More than likely you’re on the hunt to discover the perfect website builder to create your new website OR you’re still wondering if it’s going to be the best path to take instead of hiring a pro website designer.
The great news is, the amount of really great website builders online has simply exploded, giving it’s users even more easy-to-implement features and so much more. The only problem is, knowing which website builder to use and which one will make the process of building a website fast, easy and practically effortless.
When looking for a website builder, it can get pretty overwhelming. The vast amount of website builders can get a bit complicated and confusing. Each one is different and each has their own unique features, advantages and of course…disadvantages.
By now, if you’ve read through other lengthy website builder review articles online, you’ve probably quickly noticed that many of these articles are HEAVILY biased to favor and recommend only the most popular website builders that will give the article author the highest commission if someone buys through their affiliate links.
But before we dive into how we conducted our reviews (including our 12-step process) and which website builders we looked at, first you may be wondering…
“What Are The Advantages & Disadvantages of Using a Website Builder vs. Hiring a Professional Website Designer?”
This is a great question, and one you’ve probably been wondering to yourself…
Is it best for you to use a website builder to build your own website by yourself, or shell out the big bucks to hire a professional website designer to do it all for you?
The final answer really comes down to just how much TIME and MONEY you want to put into creating a website, as well as having the power to modify and make changes down the road.
ALL of these expenses can add up rather quickly, and the flexibility you’ll have by making changes to your own website down the road will be severely limited.
The good news is, the website builders on the market today are SUPER powerful and offer you a wide range of website building options to customize and build your site with just a few clicks. These website builders have really streamlined the process and made it as easy for you as possible.
Plus, many the best website builders start at only $10 per month and you need ZERO technical skills to get started. If you can point and click, you can build your own website. Most also come with either free trials, or even 30-day money back guarantees so you really have nothing to lose by trying them out.
And the best part is, by using a website builder, not only do you get FULL CONTROL over your website design, but you’ll also be able to modify it whenever you wish, and do it all for way less than hiring a web designer.
The great thing about most website builders is their overall flexibility. This means that practically any type of online business can build a website that’s a perfect for them…big or small. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small “mom and pop” business or even a smaller business with a handful of employees.
Here are some examples of businesses that can benefit by using a website builder…
- Small Business Owners
- Graphic Designers
- Freelance Writers
- Freelance Photographers
- Freelance Consultants
- Wedding Planners
- Artists Musicians
- Internet Marketers
- Book Authors
- Local Business Owners
- Online Bloggers
Now that we’ve covered the main advantages of using a website builder vs. a website designer, and also who website builders are a perfect fit for…let’s get into our reviews and ratings.
Unlike other sites that do quick reviews of website builders, and only favor the ones who can earn them the most affiliate commissions, the review team of Megan Arevalo, Muninder Adavelli, and Harsha Kiran decided to conduct the most intense and in-depth review and analysis possible.
Not only have we conducted the most thorough evaluation of each of these 18 website builders, in a completely unbiased way…we’re also going to give you a clear breakdown of what we liked, what we didn’t like, and so much more for each website builder.
What we really wanted to know (and you probably do as well) was…
Through our evaluation of each individual website builder, we were able to answer these questions and many more for you in full detail (more on that shortly).
Here’s the exact process we conducted during our full analysis…
1. WE SIGNED UP FOR 18 WEBSITE BUILDERS
We started out by choosing 18 website builders. We plan on continuing to add even more to the list as we review them every single week, to make sure that the most worthy website builders are reviewed for you.
2. WE BUILT COMPLETE DEMO WEBSITES
Once we signed up to all 18 website builders, we then took our time and build out a demo website for each particular website builder in detail. We allowed ourselves 1 full hour only to build out these demo sites per builder. We also made a full demo video showcasing the process for each website builder as well.
