I've been designing websites for over ten years. I've been featured in Wired, Huffington Post, Forbes and more. This is my guide to choosing the best website builder— supported by affiliate commissions. Read More »
Highly Recommended — Squarespace is like the Apple of website builders. It's intuitive, curated and thoughtfully designed. I highly recommend it.
Squarespace templates are fresh, sophisticated and share a similiar look and feel: lots of whitespace, bold typography and room to showcase photography.
It's of course a bit subject, but in my opinion Squarespace has the best themes of any website builder:
Squarespace also has excellent features. They have the best blogging, podcasting, audio players and photo galleries of any website builder. Plus, their ecommerce is a viable alternative to pure ecommerce website builders such as Shopify.
To top it all off, Squarespace has honest, up-front pricing. You won't be nickle-and-dimed further down the road— an unfortunate problem with many other website builders.
Easiest To Use — Weebly is what I recommend to anyone who doesn't feel tech savvy. It's just really easy to use. Everything feels simple and straightforward.
Even though Weebly is easy to use, it's not simple. Instead it's actually quite sophisticated. It has excellent ecommerce (it and Squarspace have the best ecommerce among website builders) and one of the best membership systems of any website builders.
Weebly also an App Center that lets you add all sorts of new features to your website: language translations, paid memberships, powerful tables and more.
Weebly has around 70 themes— and they're all quite good. If there is a shortcoming though, it's in theme customization. At times Weebly can be limited in theme customization.
Over all, Weebly is easy to use and has sophisticated features— it’s an impressive mix.
Best Ecommerce Website Builder — Shopify is the best ecommerce builder. If you're building a pure ecommerce website, I highly recommend Shopify.
Shopify has come to dominate ecommerce software by constantly innovating and improving— while always remaining clear and easy of use. It's a magical balancing act that's unusual in the world of software.
The App Store is it's biggest differentiator. The Shopify core covers what 80% of online stores will need and the app store covers the other 20%— that way the core doesn't get bloated with features most stores don't need. Shopify is not the only ecommerce website builder to offer an app stores but they have significantly more apps than any competitor:
Besides the app store, Shopify has continually launched innovative features like Shopify Payments, Shopify POS and Shopify Augmented Reality that push the industry forward— at a pace competitors rarely keep up with.
Beyond features, the thing I most often hear from users is that they love that Shopify is so easy to use. It's clear, simple and intuitive.
For those who want precise control — The most important difference between Wix and other website builders is that Wix is an unstructured editor.
Most website builders limit you to dragging and dropping within a pre-designed grid. Wix is different. Wix's unstructured editor lets you drag and drop elements anywhere you want on a page. No constraints.
The upside to Wix's unstructured editor is clear: freedom. But I've also found the unstructured editor can result in tedious work and challenges— and it's the reason I only give Wix a 4-star rating. (For more on this, see my complete review of Wix.)
Wix provides you with a lot of options for your website. There are 500+ themes, plenty of features and an App Market for even more features and integrations.
Wix includes plenty of elements to build your website with— even from scratch if you'd like.
I recommend Wix to a certain type of user: those who don't want to feel constrained. If Squarespace is like Apple, Wix is like Google or Microsoft— you're more free to do what you'd like.
Best For One Page Websites — One page websites are long single-page websites where the navigation scrolls visitors around the page. Strikingly is the easiest way to make this type of website.
One page websites have all their content on one page.
Technically you can build a one-page website with other website builders like Wix and Squarespace but it never feels quite as easy.
Strikingly was designed from the ground up to make one-page websites and so it's much more intuitive.
Strikingly's sections editor makes it easy to create one page websites.
You can build multiple page websites with Strikingly if you upgrade to their highest plan... but you’ll get the most out of it if you use it for one page websites.
Strong Blogging... But A Compromised Editor — 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). While Wordpress.com is built using Wordpress.org, it's not actually the same thing.
Confused? That's part of the problem.
Wordpress.com uses two different interfaces: one is a new Wordpress.com interface and the other is the old Wordpress.org interface— the result can be bewildering for those not familiar with Wordpress.
Some things you can't do in the Wordpress.com interface (blue) so you have to swap over to the Wordpress.org interface (black).
The best part of Wordpress.com is it's blogging. It's packed with excellent features: tags, categories, drafts, posts in the future, featured images, automatic post sharing, custom permalinks and a lot more. If you need a website builder for blogging, I'd really only suggest Wordpress.com or Squarespace.
In the end, Wordpress.com is probably best suited for bloggers or someone already familiar with the Wordpress interface.
Strong Free Plan — Ucraft is a good, block-based website builder. Pages are created by stacking blocks vertically on top of another— blocks are then made up of individual elements.
I wouldn’t recommend Ucraft if you’re just looking to grab a template and throw up a website. There aren’t enough pre-designed blocks to ensure your website isn’t too cookie cutter. Instead to get the most out of Ucraft, you’ll want to take advantage of it's design customization tools that let you build your own blocks from scratch.
If you're looking for a free plan, Ucraft has the best free plan of any website builder. It allows you to add a custom domain, has no limit on pages and has a pretty small ad that scrolls alongside websites.
Simple, But Too Limited — The promise on GoDaddy's homepage tells you a lot about it's website builder:
See the promise? Build a Website In Less Than An Hour? It's a nice idea, but GoDaddy's website builder is way too simple and limited. It mostly builds cookie cutter websites.
For example, there are 20 themes with very little structural differences. There's really only minor stylistic differences between the themes. You that can't even customize the theme color— you're stuck choosing one accent color that's applied scattershot to your website.
GoDaddy's definitely lives up to it's promise— you can definitely build a website in less than an hour. It's just that it will be frustrating for anyone looking for something more than a mad-libs approach building a website.
Awful Billing Practices, Bad Website Editor — I would strongly recommend you don't use Web.com
For starters, monthly plans on Web.com are billed every four weeks— which means they actually bill 13 months in a year! Ridiculous!
Web.com also has enormous security problems. I try every website builder with my own credit card (to test billing practices) and in order to cancel my Web.com account I had to tell customer service my password over the phone. It's hard to overstate how huge of a security problem this is. It makes you incredibly vulnerable (remember: these agents can also see your email address!).
Beyond the awful billing practices, Web.com is just a bad website builder. There's no blogging and no ecommerce. The editor is painful and frustrating to use— I explain how tedious and buggy it is in my full review.
Poor Billing Practices — For years I've been pointing out that SiteBuilder.com add items to their customers shopping cart without telling them. Seriously.
For example, they add a SiteLock upgrade package during checkout— if you don’t notice it, it will automatically be added to your account.
Here's a confusing thing about SiteBuilder.com: it's the same website builder as WebsiteBuilder.com, Sitey and Sitelio. Of the four, SiteBuilder.com is the most well-known. (Suspiciouly, all four are often listed in the top positions on other review websites — even though they are same website builder.)
The actual SiteBuilder.com website editor is okay. It's similiar to Wix in that it is an unstructured editor— but it's a lesser version of Wix.