Best Website Builder Software of 2021
Start your search here for the best website builder software. Our software reviews are written by experts who have spent 357 hours researching and analyzing every little detail about the top website builder software on the market. Compare website builder features, facts and figures to find the right fit for your business.
What is a Website Builder?
A website builder is a cloud-based web development tool that enables users to create beautiful and professional websites without any programming knowledge.
Website builders typically feature a user-friendly interface with drag and drop functionality, so that users can create and move content by simply clicking and dragging elements around. Most website builders also offer a rich collection of templates with various customization options, such as tweaking font sizes and modifying layouts. Website builders are a beginner-friendly and inexpensive solution to hiring a web developer.
In addition to building a website, some website builders also offer eCommerce functionalities and equip business owners with the right tools to move their businesses online. Some of these features include product management, CRM tools, and a customizable checkout process.
Who Should Use Website Builders?
Website builders are suitable for people who want to create a website but have little or no experience with coding. Anybody can create a website with ease, which is particularly useful for professionals and small to mid-sized companies wanting to create a professional-looking website at a low cost and minimal maintenance. Website builders are also a great solution for individuals and small businesses who want to create a website, but don't have the time or money to hire a web developer.
What are the Benefits of Website Builders?
No programming knowledge or technical skills needed
Easy to use interface, making it perfect for beginners
Wide range of customizable templates
Dedicated customer support for technical issues
Budget-friendly and time-saving
How to Pick the Right Website Builder?
With so many website builders on the market, finding the right one involves time, effort, and lots of research. Since website builders boast different features and cater to different audiences, users should first determine their primary goals and objectives. The following list provides an overview of the essential features to consider when comparing website builders.
Most website builders revolve around an intuitive WYSIWYG interface as it is the canvas upon which users will build their websites. The term “WYSIWYG” is an abbreviation for “what you see is what you get”, and WYSIWYG editors allow users to preview changes in real-time before they are published live to a website. Most WYSIWYG editors incorporate drag and drop functionality, crucial for moving content around without having to write a single line of code.
Additionally, users should also be able to embed multimedia content such as images, videos, links, and more. Some WYSIWYG editors also enable users to add dynamic and interactive elements such as 2D and 3D motion transforms and parallax scrolling animations.
Themes and Templates
For beginners just embarking on their website creation journey, having pre-built themes is essential. Pre-built themes provide an overarching framework for a website and empower users to focus on customization and making design modifications. Most website builders provide an assortment of free and premium themes available for different industries and use cases, including travel blogs, eCommerce stores, and online portfolios.
Themes should also be fully responsive and mobile-friendly, adapting to all kinds of devices and screen sizes.
Third-party integrations can elevate the appearance of a website and unlock extra functionalities. While some integrations are downloadable apps, others come in the format of widgets and plugins. Apps can be seamlessly merged with the website builder’s ecosystem, whereas widgets and plugins might require custom HTML code injection.
Some third-party apps, widgets, and plugins include contact forms, maps, integration of social media sharing buttons, SEO or web analytics tools. Users can also sometimes integrate other popular tools such as G Suite, MailChimp, Salesforce, PayPal, and more.
In an increasingly mobile world, more and more users are switching over to their smartphones and portable devices to browse the internet. Having a website that scales well to every screen type is key to driving web traffic and increasing user engagement.
To this end, most website builders offer responsive templates, designed with unmatched fluidity and flexibility in mind. By automatically detecting the device’s screen proportions, responsive templates shrink or expand image dimensions, change font sizes, narrow margins, and hide non-mobile-friendly elements.
Content Management System
A well-built content management system is the engine that powers all website builders. A content management system helps users more effectively store, organize, and structure content on a website, including texts, images, and videos — all through a visual user interface. Be it minor or major updates, users can refresh content on their websites without hassle.
Depending on which plan a user has subscribed to, most website builders also include a content management system with different storage space limits. While personal and private websites do not require large file storage, eCommerce sites selling huge quantities of products are advised to pick a website builder with considerable storage space.
Selling online requires a specialized set of tools that can create a unique virtual shopping experience for buyers. Besides adding product images and product descriptions, businesses should have full control over their order and shipping processes such as refunding orders and printing shipping labels.
Businesses using a website builder are able to use the in-built customization tools to craft a compelling brand identity that resonates throughout the store, from the homepage right down to the checkout cart.
While most website builders are built to be user-friendly, users might require assistance once in a while. Most website builders offer a plethora of customer support options, ranging from self-help resources to direct support. Self-help resources include a knowledge base, community forum, blog, and a FAQ section. If these self-help resources are not enough, users can also contact the customer support team via live chat, phone support, email, or form submission.
Users on the higher-tier paid plans sometimes have access to a dedicated account manager, custom onboarding, and personalized training tutorials.
How to Create a Website in 6 steps
While website builders are a cost-effective alternative to hiring a web developer, building a website from scratch can still be a big commitment. Once a website is created and hosted on a particular platform, it is often a hassle to switch providers. By selecting the right website builder from the start, users can remove unnecessary friction from the web development process and start building the website or online store of their dreams.
