Create a Website

Best Website Building Software: You Should Know These Tools

Author
Martin Gschwentner
Translation
D Bare
Last update
29. May 2023
Ad disclaimer: For links on this page, EXPERTE.com may earn a commission from the provider. This supports our work and has no influence on our editorial rating.

You'd like to create your own website, but don't know where or how to start? If you'd prefer to avoid CSS and HTML and lack the budget to hire a web design expert, chances are that you'll need to start with a software solution. But which programs are there for creating a website?

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First, we should take a closer look at what we mean when we say 'program': Web design has embraced the software as a service (SaaS) concept, with it no longer being necessary to download and install these on your computer, but simply, to access and use them through your Internet browser.

Of course, downloadable programs, like Adobe Dreamweaver, are still in use. All the same, most web design options are cloud-based these days. This is particularly true for those platforms that cater to beginners and anyone lacking web design or programming skills and abilities. In this article, we've focused on these easy-to-use solutions.

Which Programs Help to Create a Website?

SaaS website creation platforms can be broadly divided into two categories: The first is website builders, which are targeted at beginners, and offer a user-friendly experience at the cost of certain limitations in terms of creativity and options. The second is a content management system (CMS), which provides more flexibility while requiring greater technical know-how and skills.

There also exist other programs and online platforms beyond those two options which can help in putting a website together. For example, you can use interface design programs to plan its layout, while hiring copywriting, design, or marketing freelancers to help with the rest.

Below, we've summarized the various categories of software as well as some of the most popular providers.

Option 1: Website Builders

Website builders are extremely popular since they allow nearly anyone to realize their dream of launching a website, even without coding skills or a large budget. Instead of CSS or HTML, you'll use visual editors, and work with ready-made content blocks that you can easily customize to your exact preferences.

Their biggest advantages are that you won't need to write a single line of code or have too sharp an eye for design: Templates and elements are usually already optimized to be visually appealing. Of course, this is also the disadvantage of website builders, since you'll need to work within the frames each platform sets. Depending on how ambitious your project is, this can be constraining.

Overall, website builders are ideal for small projects with limited budgets, as well as users who would like to create a professional website without too many extravagant features, but don't have the coding or design skills to do so on their own.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Website Builders

  • No programming or design experience necessary

  • High-quality templates provide your website's foundation

  • Relatively affordable

  • Domain and hosting included

  • Integrated commerce and marketing features, and much more

  • Limited design freedom

  • Less flexible than other methods

  • Websites can look similar owing to the standard templates on offer

  • Shortcomings in terms of SEO

  • Speed or scaling limitations

If you've decided that a website builder is the best solution for your needs, there are a range of different options. For starters, you'll need to choose between classic website builders and those that are optimized for ecommerce projects. Below, we'll introduce you to a selection of both.

Website Builders

In our comprehensive EXPERTE.com website builder assessment, we tested 12 of the most popular platforms. Here's our Top 4:

1.

EXPERTE.com's Winner: Wix

Best Overall 2024
Wix Website Builder
Wix Website Builder
(92,328 )
Wix beats out the competition with an unmatched variety of features, intuitive editors and a jam-packed app store. Overall, the platform offers the best balance of usability and features on the market today.
800+ versatile templates
lots of features and elements
store with 300+ apps
simple & intuitive interface
free entry-level plan
9.6
excellent
Space
0.5 - 50 GB
Domains
0 - 1
Templates
550+
Contract Period
0 - 36 months
Wix Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website*
Try for Free

Wix secured the top spot in our comparison since the Israeli platform combines a high degree of user-friendliness with a powerful drag and drop editor. Alongside its standard editor, there's also the ADI version. This is for absolute beginners and essentially automates website creation.

Wix was EXPERTE.com's winner, offering the best overall package.

Should the features that Wix comes with by default not be enough, you can browse its huge app marketplace. There, you'll find plenty of extensions, some of which are even free. Even without add-ons, Wix has a lot to offer and also cuts a good figure as an ecommerce platform.

2.

