We have a complete list of reviews of the best website builders for 2018. We put 18 of the internet’s most popular website builders through some of the most critical analyses and testing ever conducted. Find a provider here with the best uptime, features, and customer support for your business or hobby!
|Intuitive and versatile, Wix can create any type of website with unmatched fluidity.|
|Simple, yet powerful, Site123 facilitates an easy site creation with masterfully guided design process.|
|An impressive set of tools with a below-average price tag. A great choice for both beginners and advanced users|
|Did you know that one-page websites can be Strikingly awesome?|
|Flexible and functional, Weebly is the most user-friendly site builder in existence.|
|Stylish and enticing, the Squarespace templates are the epitome of web design mastery.|
|Mobile and multilingual, Duda sports many unique features for modern, fully responsive designs|
|Easy to use, Jimdo allows you to build a website in just 3 minutes|
|Flexible and simple, Enjin is crafted with gaming communities in mind. It offers a straightforward way to build a website of any kind.|
3 Most Common Website Building Myths
It’s no wonder that in today’s market websites are the most important asset for any business. With 88% of Americans using the internet, and the ecommerce market predicted to generate $450 billion in the US alone this year, it’s crucial for all businesses to have a website.
Although websites are necessary for businesses to succeed, around half of the small businesses out there still don’t have websites. This might be due to the prevailing myths people believe about website building.
You need programming skills to build a website on your own.
You need to pay thousands of dollars to developers to develop a website.
Website maintenance is hard and requires a full-time developer.
With this guide I will show you how to bust these myths. Website builders are tools that enable you to build websites easily and run them efficiently without any technical experience.
So let’s dive into making a DIY website!
Why Website Builders?
Do you want to build your own website and be able to control every aspect of your site while saving time and money? Lets see how this can be achieved!
A Programmer’s Ego vs. Wix IPO News
I always turned a blind eye to the drag-and-drop website builders, assuming they wouldn’t be able to accomplish everything I needed. Being a programmer, developing websites has always required writing PHP or Node.js code.
How did that perception change? Recently, I came across Insight’s article, “Wix.com Raises $122M in NASDAQ IPO.” It was a pretty big hit to my ego!
Although this news was intriguing enough, I didn’t immediately go and try to create a site using drag and drop. Instead, the article prodded me to dig more into the website-building market. I was shocked to know Shopify and Weebly were also publicly listed; in fact, around 100k stores were powered by Shopify!
Those stats delivered the final blow to my meaningless ego. I gave in and bought a WiX VIP plan to check out how to build a site using Wix. After developing the website, in less than a couple of hours, there was only one thing on my mind: that this is revolutionary!
I felt like I’d been hiding under a rock for not taking advantage of the conveniences website builders offer even the most inexperienced programmer!
Back in the day coding a simple ecommerce store would take me almost a month. Additionally, maintaining the website required coding experience! Thanks to website and store builders, I can now create ecommerce stores with Shopify in less than two hours!
Amazed by the cost, time, and maintenance efficiency of the Wix sample site, I decided to check the performance features and benefits of other top website builders.
To cover all of the leading website builders on the market, I teamed up with my other developer friends Muninder and Deepak. We developed a 12-step process that would help us uncover all the pros and cons of every website builder.
This led to a detailed analysis of the following:
- 18 website builders
- 5 store builders
- 11 website hosts
- 2 content-management systems
- Nearly 200 real user reviews
Using Website Builders vs. Hiring Developers
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a website builder as opposed to hiring a professional website designer and developer? Is it best 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 your requirements and how much time and money you want to spend on a website that will satisfy those requirements—while giving you the power to modify and make changes later on down the road.
If you hire a website developer, it can easily cost you $2500 or more, and this is the very lowest end of the cost scale. Many of the “elite” website developers ask for $10,000 or more.
In addition, once you get your website up and running, you’re stuck with it; and if you decide you want to make any changes or “tweaks” to the design, you’ll more than likely have to rehire them or someone else to make the changes. This means more money out of your pocket—and more time is wasted.
There are three questions you should ask yourself before you decide on custom web development:
- Will I need a custom, scalable website?
