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The Best Website Builders

Which Service Offers the Best Website Builder?

The way you build a website can directly impact the success your website has in attracting and retaining customers. So, it's important to choose a website builder that maximizes things like search engine optimization (SEO), usability, the speed at which each page loads (page speed), mobile browser compatibility, accessibility for users with disabilities, and dozens of other requirements.

Website builder software and services aim to remove the technical barriers that come with more sophisticated methods of building websites. With a website builder, not only is content easier to author, you also become a "drag and drop" designer of your home page and supporting sub-pages. This can be a blessing or it can be a burden depending on the quality of the website builder, how much time you have and your tolerance for learning curves.

Friday, October 22nd

2021 Website Builder Reviews

Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award WordPress Review 5 Star Rating

WordPress

5 Star Rating
  • Cost: From $0 to $45 per month (depending on hosting)
Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

WordPress has been around for a long time. Since its first version was launched in 2003 to now, thirty five percent of websites (455 million websites!) are built using WordPress. WordPress sites make up 14.7% of the top 100 websites in the world.

Tens Of Thousands Of Themes And Plugins

WordPress began as a simple blogging tool that evolved into the most popular Content Management System (CMS). Through its tens of thousands of themes and plugins, it can be extended to become anything you want your website to be.

Open Source Software

WordPress has the added benefit of being built as "open source" software. That means that anyone can use it and change it to anything they want, free of charge, as long as they also license it as open source. Almost no one needs to modify "core" WordPress itself because open source flexibility is the key to its popularity. But, should the need arise to change it in any way, you can hire someone who can do it for you. There are tens of thousands of WordPress-specific designers and developers and about 5 million PHP developers. PHP is the language that WordPress runs on.

5 Plans To Choose From

Wordpress offers you five different plans to choose from when signing up for their service:

Your host Wordpress on your own server.

For $4/month, you receive:

  • Free domain for 1 year
  • Collect payments
  • Unlimited email support

For $8/month, you receive everything in the Personal Plan, plus:

  • Live chat support
  • Ability to earn ad revenue
  • Premium themes
  • Ability to upload videos
  • Google analytics integration

For $25/month, you receive everything in the Premium Plan, plus:

  • Ability to install plugins, which will extend the functionality of your site
  • Advanced SEO tools, to help your site rank well within Google
  • Automated site backups
  • SFTP file transfers and database access

For $45/month, you receive everything in the Business Plan, plus:

  • Ability to accept paymentsin over 60 countries
  • integrations with top shipping carriers
  • Premium design options for online stores
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Getting Started

After signing up for an account at WordPress and logging in, you choose your desired theme from the Design > Themes menu, and then create a page or post to act as your site's homepage. If given the choice between using the old text editor and using the new WordPress drag-and-drop Block Editor, we recommend the Block Editor. It is replacing the "Classic Editor" as the future of editing in WordPress. The Block Editor is intuitive, but if you get stuck there are lots of tutorials online and at WordPress on how to use the Block Editor.

More Of What You Need

When you upgrade from free to a business plan or higher, WordPress provides much more of what you need to run a successful website, including email and live chat support, removal of WordPress ads, custom domains, hosting, JetPack optimization tools, analytics, marketing integrations, payment collection, and making money through display advertising on your site. You can forward emails sent to your custom domain to G Suite, Outlook, or other email services as needed.

One-click Install

If you decide to self-host your website using the open source software, your host will likely have it already set up for you. If not, they will provide a one-click install option to add WordPress to your hosting account. Most hosting providers have a "managed WordPress" option so that you don't have to worry about special configuration, backups, restores, or other maintenance issues. You can also purchase WordPress maintenance plans from dozens of dedicated maintenance providers.

Total Freedom

Self-hosted WordPress has a slightly different user interface than the primary WordPress service, but the concepts are the same. You can choose a Block Editor-enabled theme, or a full-fledged page-builder or theme-builder theme for drag-and-drop page design and blog post content creation. Unlike with WordPress hosting, with self-hosted WordPress you have total freedom to add plugins to extend your site's capabilities, as well as various plugins to add more controls to the Block Editor.

Pay For Advanced Features

Many plugins and themes are free, so it's possible to run a whole WordPress site without paying anything beyond your basic hosting package. Other plugins and themes include advanced features which you can enable by paying for a license and inserting a license key in the plugin settings. It's totally up to you how you design, structure, and run your site.

Great Community Support

If you need to import or export content, WordPress has a simple and free plugin that will do this for you. Need to change your site appearance with a new theme? No problem, WordPress allows you to switch themes. Want to enable eCommerce on your WordPress site? That's covered as well, with numerous eCommerce plugins like the free WooCommerce plugin (and its numerous helper extensions), BigCommerce for WordPress, Easy Digital Downloads, MemberPress, Ecwid, and more.

Engineered To Perform Well On Google

One of the best things about WordPress, because of its long history, is that it "grew up" around how search engines discover new sites and new or updated content. Everything about how WordPress pages and posts are structured is engineered to make your content as visible as possible to search engine "bots". If you do your part to write good content, WordPress does the rest for you. Other site builder services struggle to measure up to WordPress in this regard.

