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The best website builders in 2021

Building a website can be tricky if you don’t have a team of developers at your disposal. Luckily, it’s becoming a lot easier to do it yourself with the aid of the many online website builders available.

With so many to choose from it can be hard to pick the best one for your needs, so we’ve curated a list of the 10 best website builders available.

Table of Contents

Best website builders - our curated list

  1. Wix – Best overall builder
  2. Squarespace – Strong all rounder
  3. Zyro – Ideal for simple websites
  4. Shopify – Ideal for e-commerce
  5. SITE123 – Best for ongoing support
  6. GoDaddy – Quickest way to get a site online
  7. Gator Website Builder (Hostgator) – Ideal for small businesses
  8. Weebly – Great for new businesses
  9. Duda – Best for building multiple websites
  10. Zenfolio – Perfect for photography

Let’s take a detailed look at the pros, cons, features and uses of the 10 best website builders according to Cybernews.

1. Wix - Best overall builder

Wix interface in smart devices
Hosting:Yes
Free version:Yes
E-commerce :Yes
Security features:SSL and TSL, 2FA for accounts

Wix is a fantastic option if you’re just starting out. It promises to help you build a website that exactly matches what you have in mind, and it’s not far off.

If you’re not quite sure what you want your website to look like, Wix has hundreds of templates to choose from, so it’s really easy to create a really professional-looking website without having any coding skills whatsoever.

In fact, Wix makes things easy right from the start. As soon as you start using Wix, you’ll be given the option of working with it’s AI tool - Wix ADI.

Wix ADI will suggest a design and layout for your site. Or you can peruse through Wix’s selection of design templates - and there are hundreds to pick from. They’re customisable too, so you can use them as a base and then fine tune them to suit your image.

Editing is easy too. Most edits can be made using the simple drag and drop function. And if you have limited design or web design skills, Wix really does offer a great starting point for novices by making it easy to get your layout the way you want it.

Wix features

To add in features for your website, you just drag in the ready made ‘blocks’. You can also add in sections for video content, photos, galleries, social buttons and all sorts.

For even more functionality, you can explore the Wix App Market. From here, you can add apps to your site that’ll give you features, such as live chat, bookings forms and tools from the likes of Amazon, Google and the big social media sites to maximise your business potential. Check out our Wix review for more detailed information.

In fact, if anything, Wix offers too much choice. While this may seem like a peculiar bug bear, if you’re just looking to create a very simple website, the vast number of options available can be a bit overwhelming.

If you ever need help while you’re using Wix, look out for the question marks dotted around the site. Click on one of these and it will open into a handy tips box filled with hints and suggestions. This information is sourced from the Wix Help Centre, so you might even see a video tutorial pop up.

Using these question marks is an effective way of getting help without having to search for it. If you do need to speak to someone, you can always send an email, phone the customer support line, hit them up on social media or ask a fellow user on the Wix forum. The only thing Wix is missing is live support.

Wix pricing

Wix offers a free plan, but it’s a tad limited and you have to use a Wix domain name. If you sign up to a paid plan, costs start off at $13 a month for a regular site and $23 a month for an e-commerce site.

Pros

  • Incredibly easy to use
  • Hundreds of website templates
  • Wix ADI helps out from the start
  • Site load speeds are fast
  • Wix app market has great widgets

Cons

  • Overwhelming number of options
  • Limited support
  • Free plan adds Wix branding to your site
  • Marketing and analytics only available on paid service
  • Can’t interchange templates

2. Squarespace – Strong all rounder

Squarespace interface in smart devices
Hosting:Yes
Free version:No
E-commerce:Yes
Security features: SSL, 2FA for accounts

You may have already heard of Squarespace as it’s probably the most well known web building tool on the market. This is largely down to the strong marketing push the product gets. You won’t find any other website builder that’s had an advert during the SuperBowl.

It's also one of the most popular website building tools out there, and it’s popularity can be attributed to its features and usability. Squarespace champions websites with attractive design and seamless interfaces, so it’s a great option if you’re looking to create a slick website for your business.

Squarespace is easy to use too. Its editor uses a drag and drop function that’s similar to Wix, so you really don’t have to be a tech expert to start putting the pieces together for a decent looking website.

Squarespace features

When it comes to design and template options, Squarespace has hundreds of to choose from, and they are categorised to make your life easier when fine tuning a site design. You won’t have to scroll through loads of irrelevant entries to find what you’re looking for.

