Whether you need a professional website for your business, a personal blog, or a visual portfolio, a website builder can make the creation experience loads easier. The website builder you choose will mainly come down to what you need out of your website.
Some drag-and-drop builders make website building as easy as making a PowerPoint presentation or more complicated open-source builders that require more learning on your part.
Building a website may seem like such a huge task because, well, it is. But with a good website builder by your side, it’s actually pretty easy—you’ll have a professional-looking website in no time.
What to Look for in a Website Builder
With so many different website builders out there, how do you narrow down your search? Here’s everything you need to consider when choosing the website builder that’s right for you.
What’s the Purpose of Your Site?: Why do you need to build a website? Are you creating a blog where you’ll regularly post content? Are you creating a professional website for your business? Will you need to sell your products on your website? The purpose of your website is essential because it’ll determine what features you need out of a website builder. If you need to sell products, you should probably go with a website builder like Shopify that specializes in eCommerce. If you need a professional website promoting your business or a personal blog, your options are a bit wider, and, ultimately, your choice will come down to how easy the website builder is to use and how much control you want over your site.
Ease of Use: Consider how easy you want the website building process to be. How much time and effort can you devote to mastering the learning curve of a website builder? Would you rather not learn too much and have a simple drag-and-drop builder instead? The latter will make it easy to create your website, but you might not have a lot of flexibility in choosing exactly how you want it to look and function. On the other hand, an open-source website builder comes with a massive learning curve but gives you total flexibility and control over your site.
How Big Will Your Website Be?: Think about how large your website will be at launch, but also consider how much it might grow in the future. Will a few simple landing pages to promote your business suffice for the foreseeable future? Will you need a lot of space for multiple blog posts that go up every week? Are you going to be selling a massive inventory on your site daily? Once you have an idea of how much space you’ll need, make sure the website builder you choose can support it.
Pricing and Plans: For the most part, website builders are fairly similar when it comes to plans and pricing. You’ll frequently see a starter plan, a premium plan, and a plan that falls somewhere in the middle. Because your website is an asset that can make a world of difference in your business, blog, or portfolio, you really shouldn’t decide on your website builder primarily based on price. That said, once you decide on a website builder that you love (for reasons like ease of use and available features), check out what exactly you get with each plan tier and figure out whether you need something higher than a starter plan; they are often worth the cost.
Be Sure About Your Decision: You’ll want to make sure you research your options thoroughly before committing to a website builder. It’s often a pain to move a website to a different company; if you want to move in the future, you might end up having to completely rebuild your website from scratch and move your domain. Choosing a website builder is a huge decision, so make sure you do your research well and sleep on your decision for a few days to make sure it’s the right choice.
Best Overall: Squarespace
For most people who have little or no coding experience, Squarespace is going to be your best bet. It’s great for small businesses that want to expand their online footprint or anyone wanting a clean, organized space for their blog. If you have another site idea in mind besides a business site or a blog, Squarespace is still a great option as long as you’re willing to learn the inner workings of the site builder.
Squarespace is a drag-and-drop website builder, meaning that you can drag elements onto the page and drop them wherever you want. For example, if you want a photo on the left side of the screen and text on the right side, you can drag those elements onto the page and put them exactly where you want them. There are a few specific location limitations you’ll have to work with, but generally speaking, you can use the drag and drop feature to customize each section.
There’s a small learning curve, but the website building process here is pretty easy overall. Additionally, the interface’s minimalistic and clean appearance can be a little tough to get used to initially. But once you do have the hang of it, you’ll love how simple and uncluttered everything is. We also love that Squarespace’s templates are fully responsive, which means that the site you create will automatically adjust itself to look the best on different devices like smartphones and tablets.
One of the greatest things about the Squarespace website builder is that everything you see in the editor is exactly what you’d see on your website. A lot of website builders have a frontend and a backend that differ in appearance. With Squarespace, you don’t have to worry about coordinating anything; what you see is what you get.
Squarespace has four different pricing plans. The Personal plan is the most affordable at $16 per month, followed by the Business plan at $26 per month, the eCommerce Basic plan at $30 per month, and the eCommerce Advanced plan at $46 per month. If you pay annually for any of the plans, you’ll get roughly a 25% discount.
Best for eCommerce: Shopify
If you have a business and want to sell products online via eCommerce, Shopify is your best option. Shopify has awesome themes to choose from, both free and paid, and its editor is easy to get the hang of despite a small learning curve. You have to switch between the frontend for visual changes and the backend for changes with your products and how they’re displayed, but overall the editor is easy to learn.
But overall, Shopify has an intuitive interface that’s easy to navigate and an editor laid out intuitively. Shopify’s designs also translate well to mobile devices, so you won’t have to worry about ensuring things are displayed correctly on different devices.
Shopify’s Basic plan is a great choice for most people; it’s $29 per month and charges a 2% transaction fee unless you use Shopify payments to collect money. Then, there’s the Shopify plan for $79 per month and a 1% transaction fee for non-Shopify payments and the Advanced Shopify plan for $299 per month and only a 0.5% transaction fee for non-Shopify payments.