A Little Higher Learning Curve

Because of its flexibility, WordPress does require a little bit more user education than the typical quick-start site builder. But this is actually a benefit rather than a hindrance in that you're trading a modest time investment to save both money and even more time as you add new features and content to your site and as your site rises in the search engine results. Many basic to advanced tutorials are free online and there's a huge community of WordPress developers and enthusiasts to help you in case you get stuck.

Highest Rating

WordPress earned our highest rating because of its longevity, extensibility, search engine visibility, and popularity. We really like the freedom that comes with both WordPress options. There's nothing standing in the way of creating a top-notch, high-traffic site when using WordPress.

Divi Review 4.5 Star Rating

Divi

4.5 Star Rating
  • Cost: From $89 per year to $249 for lifetime support

To complement the WordPress recommendation in our review of site builders, we tested the Divi site builder. Divi, sold by Elegant Themes, is a theme you install on any self-hosted WordPress site. With Divi, you can instantly generate a website with home, about, contact, product, portfolio, and other pages from a library of hundreds of pre-designed layouts in multiple categories. With that generated site, you have total freedom and control to change every aspect of the design.

Tutorial Videos

Divi has a set of tutorial videos that appear the first time you use it. For the best experience, be sure to follow the tutorials until you have enough information to begin.

Easy Visual Builder Mode

Using Divi's novice-friendly Visual Builder mode, your site appears in your browser as a user would see it. But, if you, as the site administrator, click on an element, such as text, image, video block, section, row, column, header, or footer, you can then edit or drag and resize that element directly on the page. When you're done with the changes, click the "Save" button. Your changes are now published.

Free To Use The Photos And Illustrations

All photos and illustrations in the pre-designed layout are open source, so you can use them on your site without paying any royalties or licensing fees. If any of those images are not what you want, simply replace them with the ones you want.

Full Theme Builder

Because Divi is a full theme builder, and unlike with other page builder themes and plugins for WordPress, you can exert control over the header, footer, 404 (not found) message pages, search results, archives, categories, and other meta-pages within WordPress. All your pages, headers, and footers can remain completely consistent with each other. And, if you want one header and footer for one set of pages, but a different header and footer for others, you can easily do that as well.

Best Website Builders

Use Pre-made Animations Or Create Your Own

Ever wanted to add nifty animations and effects to your site? Most page builders, if they have that capability, limit you to the ones that they've created for you. Not so with Divi. You can use pre-made animations and effects or create them entirely from scratch using the visual user interface. If you need even more flexibility and control through CSS and HTML code, you have that as well.

Easy To Setup ECommerce Functionality

Divi includes numerous page modules common to all websites, such as accordion, audio, bar counters, buttons, call to action, contact form, divider, email opt-in, and many others. When the WooCommerce plugin (for eCommerce stores) is installed, Divi's WooCommerce modules are available. These are a game changer because normally WooCommerce's page layouts are difficult to alter. With Divi, you can start with a blank page and set up a product, cart, or checkout exactly how you want the visitor to experience it.

Save Repeated Layouts To Your Library

As you build pages, you may find yourself repeating various layouts. You can save repeatable layouts as library items and then add them wherever you need them. Library items can then be customized per page. Or, if you want to alter a library item so that the change happens for the whole site, make it a global library item.

Switch Between Different Visual Modes

The Visual Builder lets you switch between different visual modes: Wireframe, Zoom Out, Desktop, Tablet, and Phone. Wireframe is very helpful when you have a lot of sections, rows, and modules and need to see how they relate to each other without seeing the design. Zoom Out helps you see the whole design in a zoomed out perspective. Desktop, Tablet, and Phone mode let you see and make changes specific to each of those modes alone or in groups.

License And Support

When you buy the license and support for Divi from Elegant Themes, you're also getting access to over 80 additional WordPress themes, the Bloom email opt-in plugin, and the Monarch social sharing plugin bundled with it. You can install the Divi Builder on each of the additional themes and control their look and feel as well. If you plan on using Divi and the bundled plugins for the long term, the lifetime license purchase option is a very good investment.

Very Impressed

We were extremely impressed with Divi's power, flexibility, and ease of use. One thing that reviewers are currently unhappy with is that using the Divi theme builder tends to slow down the site's page speed as site visitors experience it. Speed of a site is important for Google PageRank scores. But, with a caching plugin and fast website hosting, the page speed can be brought back to acceptable levels. With additional tweaks, a Divi site can be very fast. Despite these added steps, the advanced design capabilities make using Divi as your site builder worth it.

Nicepage Review 4 Star Rating

Nicepage

4 Star Rating
  • Cost: From $0 to $349

It's uncommon to see much flexibility in a website design and editing tool: most software in this category tends to be online-only, but Nicepage includes a standalone application for Windows and Mac as well as a plugin for the WordPress content management system, a Joomla content management system extension, and an online design tool as well!

Helpful 2-minute Starter Video

The first thing we noticed with the online version was that it caused the computer's CPU to work overtime and it filled memory to full capacity. If you decide to use this version, make sure you don't have any other applications or browser tabs open and it should work fine. Upon logging into the online design tool, you will be able to participate in a 2-minute guided tutorial that shows you the basics of how to get started. You'll learn how to create a new blank page, add a logo and menu to the header, add blocks to the page, and add text and images to the blocks.