Squarespace has great options for e-commerce sites. You can easily add features to help sell your items, add payment services and encourage customer subscriptions.

If you’re interested in marketing your website, Squarespace offers tools that help you optimise for SEO (search engine optimization) as well as advanced site analytics tools so you can examine things like traffic, bounce rates and what’s working on your site.

You can easily add social buttons to your website so that visitors can find your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more.

Squarespace even offers a logo maker to help you nail down your brand identity. The Squarespace mobile app is really well made too so you don't even have to rely on the desktop to get designing. And if you ever need support, you can contact Squarespace on its 24 hour live chat service or via email.

Squarespace pricing

Squarespace does not offer a free service. The cheapest signup starts at $12 a month but you get a good deal for your money. You’ll get unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage, access to Squarespace’s support team, and a personalized domain name.

Building an e-commerce site starts off at $18 a month for unlimited item listings. However Squarespace does charge 3% on transactions.

Don’t want to pay the transaction fee? Sign up for the premium e-commerce plan at $26 a month.

Pros

  • Drag and drop builder is easy to use
  • Hundreds of attractive templates to choose from
  • Wide range of features
  • Decent analytics tools
  • Templates automatically adapt to mobile

Cons

  • No free service
  • Ecommerce service is expensive
  • Customization options for mobile sites is poor
  • Cannot change templates once live in latest version
  • No telephone tech support

3. Zyro - Ideal for simple websites

Zyro interface in smart devices
Hosting:Yes
Free version:No
E-commerce:Yes
Security features:SSL certificate

Zyro gives you all the tools you need to build a website yourself. It’s one of the newer website builders on this list, and it’s got some good features that make it an attractive choice.

Starting out is simple. Once you’ve signed up to Zyro, your first step is to pick your design template. You’ve got a selection of over 20 really nice designs to choose from, and you can use the visual editor tool to fine tune it and create your perfect vision.

This makes it really easy to get a professional looking website that’s easy on the eyes and modern without having to write a single line of code - perfect for anyone who doesn’t have web development experience.

Zyro features

Zyro starts you off with a grid-style page, and you just drag and drop your site components into place. This makes the building process quite easy as you’re stopped from putting elements in places they don’t fit. It’s like the Lego of the website building world.

It’s a really user-friendly system that yields attractive results even for beginners. Zyro even offers digital help in the shape of its AI tool. This will ask a few questions about the type of website you’re trying to build, and will then work some magic and come back with suggestions and examples of how your site can look. You’re free to then use or edit these as you wish.

You can also get Zyro to make you a logo for your enterprise, or set up e-commerce modules to turn your site into a shop. Zyro even has a slogan generator to give your site a snappy tagline.

To help further market your wares you can integrate your social accounts such as Facebook and Instagram and you can take advantage of the SEO functions on offer too. Want to know more? Read our Zyro review.

Zyro pricing

Zyro doesn’t have a free version on offer, but the cheapest plan only costs $1.30 a month. This will get you 1GB of space and 3GB of bandwidth. You can even use your own domain name.

If you are going to start an e-commerce site, this will cost you $14.99 a month with a limit of 100 items, or $21.99 a month for unlimited items.

Another thing Zyrop offers is security. With Zyro sites you get a free SSL certificate, which ensures that any data that’s moved to a server or to a browser is always encrypted. This keeps your website safe from hacks and viruses.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Very affordable
  • Hosting service
  • Templates are easily customized
  • Interface is clean and easy to use

Cons

  • One of the more basic website builders
  • Can’t switch templates once started
  • Limited design variety
  • No free option
  • Not great for blogging sites

3. Shopify - Ideal for e-commerce

Shopify interface in smart devices
Hosting :Yes
Free version:No
E-commerce:Yes
Security features:SSL certificate

Shopify has already helped over 500,000 people start up businesses online, and it’s tailor-made to build e-commerce websites and online shops. According to the site, it has over a million users who have sold more than $40 billion in stock using the platform.

Shopify also uses the drag and drop method of building a website, so it’s really simple to create your perfect online shop. Shopify offers plenty of handy features geared towards building an online store, such as managing your inventory, displaying products, checking sales and marketing your items.

Shopify features

There are hundreds of design templates to choose from too, so you can get your store looking just the way you want it to.

And since Shopify hosts your site too, it’s an all-in-one service that means you don’t have to worry about hosting-related issues like updates, software and backups. Shopify takes care of those factors so you can focus on your business.

