Why Use a Website Builder?
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 a service to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of the 10 best website builders.
Everyone seems to have a website or blog these days. If you think making a website involves a crash course in coding, relax. Creating a website has become simplified to the point that anyone with a basic understanding of drag-and drop functionality (dragging an object and then dropping it into the desired placed within a webpage) can make a professional and modern-looking site.
For this comparison, we focus on basic website makers. These programs are tailor made for those who don't know HTML from RSS. Because these programs are so easy to use, there is no need to ever worry about coding in order to have a professional site that runs well.
And for the novice who wants every web design tool at their disposal, our top-ranked services give you a veritable feature playground that allows you to customize your website so it meets your expectations.
Similar Services to Website Builders
There are many web services available for those new to web design. These services help you design your website and improve its ranking in search engine results so customers can find you. Our website creation software review evaluates the best cloud-based web designers available. There are also mobile website builders and web design software for Mac.
Once you create your website, you will need a web hosting service and, if you run a business, you'll also need online marketing tools to help promote your site. If you are interested in learning more about building a website and other business topics, check out our articles.
Website Builders: What We Evaluated, What We Found
Top Ten Reviews' hands-on testing is designed to simulate typical, real-world experience with the software applications we evaluate. For our tests, we assessed the full-featured trial versions of each platform. The companies had no input or influence over our test methodology, and the results of our evaluations were not provided to companies in advance of publication.
Each of these online website builders strives to be accessible for new users. For our evaluation, we tested the mid-tier plan of each application. These packages provide similar feature sets with a specific audience in mind, and they are also advertised as the most popular options. We assessed the usability and quality of each web builder. We then awarded each application an Ease of Use score with a maximum score of 100 percent.
We also evaluated features like drag-and-drop editing, a setup wizard and analytics. Some services offer custom analytics for your site, while others rely on Google Analytics. The following features are important in any website builder you select.
Design & Multimedia: How Easy Was It to Create a Site?
We looked for tools that help users create a website. Setup wizards help you get started building your site right away. Web builders that offer setup wizards and tips received high scores based on the quality of the support they provided.
While you may only ever use one template for your site, it's still important to have several templates to choose from. You may want at some point to refresh your website or give it an entirely new look. None of the applications on our list had fewer than 100 templates, but a handful of these applications provided over that standard amount. Homestead, for example, has over 2,000 templates.
Themes are essential when creating your website. You should have the ability to change the look of your site as your brand changes. Site redesigns are not uncommon, but with many website design services, you cannot change your site's appearance without erasing content. Fortunately, many applications allow you to change the look of your site without causing you to lose all of your content. Jimdo is a great example of a site builder that allows you to change the look and feel of your site without affecting any of the images or text.
Along with design features, each website builder offers industry-standard tools. These tools, like integrated blogging systems and responsive themes, enhance your website's overall design. Some web builders, like Homestead, do not offer responsive themes; instead, they rely on third-party services for responsive, mobile-optimized themes.
Another increasingly expected feature is mobile editing. This lets you edit your website from your mobile device, instead of restricting you to a desktop computer to make changes to your website.
Marketing Features of the Best Website Design Software Applications
A beautifully designed website will not help your business if no one can find it. When you are done building your website, the best web builders should offer tools to help search engines find you. While good, reliable content is the biggest factor in how search engines rank sites, there are still certain steps, like search engine optimization (SEO), you need to ensure your site is found.
We evaluated each application's SEO tools, including how each one helped you input metatags and add your site to search engines. Services, like DudaOne, that automatically submit your site to major search engines received the highest scores.
Without good analytics, you have no way to track your website's performance and see what audiences you are reaching. We examined each service's analytical tools. Each web builder on our lineup uses Google Analytics; however, some have their own data-tracking tools.
Weebly, Squarespace, Yola, Jimdo, Yahoo SiteBuilder and iBuilt all offer proprietary analytics to give you an impressive view of who your audience is, what areas of your site are performing well and which areas can be improved.
We evaluated each website builder's proprietary analytics. Services that track in-depth data, like bounce rates and referring pages, in addition to industry-standard data points, like page views, received the highest scores. Weebly and Homestead provide some of the most comprehensive analytics.
Once you build your website or websites, you'll need to give it a space online. Each of the services on our list provide hosting as part of their monthly subscription plan. (Hosting features vary according to the application.)
Yola is the standout here. You can to create and manage 25 sites under a single account. Some services also offer free custom domain names with a yearly subscription; however there may be separate setup or registration fees that apply.
Storage is another important consideration, especially if your website features lots of video and images. Each of the website makers we examined let you build unlimited web pages. However, keep in mind that unlimited typically means within standard use. If you violate standard use policies by creating more webpages than a typical company would, you could be charged a fee. It's a good idea to check with the provider to see what, if any, restrictions apply.
The same rule applies with storage. While some companies offer unlimited storage, it really means unlimited within reason. Most companies offer anywhere between five to 10GB of storage. This is the minimum amount of storage we recommend for sites with images and other media that will need to load. Sites with more than 10GB of storage take longer to load, which could repel first-time visitors to your site.
Website Builders: Our Verdict & Recommendations
We recommend Weebly, our Gold Award Winner, because it is so accessible. Our Silver Award Winner, Squarespace, gives you an elaborate editor and a great image gallery. The Bronze Award Winner, Wix, can help you in the long run with its fantastic reporting structure. Each of these services provides a builder that can increase awareness of your brand, gain new customers and increase your bottom line.
Though it falls lower on our lineup, GoDaddy is worth taking a closer look at. It is one of the most intuitive products to use, though it charges more for some design tools that other website building programs include at no additional cost with their plans. GoDaddy is a contender in website makers because it sells domain names along with offering a solid and secure web-building platform.