An important step in advertising your services, growing your brand or business or sharing your stories is creating a website that showcases your talent. A striking, beautiful website will catch the eyes of readers and potential customers and draw them to what you have to offer. Website creation in 2017 involves less work for better results than ever before. Which website builder is the best for you?


Wix

Wix brags about its Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence), an enthusiastic robot that will design a first draft of your website based on a few questions about its purpose and your interests. Of the four website builders described here, Wix involves the least amount of work while still producing gorgeous results.


You can create a Wix account with an email/password or by logging in with Facebook or Google. The excited website AI will ask questions about the purpose of your website—business, commerce, portfolio, personal, etc.—and suggest templates based on your answers. I started by choosing "Portfolio/CV." It asked me to specify what kind of website (it was the only platform to do this) and when I typed "Writing," suggested "Writing Portfolio."

The AI offers a selection of designs to help it learn your taste. And like the loading screen of a videogame, the ADI creates the "first version of your homepage" before proceeding to a step-by-step tutorial of the design and editing process.

Before the ADI takes over, Wix offers the option to go straight to the editor and start from something closer to scratch, but I see no reason to do that, even for someone with experience. For a beginner designer, trust the robot.

Wix set up my website with an impressive video header background right from the start and filled it in with coherent sample text (not that lorem ipsum nonsense language loved by text editors). Each template's colors, animations and content are customizable. The tutorial is a bit laggy and slow but comprehensive and a huge help. Preview mode shows your website on desktop and mobile.

In about an hour, you'll have a website that looks like it took a team a few days to design. Wix, like all of the four platforms discussed here, is free to start. It offers lots of tips, help articles, SEO assistance and more, while its subscription plans offer custom domains, storage and Wix ad-free sites.

Squarespace

Squarespace offers a 14-day free trial (no credit card required) to test its services and see if it's the right fit for you. It asks a similar set of questions about what the website will be used for and, without the personality of the Wix AI but with the same polish, builds a beautiful website full of placeholders for you to replace with your own text and images.

The initial difference between the two platforms is that Squarespace lacks the extremely helpful tutorial that Wix offers. Without that kickstart, I wasn't sure where, exactly, to begin or what to do about many of the placeholders.

This might have been easier to figure out if the interface was as intuitive as Wix's, but it's not. Where Wix defines clear levels of editing (pages, sections, section text, section images, buttons, etc.), Squarespace seems to be a free-for-all of editing: every aspect of a section must be edited separately, and moving from text to image to buttons quickly becomes tedious. Unlike the simple-yet-thorough Wix interface, Squarespace forces users into the highest-power zoom, editing the specifics without easy access to the broad design or content.

There is no instant preview comparable to Wix (Wix was laggy but at least it was present), little in-editor help and frustrating controls. Suddenly, I'd accidentally created a blog. Then, I couldn't easily navigate to it.

Squarespace offers more analytics than Wix, including a traffic overview, site search queries, popular content and RSS subscribers. But as a user who has made websites using several platforms but who has little experience manually building all of the specifics of a page, Squarespace frustrated me beyond saving. Use a free service, like Wix or one of the others below—visitors won't be able to tell the difference, but your wallet will.

Weebly

Weebly, refreshingly, displays itself as another enthusiastic, colorful website builder. Sign in with email, Facebook or Google and start answering its brief quiz. Question 1: Do you want to sell online? This first question indicates Weebly's slightly different priority, though you can choose "No" and add a store at any time.

Again, choose from a list of mostly good themes and let Weebly create the first draft of your site. Thankfully, it follows the creation with a series of pop-up boxes that nudge you along through a kind of tutorial.

The Weebly editor relies heavily on smooth drag-and-drop actions for an editor that is vastly better than that of Squarespace. The "Parallax" scroll effect (also available on the other services) is particularly gorgeous. It also offers video backgrounds and other features that come with premium subscriptions.

There is significantly less pre-setup from Weebly than from Wix and there doesn't seem to be an undo button. Weebly stands out with its apps, such as the Facebook "Like" button, Social Boosting, a "Testimonial Builder" and many more. Some are free and some are premium-only, but all are extremely simple to implement.

Weebly offers site stats and help that are similar to Squarespace but at a cheaper cost. Weebly's subscription tiers are almost the same as those of Wix, with an entry subscription (with a free domain) that costs $8/mo. and the next level at $12/mo. Weebly is a simple, smooth and modern website builder to rival Wix. The choice comes down to platform aesthetics.