Variety Of Display Modes

Nicepage respects the user's desire to position and resize images and text according to their preferences. And, there are controls for viewing the page in desktop mode, laptop mode, tablet portrait mode, tablet landscape mode, and smartphone screen sizes.

Hundreds Of Templates Available

There are hundreds of ready-to-use modern templates in nineteen categories ranging from Architecture & Building to Wedding. Unfortunately, if you're looking for a specific subtype within each category, there's no way to keyword search to narrow the results down. Also, the templates tend to produce a single page website where the individual sections act as separate "pages" of content. There are SEO disadvantages to this practice that you should take into consideration when using this type of design for your website vs. multiple separate pages with distinct URLs. And, unfortunately, it doesn't appear to give you the option of splitting multiple blocks into individual pages.

Easy Access To Site Settings

If you make mistakes, you can click an undo or redo button until you get back to the layout you started with before the mistake. A site settings dialog allows you to control general settings, SEO parameters, Google settings, HTML, CSS, and visitor privacy settings all in one box.

Complex Pages Can Be A Little More Difficult

We did find it a little bit difficult to easily select block elements when a block had a lot of "layers" to it, such as text, images, cells, etc. So be aware that there is a learning curve in case you want to develop complex blocks or pages.

Comprehensive Pre-made Elements

The list of pre-made elements that can be added to pages and blocks is pretty comprehensive and covers a lot of what many website owners will need. For WordPress and other CMS-based websites you're designing, there is a list of widgets and short codes you can add.

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No Central ECommerce Database

For eCommerce sites on the Nicepage.io hosting system, you will be limited to only placing bespoke content layouts for each product in your catalog. There is no central eCommerce database in which to properly add and publish products with their individual properties and attributes. Depending on how many products you manage, this may or may not be a problem. The linking of the "buy now" button is confusing to anyone who doesn't know what to enter in the link field for their particular eCommerce system's "add to cart" function.

Assistance Needed To Publish To Your Own Domain

Publishing the website on the free Nicepage.io hosting plan is somewhat cryptic and not useful in the context and requirements of serious website hosting. You'll get a URL in the form of subdomain.nicepage.io which doesn't help your site's SEO very much. It's not immediately clear as to how you'd go about publishing your site to your own custom top level domain (TLD) such as "example.com". After some digging, we found a support link in the Site Settings dialog with a generalized help form where you can request assistance in connecting your site to a custom domain.

Another Method To Host

A better method may be to purchase a WordPress CMS hosting plan, then install the Nicepage WordPress plugin on the WordPress site. That way, you can use the Nicepage editor directly within WordPress as your page builder and editing system. When you publish your site, it will be hosted directly on your custom domain that you have already set up via your WordPress hosting plan. The same goes for the Joomla CMS.

Export From Desktop Application

If you decide to use the standalone desktop application, the process of publishing your site involves exporting your design to a WordPress or Joomla .zip file which will contain your site assets and code built as a theme. There is also a way to include the editor plugin in the zip file so you can use the editor directly on your WordPress or Joomla site. And you can choose to export it as a project that can be imported back into Nicepage later for additional editing. We found the process to be delightfully straightforward in testing with no errors or other problems.

Other Export Options

Another export option is to save all the HTML (and the Nicepage project, if you want to import later for further editing). This will be best for sites that aren't using a CMS but are just "static" sites with no content management capabilities. You also have the option to export just screenshots of the fully-rendered website for use in portfolios or to show to your client for approval before publishing the site.

Licensing Is Restrictive And Expensive

We found the licensing a bit restrictive, and more than a little expensive. Licensing is a single user license on one laptop and one desktop computer. In an age of cloud computing, that makes little sense. To get updates after one year, you have to repurchase the entire license. There's not a separate support subscription for some fraction of the overall license cost.

Getting Started

Nicepage also doesn't currently include support for exporting websites from its online version. Nor does it have capabilities for WooCommerce on Wordpress or VirtueMart for other types of eCommerce websites. But, those features are on the roadmap for some future version. However, the user interface for designing sites overcomes many of these inconveniences, especially if you just need to create a basic site. For flexibility in where you publish your website after you've built it, Nicepage is a good way to go.

Duda Review 3.5 Star Rating

Duda

3.5 Star Rating
  • Cost: From $14 to $44 per month

While Duda includes a website builder in its offering, it's actually so much more than that. Duda is a platform that caters to the individual who is looking for a way to build a website, but also to teams of creatives who create websites for others. In that way, Duda is more of a platform than a builder.

Everything You Need

The website builder has all the components needed to build a functional and beautiful website. Whether you join the free trial or pay for a Basic plan at $14 to begin your site, you'll be able to import your content from another site, or start fresh with an instant website. You'll have access to a library of "widgets" to introduce interactive areas of content and share those widgets across sites and with clients. Duda also gives you the ability to produce multiple dynamic content pages based on a single master page design. Dynamic content pages let you display personalized content for individual users.

Connect To Other Services

In situations where you need to connect your site and content to a third party service using an Application Programming Interface (API), Duda supports the REST API system. You can easily connect to your data, or data from other sites, to include and interact with on your own site.

Many Website Templates Available

There are many different mobile-enabled website templates available in the Duda database for everything from a single page website to an online store with eCommerce capabilities. You just need to choose the template that best represents your brand or business, then enable it and customize it from there.