3. 12-STEP EVALUATION PROCESS
During the process of building the demo websites with each of the website builders, we conducted a very strategic and thorough 12-step evaluation with each builder. We took a very close look at 12 of the most critical aspects that included…
- Ease of Use
- Loading Speed
- Design Options
- Overall Responsiveness
- SEO Features
- Scope of Integrations
- Scope of Features
- Pros and Cons
- Real User Views
- Pricing and Support
4. WE WROTE DETAILED REVIEWS FOR EACH BUILDER
Once we setup the demo sites and evaluated each website builder according to our 12-step evaluation process, we then sat down and wrote out a detailed review of each website builder. You can now read all of these reviews by visiting https://websitebuilder.org/.
5: WE PICKED THE OVERALL TOP WINNERS!
Finally, after an intense review and evaluation process, we finally narrowed down the overall winners with the highest ratings. As we continue to evaluate new website builders, we will update this winners list every single month for you as well!
How to Choose the Best Website Builder
If you think a website builder is the route you wish to take, note the irony that not all builders are built the same. Some are out-dated and frankly useless; others offer everything a beginner could need to create a modern and professional site. Some are easier to use than others, and some have more features than others. When deciding which service to sign up to there are many things worth considering.
What themes are available and how far can you customize these templates?
No website will reach its potential without an intuitive layout and an eye-pleasing design. Most generally operate by letting you choose a theme, which is a base template that can be customized to varying degrees. The variety of themes, scope of customization, and how easy everything is to accomplish is important. Wix was by far the winner in this category – it was very easy to use, had the most number of theme designs to choose from (510), and these were easily customized by choosing from a range of options and dragging and dropping the elements you desire. There was also a blogging solution and portfolio themes for creative professionals. In second is XPRS, which offers roughly 242 themes. Ironically Strikingly was strikingly limited, providing just 11 themes and little design flexibility.
What do you get for the monthly fee, is there a free trial, and what about extras?
Obviously price is an important factor when choosing the right one, but you must also take in to account what you actually get for that price. How much bang do you get for your buck? Again Wix takes the victory here as it is overall one of the cheapest options, but is also one of the easiest to use with the best features. It has four plans starting at just $4.08 and reaching $16.17. There is no need for any added payments once you’ve chosen a plan (unless you upgrade) and if you’re not entirely happy you can get your money back within a 14 day window. This essentially gives you a free trial. You can also test the builder for free, but you won’t have access to all the features and you’ll need to pay for a plan to use your own domain name. Yolas was also an affordable option (plans from $6.95 to $29.95), and provides a free trial and a money back guarantee.
How fast do pages load and does the site do well under the pressure of many users?
To give a little insight in to the performance of each service, we tested websites that were built with them via a common speed analysis service. The fastest of the bunch was a site made with Voog (2.8 seconds) and the slowest was Wix (18.6 seconds), however due to various factors (size of page) and limited nature of testing (small sample size) we don’t believe any service was so slow that it should be written off completely. It might be wise to do your own tests with sites of a similar size to what you plan to create.
Is the site you create accessible from all major devices?
In today’s world of smartphones and mobile devices there’s no excuse for not having a site that can be accessed and is fully functional on all major devices. We tested each website builder’s ability to accomplish this. All of the others created functional mobile-friendly pages by default that worked on mobiles at 320px-374px, 375px-424px, 425px-767px, and on Tablet at 768-1024px. The exception was Weebly which we failed to test using all of our testing devices, but their promotional material and other reviewers assure is that it is mobile ready.
What types of website can the builder create and how many can you host?
Wix, XPRS, and Site123 stand out here because not only do they support various types of site from a functional standpoint (creative portfolio for example), they also have multiple themes that aesthetically appeal to certain industries (health, fashion, education etc). We give Wix the edge here because it has the widest selection of themes, but also has functional solutions for blogging, eCommerce, and creative portfolios. Of course how this all applies to your project is what’s important.
How well optimized for search engines is the site and how easy is it to accomplish optimization?
No matter how good your site is, if it’s not optimized for search engines it is not going to get the amount of organic traffic it deserves. Wix, Weebly and Strikingly offered the most in the SEO category, allowing you to customize urls with your keywords and titles, edit meta tags, and edit the alt description tag for images. It was this latter option where the others missed the boat and might cause you to lose traffic from the image search results.
