Building your own website is easier than ever, thanks to a number of easy-to-use services that make creating (and hosting) a website surprisingly simple – and you don't need to know any coding.
Some of the best website-creation tools allow you to easily drag and drop elements, and choose from pre-designed templates, which makes building an attractive-looking website simplicity itself.
First, we'll take a look at the best website-creation tools to help you get started, and then we'll take you through the process of how to build your website.
The best website builder for beginners: Fasthosts Website Builder
Fasthosts offers a system called Website Builder. The system is designed for creating websites for businesses, but it can also be used for personal websites. It's easy to use, you don't need to know any programming languages, and it's cheap.
It costs £4.99 a month (around $7, AU$9), and that includes hosting and an email address. With the lowest-priced option you get 25 ready-made templates to choose from, which you can configure using the easy drag-and-drop interface.
If you want more flexibility, or you want to sell things through your website, you can buy the Complete Website Builder package for £9.99 (around $15, AU$20). This gives you 100 templates, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) tools, a secure shopping basket that can be added to your website, and the ability to accept credit and debit cards and PayPal payments.
Both services also give you a free domain name – to find out more about domain names, check out our guide on How to search for, find and register your perfect domain name.
The best budget website builder: Wix.com
The Wix.com website builder is a fantastic service that's perfect for beginners, as it features an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface that enables you to build fantastic-looking websites in no time at all.
Wix.com is also our choice for the best website builder for people on a budget, as it offers a robust free version, which gives you access to the editor, unlimited pages, 500MB of storage and 1GB of bandwidth.
However, for £5.16 (around $7, AU$10) a month you get 2GB of bandwidth, 3GB of storage, a free domain name, and access to analytic tools to help you find out what pages people are visiting on your site, and how long they stay on those pages. Ads chosen by Wix are also removed, so you can choose your own ad platform to make money with.
There are higher tiers of subscriptions as well, and all of them offer excellent value for money, which is why Wix.com is our choice as the best budget website builder.
The best all-round website builder: Squarespace
If you often listen to podcasts then you may well have heard of Squarespace – the website-building service has been on a bit of a charm offensive, and sponsors many popular shows.
Squarespace lets you easily create attractive-looking websites without any knowledge of coding, and it's flexible enough for you to build whatever website you need, from personal blogs and online stores to photography portfolios and much more.
It can also help you make a smartphone- and tablet-friendly version of your website, which is essential with an increasing number of people using their mobile devices to regularly browse the internet.
You can preview each template before you begin, and you can rearrange the layout of your chosen design quickly and easily, as well as tweak fonts, colors and more to give your website a unique look. You also get SEO tools and analytics, so you can view information about who's visiting your website, and a host of social tools that let you hook up Facebook, Twitter and more to your website.
Building a website with Squarespace costs $12 a month (around £10, AU$15), and you get a free trial, so you can try it out for yourself before you commit.
Now that you've selected an online website builder, read on to find out how to go about building your very own website.
1. Choose your template
First select a template to give your site its signature look. It's worth spending some time leafing through the collection that your chosen service provides.
To help you narrow down the choices on offer, click the 'Categories' dropdown and select a business sector that's close to your company's sphere, or a look that suits your own personal tastes. When you see a template you like, click on it and then select 'Use template'.
2. Meet your control panel
Website Builder, Squarespace, or whichever service you've chosen will spend a few moments building your basic website layout.
When that's done you'll be taken to the central control panel. This is where you'll access the system features, and begin the process of properly creating your website.
You'll notice a preview of your site in the centre of the screen. Surrounding it are buttons that will take you to essential tools and feature to help you build your website.
3. Add a company or personal profile
Now you need to start filling the template with content. Here, we're adding a company profile, which contains details about your business, such as opening hours and contact information.
What's added here will be used automatically throughout your website. Click the 'Manage' cog, and then 'Profile'. You'll see the details that need filling in. You can also drag-and-drop your logo.
Depending on the service you're using to build your website, this process may be slightly different.
4. Tidy up your home page
There will still be a lot of placeholder content to fill in. To replace a placeholder on your homepage with real text, simply click on it.
As you do so, a menu appears that shows the content and the page structure. Fill in the text boxes and, if you like, use the 'Style' button associated with each text box to adjust the typeface and size of the text.
5. Controlling text
To edit a block of text, click on it. This brings up a menu of style options along with the text box filled with placeholder text. To remove the placeholder copy, just delete it.
The key to a smart site is consistency of presentation. So, to aid you here, Website Builder (or any of the services we recommend) has a list of preconfigured styles. To access them click the 'Style menu' button and apply as necessary.
6. Working with images
The website builder of your choice should have some great tools for managing the images on your site. If you want to change an image in the template, click on it.
The 'Choose' icon will enable you to upload an image from your computer's hard disk. The paint brush icon brings up Photo Editor – a set of tools for you to polish images. When you're done, click 'Save' and the updated image will appear in place. Again, this process may vary slightly depending on the service you're using.
7. Adding blog pages
Add a new blog post to your site by clicking the orange Blog icon (on the left of the screen). You'll be taken to a content management system, in which you can enter your text.
It's just a matter of filling in the boxes. The upper row of icons will let you control text formatting. To add images, click the picture icon (third from the right here). When you're done, click the 'Publish' button.
8. The payment element
To set up an e-commerce system so that customers can purchase items from your website, click the Store icon (the shopping trolley).
If you've set up your profile, the Store name should be filled in. Next add a contact email address and click 'Save'. Next choose whether you'll accept PayPal or Stripe. Finally, complete the shipping policies section.