Team Collaboration Tools

When working with a team to develop sites for clients, Duda provides team collaboration tools, including a section builder to share common page sections across sites, templates that you continually reuse, widgets for data exchange and live chats, and permissions controls to help your team distribute the workload.

Best Website Builders

Share Your Design

And, if you need to simplify your web design client management, Duda lets you share a designed site with inline commenting so that clients can provide their feedback instantly and in context with the design element they're critiquing. Controls help you limit what your clients can do within the Duda platform, such as receive analytics emails, edit site design, connect domains, publish sites, manage SEO settings, and use development tools. For gathering customer content, Duda has a content import algorithm to pull a customer's text and images from across the web and into the platform.

Hide The Duda Branding

If your agency is sensitive about showing that you're using Duda, there is the option to "white label" or hide Duda branding and replace it with your own so that it looks like your agency owns and operates all of its capabilities.

ECommerce Integration Built-in

If you need your Duda-built site to be an eCommerce site, you will have that option, including using Authorize.net, PayPal for payment and UPS, USPS, FedEx, Canada Post, Brasil Correios, or Australia Post for shipping. You can send automated marketing emails and newsletters with MailChimp plus track abandoned carts and send marketing emails to prompt people to complete their purchases.

Mostly Positive Reviews

Reviews of Duda are mostly positive, with people giving it high marks for features and usability. Unfortunately, there aren't a whole lot of design template choices and you won't experience a lot of flexibility in creative freedom. Blog posts cannot be imported from one site to another, so if you're going to be bringing your existing blog over to Duda, you'll have to manually copy and paste all your posts. That's a big problem for people who have hundreds of posts already. And, if you decide to move to another website system, you won't be able to export your eCommerce store or personalization rules. Plus, SEO features are more limited with Duda than, say, WordPress or other more sophisticated content management systems.

Good Choice

Duda does a very good job of providing a platform where people can collaborate on website design and building. You can certainly create a beautiful, functional website with it. However, the lack of template choices and export/import limitations helps to land Duda in the middle of our rankings.

Weebly Review 3 Star Rating

Weebly

3 Star Rating
  • Cost: From $12 to $72 per month

When it comes to website builders, Weebly is best described as "average". On the positive side, the service has integrated shipping and eCommerce solutions. But, it's not as well-rounded as our higher-ranked providers.

Getting Started With Your Website

You'll still find quite a few people talking about Weebly, so let's look at how to use this website builder. To start using Weebly, sign up for an account and then choose whether you want to create a regular website or one with an online store. If you choose the online store option, even before you create the website you'll be prompted to enter a physical address and sign up for a Square payment processing account. If you're not ready for that kind of commitment, that's too bad because there's no way to opt out of it once you start. So, be sure that this is what you want when you select that option.

Confusing Branding

Once you're into the main Weebly dashboard, choose "Edit Site" to begin using the editor. In the eCommerce scenario we tested, it confusingly took us to the Square store editor, with the Square logo in the browser tab. But then we noticed that the URL still said "Weebly", so it appears that we were in the right place, just with confusing labels. This, we later realized after re-examining the branding of the Weebly home page, was because Square had acquired Weebly as its website builder software.

Wizard-like Interface

The editor will ask you for features you want to include in your website and online store using a wizard-like interface to add features, logo, and style. If you don't have a logo yet, you can skip that step.

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Pre-made Options For Website Sections

The rest of the editing experience is a series of choosing pre-made options for headers, footers, banners, layouts, sections, and elements like images, buttons, and forms. There doesn't appear to be a blogging option.

ECommerce Setup

For eCommerce, creating an item involves filling out a simple form with item type, title, price, description, images, and fulfillment options for shipping, in-store pickup, or local delivery. There is a "More Options" button in product creation that reveals options such as making an item tax exempt and creating variations of a product according to various attributes. You can also allow customers to modify an item with text or based on a selection.

Square Delivers More Bang For The Buck

Overall, for eCommerce you do get more bang for the buck because of the Square-centric eCommerce focus of Weebly. Square brings in a lot of analytics and store management tools that other website editors don't provide.

Creativity Is Limited

However, the Weebly design experience is limited to the constraints the theme designers have established. Even though there's an option to hire a Weebly designer to address whatever parts you feel are lacking, most website owners are eventually going to want to have more creative freedom as to sizing and positioning of elements and will then feel frustrated with these limitations.

Good If You Don't Needmuch Flexibility

We suggest that you try another builder if you want more design flexibility. But if your focus is more on eCommerce, Weebly is a good choice, at least to start. If you decide later to move to a WordPress and WooCommerce setup, Weebly does allow you to export your data for use with WordPress/Woocommerce import plugins.

Wix Review 3 Star Rating

Wix

3 Star Rating
  • Cost: From $13 to $49 per month

Using Wix, you can create a professional website without knowing any coding. The creation process is flexible and intuitive, with an Artificial Design Intelligence feature to automatically design your site from scratch in under 10 minutes. Wix says that its drag-and-drop interface gives you full control over every aspect of your website design.

Their Own Programming Language

Wix has created its own programming language called Corvid to help you add custom code to build new features that Wix doesn't provide natively. They provide all the tutorials for Corvid, but if it's too overwhelming, you can hire a professional from the Wix Marketplace to write the code for you or even do other tasks.

