Why Use Web Design Software?
The top performers in our review are Weebly, the Gold Award Winner; Squarespace, the Silver Award winner; and Wix, 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. It no longer takes an HTML coder to create a great-looking site. Now you can design intricate websites using drag-and-drop features (although, many sites still allow you to input classic coding, if you prefer). With tutorials and user guides to help you along the way, you can easily produce a professional-looking site to a global audience and still stay 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. Our website creation software review evaluates the best web-based website-building services you can subscribe to. We've also recently reviewed the best mobile website builders to create and edit websites for mobile and tablet users. We've ranked the best web design software for Mac computers. After you design your website, you'll need a web hosting service. If you are interested in learning more about this topic and other vital business software and services, check out our web page design articles.
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 evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
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 zero to 100 percent. The best website creators feature platforms with setup wizards, clean interfaces and drag-and drop capabilities.
We also evaluated the marketing features each program offers; specifically, the metrics the software tracks using Google Analytics or 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 first 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 shorten and 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. 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.
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. Being able 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 Homestead, 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 cannot help your cause or business 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. We awarded higher scores to the programs that automate SEO practices and offer quick ways of inputting metatags.
Analytics help you see how your website is performing and how and where you can improve. We evaluated the different analytical tools each software includes. All of the software on our list employs Google Analytics, but many programs have their own analytic tools that track different data points. Weebly, Squarespace, Yola, Jimdo, Yahoo SiteBuilder and iBuilt all have proprietary analytics that they track, giving you an even better idea than Google's analytical tool of who your audience is and what they are looking for.
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 more in-depth data, such as bounce rates, referring pages, behavior and mobile data points. Weebly and Homestead offer 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 email 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, commerce 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, Squarespace and Wix (our Silver and Bronze Award winners respectively), offer extensive design tools and marketing features. Both were easy to use between the setup wizard and various support options. In addition to their SEO tools, both offer advertising credits and automatically submit your website(s) to search engines to promote traffic. We found they offered quality analytical tools and hosting.
GoDaddy is also worthy of consideration. This web-hosting giant not only sells domains, web security and hosting, but it also has a quality website builder. We found the software offered a clean interface and helpful wizard, making it one of the easiest programs to use. While it lacks some design tools or requires purchasing add-ons, GoDaddy helps you create and promote your websites with ease.