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Finding the best website builder isn’t as easy as it may seem. It’s a choice that’ll benefit you or haunt you for a long time to come. When chosen correctly, it’ll help you grow your brand much faster. When done incorrectly, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle from day one.
It doesn’t help that there are dozens if not hundreds of different platforms to choose from. Each one brings something slightly different to the table.
Some of them have been around since the beginning of the internet while others are new but use things like AI technology to give you a better experience. Whether you’re using your website as a platform to promote your webinar, launch a new marketing service, secure a few freelancing gigs, it’s essential to choose the right one.
In this detailed guide, I’ll walk you through not only the best website builders for different use cases, share the features to look for (SEO, list building, technical aspects, hosting, customization, etc.), and how to select the best one for your unique situation.
Let’s dive in.
What is the best website builder?
There are two overarching options when it comes to creating a website. Either you do it all yourself or you choose an online website builder. If you’re a developer then the first option may seem attractive. For the rest of the world, the second option is cheaper and, in many cases faster.
The website builder software you select usually comes with hosting, customer support when specific features aren’t working, and a host of other benefits. The following list of my top picks takes all those things into consideration.
The top picks are designed for different use cases and will be easy to get started with even if you’re a beginner that purchased hosting yesterday. Anyways, here are my top picks for the best website builder to use to grow your brand.
1. Wix (best all-around website builder for small businesses)
Wix is one of the most popular free website builders in the world and for good reason. It powers millions of brands and is able to adapt to a wide range of use cases from portfolios to software marketing sites. You can take advantage of over 500 professionally designed templates to hit the ground running or build from scratch with its drag and drop editor.
Of course, every website you create is mobile optimized and you have the option of using advanced effects such as animation, scroll effects, background videos, and more.
If you don’t want to do the heavy lifting yourself, take advantage of the Wix AI called ADI. It’ll help you create the initial framework for your website which you can then edit to your liking.
Wix also has a development platform named Corvid. You’re able to combine the fluidity of the Wix visual builder with your preferred tech stack to build your own web applications in a fraction of the time. Business tools, DevOps, database management, and hundreds of UI elements make this a great choice.
Wix doesn’t stop there. It also has ecommerce features that allow you to upload and present your products in the best possible light. You can track orders, manage inventory, accept multiple payment methods, handle shipping and taxes across the world, and issue coupons and discounts.
Key features of Wix
- Hundreds of templates
- Drag-and-drop editor
- Large app ecosystem (free and paid)
- Over 100 fonts out the gate plus the ability to upload your own
- AI technology to build your website
- Built-in hosting
- Simple analytics
- Membership access portals
- Ecommerce features to optimize your online shop
- Live chat features
- Process payments online
- Booking module with Google calendar sync
- Easily set up a beautiful blog
- Ads are inserted on your website when you choose the lower plans
- Limited (and at times outdated) SEO features
- Tracking and analytics are only available on paid plans
Wix has a number of pricing plans which are divided based on features and usage limits. It’s a free website builder so you can use it without paying but there are ads/Wix branding. When you upgrade, you unlock more features and the branding and ads are removed from your website.
- Connect domain $4.50/m (comes with Wix branding)
- Combo $8.50/m
- Unlimited $12.50/m
- VIP - $24.50/m
2. Squarespace (best professional builder and themes)
Squarespace was launched in 2003 and quietly grew to a powerhouse in the website builder space. It has a clear emphasis on beautiful yet functional design that’ll help you put your best foot forward without having to hire a development team.
There are over a hundred professional-looking templates to jumpstart your website in a number of different categories like consulting, health & beauty, or music. From there, select the one that makes the most sense for you and start building.
It has a wide range of tools such as email marketing, story toolkit, checkout, analytics, etc. All of them work together to help you create a seamless experience for your website visitors.
- Over 100 professional-looking templates
- Social media integrations
- Strong blogging platform which is much better than many other competitors
- Detailed website usage analytics
- Ecommerce specific templates
- Email marketing
- Appointment scheduling
- Large range of fonts
- Automatically mobile optimized
- Block-based content editing system
- Forms for email capture
- Basic marketing tools at your disposal
- It can take some time to get used to the editor
- Pricier than many competitors on this list
Squarespace has multiple pricing plans and they’re divided based on features. All plans come with unlimited bandwidth and storage so that’s not something to worry yourself about.
- Personal is $16/m and $12/m when paid annually.
- Business $26/m and 18/m when paid annually.
- Basic Commerce $30/m and $26/m when paid annually.
- Advanced commerce $46/m and $40/m when paid annually.