- Can my business afford the budget needed for website development and maintenance?
- Am I ready to deal with the overhead involved in hiring a developer?
Website Builders Are Effective and Easy to Use
If you can point and click, you can build your own website, which is a huge draw. Most builders also come with either free trials or even a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you really have nothing to lose by trying them out.
Any good website builder will provide the following features:
- Prebuilt templates for every theme
- 24/7 live chat
- Drag and drop
- The ability to build a site in less than 4 hours
- Prices starting at $10
- The constant addition of new tools and features
The best part is, by using a website builder, not only do you get full control over your website, you’ll also be able to modify it whenever you wish, and you can do it all for way less than hiring a web developer.
The great thing about most website builders is their overall flexibility. Website builders have the capacity to create websites for any business, big or small. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mom-and-pop business or an even smaller business with just a handful of employees.
Here are a few examples of the business categories that should consider creating their websites using website builders:
Small Business Owners
Artists & Musicians
Local Business Owners
Now that we’ve covered the main advantages of using a website builder vs. a web developer, and we’ve established which businesses website builders work best for, let’s discuss the process we follow when we rate and review website builders. If you’ve already decided to use a website builder, you can use this as a guide when evaluating website builders and choosing which one will suit you best.
Our Evaluation of the Website Builders
I think my reviews will be much more effective if I’m transparent about how my reviewing system works. Unlike other lengthy website builder review articles that are heavily biased towards only the most popular website builders, the goal of this website is not to sell you on a specific website builder to make a quick buck.
We want to provide you with a completely unbiased—and very thorough—analysis while giving a transparent critique of some of the greatest website builders on the market right now.
We started with the best website builders.
We chose the top website builders available. In addition, we will continue to add more to the list as we review them every month in order to make sure all the best website builders are reviewed for you.
We built complete demo websites.
Once we signed up with each website builder, we took our time and built demo websites under each one and then recorded our experience in detail. We also made a full demo video showcasing the process for each one—find them on our review pages.
We created and followed a 12-step evaluation process.
While building the demo websites with each of the website builders, we conducted a very strategic and thorough 12-step evaluation with each builder.
12-Step Evaluation Process
In our reviews, we address the following elements:
Ease of Use
How well does the website builder work? Most of the newer website builders work with a drag-and-drop function—you drag the feature you want and you drop it to your page. Sounds pretty simple, right? The only problem is that this feature might not work the same way on all builders. There are other things to take into consideration, such as smoothness, interface speed, and the efficiency of the editor.
The appearance of your site has a huge impact! We check how many themes and how many styles—minimalist, vintage, modern, and so on—each site builder offers. Not only that, but we also check to see how well they perform. In short, we look for the whole design package:
- Number of themes
- Look of the themes
- Technical background of themes
- Styles each theme provides
Scope of Features
Most of the time, the differentiating factor in a website builder—what makes it better or at least different than the rest of its competitors—comes down to one thing: the features. Maybe it’s blogging options, perhaps it’s a cool form builder or a useful membership system. It could be all of them—and believe us, this can happen! As numerous as the features may be, we go through all of the available website builder’s features to show you all the possibilities and tools offered for your website!
We go through all the SEO features available in the builder and review them one by one. From meta description options to the URL editable features to SEO plugin-compatible alternatives, we make sure we reveal how SEO friendly the software really is. If you want to find the website builder that will take you to the number one ranking in Google, we’ve got you covered!
- Technology analysis
- Https, SSL, meta, maps, Sitemaps
- Site structure, robots.txt
- Is the site in google cache the same as the site seen?
Scope of Integrations
Can the software integrate social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and so on? Does it allow you to add plugins to facilitate a mail subscription, memberships, commenting, and other features?
We check to see if you can add additional features to your site or store! We make sure to review the website builder’s app—or, if that’s not available, at least the plugins compatible with the tool—to see how personalized your final site can actually be. If you are going to build a website, you’ve got to make sure to use software that lets you do it your way!
- Number of apps
- Free and paid apps
- Options to integrate custom apps
- API integrations
Pricing & Support
Are their prices comparable to the other options on the market? We review not only the different website builders’ prices, but also the features included under each package, the price models, the paying options, any hidden discounts, and even their billing practices. When it comes to money—especially yours—we want to make sure everything is safe and sound!