Mobile-optimized For Small Screens

Wix sites are automatically mobile-optimized for smaller screens, but you can also customize whatever is generated to your preferences, including not showing certain pieces of content on mobile devices.

Upgrade For A More Professional Look

When you're done designing your Wix site, you can publish it to a free subdomain (such as example.wix.com). A more professional custom domain name can be set up by upgrading to a premium Wix plan to fit your needs. That will also give you the ability to have a more professional-looking email address at your own domain.

Personalized SEO Plan

To get your website found on Google, use the Wix SEO Wiz to answer a few questions about your site, location, and keywords. It will generate a personalized SEO plan for you.

Easy To Create A New Site

Creating a new site with Wix is easy. Just sign up for an account and click on the "Create New Site" button. Follow the wizard tutorial to choose the type of website, then choose whether to let Wix use its Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) feature to generate it for you, or choose a template to start creating on your own.

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Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI)

When you choose ADI, it asks you a series of questions, such as the site category (what you sell or want to showcase), whether you need a blog, bookings, video, event scheduling, forums, chat, etc., the business name (or your name), the URL of your current site to import content from, a logo, and contact information. From there, you pick one of six themes to start with, create your color palette, pick a basic layout, select which pages to create, and begin to use the editor.

More Like A Wizard

The ADI process really wasn't that impressive. It felt like more of an extended "wizard". Instead of artificially intelligent software making things more convenient by designing based on only a few criteria, the user is still doing all the work by answering a large number of questions. At the end of the process, the design wasn't all that spectacular and still required a lot of tweaking to make it shine. It's debatable whether this ADI feature saves time through tweaking, or whether the user is better off getting it the way they want it the first time.

Frustrating Design Experience

Once we got to the point where we could start making modifications, we found, to our frustration, that the drag-and-drop capability promised on the Wix home page was limited to moving sections around between predetermined locations. Only by clicking up and down arrows one at a time were we able to get sections moved to their correct locations. Elements such as text and images were forms-based rather than WYSIWYG editable. We couldn't find any resizing or positioning controls on the corners and edges of individual elements. Everything is controlled through selections in property boxes.

Robust ECommerce Products

Management of eCommerce products was more robust, with a dashboard displaying all the products. When a product is selected, you get a full screen view of all of its properties, including variations and customization (limited to text only). It is also nice that Wix provides a way to create coupons, create a promo video, send an email campaign, or share the product via social media right within the product editor itself. And, you can set up a customer loyalty program whereby members create their own accounts (rather than checking out anonymously).

More Functionality Available With Upgrades

With upgrades, you do get more site apps, which are widgets that add additional features such as visitor analytics, SEO boosting, and events calendars. In the Business & eCommerce plans tier, you also get access to more customer care and helpful eCommerce workflow and fulfillment services.

Potential To Outgrow

Wix has a reputation among its fans as being easy to use, and so it is recognized as a leader in this space. What people don't realize when signing up for Wix and most other builders, however, is that websites grow and change over time. If you need to move to another system altogether, your content is not exportable. You're locked into proprietary systems of doing things with Wix. Outgrowing what Wix offers presents a major challenge to most business owners who came to depend on it, but now have extended requirements it cannot meet.

Easy To Use, But Limited

So, use Wix if you think you will benefit from its features for a long time to come. However, if you desire the flexibility to change your mind down the road, choose another builder that allows design and data portability.

GoDaddy Review 3 Star Rating

GoDaddy

3 Star Rating
  • Cost: From free to between $8 and $20+ per month depending on features

With the GoDaddy free website builder, you can create a modern online store or marketing website for free. You can include support for managing appointments, social media, email marketing and more. Plus, you can make it easy for people to find you on social media channels and to grow your online presence using data-oriented advice from GoDaddy InSight™.

Choose Your Website Category

When you launch the site builder, it asks you to first choose a category such as "coming soon", "clothing store", "blog", or you can type in your own category. Then you provide a name (your brand name or descriptive title including your product or service).

Suggested Looks For Your Theme

With just that information, GoDaddy's algorithm pulls together a variety of "looks" to choose from that are oriented to the theme of the category you chose. If you typed "jewelry designer", then the images and general look and feel will match what you might see on a typical fashion or jewelry store site. From the selections GoDaddy presents, you choose the one you like best and continue to refine and then publish your design using drag and drop editing tools.

Add Customizable Widgets

Once you've built a basic site, you can add any number of helpful widgets such as a calendar, live chat form, appointment scheduler, information capture forms, photo gallery, blog, menu/price list, video, audio, gift card, and other features. Each component has its own properties you can customize for your needs.

Simpler Can Be Better

For many website owners, simpler is better. If that's your preference, then the GoDaddy website builder is perfect because it provides a basic website for the least amount of time and knowledge investment. For others who like a bit more control and flexibility, GoDaddy's offering will feel extremely limited, like designing a website by filling out forms rather than precisely positioning elements and customizing things in specific ways the tool's authors might not have considered.

Simple Also Means Limited

For example, font sizing is limited to small, medium, large, and extra-large. There's no ability to choose a numeric value in between for a more controlled size to properly fit in or near another element. Even though the text is easy to click and edit live on the design, there's no way to select and drag or resize the area the text occupies. With the exception of aligning text left, center, or to the right, you're stuck with whatever positioning and size the generated design determines for you.