3. Weebly (best for ease of use)
Weebly is a website platform acquired by Square a few years ago because of its simple interface and diverse customer base. It combines the three most important aspects of building a brand online – creating a stunning website, collecting payments for your products/services, and getting found.
It has a drag and drop builder, a large collection of templates, built-in analytics, integrations with Square for payment processing, an SEO editor, transaction reports, email sign-up forms, and even basic email marketing.
- Intuitive drag-and-drop interface for building your website
- Mobile app to manage your website on the go
- Automatically mobile responsive
- Large number of professional-looking themes
- Easy to apply SEO best practices
- Survey builder
- Build forms to collect contact info
- Clear analytics to understand website usage
- Email marketing newsletters and abandoned cart sequences
- Shipping tools to calculate costs in real-time
- Inventory management
- Payment processing
- It can be slow at times
Weebly is a free website builder that lets you get up and running immediately. If you want to unlock more features, connect your domain, and collect payments then you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan.
- Connect - $5/m
- Pro - $12/m
- Business – $25/m
- Business Plus - $38/m
4. B12.io (AI powered website builder)
B12 is a much newer AI-powered website builder that makes it much easier and faster to create a good looking website. Instead of having to sort through hundreds of templates, place every single element yourself, and then hope for the best, it uses AI to assist you.
All you have to do is answer a few questions about your brand and what you’re trying to accomplish with your website. The b12 AI engine will take care of the rest of the heavy lifting. When it’s done, you forward the changes you want to the B12’s team of experts and they’ll ensure it’s pixel-perfect to meet your needs.
- Expert designer team to get your website pixel perfect
- Fully responsive
- Custom domain mapping
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Book appointments with clients
- Manage leads and contacts within B12
- Monthly report that shows you how to improve your major KPIs
- Get copy written for your website by B12 team
- Use the native B12 blogging application or integrate with WordPress and Medium
- Limited ability to change the design after you’ve finalized it with B12
- There’s a one-off cost to get started with B12
- It’s much more expensive than comparable solutions
B12 has a few pricing plans available depending on the features you require but all of the paid plans come with unlimited bandwidth.
- Basic - $29/m or $24/m billed annually
- Premium - $59/m or $49/m billed annually
- SEO - $85/m or $99/m billed annually
- SEO Pro - $209/m or $249/m billed annually
5. WordPress.org (best website builder for blogging)
WordPress can be likened to the elephant in the room when it comes to website builders. It single-handedly powers 35% of the internet, has one of the largest plugin and theme ecosystems, and played an important part in making blogging accessible to a large number of people.
Unlike many of the other website builder platforms on this list, it doesn’t have a drag-and-drop editor but it recently introduced blocks. It does have a WYSIWYG editor that controls the content on the individual pages and you can configure global features separately.
Plugins and themes are the main draws of WordPress. You can accomplish almost anything with the right plugins but WordPress itself has limited functionality and customization options right out the gate. It may seem like it’s not a great tool but I’d disagree. I love it and Growth Boost was built using it.
From an objective point of view, it needs a few changes before it can be considered the best.
- Tens of thousands of plugins
- Tens of thousands of themes
- Completely free to use on your own hosting
- Mobile optimized themes
- Blank canvas which you can fully customize to your needs
- You’re responsible for updating themes and core files
- Need to optimize for speed and SEO yourself
WordPress.org is completely free to use but you’ll need to purchase web hosting from a company like Bluehost or WPX hosting before you can get it online. You’ll also want to consider paying for a few premium plugins that’ll help you with site optimization.
6. Strikingly (Best for personal or minimal small business websites)
Strikingly, as the name suggests, helps you build striking websites. It focuses on simplicity and functionality to give you a superior experience. The editor isn’t drag-and-drop but it’s still a breeze to use.
It also comes with ecommerce features so you can sell a wide range of products and services to your website visitors. Lead capture, live chat, and contact management features round out the offering from Strikingly.
- Ecommerce storefront to sell all your products
- An integrated blog to foster engagement
- Email sign up forms
- Membership site functionality
- Simple human-readable analytics
- 24/7 support to get you where you want to be
- Site search for visitors
- It has a focus on simplicity so many advanced features are missing
- Strikingly branding is visible on some paid plans
Strikingly has three main pricing plans, not including the free tier. They’re divided based on usage and features with the higher plans having unlimited bandwidth.
- Limited is $12/m
- Pro is $20/m
- VIP is $49/m (only available as an annual plan).
