Last Updated Apr 13 2020
I’ve written in-depth reviews of over 40 website builders but this is my guide to the 6 best— each with unique strengths that may work best for certain users.
I've been reviewing website builders since 2013– and I work hard to be comprehensive: I write comparisons, reviews and try every website builder with my own credit card— which has helped me uncover companies with poor billing practices.
My work is supported by affiliate commissions, so I may earn a comission if you buy a website builder based on my reviews. More about that here.
Best All-Around and Best ThemesSquarespace.com
Best For Ecommerce WebsitesShopify.com
Read on to find out more about each of my recommended website builders as well as reviews of the top 20ish website builders. I also answer some common questions.
Let's get into it!
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 similar look and feel: lots of whitespace, bold typography and room to showcase photography.
It's of course a bit subjective, but in my opinion Squarespace has the best templates of any website builder:
An example Squarespace template.
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.
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.
Outstanding Custom Design Design — Webflow feels magical. Go ahead, roll your eyes. I get it. I just called software magical. But let me explain.
The big innovation with Webflow is their Designer tool. It's the first tool to provide the flexibility of front-end coding without requiring you to actually code.
It does this by not shying away from the complexity of code— to use Webflow, you need to understand the fundamentals of web design. This includes concepts like style hierarchy, box model, floating, absolute and relative positions.
This makes it a categorically different tool than website builders like Squarespace or Wix. Squarespace and Wix aren't designed for you to have complete freedom. They provide templates and smart defaults— they abstract you away from the complexity of code and they're much easier to use.
On it's own, Webflow's Designer is excellent but what takes Webflow to the next level is that you can integrate Webflow's CMS into the Designer— allowing you to create custom, repeatable content types, something you can't do in any other website builder!
Carrd is for simple, one-page websites— that's it. All it's themes are designed for one page websites:
Because Carrd is only for one page websites, they can do things differently.
For example, Carrd is way, (way) cheaper than competitors. Below is Carrd's cheapest plan compared to the cost of the other 7 recommended website builders cheapest plans:
Plus Carrd has the best editor and themes for one-page websites. You can technically make one-page websites with other website builders but their interace can feel hacked together. Carrd is exclusively for one-page websites so the interface is designed for that.
Carrd's page editor.
You'll only want to use Carrd if it makes sense for your website to be one page. If you're not sure if one page works for you, I'd suggest just trying Carrd for 15 minutes— you might surprise yourself with how much you can fit into one page!
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.
Wix's unstructured editor lets you drag elements anywhere on a page.
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.
Easy To Use But Going Through A Transition — Weebly is an excellent, easy to use website builder— but it's also going through a transition to a new editor called the Square editor.
The Square editor is significantly less customizable than the old Weebly editor. For example, you can't add individual elements. Instead you add sections.
So you can toggle individual elements on and off within a section but you can't actually add additional elements:
You can toggle individual elements within a section— but you can't add any new elements!
This is a major step backwards in flexibility. The old Weebly editor let you add sections but also allowed you to add individual elements. With the Square editor you can only add sections. It's unusual to see a website builder purposefully remove options.
The new Square editor is also short of several features that the old Weebly editor covered: no blog, no app store, no video backgrounds and no membership system.
You can still use the old Weebly editor but Weebly has told me that they are shifting users towards the new Square editor. And while the new Square editor is easy to use (especially for ecommerce) it's too limited for me to give Weebly a perfect 5 star rating as I have in the past.
Great For Portfolio Websites — Format is an easy to use website builder focussed on a specific type of website: portfolios.
It's loved by it's users. Last year I surveyed 1,630 photographers who were using a dedicated portfolio builder for their website to see which had the highest customer satisfaction— and Format scored a whopping 97%.
Format is especially great for photographers— they include proofing features, watermarking and integrations with Adobe Lightroom and Capture One.
GoDaddy's homepage promises you can "build a better website in less than an hour" ... which is a hat-tip to GoDaddy's priorities: they designed a website builder for quickly building websites.
So how do they make building a website quicker? Well, they make their website builder simple. Often, too simple.
Websites with GoDaddy are made up of sections. Sections are content blocks that you stack vertically on your website. GoDaddy gives you 52 sections to choose from. Unfortunately sections are frustratingly cookie-cutter and have very few customization options— for example, you can't add new elements to sections, you're stuck with whatever GoDaddy has preset for you.
GoDaddy offers 20 themes but like sections, they're too cookie cutter. For example, every theme uses the same font (Open Sans) for paragraphs! That's kind of crazy!
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). Even though Wordpress.com is built using Wordpress.org, it's not the same thing.