Elegant Templates: Squarespace

Squarespace Website Builder
Squarespace Website Builder
(26,873 )
Squarespace can impress with flawless designs and high quality templates, which make the creation of professional websites a piece of cake – but comes at a higher price compared with the competition.
100+ elegant templates
up to 1,000 pages
lots of features
quick support with live chat
few extensions
9.1
excellent
Space
unlimited
Domains
1 domain
Templates
100+
Contract Period
1 - 12 months
Squarespace Personal
$16.00
monthly price
Visit Website*
14 Days Trial Period

Squarespace is most well known for its stylish templates that give its websites an unmistakable look. But that's not all: Creating a website with the platform is extremely intuitive and users lacking experience or technical know-how can look forward to plenty of assistance. For example, the smart integration of stock photo providers is especially handy, making it possible to integrate photos on your website with just a few clicks.

3.

Powerful Editor: MyWebsite by IONOS

IONOS MyWebsite
IONOS MyWebsite
(37,581 )
Due to its rather complex editor, IONOS MyWebsite comes with a bit of a learning curve, but rewards those who stick with it with wide-ranging creative possibilities that enable unique websites.
400+ versatile templates
powerful editor
24/7 support
supports multilingual sites
not all templates are great
8.8
good
Space
10 - ∞
Domains
1 domain
Templates
400+
Contract Period
12 months
IONOS Starter
$10.50
monthly price
Visit Website*
30 days risk-free

When first starting out, you might wonder how MyWebsite by IONOS made it onto this list, since its editor is more complicated than those of the other services from our sample. It has lots of small submenus and takes some getting used to.

However, if you can look past that, MyWebsite by IONOS proves to have one of the most powerful website-building editors on the market. This allows you to more comprehensively customize your website than you would with most of its competitors. On top of that, you'll get advanced ecommerce features and the ability to easily create multilingual websites.

4.

Website Builder CMS Hybrid: Webflow

Webflow Website Builder
Webflow Website Builder
(760 )
Webflow is a hybrid between website builder and CMS, and requires a basic understanding of coding logic. It's less suitable for beginners – but its visual design tools are a great way for more advanced users to create dynamic websites.
mix of CMS & website builder
more powerful than WYSIWYG editors
learning platform "Webflow University"
visual design with zero code
steep learning curve
8.7
good
Space
unlimited
Domains
0 domains
Templates
30+
Contract Period
0 - 12 months
Webflow Starter
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website*
Start for Free

Among website builders, Webflow is in a category of its own: The hybrid solution combines aspects of both website builders and CMSs, offering significantly more creative freedom than nearly all of the other website builders from our sample. However, the platform is less geared towards beginners, since it requires a certain basic understanding of coding principles.

Webflow's practical editor visualizes programming, however, doesn't gloss over coding logic. This means that users will need to have some familiarity with the box model in order to make the most of the platform.

This means that practically anything that you can achieve with programming languages is possible with Webflow. At the same time, it's not nearly as well-suited for the usual website builder target groups who do their best to avoid CSS and HTML.

Ecommerce Platforms

Ecommerce platforms also utilize the same principles as website builders to help users get sites online as easily as possible. The only difference is that they focus on ecommerce projects, offering more comprehensive features that support online businesses: Extensive product management, marketing tools, shopping statistics, and payment/delivery options are some of the most crucial aspects to look for in ecommerce platforms.

We reviewed 8 ecommerce platforms and here are our favorites:

1.

BigCommerce

BigCommerce
BigCommerce
(2,005 )
BigCommerce boasts well-designed product and inventory management features, solid marketing and analytics capabilities, and support for many sales channels. Possibly too complex for smaller shops, it's ideal for larger ecommerce projects.
many features 'out of the box'
up to 600 variants per product
no product limits
supports multiple currencies
too complicated for smaller shops
8.7
good
Number of Products
unlimited
Transaction Fee
0 %
Sales Channels
7+
Payment Options
6+
BigCommerce Standard
$29.95
monthly price
Visit Website*
Start Free Trial

BigCommerce is a powerful ecommerce platform that offers excellent product management, plenty of sales options, and solid analytics features. You can create as many product variants as you'd like and boost the reach of your store thanks to its comprehensive marketing tools.

Good product variant management is particularly important with ecommerce platforms, and BigCommerce doesn't disappoint.

Selling in multiple currencies is easy to set up with BigCommerce, as are dropshipping and multichannel sales.

2.