And with Shopify Payments, you have got an integrated payment feature that accepts credit and debit cards. You can also add third party payment solutions if you’d like to.

Shopify offers a range of pricing options for different needs and budgets. There’s even a 14-day trial option so you can test out the service before you buy. And refreshingly, you won’t even need to hand over any payment info for the trial.

Shopify pricing

Shopify Lite is the basic option which costs $9 a month and simply allows you to add e-commerce to your current website or social media page. If you’re not using Shopify Payments, it will take a 2% transaction fee.

Basic Shopify is the next option up and it costs $29 per month. You’ll get everything you need to build a basic webstore. If you’re not using Shopify Payments, it will take a 2% transaction fee.

Shopify costs $79 a month and offers more defined features like the ability to make gift cards. If you’re not using Shopify Payments, it will take a 1% transaction fee.

Advanced Shopify will set you back $299 a month and is aimed at bigger enterprises who want to get even bigger, with features like detailed business reports and shipping rates. If you’re not using Shopify Payments, it will take a 0.5% transaction fee.

Also, websites built using Shopify are automatically protected from online threats, so that is one thing you don’t have to worry about. Shopify will regularly update its security and its transactions are always secure.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Great templates
  • Ideal for e-commerce
  • 24/7 support
  • Free themes
  • App store for widgets and extras
  • Two week trial option

Cons

  • Can be quite expensive
  • Only useful for online stores
  • Transaction costs quickly add up
  • No refunds permitted
  • Non-transactional pages are difficult to build

5. SITE123 – Best for ongoing support

SITE123 interface in smart devices
Hosting:Yes
Free version:Yes
E-commerce:Yes
Security features:SSL, 2FA for accounts

SITE123 is a good option for the beginner website builders. It’s easy to use, has some great features and offers good support. It’s fairly cheap too and has some specific features that newbies will really appreciate.

SITE123 is a solid, basic website builder and it’s perfect for creating a content-based website. You can easily add and edit features such as images, and text onto your pages.

It starts things off by asking the user to state what kind of website they want to design. It will then suggest templates and design styles to use. This makes it a great choice for people who don’t have the time or the knowhow to sift through endless options themselves.

SITE123 features

You can incorporate pre-made blocks for sections such About, Team, Testimonials, Contact and more. You can even add galleries to each section or merge the sections to build a single large content block.

SITE123 has its very own image search function, so you can cycle through and pick from hundreds of categorised stock images and professional pictures to go with your websites. There’s a logo maker too, which will help you establish an identity for your site and build a brand.

If you’re going to build a brand, you’ll need to market it too. And with SITE123’s SEO tools, you can ensure your site is as high up the search rankings as possible. SITE123 builds websites that are optimised for mobile too, so you don’t have to worry about your site not adapting to fit a smartphone screen. Read more about its tools and features in our Site123 review.

If you’re building a webshop, there are some decent e-commerce options too. You can create modules for things like selling tickets, managing booking and reservations, creating product schedules and more.

SITE123 pricing

As part of SITE123’s free options you’ll receive 1GB bandwidth as well as 500MB of storage.

Stepping up to premium options will start at $8.45 a month, but for this price you have to pay upfront for three years. You can opt to pay every three months, but this takes the cost up to $17 a month. The paid options get you 5GB of bandwidth and 10GB of storage.

The e-commerce plan costs $14.45 a month and it’s three years paid upfront again. For your money, you’ll receive 45GB bandwidth and 90GB storage and 45GB of bandwidth.

Pros

  • Plenty of support options including live chat
  • All templates for mobile browsers
  • Good marketing tools
  • You can easily change the language of your site
  • Free plan can be used indefinitely
  • Building a website is as easy as filling out a form

Cons

  • Not all features are useful
  • Can't edit templates when they are live
  • Limited flexibility customizing your site
  • Templates are a bit generic
  • SITE123 ads will appear on your site unless you opt for paid plan

6. GoDaddy - Quickest way to get a site online

GoDaddy interface in smart devices
Hosting:Yes
Free version:Yes - trial
E-commerce:Only with E-commerce plan
Security features:SSL certificate

GoDaddy is well known for its web hosting and domain name services, but it’s also a very capable website builder.

Easy to get started and extremely user friendly, GoDaddy might be the quickest way to get a website up and running. Its intuitive and simple building process is perfect for beginners, and you don’t even have to pay to get a site made, as GoDaddy offers a free trial.

