Squarespace is incredibly well designed. It's clear that there is a thoughtful team that pores over the details of this website builder. Themes are fresh, contemporary and minimal. The industry standard for website builders.
Weebly is the extremely easy to use— it's what I recommend to anyone who doesn't feel tech savvy. What surprises though, is that Weebly is also one of the most flexible website builders— it's hard to be flexible and easy to use.
Wix is a blank canvas website builder, which means you can drag any element anywhere on your website— like how you would edit a Powerpoint presentation. Blank canvas editors can be complex and disorganized, but not Wix, it's the best I've tried.
Voog is the best multi-lingual website builder— though they don't advertise it explicitly. They have a handy system which lets you create versions of every page for different languages that visitors can access by hitting a flag icon to choose a different language.
One page websites are long single-page websites where the navigation scrolls visitors up and down the page. Most website builders can't create one page websites. Strikingly is different. It's intuitive sections editor is perfectly suited for creating one page websites.
Wordpress.com is not Wordpress— or at least, it’s not what most people think of as Wordpress. Most people know Wordpress as Wordpress.org, the popular open-source content management system (CMS). Though Wordpress.com is built using Wordpress.org, it's not the same thing.
The interface for XPRS is slick but a bit overwhelming to use. It takes time to learn— there are lots of icons and forms floating around. It lacks features like blogs and ecommerce but shines with fresh and contemporary themes.
Here's something you like to see as a user: I've been following Snappages for a couple years now, and they continually work on their product. While other website builders begin to get stale, Snappages just keeps pushing new releases.
Overall the DudaOne website editor kind of throws the kitchen sink at you. It can feel disorganized and overwhelming— not the easy, unified experience you’d find in other website builders like Strikingly and Weebly. It will take most users time to wrap their head around it.
Everything feels easy and within arms reach in uKit. There's a real coherence to the product— it's thoughtful and intuitive. Unfortunately most themes look very similar and theme customization is limited.
You'll be frustrated if you try to use Google Sites for building a business website. It's just not meant for that. Instead Google Sites is best used for building collaborative websites and intranets that integrate Google services (Docs, Drive, Calendar, Form etc.).
1&1 licenses the software for their MyWebsite service from DudaOne. So it’s actually the same website builder as DudaOne. If you decide to use 1&1 just be aware they disable their web-based cancellation in the first month.
Moonfruit recently launched a new editor that's easier than the old editor— though still tricky. The major knock on the new editor is that there's isn’t much going on: no blog, no form builder and no ecommerce.
A good, usable editor that provides basic elements. Webnode offers a nice selection of 65 themes— unfortunately, it lacks serious theme customization as you're locked into whatever the templates have chosen for you.
Yola is expensive— and you don’t get much for what you pay for. Pricing aside, Yolo is a simple website builder that’s missing some key features (for example: blogs). You can get much more for cheaper from other website builders.
Vistaprint's website builder is block-based, which means you build pages by dropping pre-designed blocks onto it. The interface is clear and simple— though the simplicity can be a problem when you discover the limitations of customizing blocks.
The CityMax editor is bad. I hate to be so blunt— but it's true. You create CityMax websites in a form-based editor that doesn't show a live website preview. This is a really outdated (and frustrating) way to build a website.
Web.com's monthly plans are technically 28 days long— which means users end up paying for 13 months in a year. Ridiculous. It also doesn't help that the editor is one of the most frustrating I've ever tried. Read the full review now.
Their blog hasn't been updated in 18 months. Their Facebook page has 1 post in the last two years. The copyright on their homepage no says 2017— even though it's 2018. Homestead seems to have given up.
The Doodlekit website editor is purely designed. Doodlekit told me they were in the process of a major overhaul that would launch spring 2015— but I've yet to see it launched. Doodlekit needs a lot of work and it's not at all clear that they are doing it.
Though iPage sells software, don't think of them as a software company— think of them as a predatory sales company. They license their website builder software from other companies and resell it in a way that's designed to take advantage of vulnerable customers.
Webs has become increasingly out-of-date: there are no responsive themes, and no feature or UI changes are on the horizon. The Webs Announcements blog hasn't had an update since 2015. I believe this is because it's no longer actively maintained.
In-depth comparisons to help you choose:
Wordpress vs Website Builders
Wix vs Squarespace
Wix vs Squarespace
Take a closer look at the pricing plans of popular website builders:
Cheapest Website Builder
Free Website Builders
For when you're running up against specific limitations of your website builder:
Real-life, live examples of websites built with website builders:
Google Sites Examples
Sometimes quicker and easier than reading articles:
Wix vs Squarespace
Free Website Builders
The 6 Best Website Builders
Ecommerce Website Builders
What's The Best Website Builder For SEO?
That being said, there are technical SEO features that you need in a website builder— it's just that most website builders include these features.
There are four SEO features in particular that are critical in a website builder. Think of them as the minimum required for Google to notice you. From there you will need links and quality content to outperform your competitors:
1. Mobile-Friendly Themes
For many years Google had two indexes: desktop and mobile. The desktop index was for desktop users and the mobile index was for mobile users.
