Hi, I'm Steve and I try every website builder so you don’t have to. Every month 60,000+ people use this guide to choose a website builder. My work is supported by affiliate commissions. Read More »
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.
That being said, there are still technical SEO features that you need in a website builder— it's just that most website builders have these features.
Below I've listed the four SEO features that are critical in a website builder. Think of them as the minimum you need to get Google to notice you. From there you will need links and quality content to outperform your competitors:
For many years Google had two indexes: desktop and mobile. The desktop index was served to desktop users and the mobile index was served to mobile users.
That's all changed.
In March 2018, Google announced that they were rolling out a mobile-first index. This change means that Google's mobile index is the index for all websites— including desktop. So how your mobile website works now effects how your desktop site ranks.
This why it's critical that your website builder has mobile-friendly themes. Fortunately most website builders do— but a few still do not.
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. But putting the keyword in your meta description won't help you rank. But meta description is still important— it should 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.
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.
One-page websites have become extremely popular. They're long websites where clicking the navigation scrolls you up and down the page. In short, one single page holds all the content of the website.
You have to limit your content with a one-page website. You don't want your one page stuffed full of content. But the truth is, visitors don't want to read a book when they come to your website anyways. Instead visitors 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 heard really good things about Carrd— though I have not had a chance to review it yet.
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.
I think there are three things to think about when comparing free website builders:
In the end, I recommend Ucraft's free plan because it allows custom domain names.
I recommend Weebly for those 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.
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.
You might also 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.
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 clear pricing over time. It also takes into account the price of domain names.
The reason I built the price comparison calculator is that some website builders aren't 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.
Now most website builders have transparent pricing— and I make it very clear in each of my website builder reviews if they have shady billing practices. So you don't need to worry if you check the review first.
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.
Voog has the best support for a website with multiple languages— but strangely they don't advertise their multilingual features very clearly.
Basically 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).
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. Store builders are 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 far and away 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.
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:
Moving Your Site
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.
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.
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.
Wordpress is a good option for building a website— the key is to know when to use it instead of a website builder. I wrote a blog post about this here.
About This Guide
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!