Strikingly

Strikingly offers the same feature set as Wix when you log in with email or Facebook. If the Strikingly homepage was built with Strikingly, then I'm already less impressed. It offers a tour instead of a tutourial, though it recommends chatting with its "Happiness Officers" for help. It must be emphasized that the editor is extremely functional and easy to use.

The editor is simple but not as glossy as the others. Strikingly feels like it hasn't quite escaped the Wordpress/blog/single-page-stream format, although it's almost there. It emphasizes sections on a scrolling page over multiple pages.

While it gives nice previews of tablet and mobile layouts, its mobile customization features are lacking. It does have an app store similar to Weebly's, but with less options.

Conclusion

The choice really comes down to Wix and Weebly for their excellent combinations of features, polish, services and prices. There's really no reason to pay for Squarespace when other platforms do it better and, if you're a light user, for free. Wix and Weebly offer slightly different features at slightly different price tiers but their base offerings are basically identical.

Do you prefer lots of clicking on sections to reveal a side menu containing all of the customization options, or a sidebar from which you drag sections, text boxes and apps onto the page? Would you rather the AI do most of the work, or would you like more initial choices with a recommended path? These questions will help you decide between two fantastic, modern, powerful website builders.

PayPath
Follow Us on

Airbnb is a great option while traveling, but you should protect yourself from damage charges from unscrupulous hosts.

Airbnb offers an affordable option for people looking to be more comfortable as they travel.

However, there are downsides to staying in a host's home rather than a hotel. Whereas hotels are designed for constant streams of visitors and often have furniture built to last, at an Airbnb, you may be staying on old or cheap furniture that a host is using in order to maximize their profits.

And while most reputable hotels will have regular room inspections from staff to check for any wear and tear, Airbnb damage disputes are oftentimes he said, she said situations. If you are in an Airbnb and something breaks, there are a few steps you should take in order to ensure that you are not on the hook for damages out of your control.

Keep reading Show less

What Are NFTs?

Art Installation N°1 by Carlos Marcial. Rhett Dashwood / YouTube

If you're keeping tabs on the art and tech worlds, you've probably been hearing whispers about "NFTs" for the past month. Just over the past week they've entered the mainstream lexicon.

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey made the news for selling his first ever tweet. The app has been teasing paid subscription models and newsletter-like features, but tweets for sale is "the next frontier."

The 2006 tweet went up for auction as an NFT, and the current bid is $2.5 Million. But what does it mean to own that? Why would anyone want to? And what even is an NFT?

Keep reading Show less

Long gone are the days when the majority of Americans dreamed about owning a home with a white picket fence.

The traditional American Dream may be on its deathbed, but that doesn't mean a core component of the vision can't survive. It simply takes a diverse perspective. People can still believe they can attain their own vision of success in society with hard work, knowledge, and risk-taking. Investing in today's American Dream may literally mean investing money in our modern economy, starting with our infrastructure.

Real estate investing in particular is a lucrative method that can boost income and secure a better financial future for many. There's always risk involved, but the payoffs can far outweigh the uncertainty. Selecting solid financial investments is about confidence and competence. If you're looking for some advice on this kind of investment, here are a few savvy tips for new real estate investors.

Stick To a Specific Strategy or Niche

Real estate is a challenging sphere of the business world, one that requires several key skills: groundwork knowledge, networking, perseverance, and organization. True knowledge of the real estate market will come with time and experience, but it's a smart idea to select one area of the market and stick to it. This is the best way to attain in-depth familiarity with your specific niche.

First, choose a geographical area close by and then a niche strategy within it, such as house flips, rental rehabs, or residential or commercial properties. By doing so, you can become aware of current inner working conditions in the market and you'll have a better idea of how these trends may change in the future.

Be Vigilant About Viable Financing Options

While it takes money to make money, you don't have to use all your own money. A common misconception about real estate investing is that you must be wealthy to start off. This isn't straight fact, however. A majority of people can test the waters of real estate investing without a lot of initial cash in their pocket.

Aside from traditional financing options from banks and institutions, private lending options can be worthy solutions. Hard money lenders are popular, reasonable choices, and they tend to have fewer qualification requirements upfront. However, be sure to strategically choose a hard money lender to find the best possible fit.

Master the Art of Finding Good Deals

There may be hundreds of thousands of available properties for sale on the current market, but the bulk of them will never amount to the final money-making result you desire. Another great tip for new real estate investors is to use good math to estimate profit. Taking risks is part of the process, but you have the ability to analyze properties and use networking sources to find the greatest deal. You can't win every deal, but you can steadily work towards a thriving financial future.