- Prices of packages, features included, value for the money
- Is the payment gateway secure?
- Hidden prices or discounts
- Fair billing
When it comes to their customer support, we created a list of possible issues one might face throughout the website-building process. For every website builder, we send our reviewers to the support team—via phone, email, and live chat, and we also look up their FAQ section—and we review their service.
They should not only be fast, friendly, and patient, but they should also have an accurate and helpful response for the specific problem or query. We truly put their user-support system to the test! We make sure the support teams are fast, friendly, and resourceful.
This means that whether you are on your laptop, tablet, smartphone, or desktop computer, you’ll always be able to enjoy a well-designed, high-quality website.
When it comes to the responsive features, we specifically check to see if the website builder tool offers mobile-friendly options—meaning that the website should adapt, without a problem, to any given screen size. And we put all of this to the test!
- Technology used in themes
- Mobile editor
- Loading speed on mobile phones
We run different tests for different templates and different devices to make sure that regardless of the circumstances, the final product (your website) has a good—or at least average—loading speed. The following criteria impact how we rank these website builders based on loading speed:
- Page score
- Page size vs. page load time
- Number of calls made to database
- Caching capabilities
Real User Reviews
While we do have strong programming experience and know what a good website builder should be able to do, we also took the experiences of real users into account. By reading and evaluating the thoughts and opinions of other users—what they liked about the website builders and what they struggled with—we were able to provide you with more detail about these companies.
Pros and Cons
Once we’ve reviewed every single detail about the website builder—usability, loading speed, designs, responsiveness, SEO features, integrations, support, prices, and features—we can then make a list of the major strengths and weaknesses of their software.
If you have to make a decision—especially one that will have such an impact on your business—you make a pros and cons list. And that’s exactly what we do for you! Are the pros good enough for you? Can you look past all the cons? We make it easy for you to start making your own personal assessments.
As the title of this step suggests, this is our final say about the website builder we’re reviewing. Is it as good as it claims to be? Is it really worth it? Do we recommend it—or don’t we?
You know what they say—there’s a match for everyone. What may work for, let’s say, an ecommerce site may not be the ideal option for a blog or portfolio. And we want to emphasize that in this section. Our final goal is to make your decision and even your learning process for a website builder easier, faster, more fun, and smoother overall. We work hard to provide you with an in-depth review and, ultimately, an unbiased overview of the website building software that best suits your needs and goals.
Winners by Category!
Once we’d set up the demo sites and evaluated each website builder according to our 12-step evaluation process, we wrote out a detailed review of each website builder. You can read all of these reviews by visiting our website builder reviews page! What’s more, within several elements of our 12-step evaluation process we found a winning website builder that prevailed over the rest.
Just how is this section useful for you? Well, if your top priority in a website builder is that it be extremely easy to use, for example, our winner in the usability section is likely to be what you’re looking for.
You can design and build a beautiful and functional website, but if getting there makes you lose your mind trying to figure out how the website builder works, perhaps it’s not really worth it. That’s why usability is the first point on our checklist.
You may be able to add colorful charts, attractive galleries, and fun videos to your site. But if it takes 30 seconds to load all that beautiful content, nobody will ever wait to see how amazing your page is. Would you as a customer wait that long? The loading speed is very important for your users/customers—and it is for us too—therefore, the website builder of your choice should be up to par in this category.
If your page loads as soon as you click on it, but it’s just a basic, unappealing, boring template, your visitors will leave just as fast as they got there. Therefore, it’s important to find a site builder that offers a good selection of modern templates to choose from. We evaluated website builders based on the number, look, technical background, and styles their themes provided. We also evaluated reliability, flexibility, and responsiveness.
Most website viewers visit via a mobile device, just as you may be reading these very words from the tiny shiny screen of your smartphone. This is why it’s so important that the user experience of your site—especially for the mobile visitors—is absolutely top notch. It should at least be as good as the regular website itself. We examined technology used in themes and the functionality of the mobile editor, as well as loading speed on mobile devices.