But that's all changed.
In March 2018, Google announced the beginning of the mobile-first index— basically Google now uses the mobile index for both desktop and mobile users. So the mobile version of your website is more important than the desktop.
This why it's critical that your website builder has mobile-friendly themes. Fortunately most website builders do.
2. Customizable Meta Titles and Descriptions
Every page has a meta title and meta description that Google uses in their results:
Putting your keyword in the meta title will help you rank for that keyword— though putting the keyword in your meta description won't directly help you rank, instead meta description is important because it's an opportunity to entice searchers to click on your webpage.
Almost all website builders let you customize your meta title and description— but because it's so critical, it's worth being sure about.
SSL certificates give websites the "secure" icon in a browser and adds an 's' to the http— making it https:
Google announced SSL as a ranking signal in 2014— and when Google explicitly announces something is a ranking signal, it's usually good to implement it.
Most website builders include SSL in paid plans— but some do not. Check before you buy.
Google has said that site speed is a signal they use to rank pages. Fortunately, website builders tend to have good performance infrastructure— especially the major website builders such as Weebly, Squarespace and Wix which host millions of websites.
If you'd like to learn more, check out my SEO chapter in How To Make A Website.
What's The Best Website Builder For a Simple Website?
If you'd like to quickly build a simple website, I'd suggest two options: build a one page website or use a landing page builder.
1. One Page Websites
One-page websites are long websites where clicking the navigation scrolls you up and down a single page (here's an example). This single page holds all the content of the website.
A one-page website requires you to limit the amount of content you add— don't stuff your page full of content. This is a good thing. Visitors don't want to read a book when they come to your website, they want quick access to clear information.
- Strikingly is the best one-page website builder that I've tried. Seriously— it's excellent. Read my review of it here.
- I've also really good things about Carrd— though I have not had a chance to review it yet.
Note: You can build one-page website with website builders such as Wix, but the interface on website builders such as Strikingly are much simpler because they are designed purely for one-page websites.
2. Landing Page Builders
Landing pages are pages designed to generate leads— newsletter signups, app downloads, sales, signups and more. People often use landing page builders as a marketing tool or as a way to generate interest before launching a full site.
There are about 10-15 popular landing page builders. I talked to 467 real-life users of each of these landing page builders to write an in-depth guide to landing page builders.
Which Website Builder Has the Best Free Plan?
I think there are three things to think about when comparing free website builders:
- Advertisements - Does the website builder include an advertisement on free websites? How intrusive is the advertisement?
- Domains - Very few website builders allow you to add a custom domain name to free websites— in fact Ucraft and Google Sites are the only website builders to allow for this. Some website builders have really wordy free domains— for example, here's what Wix's subdomain looks like:
- Limitations - Are all the features available? For example, is ecommerce allowed on the free website?
In the end, I recommend Weebly for free plans.
What's The Easiest Website Builder?
I recommend Weebly if you are looking for an easy to use website builder. Weebly manages to keep everything simple without ever watering down features. It's what I'd recommend to anyone who doesn't feel tech-savvy.
Strikingly is a good runner up. It's really easy to use and best suited for making one-page websites.
Which website builder let you design custom themes?
Most website builders require you to choose a theme— but a few let you build your own theme from scratch.
In my feature comparison table I show which website builders you let design a website from scratch— and there are a handful. Of those I would recommend Wix. Wix is an excellent, highly customizable website builder. It can be a bit overwhelming with the amount of options it provides— but that's exactly what you want if you're designing a theme from scratch.
Note: You'll also definitely want consider front-end design tools such as Webflow, Pagecloud and Froont. These are most sophisticated than website builders but are really powerful tools that let you design a website from scratch without coding experience.
What's the cheapest website builder?
I built a tool that helps you answer this question quickly. The price comparison calculator compares 131 plans from every website builder I review. It helps you calculate the real price of each website builder. No BS. Just transparent pricing. It also takes into account the price of domain names.
Not all website builders are transparent with their pricing. If a price seems too good to be true it's probably an introductory rate that increases after the first year or first month.
For example, 1&1 advertises a $0.99 per month price— but that price increases to $9.99 per month after the first year.
I make it very clear in my reviews if a website builder has shady billing practices. So you can always check my reviews to be sure.
Which website builder is best for podcasts?
Squarespace is the only website builder that let's you syndicate a podcast— which is required for submitting to iTunes.
There are third-party podcast companies such as Podomatic that integrate with website builders such as Weebly but I have not tried them before.
Which website builder should I use for a multilingual website?
Voog has the best support for a website with multiple languages— but strangely they don't advertise their multilingual features very clearly.
Here's how it works:
Voog websites with multiple languages have a flag icon. Users click the flag to change the language.
Each language represents a completely different version of the website. There are no automatic computer translations (people who've actually had to build multi-lingual websites know that you can't just automate translation!). You manually write each translation for your website.
