How to Choose The Best Website Builder – Complete Guide
Website builders are excellent, all in one solutions that combine the hosting, design content management and support for one price. They allow beginners who don’t want to deal with the technical aspect of creating a website, to get started online fast and easy.
Here at Website Creative Pro we’ve tested over 30 different website builders from Namecheap and Hostinger, to Wix and Squarespace. So what are the best website builders? That’s what we’re going to cover in this comprehensive guide.
What to look for when considering a website builder
First, website builders are tools and you need to consider the type of website you’re building. Are you wanting to create an online resume or an “about me” style website? Maybe a simple free website builder is for you. Want to blog?
Some website builders are better than others for that. What about e-commerce? Their are specific website builders designed just for that.
Ease of Use
Website builders are designed to allow non technical people to create a stunningly beautiful website without needing to hire an expensive web designer or UX professional. This is the main selling point of a website builder.
Unlike WordPress that is a free and open source CMS where you have to get a hosting account and design your website yourself; website builders bundle the hosting, storage and the CMS as a service. One company, one price.
When looking at a website builder, how easy is it to use and how much control do you actually have over the look, feel and design of your website?
Website builders are notoriously bad for on-page SEO but this has changed with the more premium website builders. SEO simply means “search engine optimization” and when you create a website and publish content you want your site to be optimized as best as possible to rank well for search terms.
Depending on the nature of the website you’re creating, this may be critical or non essential. Blogs need good on-page SEO, your online resume website? No so much.
What kind of features do you get with your website builder account? Are you limited in any annoying way? Are the plans and price points fair and reasonable? Depending on what website you want to create, this is essential.
10 Best Website Builders for Blogs, Websites and Stores
Lets get into Website Creative Pro’s list of the best website builders for online business, blogging, photographers, personal websites and more!
- Google Sites
Squarespace – The industry leading website builder
Squarespace is the iPhone of website builders in that it’s an expensive ecosystem of services that just work and integrate well with one another. Premium design, great SEO and an excellent user experience.
Squarespace has the functionality to incorporate blogging, selling digital products as well as e-commerce with ease. With modern design and UX principle in their various website builder templates, Squarespace is the best option if you’re wanting to get started blogging (but don’t want to deal with WordPress and theme design), selling digital products and leveraging email marketing.
- Squarespace templates have modern design principles and good on page SEO.
- Excellent integration of essential services for one price like hosting, domains, email marketing and the CMS.
- Everything just works for creating beautiful, modern websites.
- Squarespace is a bit expensive but everything just works and you having to deal with technical issues.
The industry leading website builder. Modern design, email marketing, blogging, e-commerce.
Wix – The Feature Rich Business Choice
Wix provides the tools and resources to create a blog, online store, portfolio website or membership website. Modern design templates, feature rich front end editor, good on page SEO with UI design principles incorporate correctly. You can blog, sell digital or physical products, lock content behind a pay wall and leverage email marketing all at one price.
Where Wix differentiates from Squarespace is two fold. First, they offer a 100% free website builder. You can sign up right now and get stared creating a website with Wix for free. The catch is that is will be a subdomain of wixsites.com. So if you want your own custom URL, you’ll have to upgrade your plan.
The second aspect of Wix that we like is the unstructured nature of their website builder. Squarespace operates as a bunch of premium templates you can customize, Wix like Google Sites allows you to move on page elements where ever you want and to add additional functionality with their app store. Overall Wix is a powerful suite of content creation tools.
- Free plan that allows you to try out Wix.
- Powerful content marketing tools all with one platform.
- Unstructured editor to allow you to create a Wix website from scratch.
- Setting up a custom domain from a domain registrar is difficult. You’re best off getting a domain name through Wix.
- They charge an additional fee for setting up a professional email.
Beautiful, responsive websites for small business made easy.
Shopify – Online Store Website Builder
Shopify is the industry leader in the e-commerce space for a reason. They provide the easiest, most effective solution for individuals or a small team of people who want to get started selling physical goods online.
While there are more feature rich and expensive options like Magento or Big Commerce, those options are complicated and expensive to setup and maintain. This is why Shopify is so popular, it’s perfect for both large and small online business. Best of all, you can sign up for a free trial and design your online store.
One other thing to add is the helpful app store Shopify provides. The Shopify app store has different features you can buy and install on your store. By itself, Shopify comes with everything you need to sell online. But the app store as helpful, optional add-ons to enhance the user experience
- Easy to use, feature rich e-commerce website builder for individual drop shippers to multi-million dollar small businesses.
- The app store is outstanding and makes integrating new features into your Shopify store a simple process.
- Big user base and community. Makes it easy to get ideas, advice and help.
- Blog and email marketing is integrated very well with your Shopify store.
- Transaction fees for using 3rd party payment gateways.
- Some features are left out to push you to using the app store. For example, to make your site GDPR compliant, you’ll need to purchase a 3rd party banner app from the app store.
- Comprehensive reporting and analytics are only provided on more expensive plans.
The best option for creating an effective, high converting online store.
Google Sites – The Best Free Option
Google Sites is an under rated website builder that is perfect for any simple, 5-10 page website. Maybe you want to create an online resume, an “about me” bio website or a website for a club or organization? Google Sites is perfect for those types of simple websites.
Google Sites is free and allows anyone to create a modern looking website with 100% free hosting. You will need to purchase a domain name if you want a custom domain, but otherwise Google Sites is free to use. All you need is a GMail account.
- Google Sites are beautiful, responsive and easy to customize.