If you are putting all that thought, time, effort, and sometimes even money into your brand-new website, you probably aren’t looking to just enjoy it yourself. You want the whole world to know about it! SEO helps you get there! That’s why the SEO (search engine optimization) options of a website builder come in handy for you. We determined how many feature a particular website builder has and evaluated them one by one.
The integrations offered by a website builder tool can not only allow you to customize your site to your preference, but they can also attend to all of your needs and—most importantly—the needs of your visitors.
Pricing & Support
Almost all available website builders offer free versions—or at least free trials—of their core services. Since most of their best features come only with their paid plans, are they worth it?
Everyone needs a little help! Like we said before, if you are going to embark upon a DIY website, you might as well choose a builder that’s going to be easy to use! But even with the most comfortable, intuitive software on the market, questions will be inevitable. We know that. That’s why we want you to find a website builder that offers only the best customer support.
Last but not least, we thoroughly examine all the features a particular website builder may have. We compare the website builder in-hand with the rest of its competitors and determine whether it’s worth your while or not!
Real User Reviews
One of the greatest tools for reviewers like us comes from analyzing as many real-world experiences as we can find. We take the views and opinions of other users—like the following—and use them to guide our evaluation process and reviews.
“Squarespace is good for building a simple site, but not for something more serious/complex. I’m confident that Squarespace will keep improving just as they’ve done so far since 2004. All and all, Squarespace is a basic but versatile content-management system/website-building tool ideal for people who are not hard-core developers but want to create a functional, secure—and let’s not forget beautiful!” ―Pavan Kumar
“Hi Megan, we are using Shopify here in Brazil. I manage the control panel. We are happy with it since it is ahead of the options in Brazil, specially the SEO capabilities. We don’t get much sales direct in the Shop. Our business is B2B. Our clients use the site to know more about our products and then contact us at the end of the sales process. Almost 100% of our sales has an Estimate before the close.” ―Fabio Dudus Carelli
“I’ve had a couple sites with Weebly (2 free sites and one pro site) almost since Weebly’s beginning. I won’t change because the support is top of the line when I can’t figure things out, but I have to say for a technologically challenged person like me the whole thing is exceedingly easy to figure out and to use. There are very simple tutorials for whatever is not obvious and simple tutorials that explain the updates. Thanks Weebly for these years of ease of website building.” ―Yonge Charlotte
FAQ: How to Choose the Best Website Builder
If you think a website builder is the route you wish to take, not all builders are built the same. Some are outdated and frankly useless, while others offer everything a beginner could need to create a modern and professional site.
What should you pay for a 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 into account what you actually get for that price. How much bang do you get for your buck? Wix takes the victory here as it is overall one of the cheapest options but 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’s 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 (with plans from $6.95 to $29.95), and it provides a free trial and a money-back guarantee.
How fast do pages load, and does the site do well under the pressure of multiple users?
To give a little insight into 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 the 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.
What themes are available, and how far can you customize these templates?
No website will reach its full 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 greatest 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 were also blogging solutions and portfolio themes for creative professionals. In second place is XPRS, which offers roughly 242 themes. Ironically, Strikingly was strikingly limited, providing just 11 themes and little design flexibility.
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 by 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 320–374px, 375–424px, 425–767px, and on tablets at 768–1024px. The only possible exception was Weebly, which we failed to test using every testing device, but their promotional material and other reviewers assure readers that it’s 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 sites from a functional standpoint, 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, and it 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’s 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 image search results.
Can the site integrate with important third-party services?
To make your website feature rich, it’s 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 favorite commenting platform.
Most of the builders we used allow you to add your own code in some form (even if it’s 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 because 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 last 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 expecting a service to have good customer support, but then the person you speak with is unable to help you, or worse, you wait days for somebody to reply 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 format that includes the author’s name and the date the post was published, and it’s often separate from the site’s other pages.
We checked our website builders (all of which had dedicated blogging solutions) for the ability to schedule posts and have them go live at a set time, the option of sending a newsletter to blog followers, and whether there were different levels of editing (i.e., admin and contributor). Wix, SquareSpace, and Weebly passed with flying colors. But 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.