I don’t know about you but I was never fond of learning to code. I tried, but failed miserably! Still, I wanted to be able to build a website for myself, mainly to share photos and post articles.
Eventually, this need for an easy-to-use website tool led me to find my first website builder, which was Weebly. This was in 2009, and since then, website builders have exploded in popularity.
I started WebsiteToolTester to help beginners just like you (and me!) find an easy way to create your own website. Funnily enough, for a very long time, we used the Webnode website builder to run this site. But when it grew to more than 200,000 monthly visitors and 7 different languages – bigger than any website builder could support – we made the switch to WordPress.
However, to this day, we still use website builders like Wix, Weebly, and Jimdo for a number of our own projects.
Tip #1: Have you already checked out our Smart Finder Tool? Simply answer 5 questions and we’ll show you which site builder best fits for your project! Give it a try.
Table of Contents
What kinds of sites can be created with a website builder?
The great thing about website builders is that they offer templates for a range of different industries (check out these templates by Wix, for example). You pick the one you like and just add your own text and images. You don’t have to start from a blank slate, which makes it super easy to achieve impressive results in no time.
On the other hand, sites that require a database (real-estate listings, job boards) aren’t so easy to create. They require a different tool and more time. Your best bet in this case: WordPress.
And since we get this question frequently: No, hypercomplex sites like Airbnb, eBay or Facebook are completely out of reach. You’ll need to hire a development team to build a website like that.
So which are the best website builders, and which ones should you avoid?
Find your favorite in our website builder ranking table
Designs like no other
Business & eCommerce: $20
+It’s extremely flexible
+Powerful App Market
–Templates can’t be changed easily
Unmatched ease of use
|+Ease of use
–Limited Design Flexibility
The Jack of all Trades
|+Ideal for multilingual sites
+Option to create backups
+Blog import option
–No free trial (only money-back)
–Issues with content suggestions
Great for Blogging
Online Store (Basic): $26
Online Store (Advanced): $40
|+Templates and Designs
–Usability of the editor
–Only one sub-navigation
–SEO and Page Speed
The Polyglot Website Tool
|+Suited to multilingual websites
+Great for SEO
–Limited ecommerce features
–Missing some key features
Solid all-round package
|+Ease of use
–Flexibility of templates
The Language Genius
Site for Life: $299
|+Great for multilingual websites
+Website Personalization Tools
+Easy drag-and-drop editor
+Backup and Restore feature
–No app store available
Great for one-pagers
|+Best in-class support
+Single Page Focus
+Ease of Use
–Limited Free Version
The Budget Site Builder
–No integrated blog
–Poor support quality
Good for Languages
+Ease of use
New Site Builder,
Business Plus: $14.99
Online Store: $19.99
+Easy to use
–Blog is too basic
–Layouts are limited
–Poor support quality
Wix’s Little Brother
Pro Plus: $7.16
|+Decent free plan
–SSL costs extra
–Backend could use revamp
Has Had its Best Days
–Negative customer feedback
–Hardly any development
The Dinosaur of Website Builders
Business Plus: $62.99
|+Number of features
–Complicated editor that needs to be installed locally
A quick note about the prices you see here: they are usually charged yearly.
Tip #3: You can also compare all website builders conveniently side-by-side! Go to our comparison tool.
A few handy tips for finding your favorite website builder
Now that you’ve seen our ranking table you might still be left wondering how to actually choose the best website builder for your specific project.
Here’s the good news: choosing a website builder is relatively risk-free nowadays. However, there are a couple of things that you should be looking into before deciding:
- Free Trial: Make sure you can try the site builder for free. Most providers offer free plans (with some limitations) or at least a money-back guarantee policy.
- Support: Check which kind of support the website builder offers (e.g. phone, chat, forums, etc.). It’s also worth checking if there is an active community of users that can help each other.
- Price: This can be tricky to figure out as offers are sometimes confusing. However, in all our reviews, you’ll find clear details of the pricing plans and extra costs (e.g. domain name) for each provider.
- Features: Obviously each project will have different needs. But here are some of the common things you may be looking for: a decent blogging system, customizable SEO options, mobile-friendly designs, a shopping cart, decent image galleries, possibility to password-protect pages or having registered users.
- Domain name: You should be able to connect domain names purchased elsewhere, even if you can register a new domain with the web builder directly.