Help System Is Too Basic

If you get stuck on a task, the help system is too basic to be of much help. It's essentially just a chat "bot" that tries to interpret your question and interact with you by sending you helpful tutorials. But if your question is too specific, even for a basic operation such as "how do I add a column to my site design", you are only given the option to join a chat queue or call a representative. While that may be fine for folks who like to wait in such queues, it can be frustrating for self-starting do-it-yourself-ers who just want to move on to the next design task.

Free Includes GoDaddy Ads

As is often the case with GoDaddy products and services, there is a bit of fine print involved in getting anything for no cost, including the "free" website builder service. For example, it is actually a free version of the Websites + Marketing service. It will renew on a monthly basis without charging you and will display ads for GoDaddy on the top of your site.

Pay For Premium Features

However, not all of its features are free. As soon as you add premium features and services, you will end up on a paid plan. The amount of the plan will vary according to the individual features and the quantity and cost of premium "widgets" you add to your site. The paid plan will automatically renew at the then-current renewal price until you cancel it. To stop auto-renewal, you have to go to the extra step of logging into your account and turning off the auto-renewal for the Websites + Marketing service (or contact customer service and have them do it for you).

Good For DIY Entry-level Websites

If you're looking for a simple DIY entry-level website, GoDaddy can be a good option. Just be aware that websites are never "finished". The more control and features you want, the less you'll have with the GoDaddy site builder. It's easy to quickly grow out of your site and need to start over again with another, more flexible site builder. And with the premium add-ons, your site could end up costing more per year of total cost of ownership than it would have if you had chosen a different option.

Website Review 2 Star Rating

Website

2 Star Rating
  • Cost: From $0 to $10 per month (per limited time promo, normally $9 to $26/month)

Website is loaded with tools to create any kind of site you need. Plans are divided along the lines of the types of sites people tend to create: Personal, Business, and eCommerce. Each plan upgrade offers a significant number of added features, like A/B testing to try different versions of your design on different audiences, permissions levels for your staff, Google Analytics Event Tracking to analyze button clicks and scrolling, enterprise email accounts, and custom font uploads.

Drag-and-drop Website Builder

The builder is drag-and-drop with designer-made templates and even multilingual features for visitors who speak other languages. For restaurant websites, there's a separate builder that focuses on menus, reservations, and other needs specific to the restaurant industry.

Smart Layout Feature

In the builder for Website, you can adjust the mobile view of your site manually, or use a "Smart Layout" feature to let Website decide what to do with the layout. If a piece of your page doesn't appear on mobile views, you can disable it by dragging it off the page in mobile editing mode. And you can get even more control over whether specific pages have a mobile view by toggling it to "on" or "off" per each individual page.

Simple ECommerce Integration

For eCommerce websites, it's easy to start an online store and checkout as well as secure hosting for accepting payments and sensitive user information. To get more customers, there are various SEO tools, a blog, and email marketing. And to see how well your site is converting new and returning customers, you can add Google Analytics.

Animate Text And Images

With Website, you can add a feature called interactive cards, which animates text and images to draw attention to key areas of your page. If you need functionality that exists in third-party services, Website lets you add integrations for things like OpenTable Reservations, MailChimp, Google Maps, contact forms, online booking, social media apps, and other features.

Positive Customer Reviews

Reviews for Website are quite positive, with the vast majority of users satisfied in using it. There are numerous support options available, from a resources page, web design articles, and a learning center to a full FAQ, phone, support ticketing, live chat, and a contact form.

Invalid Certificate Roadblock

Unfortunately, when we were attempting to test the user interface for the Website builder, we were blocked from doing so by a "Your connection is not private" error. This is due to our new site's SSL certificate being invalid. Even after waiting an hour, the problem was still present. Also, upon further inspection, the certificate is only valid for a term of 5 total days vs. the usual 3 months to a year. That short of a term may be why the Chrome browser showed the error.

Try Something More Stable

The error we encountered stopped our review process in its tracks, and would likely stop you from being able to use Website for building your site. While we could have worked with Support to let them know about the problem, this is such an easy thing for them to fix and, thus, an egregious oversight on the part of Website. So, our recommendation is that you try something more stable among the higher-rated website builders we evaluated.

Site123 Review 2 Star Rating

Site123

2 Star Rating
  • Cost: From $0 to $12.80 per month

Site123 is a basic website builder for novices wanting to create their own website. You can begin on the free pricing level and start with any of several modern-looking website templates. Then, with the website editor, you can create a mobile-friendly, search engine optimized website and host it for free on a custom domain. You can even use it to set up a simple online store to sell your products all over the world. If you get stuck, you have access to 24/7 live support via live chat.

16 Website Categories To Choose From

The first step is to choose what type of website you want. Site123 offers 16 different categories ranging from Business to Photography to Music to Community.

Name Your Website And Sign In

The next step is to give your site a descriptive name, one that people might search for when looking for the product, service, or content your website offers. After that, you provide your name, email and a password. Or use Facebook or Google to sign in.

You're On Your Own

Once you're logged into the Site123 designer interface, you are greeted with a "Start building your website" prompt. Unfortunately, it doesn't really do anything to guide you other than also show a dialog for engaging with support in live chat. From here, you're on your own to figure out what to do next.