Shopify

Shopify
Shopify
(53,171 )
Shopify is a great all-rounder for small, medium, or larger shops. If you're looking for a platform that's more powerful than a regular website builder, but not as complicated as other ecommerce platforms, Shopify might offer the right mix.
more than 7,000 plugins
great help center
scales with your shop
suitable for beginners
many features require plugins
8.6
good
Number of Products
unlimited
Transaction Fee
0.5 - 2 %
Sales Channels
7+
Payment Options
7+
Shopify Basic
$29.00
monthly price
Visit Website*
14 day free trial

Shopify enables less-experienced users to launch their own online store with relative ease. Here too, it's possible to offer different product variants which can be sold practically anywhere thanks to the platform's support for multichannel sales. With just a few clicks, you can set up sales and marketing campaigns, all while following their progress in Shopify's detailed and user-friendly dashboards.

Option 2: Content Management Systems (CMS)

A content management system or CMS, is another tool you can use to create and manage your own website. These are far more versatile than website builders, however, do much less hand-holding. For example, if using one, you'll be responsible for aspects like hosting and a domain, which website builders handle for their users.

Still, this does offer a number of advantages: The biggest of these is that you're able to insert your own code, integrate as many add-ons as you'd like, and not need to limit yourself to the platform's templates or feature package. You also won't have to build without a drag and drop editor, as there are CMS add-ons that provide this functionality.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a CMS

  • Open source

  • Fewer restrictions than website builders

  • Programming experience not necessarily required

  • Numerous plugins available

  • Set up requires some know-how

  • Coding familiarity needed to take maximum advantage of the platform

  • More maintenance required; potential security issues

  • Hosting and a domain not included

CMS Platforms

In our EXPERTE.com CMS comparison we checked which CMS platforms are the most popular. Here are our TOP 3:

1.

WordPress

WordPress began as a blogging platform, to which so many features were added that it morphed into a full-fledged CMS. These days, it's the undisputed global leader: More than 75% of all websites that we could identify a CMS integration for were built with WordPress.

WordPress is by far the most popular CMS in the world.

Since WordPress is open source, it's also free. The platform is highly versatile and can be enhanced with seemingly endless add-ons, making it possible to bring any digital project to life.

2.

Drupal

Drupal is also open source and versatile, helping users to create anything from a basic blog to a more intricate business website.

Setting Drupal up is somewhat less tricky than WordPress, as you'll only need to make a few adjustments after installation is complete. However, the platform has fewer add-ons and extensions. While WordPress tries to cater to both beginners and pros, Drupal is designed for advanced developers.

3.

Joomla

Joomla is another open-source CMS that stands out owing to its out-of-the-box support for multilingual websites. Unlike WordPress, you won't need to install a third-party plugin. Overall, Joomla is known for its versatility in designing templates, making it attractive for users with less coding experience.

Other Tools & Software

Creating your actual website will consume most of your time and effort, however, before you get that far, you'll need to plan and conceptualize what it is that you want to achieve. Similarly, once your digital scaffolding is erected, you'll constantly need to add to it. After all, a website is always evolving and developing further.

With that in mind, it definitely doesn't hurt to widen your scope. Below, we'll introduce you to a few extra programs and platforms that can help you to draw up and manage your website.

Graphic Design Programs

The editors that power website builders are well-suited for visually putting together a site using their tools and design elements. However, you shouldn't rely on them for creative impulse or inspiration.

Instead, it's a good idea to create a sketch or schematic of your vision in a graphics or interface design program. Once complete, you can use this as a guide either when you're building, or discussing the project with a professional web designer.

Several graphics programs have specialized in web design and web layouts including:

1.

Figma

Figma is a design tool that was conceptualized to help create user interfaces. With it, you can make a website prototype with various subpages and components, and then refer to it when building your actual website.

While complicated, beginners can come to terms with the platform. You won't need any programming skills to make the most of Figma, and design elements can be automatically converted into code.

With Figma you can plan your website's design.

It's only possible to use all of Figma's features and capabilities with a premium subscription. The free Starter version does come in handy for straightforward projects, however.

2.

Sketch

Sketch is one of the most popular platforms for designing website prototypes and user interfaces. Unlike Figma, it isn't a web app, but a dedicated, downloadable app for macOS (unfortunately, Windows and Linux users get the short end of the stick).

Sketch is a UX design tool for macOS (Image Source: Sketch).

The vector-based tool makes designing an interface easy thanks to its smart grid system and sleek user interface, which is not nearly as complicated as those of other design programs. Integrated collaboration features also enable users to work on a project in real time with team members.

3.

Adobe XD

Adobe Creative Cloud, which offers programs like Photoshop and InDesign, also includes a user interface design tool: Adobe XD. With its streamlined, visual interface, the program is well-suited for creating page schematics and mockups. Using extensions, designs made with XD can be exported as HTML or CSS files.