The most obvious signal that Wordpress.com is different from Wordpress is that it has a different user interface— it’s a streamlined and simplified interface. More in line with what you might expect to find in a website builder.
Swapping between Wordpress.com (blue) and Wordpress (black).
Unlike most website builders, Wordpress.com is not a drag-and-drop, visual editor. Instead, it’s a form-based editor that separates the content of pages from the design. The downside of a form-based editor is that pages aren’t design within context. For example, when you choose a page template, you simply choose from a drop-down box. There is no preview— you just sort of guess and test.
Wordpress began as a blogging platform and Wordpress.com inherits the fantastic blogging features. They really have the best blog features of any website builder. (The only real competitor in blogging is Squarespace.)
Over the last decade, Wordpress has cultivated an ecosystem of third-party plugin creators. Wordpress.com lets you install any of those plugins (if you’re on the most expensive plan). These plugins extend functionality dramatically— there are plugins for everything: podcasts, membership systems, maps and more.
But here’s the thing: in order to configure almost every plugin, you have to leave behind the friendly Wordpress.com interface and enter WP-Admin. WP-Admin is the interface for Wordpress— it’s the unfriendlier interface, and avoiding it was the reason Wordpress.com was designed with a different interface from the start. Even common elements— such as forms— have to be configured in WP-Admin.
Opening WP-Admin to edit a form.
In the end Wordpress.com tries to do two things: it tries to simplify Wordpress and let users leverage the awesome power of Wordpress plugins. The result is a product that’s built on compromises— which I think will make it worth it for for two types of users: bloggers and people who are already familiar with Wordpress (because they won’t mind using WP-Admin).
Websites in Ucraft are made up of vertical stacking blocks. There's a bunch of preset blocks you can choose from or you can create your own from scratch:
Block-based website builders are common— for example Jimdo, GoDaddy are also block-based website builders. Ucraft is one of the more customizable block-based website builders— you're not locked into cookie-cutter preset blocks. Instead you can customize blocks and even create them from scratch. There's also plenty of control over grids, padding and even animations.
But with more power comes also more confusion: Ucraft is not always intuitive. The interface can be confusing. For example, moving your mouse through the page reveals all kinds of small icons and it's not obvious what each icon means.
Choosing between preset blocks is equally confusing— it's just a long list of small images. It's not previewable or categorized in any way.
Finally the Designer Tool is totally abstracted away from the website— so when you make changes, you aren't able to preview those changes live like you would in something like Squarespace.
There is one great upside to Ucraft: they have an free plan that lets you add a custom domain name.
Strikingly is a website builder with a particular focus: one page websites. If you’re not familiar with one page websites, they are long websites where clicking the navigation scrolls you up and down the page.
One page websites have become popular in the last couple years— they typically have clear, simple information sections and large photos.
For a long time I recommended Strikingly for one page websites— but no longer. I now recommend Carrd for one page websites— Carrd has better templates, is more up to date and much, much cheaper.
Strikingly is still an okay choice for one page websites. It's sections-based editor is intuitive and still an easier way create a one page website than Wix or Weebly. Plus there are 50+ website templates— all meant for one-page websites.
Strikingly's section-based editor
Strikingly might work for you but I would suggest comparing it with Carrd!
Jimdo is easy to use but too simple.
Websites are made up of Blocks— which are pre-designed collections of elements. Adding and editing blocks is easy— the problem is you're really limited in customizing these blocks. For example, you can hide elements within a block but you can't add new elements to the block. This is really cookie cutter! You're stuck with whatever Jimdo has preset for you.
The Jimdo editor only lets you show or hide elements— not add new ones.
Theme customization has the same problem: it's too simple. You can only choose one color and it's then applied scattershot throughout your website— you don't get to choose where exactly it is applied!
Jimdo has taken a similiar approach to many other website builders— in effort to be easy to use, they've designed a simple, cookie cutter website builder. For most users, this will be frustrating.
Google Sites is free— you can't pay for it even if you wanted to. Even still, I doesn't top my list of free website builders.
Google Sites isn't really for small business websites. Instead, it's best thought of as a tool to connect Google Services. For example, the elements you use to build your website are almost all Google products:
There's only one template— which is why Google Sites tend to all look the same. You can't making meaningful style customizations to the theme either (for example choosing a font). Instead you're limited to choosing between 6 preset styles.
Consider Google Sites if you are building an intranet or you just need a way to connect Google products— otherwise I'd suggest trying something else.
The thing to know with Duda is that it's primarily sold through web design agencies and hosting companies who resell it. You'll find some of these companies (1&1 for example) on this list. Curiously even though they all sell the same software, they all price it differently!
