Web Design Software Review
Why Use Web Design Software?
The top performers in our review are Weebly, the Gold Award Winner; Wix, the Silver Award winner; and Squarespace, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing software to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of these 10 software programs.
Designing your own website has never been easier. You no longer need to know HTML coding or hire a professional web designer to make a great-looking site. Most web builders allow you to design a website either using WYSIWYG website builders or drag-and-drop features (although, many sites still allow you to input classic coding, if you prefer).
With many programs offering extensive knowledgebases full of tutorials and user guides to help you along the way, you can easily publish a professional-looking site to a global audience and still stay well within your budget.
There are a variety of web design software and services available to help you build websites for your business on both desktop and mobile devices. In addition to our updated evaluation of the best web design software, we've recently reviewed the best mobile website builders that help you create and edit websites for mobile and tablet users. We've also ranked the best web design software for Mac computers. After you design your website, you'll need a web hosting service; our expert reviews can help you choose the right service for your needs.
How to Build a Website for Free
In reviewing web design software, we've focused on applications that you purchase. Many of the companies on our lineup, as well as dozens of others, offer free web design software. However, free versions typically limit features to the most basic tools. Weebly, Wix, Jimdo, Strikingly and Yola all offer a free website builder you can use to make your own website.
WordPress is one of the most popular website builders available, powering 27% of the sites on the internet. While we did not include it on our lineup, WordPress integrates with every web builder we reviewed, adding a high-quality blogging system and numerous features to each of those programs.
WordPress also improves the usability of every program it integrates with, offering a familiar interface. This open-source software is continuously being updated by numerous contributors, improving its performance and versatility.
Web Design Software: What We Evaluated, What We Found
Top Ten Reviews' hands-on testing is designed to simulate typical, real-world experience with the software we evaluate. For our tests, we assessed the full-featured trial versions for each platform. The companies had no input or influence over our test methodology, and the results of our evaluation were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
We considered 15 of the best web design programs, researching the companies and testing their web design software, before narrowing it down to our current top 10. To determine the best web design software, we evaluated both the usability and quality of each application's site builder. Based on our findings, we then assigned each application an Ease of Use score ranging from 0 to 100%. The best website creators feature platforms with setup wizards, uncluttered interfaces and drag-and drop capabilities.
We also evaluated the marketing features each program offers; specifically, the metrics the software tracks (whether the application relies on Google Analytics or offers their own analytical tools). Based on our research, pay special attention to the below features when purchasing website maker software.
Design & Multimedia: How Easy Was It to Create a Site?
We looked for a variety of features and tools that improve the user experience when creating a website. We awarded software that offers setup wizards or visible guidelines high scores based on the quality of the wizard, as these features significantly streamline the setup process and teach you how to use the design tools effectively.
After initial setup, we looked for programs that offer a large selection of website templates or the option to import them. Templates should be highly customizable and responsive to the devices they are being viewed from.
Drag-and-drop capability makes it easy to shift elements, such as images or widgets. Applications with HTML or CSS editors are very helpful, because the software works for both novices and experienced web designers alike.
In addition to design tools, look for industry-standard features that improve usability, ranging from integrated blogging systems to responsive themes that transfer to mobile devices.
The ability to edit your website on a mobile device is a plus, since it lets you work on your website wherever you are. Some software, like Aabaco, does not have responsive themes; instead, third-party companies optimize your website for mobile devices.
Marketing Features of the Best Website Design Software Applications
Having an awesome website won't raise awareness of your organization or boost sales if no one knows about it. Although search engines favor content over SEO tricks, it's still important to have the ability to submit your website to search engines and enable metatags.
We evaluated each application's SEO tools, including the different ways each application has you input metatags, and whether the program automatically submits your site to search engines or if you have to do it manually.
Those programs that automate SEO practices and offer quick ways of inputting metatags received a higher score than those that lack these features and put the onus on you to submit your site to search engines.
Analytics help you see how your website is performing and how and where you can improve. We evaluated the different analytical tools each application comes with. All of the software on our list employs Google Analytics, but many programs offer their own analytic tools that track different data points.
We examined the metrics provided by each application on our list. We awarded the highest scores to the programs that not only track industry-standard data points, like the number of visitors and page views, but provide additional data, such as bounce rates, referring pages, behavior, and mobile data points.
Weebly offers some of the most helpful data points that help you pinpoint the areas of your site that are bringing in the most audience and what parts of your site need adjusting according to audience behavior.
Besides offering web design solutions, the best website design software also hosts your site. Most programs offer free custom domain hosting for at least the first year of your subscription.
While this feature is touted as free, you typically have to pay for setup fees or to register your domain privately. If you do not, viewers have access to your private information.
Finally, storage is important, especially if you have video or image-heavy webpages. The hosting services we evaluated all include a huge number of webpages, but if you have a large store, consider plans that allow for a higher number of pages.
If you intend to create more than one site, be sure to find a web design software solution that allows for this. Finally, having a custom domain and the ability to add several custom email addresses is important for branding and presenting a professional image.
Web Design Software: Our Verdict & Recommendations
Weebly, our Gold Award Winner, presents a feature-packed web design builder with mobile-responsive templates, eCommerce tools, an image editor and integrated blogging system. The setup wizard and clean interface help you quickly find the tools you need to create a complex website for personal or business use.
Like Weebly, Wix and Squarespace (our Silver and Bronze Award winners, respectively) offer extensive design tools and marketing features. Both were easy to use with the included setup wizard and various customer support options. In addition to their SEO tools, both offer advertising credits and automatically submit your website(s) to search engines to promote traffic. Wix and Squarespace have analytical tools (Squarespace offers proprietary analytics and Google Analytics while Wix relies on Google Analytics) and hosting.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic and other vital business software and services, check out our web page design articles.