Voog's multi-lingual support will be super helpful for a small percentage of people. For example, in Canada, multi-lingual websites are a requirement for some organizations (French and English).
What's the best website builder for ecommerce?
If you're building a pure ecommerce website, you'll probably want to consider an ecommerce website builder such as Shopify rather than a website builder. Ecommerce website builders are purely focussed on ecommerce— so they typically have more advanced, fully-featured ecommerce systems.
As you see in my guide to ecommerce website builders, Shopify is the best store builder.
Now, this is not to say that you shouldn't choose a website builder for an ecommerce website— in the last few years website builders such as Wix, Weebly and Squarespace have aggressively built out strong ecommerce features. Instead, I'd suggest choosing a website builder for your ecommerce website if you're website needs to do things other than ecommerce. For example, if you also want to have a blog or other content heavy pages.
Which website builders have iOS and Android apps?
I maintain a feature comparison table of around 40 different website builders— on it I've listed the website builders that offer iOS or Android apps:
- Squarespace — There are a suite of beautiful apps: Commerce lets you manage your store. Blog lets you compose blog posts and manage your blog. Metrics gives you website analytics. Portfolio lets you manage photos and galleries— but it's iOS only. Having a suite of apps is great— rather than stuff everything into one app, they're able to make a beautiful interface for each use case.
- Weebly — Weebly has iPhone, Android, iPad and Apple Watch apps. The tablet and phone apps are fully featured— meaning you can design your entire website using them. This is awesome— no other website builder offers this on both phones and tablets. The Apple Watch app is mostly for stats and store notifications (new orders, new form entries etc.).
- Wix — The Wix Mobile App (iOS and Android) let's you manage your website on the go in three main ways: you can chat live with visitors, manage products and manage bookings. It doesn't let you make changes or add content to your website.
- Strikingly — Excellent, fully functional iOS and Android apps let you edit your website, manage ecommerce orders, view analytics and more.
- Wordpress.com — iOS and Android apps let you check analytics, write blog posts and respond to comments.
- XPRS — Strangely the XPRS website says an iPhone app is 'coming soon'— yet one is already available in the app store. The app is a full website editor— which means you can add text, videos, blog posts, photos and more from your phone. Nice!
- Webstarts — WebStarts has an iOS app called WebStarts Blog that allows you to write blog posts on your iPhone or iPad. There is also another app called WebStarts AI that promises to let you create a website using artificial intelligence.
- Jimdo — Jimdo has iPhone, iPad and Android apps that allow you to do full website editing— I honestly can't think of any other website builder that lets you do full website editing on mobile devices. So if you need to build a website using an iPhone or Android app, Jimdo is your best option.
Moving Your Site
Can you export or move your website once it's built on a website builder?
Unfortunately, you can't.
This is a common question I get and admittedly, one of the downsides of a website builder.
You might think that website builders don't let customers export or move their website because it's a good way to lock them in, but there are actually some very good technical reasons why website builder websites can't be moved.
Plus, features that require server-side processing (such as forms, ecommerce) would not work.
If this is a problem for you, I'd suggest going to the next level in complexity and checking out a CMS like Wordpress or a front-end design tool such as Webflow. Both are more complex but will let you export and move your website.
You can register a domain name through most website builders and web hosts but you may want to consider registering the domain name yourself at a third party domain name provider— that way you are in control of your domain name no matter what.
It's a question of trade-offs. Registering the domain name provider at a 3rd party is a bit of a technical hurdle but it means that you always have control of the domain name. If the domain name is bought through a website builder, you'll have to work through them to move the domain name if you ever decide to change your website provider.
I typically buy my domain names at a 3rd party provider: Namecheap. That way I'm always in control.
What About Webflow?
I hear great things about Webflow. The reason it’s not on Site Builder Report is because I only review website builders and Webflow feels more like a tool for designers. While Webflow doesn’t require you to learn how to code, it has a code-like environment— similar in complexity to Photoshop.
What About Wordpress?
Most people know Wordpress as Wordpress.org, the self-hosted, content management system (CMS). I don't review it because it's not a website builder.
I do review Wordpress.com because it is significantly different from Wordpress.org and is very much like a website builder.
About This Guide
About This Site
My name is Steve Benjamins and I’ve designed and coded websites for the last 20 years (since I was 10 years old). My websites have been featured in Wired, The Next Web, Smashing Magazine, The Huffington Post and Forbes. I am the sole developer, designer and reviewer at Site Builder Report— you can read more about my story in my interview with IndieHackers.
Over the the last 4 years I’ve written over 100 in-depth reviews of website builders— which, at over 100,000 words, is the size of a big book. In that time Site Builder Report has grown quickly. Today over 60,000 people every month use it to choose a website builder.
My work is supported by earning an affiliate commission when readers choose a website builder based on my reviews.
Read more about me here.
Do I use a website builder for this website? I do not use a website builder for Site Builder Report. Instead I designed it myself and coded it in Ruby on Rails— a popular programming framework. I do use Squarespace for my band's website though!