Hundreds Of Photos That Are Free To Use

One challenge of building a website is finding a good source of photography that doesn't cost a fortune, especially if you need a lot of images. Site123 provides a bank of hundreds of high quality photos. There are no royalty fees or other restrictions on using the images.

Custom Domain Name Is Worth It

Free hosting is limited to a subdomain. The subdomain is much too numeric and cryptic for anyone to remember, and it won't help you with SEO, so you'll want to have a custom domain. To enjoy the benefits of a custom domain, simply pay $12.80 per month for a subscription and forward your domain to Site123's IP address.

Create Unlimited Websites Under Your Account

The number of websites you can create and host is unlimited. You can create and manage them all under a single account. The site is stored on Site123 servers and replicated across the world to reduce loading time for visitors far from your location.

More Like A Design By Form

We weren't really that impressed by the set of controls or the flexibility of the design interface. Site123 feels more like a "design by form" than a true website editor.

Unable To Change The Layout

If you decide that the content you uploaded to your new site doesn't quite work with the design you selected, Site123's FAQ states that you can choose a different layout and style that works better. Unfortunately, we were not able to locate the means by which we could change the layout. One nice feature, though, is that your website automatically reformats itself optimally for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Not Impressive

Site123 isn't very impressive if you're looking for a flexible and future-proof way to create and maintain your website presence. We suggest you check out the other offerings in this review.

Strikingly Review 2 Star Rating

Strikingly

2 Star Rating
  • Cost: From $0 to $12 per month

With Strikingly, you can build a new website in minutes using an interface where everything is clickable and editable.

ECommerce Built In

eCommerce capabilities are built into the system and you can add a store that takes payments via PayPal or Stripe. You can add shipping and coupons as well as membership capabilities.

Newsletter Signup, Live Chat, And Blogging Included

To keep your site audience returning, Strikingly allows you to create forms for signup, information gathering, and contact. You can add live chat and newsletters as well as a basic blog and social feed for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Choose Your Domain Name

You can register a new domain name and use it with Strikingly. On the free plan you can use a subdomain of Strikingly.com to host your site.

Getting Started

To get started, simply register for a new account, then select a template to begin your design with. There are well over 100 templates for stores, businesses, startups, creatives, personal sites, and blogs. If you change your mind, you can change your template and add to or remove anything from the template. There's a "View Example" feature if the single small screenshot doesn't quite give you a feel for what a template looks like before you select it.

Guided Tour Of The Interface

The first time we began editing the template, the main editor panel didn't display anything. If this happens, just click the left-pointing arrow to close the panel and then the right-pointing arrow to reopen it and the controls should appear. There's a "Take Tour" button at the bottom just below the "Publish" button in case you want to take a guided tour of the interface.

Sparse Editing Controls

The editing controls in the free version are rather sparse and limited in flexibility and functionality. You can change styles, add a store, set up forms and live chat, and change general settings. But as far as dragging and dropping and resizing elements and blocks (like other editors allow you to do), there isn't much you can do.

Free Version Limited To One Page

You're also limited in the free version to a single page containing multiple sections rather than having the option to break out that page into multiple pages. If you upgrade to a paid "Pro" plan, you'll be able to add up to 20 pages per site. But there's no indication of drag and drop or resizing of individual elements or sections in the Pro version.

Confusing Payment Option Setup

To add a store, just connect a payment gateway. Confusingly, on one store payment setup intro screen Strikingly shows that it supports Stripe, PayPal, Apple Pay, or regular credit cards. But on the main setup screen it limits you to PayPal, Strip, or offline payments.

Disppointing Limitations

Most of the other services and capabilities are unlocked only when you pay for a Pro subscription. If you don't mind the very limited free version, it should work fine for your needs. But steer clear of Strikingly if you have a limited budget for a builder and hosting plan.

Tip Top Website Review 1 Star Rating

Tip Top Website

1 Star Rating
  • Cost: From $1.95 to $9.95 per month

Tip Top Website's basic package starts at $1.95 per month and offers a single-page website with free domain and an upload of only one photo. To get five pages and five photos, upgrade to the $4.95 per month plan. And, to get 100 pages and 1,000 photos, upgrade to $9.95 per month.

Glaringly Bad Restrictions

We're already not very impressed with, nor interested in, a pricing model that limits the number of pages and images - especially to such low quantities, even at the highest-paid plan. It's way too late in the web design game to be playing around with quantity limits on pages or images.

Website Itself Is Poorly Designed

Also, of concern is the overall poor design and usability of the landing pages that describe this service. Even before we began looking for how to start using it, we were bemused at the design choices of the marketing effort behind a product that claims to give its users a superior web design experience. It seems that if the goal is to attract users who want to produce great designs, the site ought to lead by example.

Nowhere To Go

Our attempts to use the designer interface were frustrating as we felt very limited in the scope of what we could control about the website. Sure, it's really simple to start with a one-page website: just type some text and upload your single photo and it tries to make a design for you. But then there's simply nowhere to go from there.

Samples Are Cheaply Made

The websites shown in the samples area look very cheaply made, with designs that hearken back to the late '90s or early 2000s. If you want a vintage look to anything you create, it's possible to get some value out of Tip Top Website, but you're still going to be paying too much for too little.

