.
It offered people a chance to make their mark on the web. FrontPage’s simple interface was good enough to develop a reasonably attractive website, and the code view — added to some of the later releases — provided more flexibility. In the days when contact forms and hit counters had to be coded mostly by hand, FrontPage offered the potential to implement these features with no technical know-how.
Microsoft FrontPage was phased out in 2013, but there are many website builders available. Learn more about website builders you can use instead of Microsoft FrontPage.
Alternative HTML Editors
A handful of hosts still support FrontPage Server Extensions, and some people still use FrontPage as a basic website design tool. There are more flexible, capable, and reliable editors that are available for free, and they produce cleaner code compliant with modern browsers, so the use of FrontPage extensions is dwindling.
We recommend a site builder tool for something roughly equivalent to FrontPage. Site builders run within a web browser instead of being installed on a desktop computer. But they offer a similar “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) interface, which was arguably FrontPage’s biggest selling point. Without the security holes and special server requirements, site builders can create sleek, modern websites safe for you and your web hosting provider.
The Best Website Builders
Most web hosting companies provide a free site builder tool with their plans. Even on a very basic package, you should have no trouble finding one. These website builders take care of what FrontPage used to.
You can also sign up for a dedicated site builder plan rather than a hosting package. Functionality is restricted, but the service may be easier to set up and use.
The top five website builders are:
- Squarespace: Offers attractive customizable templates
- Shopify: Everything you need to sell products or services online
- Leadpages: Drag-and-drop editor optimized for conversions
- Duda: Build multiple templates and leverage white labeling
- Wix: 900+ templates plus an easy-to-use editor
How To Choose a Website Builder
When choosing a site builder, it’s a good idea to sign up for a few trials. Try out the templates, and experiment with layouts to see what works for you. A basic site builder could work fine for a personal blog but may not function as well as a professional website.
Additionally, when comparing all of these tools and services, consider:
- Customization options and ease of use: It is best if you can tailor the content and how your website looks to meet your needs, using built-in tools along with simple terms and navigation.
- Free trial or version (and its value-to-cost ratio): Most web builders offer free plans, and you can usually find a no-cost trial, which is worthwhile to ensure the site builder is the right fit.
- Security for your site and visitors: You need to keep your visitors’ and customers’ data safe, and after investing time and money into your site, making sure it is secure is crucial.
- Quality and quantity of templates: Nice, modern, and original site designs and plenty of template choices are essential.
- Support and recent improvements: Make sure the support is solid — that the team is quickly accessible and knows how to solve any issues. It is also useful to check forums, articles, and other resources for additional help.
Frequently Asked Questions About Website Builders
What are the costs of building a website?
The price varies depending on the company, plan, whether you pay annually, and other factors. Some companies offer free plans. The top website builders we recommend range from $4.95 to $399 per month.
Can I build a website without programming expertise?
Yes, as long as you familiarize yourself with website builders’ tools and basic features. Learning the programming languages HTML for content and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) for visuals and presentation would be helpful.
How long does it take to build a website?
You can build a simple website in a day, or an experienced programmer using code can finish a professional site within about a week. They can also spend months perfecting it. How long it takes depends on how much content the site contains, your design skills, and the website builder.