In the past, many dreams of having a website were dashed either because the process was too cost- or time-intensive. However, those days are over: The rise of website builders has made it easy and inexpensive to create a homepage. They allow anyone, even those without any knowledge of programming, to create homepages, blogs, or online stores by dragging and dropping content blocks or elements. Below, we'll show you what website builders can do, and which of those we reviewed impressed us most.
What Is a Website Builder?
Website builders bring complex programming and CMS processes from the back end to the front end, packaging them in an easy to understand interface consisting of tools and guidelines. This allows users to manually design and create a website without having any familiarity with programming. Site builders are particularly useful for those who have no knowledge of coding as well as those who do but prefer to work visually.
With that said, not all site builders are created equal: Significant differences do exist between solutions, particularly in regards to the complexity of the tool and the features to which it provides access. Also, just because it isn't necessary to have any knowledge of programming, doesn't mean that these services don't have a learning curve. Similarly, how the service's interfaces are designed also varies considerably. Each website builder has its own logic that requires learning before its full power can be harnessed.
Below, we'll introduce all of the services we reviewed as well as our winners. After that, we'll provide a look into our decision-making process and the criteria that a good website builder should have.
Winner: Wix Website Builder
Wix combines both quality and quantity like none of the other builders we've examined, making the creation of sites easy, even for beginners. At first glance, the user interface, which is reminiscent of Photoshop, owing to its movable toolbars and grid lines, is a bit overwhelming, however, the learning curve is very small. In addition to the standard editor, Wix also provides a slimmed-down ADI editor, which is less complex but offers fewer features, and isn't as flexible. It's important to note that alternating between the ADI and basic editors causes your progress to be lost.
In Wix's standard editor, you'll find numerous elements in its toolboxes that you can incorporate into your website. The media toolbox, for example, enables you to decorate your site with high-quality pictures and illustrations, and the service's blogging features are solid. If the last of these isn't enough, you can find additional extensions in the service's app market.
Wix also offers a number of possibilities for personalization when it comes to creating an online shop. The service also provides help in SEO, which includes a plan for optimizing your search engine strategy, as well as a number of analytical tools.
Wix is available for free, however, this ties users to the company's domain and limits access to some important features. Current prices and additional information about our winner can be found in its full review:
Price-Performance Winner: Weebly Website Builder
Our price-performance winner, Weebly also comes with a user-friendly editor that makes creating a website easy, especially for beginners. Whereas other builders are somewhat liberal with their usage of the phrase "drag and drop", Weebly truly does embrace the principle: In its intuitive editor, you can take content boxes from your site's menu bar, and position them exactly where you want them.
Weebly is also well-suited to creating commercial sites, and offers a number of marketing and sales tools, albeit only for paying subscribers.
Our only complaint, apart from a few cosmetic issues, is that the templates lack somewhat in versatility. That notwithstanding, Weebly is definitely a good choice, particularly for those just starting out with site building.
For the Advanced User: Webflow Website Builder
Webflow perfectly epitomizes the differences between website builders: As a website builder/content management system (CMS) hybrid, the service does demand some background knowledge of programming from its users, making it more complex than the other services we reviewed. For those who have this (or who are ready to learn), you'll get a powerful tool that is far more versatile than its counterparts.
A Webflow site consists of boxes that are stacked upon one another and can be arranged however the designer wishes. The "box model" will be familiar to programmers and web designers, but for everyone else, something new. Webflow bases the programming and order of boxes in its front end so that you can drag and drop those elements that would otherwise require coding to create and adjust.
Webflow visualizes complicated coding procedures to bring their design process as close to the front end as possible. This service will be less of a hit with beginners or those lacking familiarity with programming, however, for everyone else, Webflow can help to accomplish a great deal.
Squarespace is a popular website builder with an unmistakable and stylish design, a number of templates, and which makes creating a website with intuitive tools fairly easy. Unfortunately, it doesn't have an app center or market and as such, you're stuck with the features that the service offers, which although somewhat limited, are of good quality.
1&1 IONOS MyWebsite
The editor provided by IONOS is somewhat bulkier than the more intuitive ones of its counterparts. Particularly when starting out, the dashboard appears not to be linear enough, and to have too many fragmented input fields. Wix or Squarespace outperform IONOS in terms of templates too. Nevertheless, getting used to the service is worth it, since IONOS offers more configuration possibilities than most other website builders do.
Jimdo manages to achieve a nice balance between simplicity and versatility, enabling beginners, or those without any knowledge of programming, to put together a decent website. There are some clear shortcomings, such as a paucity of templates, the lack of an app center, and disappointing customer support, however, Jimdo remains a solid choice for anyone who places a premium on simplicity.
Webnode impresses thanks to its sleek editor, making website creation a cinch, albeit at the cost of functionality. For our tastes, this was too high a price to pay: There is a noticeable lack of variety among the service's elements, support for blogging is limited to the absolute minimum, and for looking to build an e-commerce site, the service offers only the basics.
Site123 emphasizes simplicity, consciously abstaining from including certain design features. Pre-made website elements can be freely organized, but not customized. The result is a robust website builder that makes it easy to create professional-looking sites, albeit by stymying their user's creativity.
How Did We Evaluate?
As can be seen, none of the website builders we've examined are too similar to one another. What does remain the same are our criteria: We aggregated individual scores in five areas to create a single score for each service. Below, we'll briefly explain these five areas in greater detail.
Configuration and Usability
Every website builder has a learning curve. Those editors that appear more complicated, generally become more familiar with some practice, sometimes even being easier to operate than those which are intuitive from the outset. In addition to the general user-friendliness of site builders, it's also important to us how the services lead users to their numerous features and impart awareness of their underlying logic.