The GoDaddy website builder homepage has a Start for Free button. All you need to do is click that, create your login details, and you’re ready to make a site. You won’t have to enter in any payment information at all.

GoDaddy then asks a couple of questions about your industry (you can choose from a selection or enter your own) and your website’s name. Enter in these and GoDaddy’s Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) will instantly generate a personalized theme and it will be ready to publish.

Your site will have a Homepage, About Us, Contact, and Privacy Policy pages, complete with pre-written copy on the pages. Of course, you can edit your theme, pick a new one, and add new pages. But if you just want to get a site up and running without too much hassle, GoDaddy’s ready made templates are a great option.

If you want to make edits but aren’t sure where to start, just click Next Steps to get a menu with useful suggestions, such as Learn How To Build Your Website, Customize Your Cover Image, and Showcase A Photo Gallery. All in all, it is very straightforward and helpful.

GoDaddy Features

GoDaddy has a good selection of features to help you build and manage a website, whether it’s for business or personal use. On the editor side, there are plenty of customizable themes and templates, and you can add all sorts of features to your site to make it engaging, using the simple drag-and-drop method. Add in banners, drop-down menus, contact forms, image libraries, social media feeds, live chat boxes, pop-up messages, and more.

If you’re trying to launch a business or promote your site, you’ll be pleased to know GoDaddy offers some strong marketing features too. From SEO optimization to email marketing and analytics, GoDaddy can help you climb Google rankings and reach new audiences.

If you are creating an online shop, GoDaddy has some strong e-commerce features, but they are only available on the E-commerce price plan. If you do sign up for that, you can build a shop with a lot of features, such as multiple payment options (including ApplePay and PayPal), digital downloads, promotions, discount codes, and customer cart prompts.

GoDaddy pricing

GoDaddy offers four pricing options. Its Basic plan, $9.99 per month, is ideal for beginners and people starting out with website building. The Basic plan does not include SEO features.

The Standard plan costs $14.99 per month, and gives you more options for email marketing and social media, as well as SEO features.

The Premium plan costs $19.99 per month, and enhances the existing features and adds new ones such as appointment and schedule settings, events, reminders, unlimited social platforms and more.

Finally, the E-commerce plan costs $24.99 per month, and gives you everything in the Premium plan, as well as specific e-commerce features, including payment and shipping settings, product pages, and item listings.

Pros

  • Great for beginners
  • Can publish a site within minutes of sign up
  • Free trial so you can try out the service
  • Great support options

Cons

  • Not ideal for complex sites
  • No SEO on Basic plan
  • No free plan
  • Basic builder is not very creative

7. Gator Website Builder (HostGator) - Ideal for small businesses

Gator interface in smart devices
Hosting:Yes
Free version:No
E-commerce:Yes
Security features:SSL certificate

The Gator Website Builder is an easy-to-use builder that’s ideal for beginners and people with limited tech skills. Its drag-and-drop builder is intuitive with an attractive interface that helps you as you go along. It’s got a good selection of features and templates, but it’s not as comprehensive as some other builders. So, it’s best suited to small businesses and personal blogs.

Gator Website Builder features

Gator’s builder gives you all the tools you need to make a nice website for your small business or project. First, take your pick from one of the 200+ templates on offer. These are handily put into different categories to suit all sorts of industries, including health and beauty, fashion, entertainment and many more. Once you have settled on a template, you are free to customize and edit until you get the look right.

Since it uses a drag-and-drop format, even beginners can easily start putting a site together. Pull in features to your web pages, such as multimedia content, image galleries, text, forms, and maps.

Gator also gives you access to stock images from Unsplash, which makes finding images for your site really easy. Its sites are responsive, so they look great on both desktop and mobile. Gator even has a logo maker to help you create a brand identity for your site.

All of these features are really useful for a small business establishing its first web presence. But Gator also has a range of e-commerce and marketing features. You can build a webshop even on the cheapest price plan, although you will only be able to list three products on this plan. You will also be able to launch email marketing campaigns and benefit from SEO optimization.

If you need help at any point, Gator is on hand with 24-hour support and a huge range of video tutorials. You can also access analytics to check your site’s performance.

Gator might not be the flashiest builder, but it has a solid selection of basic features that can help a beginner or a fledgling business launch a website easily, and all at a very attractive price point.