The Duda editor throws the kitchen sink at you. It can feel disorganized and overwhelming— there are many tiny, hidden menus and it can be hard to keep track of where-you-go-to-do-that-specific-task.
The upside to Duda is that it's customizable. There's plenty of widgets and style options— though customizing styles isn't as intuitive as a website builder like Squarespace.
Two interesting features: They've recently launched an app store (though it only has 5 apps right now) and there are personalization features— for example, you can display a map if the person is from a specific city or show a happy hour sale if it's a certain time of day.
Webnode is a simple website builder. At times, it's too simple.
For example, there's a good selection of responsive themes but there's no way to customize the themes. Want to change the pink color (below) to your own brand color? Well you can choose from a few presets but you can't actually set a custom color. Instead Webnode suggests editting CSS code if you want to set a custom color but... the point of website builders is that you shouldn't have to code!
Otherwise Webnode actually has a nice interface and some solid features (examples: a good form builder and multi-lingual support). There are a few things that could be improved: Editing columns has no snap-to-grid so it's very difficult to find the center if you accidently move it. There are no social media buttons you can add to websites. Some sections allow new elements while others do not— why not? Finally plans are only available annually— even though they are advertised as a monthly rate (which feels misleading).
Unlike the other website builders on this list, Site123 doesn't have a visual, drag-and-drop editor. Instead you edit your website by filling out forms.
For example, you don't edit these elements visually:
Instead you edit them through a form in a lightbox window:
This is not ideal. It creates too much friction. You'll be constantly switching between the editor and the website preview in order to get things looking how you want— which is frustrating. It turns out, there's a reason most website builders are visual, drag-and-drop editors.
Plus there are just odd limitations— for example, your page header has to have the same as the navigation name. Why?
Yola is clumsy and outdated.
For starters, editting is done in a lightbox— which is very frustrating. The lightbox covers your website— so you can’t see your changes as they’re being made. Instead you have to guess at the changes you want, save and reload the website.
Changes aren't done visually— they're done in a lightbox.
The website editor has hardly changed over the last few years. For example, even though Yola suggests starting a blog— they stil have not launched a blog in their new editor (even though the "new" editor launched several years ago).
The interface is often confusing. For example, when managing pages there are inexplicable icons that you have to guess at in order to use: would you guess that the checkmark (below) will hide your page?
Adobe has announced that they are no longer developing new features for Muse and have ended technical support for it in 2020. I would strongly recommend you use something else.
You can find a list of Adobe Muse alternatives here.
Webs was acquired by Vistaprint in 2011. Since then it's basically been abandoned.
In 2018 I noticed the Webs Announcements blog newest post was from 2015. Today, in 2020 the entire blog is just a 404— despite being prominently linked to on the homepage.
So why did Vistaprint abandon Webs? Well since 2011, Vistaprint have launched their own website builder. I guess they decided it wasn't worth it to run two website builders.
Acquiring products and abandoning them is common in website builders. The unfortunate thing is that companies like Vistaprint never communicate this to customers— which sucks. I hope they communicate it to Webs customers soon.
Don't bother with Homestead, they've given up.
Homestead's best days are long gone. It was acquired by Intuit in 2007 before being sold to Endurance International Group (EIG) in 2012. EIG is where web companies go to die. They have a well-earned reputation of awful customer support and terrible server uptime.
In 2017 Homestead began licensing it's software from WebsiteBuilder.com— another EIG company. So now Homestead is just a front for WebsiteBuilder.com’s software— which is odd because Homestead is actually more expensive than WebsiteBuilder.com!
While Homestead still provides support, it's clear they've given up. Their blog hasn't had a new post in almost two years and the © in the homepage footer still says 2018. Yikes!
In 2014 I wrote a blog post about 1&1’s cancellation policy that went viral. The post explained how 1&1 invoiced me weeks after I had cancelled. At the time, I asked 1&1 customer support why this had happened and they told me sometimes the system generates "crazy invoices."
Billing systems should not generate “crazy" invoices.
Then in March 2018 I tested 1&1's billing system again. When it came time to try cancelling, the billing system wouldn't allow me to cancel. It kept giving me a bug that said “no cancelable single items present!”
So I bought another product with 1&1 (rankingCoach Pro) and tried cancelling it. It also gave me the same error when trying to cancel.
So I called customer support and they explained that they send error messages if a customer tries cancelling in the first 30 days in case the customer accidentally cancels the product.
That's two incidents, years apart of 1&1's billing system having "bugs." Yikes.
On top of all that 1&1 doesn't even sell their own website builder— they're actually just reselling Duda's website editor. So I'd suggest skipping over 1&1 and just use Duda.