7. Shopify (best website builder for ecommerce)
Shopify is often the first platform people think of when they’re interested in starting an ecommerce store. Over the last decade, it’s grown into a behemoth with over a million merchants, thousands of plugins, and a solid template library.
The draw of Shopify is that it provides everything you need to build an ecommerce website. It has direct integrations with payment processors like PayPal and Stripe, has free templates that still look great, starts you with optimized checkouts, and so much more.
One of the drawbacks (or advantages depending on your perspective) is that Shopify is a blank slate. It does the basics very well but if you want more you’ll have to use the plugin ecosystem or do something custom.
What’s unique about Shopify is that it offers something for you no matter how much or how little you want to do. You can start with a Facebook shop or just a buy button or you can go full-blown enterprise-level ecommerce setup. The choice is yours.
- Thousands of apps in the plugin ecosystem
- Accept payments and get payouts quickly
- Manage shipping, taxes, and order fulfillment
- Customer relationship management
- Clear analytics to see areas of improvement (and where you’re doing well)
- User permission management
- Huge library of free and paid themes
- Drag-and-drop editor to build your store
- Integrate with other online marketplaces
- Built-in SEO tools
- Email marketing capabilities
- Inventory management
- Limited checkout customization
- Inventory records only go back for a few months on certain plans
Shopify has a number of pricing plans that include a lite version and an enterprise version. The plans are divided based on features and certain usage limits. Here, I’ll share the core pricing that applies to the majority of merchants.
- Basic Shopify - $29/m
- Shopify - $79/m
- Advanced Shopify - $299/m
8. Leadpages (best for conversion optimization)
Leadpages may not be the first tool that comes to mind when you think of website builder software but it has recently added that to its repertoire. The website builder has a clear emphasis on optimizing for conversions whether that’s growing an email list or generating revenue.
You’ll be able to access the features designed for landing pages to build your websites such as alert bars, popups, form submissions tools, and a wide range of integrations. There are multiple quality website templates that start you off with the main pages and a drag-and-drop editor that works based on sections and blocks.
The designs aren’t pixel perfect but unless you’re a designer, you won’t be able to tell the difference.
- Integrations with Stripe for checkout
- Facebook ads integration for better ads
- Multiple website templates
- Popups, alert bars, and opt-in forms
- Lightning-fast pages
- Clear and streamlined analytics
- SEO features
- Wide range of integrations with third-party tools
- Fully customizable checkout forms
- Editor limits your ability to move elements around the page
- It can be difficult to learn for beginners
Leadpages is much more expensive than other website platforms because, at its core, it’s a landing page builder. With that being said, it’s still one of the best website builder software solutions because of its ability to help you turn visitors into customers. Pricing plans are divided based on features and you’re not limited by bandwidth.
- Standard $37/m or $25/m when paid annually
- Pro $79/m or $48/m when paid annually
- Advanced $321/m or $199/m when paid annually.
9. Webflow (Best for pixel-perfect custom designs)
Webflow is a powerhouse and one of the best free website builder solutions out there. It’s trusted by major brands like Zendesk, CBS, and MTV to deliver sites that are on brand and help them reach their goals.
It goes a step above other site builders by allowing you to incorporate powerful effects and animations that usually require a developer. It’s all done through a visual drag-and-drop editor which is extremely malleable.
This may be its biggest advantage and drawback. It has a relatively steep learning curve that many people don’t have the energy to master. If you can stick with it, you’ll be happy you did.
- Tons of elements to use to build your pages
- Can save elements as global blocks that are edited across your entire website at once
- Ability to edit versions for mobile and desktop individually
- Pixel perfect layouts which means you’re not tied down with predetermined box shapes or grids
- Can export pages off the platform to be used elsewhere
- Advanced motion animations
- Powerful ecommerce features
- It’s so feature-rich that it can be daunting
- Has a steeper learning curve
Webflow has multiple pricing plans depending on the features and whether or not you need ecommerce functionality. You can be billed per team member or per site.
- Basic - $15/m
- CMS - $20/m
- Business - $45/m
- Standard - $42/m (ecommerce plan)
- Plus - $84/m (ecommerce plan)
- Advanced - $212/m (ecommerce plan)
Conclusion and verdict for the best website builder
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this guide and, as you can probably tell, it’s almost impossible to determine the best website builder. Each one brings something unique to the table and has its own set of quirks.
It’s important to look at your end goal. If you want to start a personal blog then WordPress may be the best fit. If you want pixel perfect design then Webflow is a strong contender. If it’s all about generating ecommerce sales then you’ll want to take a look at Shopify.
Let me know what your favorite website builder is in the comments and don’t forget to share.