Gator Website Builder pricing

You can get Gator on one of three price plans.The Start plan costs $3.84 per month. It offers all the editing features, as well as site analytics, free hosting, and a free domain name. You can also list three e-commerce products and launch three email marketing campaigns each month.

The Site plan costs $5.99 per month and gives you everything you get with the Start plan, as well as ten e-commerce product listings, priority support, and five email marketing campaigns a month.

The Store plan, which is $9.22 per month, adds unlimited e-commerce product listings, and ten email marketing campaigns per month. You also get features tailored for businesses, such as shipping options, voucher and coupon creator, a tax calculator and more.

Pros

  • User friendly interface
  • Affordable price plans
  • Perfect for beginners and small business
  • Can list e-commerce products on the entry plan

Cons

  • Very basic builder
  • Templates are not the most eye catching
  • Only really suitable for simple websites
  • No free plan

8. Weebly – Great for new businesses

Weebly interface in smart devices
Hosting:Yes
Free version:Yes
E-commerce:Yes
Security features:SSL certificate

Weebly is another extremely popular website builder, with over 40 million websites and counting built using its software. It’s easy to see why Weebly is so popular. It’s easy to use, has a lot of good features and it’s really useful for e-commerce sites.

Just like Wix and Squarespace, Weebly adopts the drag-and-drop style of editing and designing a website. You can pick through over 60 design templates and then drag your chosen components over to start building your site. Weebly even allows you to get creative with your website by including content features such as video background to really make your website stand out.

Weebly features

Weebly’s e-commerce features are particularly exciting for anyone who’s interested in building a webshop. You can easily add shopping features to your site, such as product search, secure checkout, product galeries, inventory lists and tracking and more. Weebly’s content management system is very efficient at managing big sites with a lot of pages. So if you have a lot of products that need listing, Weebly is the one.

Websites created using Weebly not only look great but they are also optimised and adaptive to being viewed on different platforms. Whether your visitors are checking out your page on a desktop computer, mobile or tablet, the site will adapt to fit.

Want to add more features to your site? Head to the Weebly App Centre to look for plug-ins and extras. It’s not quite as comprehensive as the Wix App Centre but there’s still a good selection of options.

Browse through the App Center and you’ll find all sorts of functions and features made by both third party developers and Weebly itself.

Weebly’s mobile apps are also really useful. You can use the app on both iOS and Android to check out stats for your site, such as how many visitors you’ve had, how many sales you’ve made and more.

Weebly pricing

You can use Weebly for free, and that will get you 500MB in storage space. But you won’t be able to create your own domain name. You will get SEO functions and other lead tools though.

If you want more, you can sign up for Weebly’s paid version which starts out from $5 a month. This price will only get you your own domain name. But for $12 a month, you’ll also get unlimited storage, e-commerce functions and tech support. And you can get rid of Weebly ads from your site.

Finally, for $25 a month you can upgrade your e-commerce with advanced functions.

Pros

  • Very easy to build a websits
  • Has a free version
  • Website templates can be edited
  • Templates are attractive and responsive
  • Interface is intuitive and easy to navigate

Cons

  • Cheap plan has limited options
  • Not as many features as some other builders
  • Cannot customize mobile site templates
  • Can’t ‘undo’ in the interface

9. Duda – Best for building multiple websites

Duda interface in smart devices
Hosting:Yes
Free version:No
E-commerce:Yes
Security features:SSL certificate

Duda builds websites that are easy to make and easy to use. It’s a great option for people who want a website that looks good.

Building a website in Duda is done with the drag-and-drop style we see in most of the builders on this list - so it’s very easy to use. You can pick from almost 100 templates suiting all sorts of websites from attractive lifestyle sites to slick business sites.

Duda features

Duda offers a range of features and has an interesting management suite that makes it simple to look after more than one website at the same time. So it’s ideal if you’re planning on building a number of websites.

It’s perhaps the best choice for people who are starting out small businesses, and not so suitable for blogs and personal websites.

Duda gives its users the ability to create their own widgets so you can truly personalize your website. These widgets include things like pop up messages, special offers and video content that may be triggered by location of visitors, or how many times they've visited your site.

Features like this make it easier to form a connection with your customers and offer them a more personalized service. It can help to boost sales and engagement, so it’s good if you’re trying to encourage more activity on your website.