The best website builders in detail
Designs like No Other
With an incredible 110m users, Wix is certainly the biggest website builder out there. It started out as a Flash-based platform originally. That’s why you may sometimes still hear old rumors of Wix not being able to rank well in search engines (which you can safely ignore). Today they are the most flexible website creator out there.
Their development speed is breathtaking, which also makes them the best website builder in our table. Hardly a month passes without Wix announcing a major new feature. Among them: Wix Bookings, a convenient self-service appointment booking system for your clients. Wix Restaurants, a (commission free) addon that lets your customers book tables, order food from you and check out your menus.
Thanks to Wix ADI, absolute beginners can now use a guided website creation assistant to build a website in no time.
What we like: their eye for design. One of the biggest advantages is that there are hundreds of well-designed templates that you can use for free. Adapting them to your needs is super easy. And then there is the huge range of features. Thanks to their App Market you can easily add new features to your website (ex. a newsletter subscription, an events calendar, a forum etc.).
What they should improve: it’s not the best site builder to create larger websites of, say, 30+ pages. The navigation isn’t very deep and doesn’t allow for very complex structures. Also, it’s not possible to simply switch to an entirely new theme if you get bored of your existing one (other website builders make this easier).
Free Trial: www.wix.com
Weebly is one of our all-time favorites and it’s not hard to see why. The ease of use of their website editor is still unmatched, probably the easiest website builder. No wonder 40m websites have been created through their platform already.
Every new feature they add just makes sense – their online store and the membership area being two good examples. Their content management system is also laid out to support rather large websites as we know of Weebly websites that easily count more than 150 pages. Best of all, you’re not constrained by any storage or bandwidth limits in their paid plans.
The Weebly Pro plan at $12 per month includes a site search feature as well as video and audio players, allowing you to stream media directly from your site. All in all, you can’t really go wrong with Weebly.
What we like: their themes are not only stylish but also responsive, adapting perfectly to mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. They have a clever page template system, allowing you to further customize it to your needs. Through the App Center you can add a wide range of extra functionality made by Weebly and third parties.
What they should improve: while the App Center is great, you won’t find as many apps as in Wix’s App Market. Also, Weebly is not a great choice for multilingual websites. Also, they seem to be launching a lot less features since they’ve been acquired by Square.
Free trial: www.weebly.com
3. 1&1 Ionos MyWebsite
The Jack of All Trades
Ionos belongs to web hosting giant 1&1 and features a site builder that is based on the Duda system. But why does Ionos appear higher in the ranking than Duda, the original? Interestingly, you can get a much better deal at Ionos. Their cheapest plan starts at $7 per month and you can usually get a huge discount on your first payment.
Ionos features a massive amount of industry-specific templates for all kinds of niches. They are one of the few website builder companies that don’t make you pay extra for a domain name and email address. But what makes them a true favorite in our ranking is the smart system to create a multilingual website, which is included in the Business plan ($10 per month).
What we like: the affordable package that includes a domain name and email address. The mobile-responsive designs and the fair prices. And of course, their multilingual website system is top notch.
What they should improve: it’s a pity that 1&1 usually doesn’t offer a free trial – you only have a money-back guarantee. They tend to be a bit salesy overall and we found the support quality often worse than with other website builders.
Trial version: www.ionos.com
Great for Blogging
Squarespace has been around since 2003 and speaks of “millions” of websites created on their platform. It’s hard not to like the clean design of their website and the powerful aesthetics. The question is, though, whether their product is just as good as their self-marketing.
To begin with, it’s not cheap: their lowest no-frills plan starts at $12 per month. Squarespace’s claim to fame is to offer one of the best blog functions of all website builders, second only to WordPress. And as of recently, they are increasingly pushing their online store. So what else do you get?
You can choose from their numerous, and admittedly, beautiful themes. They are all tablet and smartphone-compatible and feature different types of photo galleries. While there are a lot of good things, there are also flaws. With regards to SEO, Squarespace doesn’t let you fully customize the titles for blog and product pages. This can be a show-stopper in competitive industries.
What we like: the designs are brilliant and also the fact that you can just install a new template whenever you like and switch to it. We’ve also had pretty positive experiences with their support. Squarespace is also THE website builder to start a blog, no other site builder offers such a sophisticated blogging feature.
What they should improve: the aforementioned SEO flaws are pretty disappointing for a product at this price. There is no backup and restore feature, which is a bit disappointing. It’s not the easiest website builder to use, other alternatives are better suited for beginners. Finally, when we tested their page speed (also an important SEO factor), it wasn’t exactly impressive. A Wix-like app store for external applications would be desirable as well.