Not Worth Your Time

Skip using Tip Top Website. It's not worth your time or any amount of money.

Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

Whatever you choose, remember that you may be stuck with your decision for a long time. In other words, think in the long term and visualize what your needs will be not just months from now, but years from now.

As you decide which website builder will be the best choice for your needs, there are several factors to keep in mind:

  • Flexibility. How will the site builder hold up as your site needs change over time?
  • Usability. How easy is the tool to use?
  • Search Engine Optimization. Does the service allow you to manage SEO?
  • Stability. Does the builder work without errors or glitches?
  • Cost. What will you spend to use the builder and get all the features you want?
  • Reputation. What do other users have to say about the website builder?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best website builders available today. We hope this information helps you create the perfect site for your business, non-profit organization, or your own personal projects!

The Best Website Builders Compare Website Builders Compare Website Builder Reviews What are the best Website Builders Best Website Builder Reviews

Website Builder FAQ

Yes, but free website builders should generally be avoided because they fall short of many features that paid website builders include. There are exceptions, such as WordPress, which is free (if you download and self-host your own copy) and is a very powerful and flexible website builder.
It all depends on how comfortable you are with the features of a particular website builder. Some are easier to use than others. For example, some will build your website for you after you fill in a form with your business details, resulting in a new website in just a few minutes. Others will require you to have a basic understanding of the common parts and pages of a typical website, which can take up hours of work on your part.
It depends on the website builder you choose. There are several that offer a full package, including the ability to register your domain, build your site, and host it on your domain right within the same service. Others split up domain registration and hosting into separate concerns.
Anyone who is approaching the task of creating a website for the very first time, especially with little knowledge of how to make successful websites, should consider hiring someone who has that expertise. In spite of the ease of use promised by many website builder companies, websites can be quite complicated when it comes to things like user experience, proper calls to action, image rights, color coordination, search engine optimization, and accessibility for people with disabilities.
Generally, professionals prefer to have creative input prior to any work being done on your website. If you've already done some design or content placement, you'll find it more difficult to find someone who is willing to finish what you've started. If you want a professional to do it, but still want to use a website builder for easy content maintenance, engage their services before you sign up for a website builder plan. Your professional may have some ideas of which one to use and how to make it easier to use your website builder.
Using a website builder can definitely harm your search ranking if you are not careful. Be sure to follow all the guidance the builder may give you on search engine optimization. If the builder doesn't provide that information, or the capabilities necessary for better SEO, you should not choose that builder. Do your research into which builders provide better SEO than others.
The number one reason to use WordPress is content portability. Many website builders want to lock you into their services, so while they may make it easy to import your content from another builder, they sometimes make it difficult or impossible to export your content for importing to another service. If you start with WordPress, you'll have the most content portability.
WordPress is very popular. It currently runs 35% of the websites across the entire Internet. Even though it's very easy to get a new website up and running with a default theme, free theme, or paid theme, it can sometimes become more complicated and frustrating as your content grows or your needs become more advanced.

Features Every Website Should Have

Websites are a major marketing tool, whether you're a one-man show or a large corporation with thousands of employees. In the age of technology, potential clients want to be able to click a few buttons on any search engine, and find what they are looking for - including products and services.

If you are among the service or product providers who do not yet have a website - but are considering building one - there are a few features you should be certain to include in order to make the website both functional and user-friendly.

The kinds of features your website should contain are dependent, in part, on the type of website you are building. Business owners will need to have a few more features than others, including pages which list your products and services. However, all websites should include the following basic information:

  • Friendly Design. If your website is hard to use, or it is unclear exactly what kind of business or service you are offering, potential clients won't even bother to look around. They simply will leave and go to another website that is easier to interpret and use.
  • Contact Information So many times, customers find themselves hunting for how to contact the business. Either the information isn't included at all, or it is poorly placed, making it difficult to locate. Being presented with an easy way to contact the business - including telephone numbers, email and even the inclusion of a "contact us" form - is one of the most vital pieces of information necessary for inclusion. It does you no good to have a great website with great products if you fail to tell potential clients how to get in touch with you.
  • Easy Navigation Tools Too often, website creators are trying to make the pages flashy instead of functional. With many people now accessing websites from their Smartphones, iPads or other mobile devices, flash over functionality is not necessarily a good thing. Clients who are in a hurry will want to get on, find what they're looking for and be done.
  • Social Media Links Social media has become another valuable marketing tool in the 21st century. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+ are being widely used as a means of communication and advertisement. If your company has any of these social media accounts, be sure to link them to the website in an easy-to-find location.
  • Security Features. If you offer clients the option to order your products - and pay for them - on your website, then you will need to include an SSL certificate on the site. SSL encrypts communications between the website operator and its clients, allowing for information such as credit card numbers and bank account information to be shared without fear of someone else receiving the information. Companies which provide SSL certificates are VeriSign, GeoTrust, TrustE and Entrust.
  • Mobile-Friendly Version. Smartphones, iPads and other android devices quickly are replacing traditional computers and laptops as the main way for people to access the World Wide Web. Websites which are heavy with flash features can take forever to load onto a Smartphone or other android device, leaving users frustrated. Offering a mobile-friendly version of your website will ensure that people can still visit your site, even if on the go.
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