In fact, Duda has the unique feature of allowing users to take advantage of e-commerce features on its cheapest plan, while most other web builders usually have a specific (and higher) payment bracket for e-commerce. Want more details? Find everything on our Duda review

Duda’s e-commerce features include multiple payment options, tax calculator, voucher codes and stock alerts to encourage customers to purchase, digital product downloads, different categories for different products and more.

Duda pricing

The Basic Plan costs $14 a month and it’s charged annually. This option is ideal for smaller websites that won’t require snazzy extra features. And you’ll still get access to a content library, SSL security, multi-language features and more.

The Team Plan costs $22 a month and it’s also charged annually. This option suits people with more of a business setup, perhaps if you’re building websites for numerous clients. The team plan also allows for four more people to be added onto the package. And you get additional features, such as different permission settings for different team members, marketing materials, client branding and more. This plan is ideal for people who are offering a professional service in website building.

The Agency Plan costs $44 a month and is also charged annually. This plan is suitable for big website building projects that require numerous team members (up to ten can be added). You can use this plan to create multiple websites and take advantage of features such as website exporters, building widgets, integrating API and more.

Pros

  • Can add widgets and apps
  • Website builder is simple to use
  • Easy to personalise your site
  • Ecommerce included in the basic plan
  • Easy to build sites in different multiple languages
  • Can send personalized messages to site visitors

Cons

  • No free option
  • Limited SEO tools
  • Creativity is confined by templates
  • Widgets are nice but selection is limited
  • Price plans can seem expensive

10. Zenfolio - Perfect for photography

Zenfolio interface in smart devices
Hosting:Yes
Free version:Yes - trial
Ecommerce:Yes
Security features:SSL certificate

Zenfolio is slightly different from all the other website builders because it’s directed at a very specific profession - photography. Yes, Zenfolio is primarily for photographers who want to build a website where they can show off their work and imagery, so it’s by far the most niche website builder we’ve found.

So if you’re a photographer who wants to show, and even sell, your work, Zenfolio is the right place to start.

Zenfolio features

Zenfolio offers a range of great features to enhance its drag-and-drop method of website building. You can upload existing content and fine-tune for SEO, as well as installing e-commerce functions if you’d like to make your work available to purchase.

Fittingly for a website builder made for photography, Zenfolio makes brilliant galleries. Images and video content always load quickly and you can pick the design and layout to fine tune how your work is presented.

You can even stage a virtual viewing party by sending out email invitations to view a gallery once you’ve built it. This could be a great touch if you’re showing prospective clients your work or are opening a set of pictures up for sale.

Zenfolio also allows you to have a domain name of your choosing with zero Zenfolio ads or branding. This adds to the level of professionalism and helps you build an identity for your photography.

Zenfolio pricing

Zenfolio offers three different payment plans. The cheapest is the Starter plan, which is $7 a month (or $5 a month if you pay yearly). The standard plan gets you basic features including unlimited storage, website customization and the ability to upload HD video content.

Next up is the Pro plan. This costs $28 a month (or $20 a month if you pay yearly). It adds features such as marketing tools, personal branding and watermarks for your images, the option to add prices to your photos, proofing and more.

Finally, we have the Advanced plan. This will cost you $40 a month (or $30 a month if you pay yearly). It takes all the features of Starter and Pro and adds things like multiple accounts, support in the way of a phone line and live chat, editing orders and you’re even listed on Photographer Central.

Zenfolio also offers users the option of a free trial to test out the service, without the need to input your payment details.

Pros

  • Perfect for photography
  • Cheap Starter plan option
  • Ecommerce options
  • Unlimited storage
  • 14 day free trial

Cons

  • Niche offering
  • Support only offered in the highest price plan
  • Only useful as photography store
  • If you’re only displaying photos a free builder might make more sense

What are the pros and cons of website builders?

Building a website from scratch used to be a complicated process that required a lot of tech knowhow and coding expertise, as well as design skills and creativity. And most importantly, a lot of time.

Therefore, either you had all the existing skills needed to do it yourself, or you enlisted the help of professionals. But nowadays, it’s a lot easier to build a website yourself using the many online website builders that do most of the hard work for you.

Online website builders such as Wix, Squarespace, Weebly are platforms where you can easily build a professional, attractive and functional website for much less than it would cost to outsource to professional website developers.

But is this always the right option? Are website builders the way to go for everyone? Should you use a free website builder or a paid version? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of website builders.