Adobe XD is part of its developer's Creative Cloud.

Since it's part of its developer's Creative Cloud, Illustrator, Photoshop, or any other Adobe assets can be easily added to XD and edited there. For anyone that already uses Adobe products, XD's user interface will feel like home.

Freelancer Platforms

Website builders take care of designing your web presence, however, they don't offer much help when it comes to filling your pages with the most important content: Text. This helps you to sell whatever it is that you're offering. In addition to captivating ad copy, you'll also need comprehensive design assistance, neither of which a website builder offers, and marketing help.

For any and all of these, you can fairly easily find support online. On freelancer platforms, you'll find plenty of experts eager to work for you, at whatever rates you're willing to pay. Some of the most popular platforms are:

1.

Upwork

Freelancers create profiles on Upwork and then bid on jobs and projects. As a client, you can post an ad for free specifying what it is that you want to be done or, what you're looking for, such as a copywriter or designer. In addition, you can specify what level of experience the freelancer should have and your project's budget or hourly rate.

After this, you'll start receiving bids from freelancers and can select the individual with the best or most attractive offer.

There are freelancers for every budget level on Upwork.

As mentioned above, you can hire freelancers on a project basis, for specific milestones, or for hourly rates that are then tracked using an Upwork app. You can keep in touch with your freelancer using Upwork's messaging or video conferencing services.

2.

Fiverr

Fiverr began as a platform where users offered various mini-services for $5. While novel, the company has since evolved into a full-fledged freelancer platform, providing all possible services at different rates, such as web design, logo creation, and copywriting.

Freelancers on Fiverr offer their services at different rates.

Unlike Upwork, on Fiverr, you won't post a project and have freelancers compete for it. Instead, input search terms like "web design" or "copywriting" and review the freelancer profiles that best match your project's needs or requirements. Freelancers on Fiverr offer their services at different rates, ranging from Basic to Premium packages.

3.

Freelancer.com

On Freelancer.com you can find willing hands for your project and hire them at fixed hourly rates. Unlike both Upwork and Fiverr, on Freelancer.com, you'll search for help by their location and specialty. For web design, you'll find freelancers that specialize in website builders like Wix or Squarespace.

On Freelancer.com, you can hire specialists at fixed hourly rates.

Like Upwork, Freelancer.com allows you to pay by milestone. You'll issue payments either according to a schedule agreed upon ahead of time or when the project is completed.

Conclusion

There are seemingly endless numbers of programs that you can use to create a website. Should you not have the necessary programming skills and be unable to hire a professional web designer or developer, you basically have two options: Website builders or a content management system (CMS).

Website builders are the more appealing option for absolute beginners who want a professional website with all the bells and whistles (like hosting and a domain) but don't have any coding experience. Of course, the resulting ease of use does come at a cost, as you'll have to make do with certain limitations on your creativity and design freedom.

A CMS is what you make of it: In order to maximize its potential, you'll need some background knowledge of coding. However, the trade-off is the ability to create much more versatile projects. For experienced users and more complicated websites, or those which are likely to need to scale up, a CMS is definitely the better choice.

In the event that you need a helping hand for anything involving your website or its operation, you can recruit willing professionals on freelancer platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, or Freelancer.com. For the more creative side of your website, graphic design programs focusing on web design like Figma, Sketch, or Adobe XD, are worth checking out.

Do you want to know what you'll need to pay to create and run a website? We compiled a guide that summarizes and compares each method's costs.

Top Website Builder 2024
Sponsored
from $0.00
per month
Wix
from $16.00
per month
Squarespace
from $10.50
per month
IONOS
from $0.00
per month
Webflow
show all
Author (German Version): Martin Gschwentner
Martin Gschwentner majored in American Studies and Media Studies in Germany, the USA and France and works as a freelance editor in Paris. He is a doctoral student at the Institute for English and American Studies at the University of Paris Diderot, where he is researching the influence of money on US politics. On EXPERTE.com he writes about IT security, data protection and software for the self-employed and small businesses.
Translation: D Bare
* Ad disclaimer: For links marked with an asterisk, EXPERTE.com may earn a commission from the provider. The commission has no influence on our editorial rating.
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800+ versatile templates
lots of features and elements
store with 300+ apps
simple & intuitive interface
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9.6
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