We looked most favorably upon those website builders that appeal to both beginners and advanced users equally. Beginners should benefit most from the limited versions of editors. For example, Wix offers a less complicated ADI editor, while Jimdo provides the automatic Dolphin editor which serves much the same purpose.
In the first place, it's important for site builders to strike a good balance between user-friendliness and functionality or sophistication. The more elements and possibilities that exist for arranging them, the more individual a finished website will appear. At the same time, the more freedom that is afforded users, the greater the possibility is that the final result will not meet their expectations.
An ideal website builder takes users by the hand when they want help, allowing them to create professional-looking homepages without any foreknowledge of coding or programming. At the same time, such a service will also give users the chance to create more complicated websites with as few limits or restrictions as possible.
The number and quality of website elements that users can organize in drag and drop blocks determine, to a large extent, how qualitative and individual the finished site will appear. Alongside essential blocks, website builders should also offer the ability to create specific kinds of sites: For example, a restaurant homepage needs templates for menus or making reservations, while artists or designers require the ability to add portfolios to their pages. A good website builder should be able to fulfill these different needs and offer the necessary solutions in clearly-marked and/or logical icons or menus.
Blogging features are something else that we look for when scoring a website builder. To achieve a good score, the service should allow for a highly-customized blog to be created: Alongside a powerful editor for varying kinds of posts, tags, and categories, further means of organizing content should also be provided. Since websites can often have multiple authors, builders should serve as a type of headquarters or rallying point where collaboration thrives.
In sum, a website builder is considered to be strong in features when it allows for detailed and highly personalized websites to be created which fulfill the user's commercial or private needs.
Templates & Design
Each website builder relies on ready-made templates that users can personalize. It's also important that a variety of templates be offered, otherwise, the danger exists that too many sites created using the site builder will look identical. For example, IONOS offers more than 400 templates, whereas others only provide a handful. Accordingly, the chance that you'll find a ready-made website design that fits your needs is significantly higher with IONOS than with their less template-rich competitors.
Even more important than the number of templates is how versatile these are. Most website builders offer different layouts for each template, but of course, you'll probably want to modify these yourself. Can you move elements as you wish, or only change the color schemes and background images? Spacing, fonts, and menu types are just a few of the parameters that you should be able to tailor to your preferences in a good site builder.
To receive a good score, a website builder should offer a wide selection of templates and layouts and make their elements as customizable as possible.
Marketing, SEO, & E-Commerce
Not every website needs to be, or have an online shop. With that said, all website builders should offer users the possibility to create web stores. In this vein, it's particularly important that the services provide a clear overview of products, making it easy to add new items. The number of options that are left up to users varies from builder to builder: It's crucial that types and categories of products that are available can be specified, and that you have the ability to enter details about the number of items in storage, their weight, and their size. Shipping & handling, payment methods, and taxes should also be controllable. Among advanced features, it's also good to look for the ability to launch sales or issue coupon codes.
Every website builder should provide access to basic SEO options, making the creation of meta-tags, page titles, and descriptions as easy as possible. Some solutions, like Wix, guide their users towards optimizing their search engine positions.
In terms of analytics, it's desirable to be able to integrate tools like Google Analytics, Yandex Metrica, or Facebook Pixel, as well as user-defined tracking codes. Many website builders, like Squarespace, also include an individual menu option for statistics, which provides you with information about traffic, visitor locations, and other factors.
A good support score requires both an authoritative help center with FAQs and guides, as well as numerous options for directly contacting the service's staff to resolve more complicated issues. We particularly like those providers that offer live support chats, like Site123.
In live chats, questions can be answered in a matter of seconds. Phone calls, support tickets, and emails should all be answered competently and within a reasonable amount of time.
Creating your own website is easier today than ever before, largely thanks to the efforts of website builders in overcoming the barrier posed by programming. At the same time, the Internet has become full of half-finished sites, since many users underestimate the amount of effort needed, despite the process becoming much simpler: A website builder still requires some getting used to, an eye for design, and that you have captivating content.
For those that can keep up with these demands, a number of providers offer a selection of services that make creating the perfect website easy. Determining which provider is best for your project depends largely on the purpose of your website, as well as your budget, and level of familiarity with programming.
What is a website builder?
A website builder is a tool for creating professional websites without having any specialized programming knowledge. With ready-made design templates and intuitive drag and drop editors, users can create and administer websites, blogs, and online shops without CSS or HTML. Site building services mostly run off the provider's servers, making it possible to use them in your browser without downloading any software. These companies also provide all services that are needed for a website, from hosting to the domain.
Who are website builders for?
A website builder is an ideal solution for users who don't have any programming knowledge and are looking for an affordable alternative to professional website designers. Depending on the complexity of the site you have in mind, the chances are high that you'll be able to create and administer it all on your own.
How do website builders differ from one another?
Most website builders focus on having a simple interface, offering editors which are intuitive and controlled via drag and drop, however, not all providers are equally welcoming to beginners. Differences do exist in terms of the number, quality, and variety of templates and content blocks, features, and whether support for blogs, e-commerce, marketing, and SEO are offered. Outside of the design and content aspects, the support offered, price, and existence of an integrated hosting service should also not be taken for granted.
Which website builder is the best?
Determining the ideal website builder for your project depends entirely on your requirements. In EXPERTE.com's evaluation, Wix was the best service we assessed, scoring highly thanks to its large number of features, various design possibilities, and well-stocked app marketplace. In second place came Weebly with its intuitive drag and drop features that make designing a site particularly simple. Rounding out our top picks was Squarespace, which impressed on account of its high-quality design.