Pros

You don’t need to be able to code

Coding is no easy task. Most coders study and train for years before they are able to make a top quality website. It’s also very time consuming, and if you make a tiny mistake, it could have a big impact on your site. Coding issues can also be hard to locate. So unless you’re an expert, we don’t recommend trying to code a website yourself. Of course, you can employ professionals to do the coding work for you, which will likely cost you quite a bit of money. Or you can try out a website builder.

With website builders, you can bypass even having to input a single line of code and just easily build a site with no coding experience needed. The website builders handle the coding aspect automatically behind the scenes, so you can simply focus on using the drag-and-drop method to build an attractive website using templates and add-ons, which is actually really easy to do.

In fact, you really don’t need many technical skills at all to use a website builder as most offer very simple step by step processes that are easy to use and follow. Some even have AI helpers that offer tips and suggestions to further help you along the way - they do most of the hard work for you.

Quick and cost effective

Website builders offer affordable solutions for creating a website, and they're fast too. You can even get a website up and running in a day. Many also offer free website building services, so, providing you don’t want too many options or your own domain name, you can get a basic website up and running in no time and for no money.

Even if you’re building a more complex website, you can certainly save time and money by using a website builder. By comparing your needs to the features that are available on different plans, you can make an informed decision and select a good payment plan so that you’re not paying too much.

Most website builders offer a number of payment tiers so you can budget effectively and pick the right plan. Many also offer add ons, such as e-commerce features. So if, down the line. your site evolves and you need more functions, this shouldn’t cause you a problem.

You don’t need design experience

Design is a vital part of a website. Simply put, if your website doesn’t look good, no one will use it. Your site will need to have a style that makes sense for your product or a theme to showcase your work.

Web design is another area that takes years of training and experience to fine tune. Luckily, website builders help you get around this by giving you pre-made templates and designs that you can adopt for your own needs.

Using the simple drag-and-drop methods on offer with most website builders, you can easily add a creative stamp to your website without needing an abundance of creative skills. Pick a template that fits the purpose of your website as a base, then drop in features and add-ons as you go along. You can also integrate social accounts, use video content, set backgrounds and more. The options are almost endless.

Cons

Too many templates may feel generic

If you use a website builder to create your site, you’ll be using pre-made templates to generate the look and feel of your site. Whilst there are usually a huge range of options to choose from, this does mean you can’t completely dictate the look of your site. If you have a very specific look in mind, you may need professional design help.

In contrast, sometimes the sheer volume of template choice can be difficult to navigate. If you don’t have a specific vision in mind, you might find yourself losing a lot of time sifting through template after template. A professional web developer would be able to guide you in the right direction and make sure your site looks exactly the way you want it.

Thankfully, some website builders like Wix offer AI solutions to these kinds of problems. If you give the website builder a bit of information about the type of site you are trying to build, it will suggest appropriate templates and looks, instead of leaving you to search for something that fits.

Poor SEO

Some websites created with website builders do not rank as well on Google and other search engines when compared to bespoke websites. This is often due to the actual code used to build the site.

A website built by a developer will have perfect code that’s fine tuned for Google, whereas some website builders can have messy code strings under the hood. And you won’t be able to change this on a site you’ve built using a web builder because you won’t be able to access the code.

It’s not all doom and SEO gloom though, you may just need to focus more efforts on improving the general SEO of your website. Most website builders offer SEO tools with Duda and Squarespace sites performing particularly well in search engines in our experience.

Limited flexibility

Some website builders do not allow you to make edits to a site once it’s live, and that can be an issue. It means you have to have all your research completely watertight so that you know everything you push live is exactly what you’ll need.

This is often the case with basic or free options. The last thing you want is having to make a vital change and not being able to do it. So make sure you research options and know exactly what you’re going to publish, whether or not you’ll want to change it and what plan you should sign up for.

This also makes it really important to pick the right template. And with many website builders offering a wide range of templates to choose from, it might be hard to narrow down to a choice you’re certain you won’t want to change.

How difficult is it to build a website without hiring a web designer?

If you don’t hire a professional web designer, you can either build a website from scratch yourself, or use an online web building service. And using a web builder is actually pretty easy.

Website builders like Squarespace, Wix, Weebly and more give you all the tools you need to build a website with great ease. You use design templates to get the perfect look and feel for your site, you drag and drop all the different components, and you push it online. In many cases you can even build a website from scratch in one day.

Website builders make it really easy to build a website, and you can even do it for free. Most of the main website builders such as Wix and SITE123 offer free versions of their service. So, provided you don’t mind having less features and just want a basic site, you don’t even have to pay to build a website.