Free trial: www.squarespace.com
The Polyglot Website Tool
Although not as popular as other tools like Weebly or Wix, it is still one of the most globally used website builders, especially among European users. Webnode is a hit and miss: some features are really advanced and almost unique in the industry, but it also lacks some basic functionality that can be a no-go for some.
A free domain name for most of their plans is included for the first year. On top of that, some tiers also come with custom email accounts (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) for free.
What we like: The most exciting feature about Webnode is that they offer an easy way to create multilingual sites; very few website builders have a feature like that. We also like their designs, which are modern and responsive – so they automatically look good on all devices. Their SEO features are also solid and have everything that most sites will need.
What they should improve: Their blogging system is missing some key features like tags or a native commenting system. If you are looking to create an online store, look elsewhere – their solution is pretty basic. Unlike Wix or Weebly they don’t have an app store; these can be really convenient as they let you install extensions that enhance your site’s capabilities.
Free trial: www.webnode.com
Solid All-Round Package
Jimdo is a German website creator with more than 20m websites to its name. Ease of use is also their credo. That’s why they introduced Jimdo Dolphin, a new system that promises a working website in only 3 minutes, alongside with their core product Jimdo Creator.
It’s a solid website creation suite accompanied by a decent online store. They allow website creation from start to finish using their iOS and Android apps. Another positive thing is that email accounts are integrated right into the core product and quite affordable ($12 per year per inbox). All their templates are fully responsive and display well on desktop and mobile devices.
What we like: you can optimize your website for search engines quite well (SEO). Even their free plan is relatively powerful, providing features like password-protection and a small ecommerce website with up to 5 products.
What they should improve: they lack a bit of an edge in features compared to website builders like Wix and Weebly. Their templates could be more flexible, the online store should boast more features and a marketplace for apps (external add-ons) would be really desirable.
Free trial: www.jimdo.com
The Language Genius
Duda’s website builder started out in 2008 and is special in many ways. For once, they get all the basics right: the templates look great, you get all the SEO settings you need, the blog is decent and there is an online store.
On top of that, there are two areas where they manage to outshine their competitors: for once, you can create multilingual websites with it (an area that barely any site builders masters). Plus, they also offer what they call “website personalization tools”. Using them you can show fully customized content to your visitors, for example, based on their location or the time of the day. A very powerful feature!
All this comes at a price: Duda is not exactly cheap. The lowest plan (Basic starts at $14.25 per month and doesn’t include a domain name or email accounts. However, they have another, unique payment option: Site for Life is a one-time fee of $299 for one website (Update: they seem to have removed this option, we’re still trying to get confirmation from Duda). If you are planning to keep your website for at least two years, this can make sense for you.
What we like: ease of use, their stylish templates, and their unique site personalization tools. Also, in our eyes, Duda is second to none for multilingual websites.
What they should improve: there is no app store for the easy integration of third-party applications. Prices are quite steep compared to the competition.
Free trial: www.duda.co
Great for Onepagers
Strikingly has its focus on one-page layouts. This can be especially interesting if you want to create a landing page, say for event registrations. Their responsive designs are indeed striking (no pun intended) and look great on mobile devices. You can either start with their ad-sponsored free plan or upgrade to the Limited ($8), Pro ($16) or VIP plan ($49 per month). Limited also includes a 5-product online store, whereas VIP increases this limit to 500 products.
What we like: if you are planning to build multiple sites, the PRO plan can be interesting as it includes up to 3 sites. We found their support to be top notch and it’s pretty easy to get your head around Strikingly.
What they should improve: single-page websites are not Google’s favorite so it might not be too easy to rank well. Something simple like adding an external code snippet requires you to upgrade to the PRO plan, which is comparatively expensive (unless you will actually create the full three websites that are included).
Free trial: www.strikingly.com
The Budget Site Builder
One.com is one thing: cheap. This Danish provider stormed into the website builder (and hosting) market a few years ago offering the lowest prices we’ve seen. They also provide hosting, which is really convenient if you need to use both a website builder and a CMS like WordPress.
But One.com can get expensive. If you are going to need more than 5 pages, you’ll need to get the Premium plan. Then it is almost as expensive as Wix and Weebly (two of the best website builders), and rather limited in features if compared to these.