1. Analyze Goals and Needs
As a first step, identify the motivations and goals for setting up a website. For non-professional use such as creating a wedding picture album or sharing cooking recipes, users can get by on a free plan featuring fewer functions. For companies whose online presence reflects upon their professional image, having a well-designed website with thoughtful content is important. In this case, it is worth upgrading to a paid plan to unlock more functionalities and customization options.
2. Select a Website Builder
Once the motivations, goals, and target audience have been identified, it is time to select a website builder. Most website builders either offer a free plan or a free trial, so users can shop around and try out features before making a final decision. Users should also keep in mind that most pricing plans scale proportionally with the number of features — the more expensive a plan, the more features and perks it offers.
Most website builders provide free-of-charge hosting, so users do not have to worry about paying additional hosting fees. Nonetheless, in order to connect a custom domain, users will most likely have to upgrade to a paid plan or purchase a domain name through their chosen website builder.
3. Define Site Structure
After registering for an account, users must set up their website and determine their site structure. Defining the site structure is useful for organizing content and forms strong foundations for the website’s SEO. By creating a coherent site structure, users can help search engines to navigate the site and source meaningful and relevant content.
The site structure also impacts its usability. In order to ensure a pleasant site experience, the website must feature user-friendly elements such as navigation menus and breadcrumb links.
4. Implement a Design
A well-designed website imparts an air of professionalism, necessary for making a good first impression and boosting user engagement. While users can choose to design their websites from scratch, selecting a template is often the more time-saving choice. Once a template has been selected, users can tweak style options such as background colors, fonts, and layouts. All design customizations should align with the brand’s identity and weave together a coherent visual experience for the visitor.
Users should also consider optimizing their site design for accessibility, usability, and inclusion.
5. Create Content
Useful content is what drives the web, so users should ensure that their site content provides value to their visitors. Once users have decided on a site structure, populating the pages with content brings the website one step closer to completion. Using the WYSIWYG editor, users can add text, images, videos, and links. For optimal SEO performance, users should also make use of page titles, headers, and meta descriptions.
6. Publish, Test, and Analyze
The work of setting up a website continues even after it has been published. A website is a dynamic product that requires constant adaptation, so users should track, monitor, and make adjustments to their websites according to web analytics and SEO metrics. With a third-party plugin such as Google Analytics, users should have access to the website’s performance, such as visitor statistics, conversion rates, leads, sales, and more. Using the tools provided, users can continuously improve their website for better results.
Examples of Website Builder Features
Besides the tools mentioned above, some website builders expand their offerings with the following features:
|Blogging Tools||Users can create blogs and refresh their websites with updated content. Adds a personalized flair to every website and provides a great avenue for content marketing.|
|SEO Tools||Offers a set of actionable search engine optimization strategies that users can execute on their websites, such as adding meta titles and meta descriptions.|
|Web Analytics||Collects data about site performance so that users can make accurate inferences and enact data-driven measures to improve site rankings.|
|Landing Page Builder||Provides an easy and fuss-free way of developing landing pages. Similar to WYSIWYG editors, landing page builders often utilize drag and drop.|
How Much Does it Cost to Use a Website Builder?
The cost of using a website builder depends on the chosen software provider and the specific plan a user is subscribed to. Many website builders offer a free plan, allowing users to sign up and create a website entirely for free. However, free plans have limited functionality, smaller storage space, and often include the provider’s name in the URL.
On the other hand, paid plans unlock premium features and additional benefits without the hefty price tag of hiring a web developer. Paid plans typically run from $5 to $50 per month, which usually includes web hosting, a SSL certificate, and a robust suite of tools to build a stunning website. This eliminates server costs and other ongoing expenses associated with building a website.
Some website builders also offer eCommerce plans, targeted at small to mid-sized companies looking to take their businesses online. eCommerce plans range from $30 to $300 a month. eCommerce plans include secure payment gateways, multi-channel selling, and professional reporting tools.
Creating an eCommerce store with a Website Builder
Selling online is no longer the domain of big companies — with a website builder, anybody can make a professional-looking online store. While eCommerce tools vary with different website builders, here are some important features to keep in mind:
Users can mix and match a combination of promotional strategies such as discounts and free shipping to effectively target and sell to potential customers.
Users should have granular control over their products, from uploading product images and descriptions to adding tags and labels for better organization.
Automatically updates stock levels when products increase or decrease in quantity. Low stock or out of stock alerts should also be displayed when necessary.
Users should be able to process and fulfill orders without complications. Possibilities include printing shipping labels, initiating refunds, and canceling orders.
The checkout process should be safe, secure, and easy. Payment processors should be PCI-compliant and protect against frauds and chargebacks.
Security and Privacy
As software providers, website builders are committed to safeguarding customer data privacy and keeping personal information out of the crosshairs of malicious attacks and data breaches. Most, if not all, website builders offer SSL certificates, ensuring that all traffic to and from their servers is encrypted. Two-factor authentication and Single Sign-On are also features that users can take for an added layer of security.
In the case of credit card transactions, all website builders are partnered with PCI-compliant payment gateways to reduce credit card fraud. Such payment gateways also have controls in place to prevent fraudulent orders and protect business merchants against chargebacks.