- An excellent option for any online project that is only going to be 5-10 pages in size, max.
- Can setup a custom domain name and it’s secured with an SSL.
- Unstructured editor – you can drag and drop design elements where ever you want.
- Poor on page SEO. You don’t have any control over the meta description or the SEO page title for content on your website.
- Naked URL’s are not supported. That means your website must have “www” in the url.
- While you can have a custom domain, the Google Sites version of your site won’t redirect to the custom domain. Thus, you’ll have two available URL’s for the exact same content.
- It’s against the terms of service to put AdSense on your Google Site.
Create a free website with Google Sites.
See our Google Sites tutorial.
Carrd – The One Page Website Builder
Carrd is a niche specific website builder designed to be used for one page websites. One page as in one page. Not two, not three, one. Carrd is perfect because you can create a website for free where it will be a sub domain of Carrd.co.
If you want to have a custom domain you’ll need to upgrade your plan; but compared to Wix and Squarespace, Carrd.co is quite affordable.
With a pro plan you can have three one page websites. You could create an email opt-in form to use in your YouTube video description, create an awesome personal website and last make an Instagram bio link website.
- Free plan where your website is a sub domain of Carrd.co.
- Affordable pricing for their paid plans.
- Unique option for email marketing, Instagram and personal websites.
- One page design may be limiting. Accept Carrd.co for what it is.
A unique one page website builder.
Format -The Photographer Website Option
Like Carrd, Format is another niche specific website builder specifically designed for photographers. Of course anyone with an online portfolio (like a graphic artist) can use Format. But it has specific features professional photographers love, want and need.
Format is designed to be optimized for image heavy websites and show off your work in a beautiful and creative way with their numerous templates. They also have watermarking of your photos for copyright protection and as well as easy integration with Adobe Lightroom and Capture One.
- Beautiful, optimized design options for image heavy websites.
- Designed for creative professionals who need a portfolio website.
- Watermarking and Adobe Lightroom integration.
- More of an emphasis on photographers more than creative professional like digital artists or graphic designers.
The website builder for beautiful, effective portfolios.
GoDaddy – The Easy to Use Option
GoDaddy’s website builder is good but not great. They offer blogging, and e-commerce functionality and make their design process simple and easy, though limiting. Limiting in the sense that their templates have limited customization options when compare to Wix or Squarespace.
This is good and bad. For beginners or for anyone who wants to get a website up fast, having too many design options is not always helpful. GoDaddy does a great job at streamlining the creative process.
With fast hosting and a bunch of helpful services integrated like email marketing, blogging and web hosting – GoDaddy is an affordable option.
- Fast and easy design process.
- Full featured website builder with e-commerce, blogging and email marketing bundled together.
- Design limitations can be annoying. GoDaddy is easy to use but quite cookie cutter.
A website builder from a brand you can trust.
Weebly – The Wix Alternative
Weebly is an old website builder that has gone through many changes over the years. They provide a nice combination of services for websites, stores and portfolio websites. They offer a free plan to allow you to get started as well an option to connect a custom domain and their more premium plans.
They use their new “square” builder for e-commerce. The square builder is less feature rich but easier to use than the legacy builder.
- Unlimted storage with their pro plan.
- Free plan to allow you to get started designing your website.
- Not as feature rich as Wix or Squarespace.
Create a blog, online store or portfolio!
WordPress – An excellent website builder for personal use
WordPress comes in two forms, a script that you can easily install on any shared hosting account or a website builder. The .org version of WordPress is the official website of the script and the .com version is their website builder offering.
It’s good for personal use, but quite expensive if you want to get the full functionality you can get with a cheap shared hosting account. With your WordPress account you get access to themes you can customize, can set a custom domain and you get support.
If you want to install your own WordPress themes and plugins you’ll need to upgrade to their “business” plan which is quite expensive when compared to getting a Bluehost account and installing
- Easy to use, custom domain, good support.
- Same features as installing WordPress on a shared web host.
- Too expensive when compared to other website builders.
- The personal plans are good, but lack the ability to install SEO plugins unless you upgrade to the expensive business plan.
- This builder uses themes and you have limited control over the design when compared to Wix and Squarespace.
WordPress.com (not .org)
The done for you website builder from WordPress.
Webflow – The website builder design tool
Webflow is not for novices. If you want something easy, use Squarespace. But if you have a design background, understand page layout, CSS, how to position elements on a web page then take a look at Webflow.
Webflow is designed to be a non-coding option to allow web professionals to quickly develop excellent websites without needing to spend so much time coding. With Webflow you get a blank visual canvas and specific control over the html and CSS of any element you want to add.
- Straightforward pricing. Their CMS plan is reasonably priced and allows for a 100,00 visitor website.
- Excellent control over the look, feel, layout and design of your website. You can build a truly custom website with Webflow
- Fast load times, access to their CDN, security and easy scaling as your website grows.
- Webflow has a learning curve. Unlike Squarespace where you can be up and running in a day or two, you’ll have to spend a lot of time customizing your Webflow website.
Design custom, beautiful, responsive websites with ease.
Best Website Builders Conclusion
There are so many options today, even Namecheap has a website builder. You have a lot of different options. Google Sites is perfect for casual use. Carrd is excellent for an Instagram bio website. Format is your go to choice for a portfolio websites. Then there are the comprehensive all in one solutions like Squarespace, Wix and Bluehost.
For most who want to blog and sell digital products we suggest Squarespace or Wix. They have the right mix of price point, clean modern design with UX principles as well as an integration of useful services like blogging, selling products and email marketing.