What we like: They have templates that look modern and are responsive. These will make your site look great on any device. They also offer solid support that you can reach by email or live chat. Another positive aspect is that they are extremely generous with the storage they offer.
What they should improve: Sadly it has some important limitations. For example, if you need a blog it needs to be added separately using another editor. You won’t be able to password-protect your site either as this feature is not included. Another flaw is that their ecommerce system is very basic, and only suitable for the smallest online stores.
Free trial: www.one.com
Good with Languages
Languages seem to be Site123’s thing. Not only is the editor available in more than 20 of them (including languages such as Turkish, Arabic, Romanian), they also feature multilingual websites. The editor is relatively restrictive, a bit like GoDaddy’s GoCentral. If you just want to get the website job done, without becoming too creative this might suffice. But you have to be aware that their template system can be a bit on the restrictive side.
The cheapest plan that allows you to use your own custom domain name starts at $10.80 per month. Compared to other website builders it’s a bit pricey as they will still show a small footer ad in this plan.
What we like: their focus on languages and the fact that they have a decent free plan. Their editor is also very easy to use and support is usually fast to answer.
What they should improve: more design flexibility would be nice. Also, for a price of $10.80 per month there should be no ad on the website.
Free trial: www.site123.com
11. GoDaddy GoCentral Website Builder
Very Easy, but Is It Enough?
Who doesn’t know GoDaddy? It’s one of the biggest hosting companies around and, of course, they also offer their own website builder. As stated before, their editor reminds us a bit of Site123 but it’s maybe even a bit easier to use. It’s great that they offer an SEO Wizard that will help you set up the basics for more visibility on Google. Pricing starts at $5.99 per month, which makes them one of the more affordable providers. Strangely, the domain name is not included in this price even though they are one of the largest domain registrars worldwide.
What we like: there are good videos to help you get started and the logic of the editor just makes a lot of sense. It’s great that they offer phone support although, we have to say that we didn’t always find their answers to be super useful.
What they should improve: if you have a particular structure or design for your website in mind, GoCentral’s editor may not be able to cut it. We found their blogging functionality too basic and there are only few templates to choose from.
Free trial: www.godaddy.com
Wix’s Little Brother
This All-American website creator claims to host almost 4m websites, of which quite a few are probably free ones. The editor and features reminded us a bit of Wix. Their design section has a few gems in it and they also pride themselves on being super flexible. But to be honest, it doesn’t quite live up to Wix’s high standards.
What we like: the free plan is relatively attractive as it offers 1GB of storage and bandwidth. Thankfully the ad isn’t very visible. There is a blogging tool and the Business plan also includes a decent online store.
What they should improve: it’s pretty annoying these days to pay extra for an SSL-encrypted site. Webstarts’ $8 per month charge is outright abusive. The mobile-optimized view isn’t included in their cheapest paid plan, which is a bit of a bummer.
Free trial: www.webstarts.com
Tip #4: The latest trend in website building are AI-powered site builders (e.g. Wix ADI and Jimdo Dolphin). Right now, it’s the very beginning of this trend and the website editors are mostly still in its infancy. But if you are looking for an extremely easy way to create a site, do check out our post on AI Website Builders.
Let’s now check out a few common questions you might be asking yourself.
Common questions from new website creators
Over the years we’ve heard these questions over and over again. I hope we can answer some of yours too! If your question isn’t included here, please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.
Can I really do it myself or do I need a web designer (and what will it cost)?
That’s a really common question and the answer is… well, it depends. Please keep in mind that in order to work with a developer you’ll have to be prepared to have a budget of at least $1.500 and that’s the low end. For any changes and further developments, you’ll pay your developer’s hourly rate. Then there is the ongoing hosting as well as domain costs (which will be another $100 per year more or less).
Using a website builder, you can calculate roughly $80-150 per year (all inclusive), depending on the provider you’ll be using.
In many cases, it’s actually a very good approach to familiarizing yourself with the task of creating a website. Even if, in the end, you decide to hire a web designer, you’ll have a much better idea of what person you should be looking for and what your website should look like. Our free ebook “Website Creation for Absolute Beginners” will explain all the important parts of a website project.
How does this whole domain name thing work?
The domain name is the web address that your website uses. Our domain is called websitetooltester.com and you can see it in your browser’s address bar:
Such a domain costs right around $8-15 per year, depending on the top-level domain (for example .com, .co.uk or .net). You can purchase your domain name at the usual places such as Namecheap or GoDaddy.