Can your site integrate with important third party services?
To make your website feature rich it is important that you can use third party services and code, as well as have access to add-ons that can be easily installed to expand functionality. For example it’s no good having a blog or content rich site that provokes debate if you can’t integrate it with your favourite commenting platform. Most of the builders we used allow you to add your own code in some form (even if it’s just limited to a box or the sidebar), but Wix had the most extensive list of add-ons (300 to 500) via its marketplace. Some of these are free and others are premium. SquareSpace, Weebly, and Site123 also had a respectable amount of add-ons to choose from.
If you make a mistake in the builder, can you easily go back?
There’s going to be a certain amount of trial and error when you’re building your website, so the ability to ‘undo’ or go back to get rid of mistakes and things you don’t like is crucial. Weebly is king in this category as not only can you just use the keyboard shortcut for undo (Ctrl+Z) to go back on your latest action, you can also restore deleted blocks, pages, blog posts, and even an entire site. This essentially works like a recycle bin in Windows. Site123, XPRS and SquareSpace are similar, but the latter only stores pages in the bin for 30 days.
Can you get fast and adequate help if you’re stuck or need a question answered?
There’s nothing worse than being sold that a service has good customer support, only for the person on the other end being unable to help you or to wait days for somebody to reply to the ticket at all. We gathered which support options are available for each builder and put email and live chat to the test where applicable. Strikingly has the most support options, including email, live chat, and phone. Their live chat response was also just one minute – the fastest of the bunch. For everyone else live chat responses were always a matter of minutes, while responses that came by email were always within a few hours. Unfortunately Weebly and SquareSpace failed to respond to support emails, while Voog failed to respond to live chat.
Is there a blogging solution and how advanced is it?
If you want to create regular content you could in theory just keep adding new pages, but blogging has a distinct style that includes the author’s name and date the post was published, and is often separate from the other pages of the site. We checked our 10 builders (all which had dedicated blogging solutions) for the ability to schedule posts (write them and have them go live at a set time), send a newsletter to followers of the blog, and whether there were different levels of editing (i.e. admin and contributor). Wix, SquareSpace and Weebly passed with flying colours; while Yola, Strikingly and XPRS could only accomplish the newsletter; Duda could schedule and edit, Voog could send a newsletter and edit, and Site123 could only schedule posts.
What features are there to encourage user-interactivity?
If you want to engage with your site’s visitors and build a lasting relationship, there needs to be ways in which they can interact. The most common method is having a commenting system where they can discuss pages and posts with each and even you (if you decide to chime in). All of the builders we tested had commenting systems and some allowed third party systems like Disqus through add-ons. Another way to encourage interactivity is to allow a more advanced membership system. If a user is part of a club, they’re more likely to return. Wix, SquareSpace, Weebly, and Duda all allow users to register accounts. If you want to create welcome message or some kind of call to action, Wix, Yola, Weebly, XPRS, and Duda all allow you to serve a popup on the homepage. Wix, Weebly, and Duda offer all three options.
How easy is the builder to use and how long does it take to build an average website?
The easier a builder is to use, the faster you can make your site. However building a site quickly is meaningless if there aren’t many options and the end result is subpar. Strikingly fell in to this latter category, and we advise to use this only if this is your first site and you’re not looking for anything advanced. All other builders can range between a few hours (if you stick to the base templates) to a few days, depending on how much you wish to change, how many features you want to add, and the overall scope of the project. Wix, Weebly and SquareSpace offer the best overall experience in terms of ease of use, while also offering enough features to create most types of site efficiently.
Each website builder has its pros and cons, but overall we feel Wix is the most versatile and cost effective of the bunch – open to both beginners and those that are a little savvier. However if you’re going for absolute simplicity and don’t need a very complex site, one of the others might be quicker to use.
Now you know all about the 10 most popular solutions, have fun creating the site you always dreamed of!