Shopify also has a Shopify Plus plan that’s more niche and mainly for large-scale businesses. There’s no set pricing for this plan; instead, businesses contact Shopify for a custom quote. Then, there’s also Shopify Lite for $9 per month and a 2% transaction fee for non-Shopify payments; the Lite plan lets you add eCommerce to a Facebook page or an existing website.
Best Open-Source: WordPress.org, hosted with Bluehost
WordPress.org is easily one of the best website building programs out there, but it’s open-source and requires a huge learning curve if you don’t have any previous coding or website building experience. It gives you great flexibility to customize your site and make it exactly what you want, choosing from thousands of plugins and hundreds of themes to make your vision come alive.
If you haven’t ever built a website before, don’t have any coding experience, and don’t see yourself as much of a researcher, WordPress.org probably isn’t right for you. You’ll have to do a ton of research to learn the WordPress system and the inner workings of the theme you choose. On the flip side, you can have the peace of mind that WordPress is future-proof, used by a large percentage of the world’s websites, and not going anywhere any time soon.
There are two different versions of WordPress: WordPress.org and WordPress.com. It’s important to point out the distinction between the two because many people make the mistake of signing up for WordPress.com when what they really want is WordPress.org. WordPress.com is a hosting service that gives you up to 3GB of space for free and provides a simple blogging platform, but it comes with some severe limitations. Two of the biggest include not being able to sell ads on a WordPress.com website and not being able to download plugins unless you pay $25 per month (billed annually) for a Business plan or $45 per month (billed annually) for an eCommerce plan.
WordPress.org, on the other hand, is open-source software that’s completely free for everyone; you just have to pay for your domain and hosting service. With WordPress.org and a web host, you’ll have full control over your website, from data to design. Bluehost is one of the most popular choices because they have a great reputation and an easy 1-click integration with WordPress.
Bluehost always has great introductory discounts, and you’ll benefit most if you commit for a long period of time, up to three years. The most basic plan that would work for most people comes out to $8.99 per month (billed for three years’ worth), regularly discounted to $2.95 per month (billed for three years’ worth). There are a ton of other website hosts out there, so if you go with WordPress.org as your site builder, make sure you research your hosting options as well.
Best for Beginners: Weebly
Weebly is the best website builder for anyone who’s intimidated by creating a website from scratch. It’s an easy drag-and-drop builder that lets you see exactly what your site will look like in the editor; you don’t have to worry about coordinating the backend and the frontend. And you won’t have to edit any code whatsoever if you don’t want to.
There are only about 40 designs to choose from, which is less than some of these other builders, but most themes are attractive, clean, and easy to use. You won’t be able to customize things a whole lot, but if your biggest desire in a website builder is for it to be straightforward, Weebly hits that spot on.
There’s a free plan available, but if you want a professional-looking website, it’s worth investing in one of Weebly’s paid plans; the free plan displays ads on your site, only offers 500MB of storage, and you aren’t able to use a custom domain name. The Personal plan costs $9 per month. It’s pretty much the same as the free plan, except you can connect a custom domain.
If you can swing it, the Professional plan will work best for most people at $16 per month; this plan removes ads from your site and gives you unlimited storage. Then, there’s the Performance plan at $29 per month, which is best for eCommerce sites. All plans are discounted about $3-4 per month if you pay annually.
Best for Mobile Sites: Wix
With so many website visitors coming from mobile devices, making sure your website is specifically optimized for those devices is a must. Although all of the other options on this list have fully responsive mobile options, Wix comes out on top. Wix automatically formats your site for mobile devices and then lets you customize it further if you’re not happy with the way it looks. Wix will even let you add a Mobile Action Bar that pops up on mobile devices so your visitors can easily email or call you with a simple tap.
Wix has over 800 website templates to choose from, and they’re all categorized into different types of sites, like blogs, photography, or business. The main gripe with Wix is that you can’t easily switch templates if you change your mind halfway through building your site; if you want to change to a new template, you’ll have to copy your website’s content over manually. Wix is best for business websites; although it does personal or blogging websites well, Squarespace might be a better option for you if that’s the type of site you’re looking to create.
Wix offers a free plan, but similar to Weebly’s free plan, it comes with ads, and you can’t attach a custom domain name. To add a custom domain, remove Wix ads, and have 3GB of storage, you’ll need to pay $14 per month for the Combo plan. For most people, the Combo plan will work perfectly. The next two highest plans add more storage and additional apps or features that aren’t necessary but could be nice depending on your specific website needs; the Unlimited plan costs $18 per month, and the Pro plan costs $23 per month.
Wix also offers business and eCommerce plans as well. The Business Basic plan is $23 per month, and the Business Unlimited plan is $27 per month. If you go with Wix for an eCommerce site, it’s well worth it to spend an extra $4 per month and go for the Business Unlimited plan for all the additional features it gets you, like offering subscriptions, getting USPS discounts, and more. All plans from Wix are priced based on paying upfront annually.