If you are going to use a website builder you can usually purchase it there. That makes handling it slightly easier as you’ll only be dealing with one company. If you are going to use WordPress or you’ll be programming the website yourself, you will also need web space, where you can upload your website’s files and data. With a website builder you don’t need web space as it’ll be already included.
Using your domain name you can also get your very own email address (e.g. email@example.com). That’ll make a much more professional impression than an address from Gmail or Yahoo. This email address can be managed either through your website builder, domain provider or an external service. Most website builders work with G Suite these days. It’s a great service but it comes at a fairly high cost: $6 per email address.
Tip #5: If your website builder doesn’t include free email accounts we recommend using either an affordable solution like Namecheap’s Private Email Hosting (around $10 per year) or Zoho Workplace, which even has a free plan for up to 5 users!
The whole domain and email setup can be a bit confusing so please leave a comment at the bottom of this page if you still have any questions!
The best option for your industry
Obviously, not all projects are created equal. And it’s true of course that there are website builders that are better suited to photographers than to bloggers. Let me now give you our favorites for each use case:
The best website builder for small businesses
For a business website of no more than 20-30 individual pages, we would recommend considering Wix.com. Especially if you want the design to be something special. The big advantage is that they have a wealth of templates for small businesses.
If your website is going to be larger than 30 pages, you should check out Weebly as they have a better system in place to manage a large set of pages. Their selection of templates is not as plentiful so you’ll have to invest a bit more time into putting together a design.
Finally, if you are not scared of technical challenges and need a website that scales, WordPress.org is probably for you. Thanks to 1000’s of plugins and themes, pretty much everything is possible with WordPress. You just have to invest the time to set it up.
The best blogging system
Basically, all website builders on this page have their very own blogging tool integrated. But how good are they? Well, it depends. If you want to do this professionally, you’ll probably be best served using WordPress. There’s also Squarespace and Weebly if you prefer easier options that are less powerful.
As running a successful blog is a science in itself, I would recommend checking out our detailed blogging guide. There you can find hosting options and our template recommendations.
The best website builder for photographers
Thanks to their fantastic photo galleries, Wix.com takes the top spot again. Photography sites and portfolios are pretty much an existential part of Wix’s DNA. Just take a look at their photography and design templates to see for yourself.
If you are a professional photographer, you might like Pixpa. There you have a proofing functionality that allows you to set up private collections for clients. What’s noteworthy as well, is the specialized online store for photos.
The best ecommerce website builder
Going to start an online store? Fantastic! Ecommerce is an exciting adventure. To begin it you should be well-equipped. If your online store needs to be able to scale and grow to hundreds of items, you’ll need an expert tool like Shopify or BigCommerce.
If you only want to open a small online store that is easy to use, it probably makes more sense to go with Weebly or Wix. They are more affordable than the ‘big guns’ and should be enough to get you started.
Website builder software: Can I install it on my computer too?
PC and Mac website software used to be very popular – maybe you can even remember Microsoft Frontpage or Macromedia Dreamweaver, as it used to be called. The advantage of such programs is that you typically pay (a larger amount) upfront and can build as many websites as you like. The downside is that you need to take care of hosting your website yourself, which incurs additional costs.
These days most people clearly prefer hosted website builders such as Wix, Weebly and Jimdo due to their added simplicity. You can edit your site from different computers, no matter if it’s a Mac or PC. If you absolutely want an installable website builder software, I would recommend you check out Mobirise. The basic version is free, you only pay if you purchase one of their premium designs or extensions.
Tip #6: We often see our readers over-analyzing their website project, spending days comparing every little feature. What usually works much better is to just sign-up for a free trial, dipping your feet into the water! This way you’ll see very quickly whether this is for you or not.
As you’ve seen, there are a lot of different website tools out there. The most popular option with our readers overall is Wix. They’ve become a pretty dominant force in the website building business. But that doesn’t mean their competitors are necessarily worse options. It really depends on your use case.
If you are still unsure about what to pick, I’d again recommend running our Smart Finder and answering 5 simple questions. Good luck with your website project!
Let us know: what feature is most important to you? Feel free to check what other readers are thinking, too!
Congrats! You’ve made it to the very end of this guide. All there is left to say from my side is to leave a comment if you get stuck in the process. We’ll be happy to help you!
11 Jun 2019 – Some Squarespace updates