What are the differences between web hosting and a website builder?

Web hosting is not the same as a website builder. Web hosting gives you space on a server, which is where all the information and data of your website will be held. Web hosting services allow you to pay for server space for your website.

A website builder, on the other hand, will only host the one website you’ve built using its service. It doesn't function as a general hosting platform. Likewise, you cannot build a website with a hosting platform, for that you need a website builder.

Simply put, website building equates to building a house, and web hosting is the land it goes on. You have no need for web hosting without a website, so build your website first then think about a host.

If this sounds confusing, then help is at hand. Some website builders do offer hosting services too. For instance, Shopify takes care of all the hosting for you. And if you’re starting an online store, that will take a load off your mind. Shop around, and if you don’t like the idea of finding a hosting service on top of a website builder, choose one that does both.

What are the best website builders?

There are a great number of website builders available to use such as Squarespace, Wix and many more. They all have different features, pros and cons, prices and tools on offer, but they’re all brilliant for helping you build a website from scratch.

If you’re trying to decide on the best website builder for you, you’ll need to have a think about your personal needs, and that of your website. Some website builders are geared towards e-commerce websites, some have free options for people who just need a basic site and some are perfect for beginners while others are more complex.

Deciding which one to pick will require some planning and research. But as a guide, here are some tips on some of the best website builders out there for different needs:

  • Beginners making their first website - Wix
  • People who want a range of options - Squarespace
  • Starting out a new business - Weebly
  • Building a webstore - Shopify
  • Starting a blog - Wordpress
  • People who will require help and support - SITE123
  • Those interested in marketing - Builderall
  • Building multiple websites - Duda
  • Starting out with a simple website- Zyro
  • Photographers showcasing their work - Zenfolio

How should you choose the best website builder for you?

Start off with one of the most important factors - budget. Decide how much you can afford (if you want to spend anything at all, that is) and then you can start exploring your different options.

Next, think about what you need from your website, what you’re making it for and what you want to achieve. Do you want a site that looks extremely professional or one that has a more personalized feel? Do you want a hands-on approach to building the site or do you just want a basic template? Do you want a lot of design options or do you just want simple drag-and-drop? Will you need e-commerce or marketing features?

Perhaps you have a more niche need for a website, or maybe you simply need a site that can showcase your creative work, or a personal blog.

Once you’ve narrowed down the exact needs of your new online idea, you will be able to pick a website builder that matches up to your plans.

There are many free website builders available, and many more that offer free trials, so if you have time to spare, you could try a few different options out to see which suits your needs best.

Should you consider a free website builder?

A free website builder can certainly be very useful for some people. If you only need a simple website, with limited features, a free website builder might be perfect for you. Just bear in mind that you likely won’t get your own domain name, and it will be a very basic website. This option is fine for a fun blog or a beginner’s portfolio, or perhaps a trial website for a bigger project. Perhaps you just want to see how website builders work and how easily you can get to grips with the process.

However, if you have loftier ambitions in mind, then it’s probably a good idea to sign up to a plan that affords you more features and functions. After all, if you want to offer a professional service, you’ll need a website that looks the part.

You’ll probably want a range of templates to choose from, as well as your own domain name, access to marketing features and a suite of e-commerce features if you have products to sell.

These features are generally available on paid versions of website builders. So, while a free version is great to try out a service, or create something simple and basic, bigger projects will be better served by a paid version.

FAQ

Should I use a website builder or hire a web developer?

If you want a website up quickly without spending much money, then using a website builder is the way to go. You can easily set up a good website yourself and at an affordable rate. If you are only after a basic site, you can even make one for free. So unless you have time and money, and need something very specific, go with a website builder.

Do I get a domain name with a website builder?

Yes, provided you pay for it. Most website builders will allow you to have your own domain name if you sign up to a paid plan. If you stick with a free version, you will likely have the website builder’s branding in your domain name.

Why are some website builders free?

Most website builders offer free versions of their services, as many people may simply want to try out building a website before paying or they just want to make a basic site. However, free website builders are usually more restricted than paid versions and will not have as many options and features.

How flexible are website builders?

Website builders are very flexible because they offer many options and templates to create a website. You can pick design themes, add various features and components, add ecommerce or simply publish a personal blog! You can edit as you go along and make changes to your websites too, so they do offer a great deal of flexibility.

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