Website builders have made it easier than ever for small businesses to make a website.
In the past, building a website would require you to have some knowledge of coding or you would have to hire a developer. Website builders on hand let you create a website using easy-to-use visual interfaces.
The question then is which website builder is the most suitable for you?
Popular Website Builders Compared
|Website Builders||Paid Plans||Free Trial*||Verdict||Order|
|Zyro||$3.49||Unlimited||Zyro takes simplicity to a new level for zero cost||Visit|
|Weebly||$12.00/mo||Unlimited||Easy to use web editor; great for newbies.||Visit|
|Shopify||$29.00/mo||14 days||Powerful POS system and wide payment gateway support.||Visit|
|Bigcommerce||$29.95/mo||15 days||Top online store builder with endless features to boost sales.||Visit|
|Strikingly||$8.00/mo||14 days||Best for one-page websites; endless free plan.||Visit|
|Wix||$8.50/mo||14 days||Easy-to-use web editor with tons of apps.||Visit|
|Squarespace||$12.00/mo||14 days||Beautifully designed themes; online store ready.||Visit|
|WebStarts||$7.16/mo||No||Simple website editor; good features for local businesses.||Visit|
|BoldGrid||$6.99/mo||90 days||Proven business hosting platforms; WordPress-only builder.||Visit|
|Gator||$3.84/mo||45 days||Popular web hosting platform; limited apps choices.||Visit|
Which Site Builder to Use?
It is tricky to pick which is the best website builder for your business because it all depends on what your website needs are. But if we were to choose, then we basically boil it down to these main three:
Best for Small Online Store: Shopify
If your focus is to start an online store, then Shopify is the clear winner. Not only do they provide all the features and tools that you would need for an online store, they can also easily integrate with physical retail stores through their POS system.
Recommended plan for business: Shopify Basic ($29/mo) – Visit Shopify
Best for Beginners: Weebly & Zyro
If you’re an absolute beginner and just want to create a simple website that looks professional, Weebly and Zyro are by far the best website builder for that. Their beautifully crafted page builder lets you edit your website without the need to learn any coding skill whatsoever.
Cheapest Website Builder: Zyro
At just $3.49/month, you'll get a free domain and capacity to create a simple websites on Zyro platform with ready-made templates, marketing tools integrations (Facebook Pixel, Google Tag Manager, Live Chat), as well as SSL certificates.
Recommended plan for budget: Limited ($3.49/mo) – Visit Zyro
Top Site Builders Reviewed
So what are your choices? To help you choose the perfect builder for your website, I’m rounding up 15 popular website builders on this page.
Zyro is a new website building tool which comes with a hosting plan attached. Functionality is basic but covers most key areas. This makes it idea for new website owners who may not have the technical skills needed to build their own site.
Zyro Plans & pricing
Zyro's range of plans cover both basic sites as well as eCommerce. Entry plan is completely free to use but it comes with implanted advertisement to your website. For those who want an ad-free site (which is vital for a business website), there are four paid plans to choose from – Basic ($1.99/mo), Unleased ($3.49/mo), Ecommerce ($14.99/mo), and Ecommerce + ($21.99/mo). The price differences mainly reflect additional on-site features options such as inventory management, shopping and tax management, payment gateways, abandoned cart recovery, and multiple language translations.
- Affordable – Costs are 30% – 50% cheaper than its peers
- User friendly web editors – low learning curve, best for newbies
- Various supporting tools – logo maker and A.I. content generator
- Modern design grid system
- 0% transaction fees for all plans
- Limited built-in templates
- Website editors can be better
- Free plan is limited
Which Zyro Plan to go with?
For those who need a very basic, static site, there isn’t much need to look past their Free plan since it comes with everything you’ll likely need. If you’re hoping to grow your site I’d recommend at least an Unleashed Plan – so long as you don’t plan to sell stuff online.
Also read – How to build a personal website using Zyro
Zyro is still new but it’s come on with a bang. It is a good offer especially for new website owners to take a chance and experience what a real website builder can do for free.
Shopify is a leading name in the online shop builder community and that makes it naturally double up as a site builder. The company has over 800,000 active Shopify stores and has made over $100 billion worth of sales at time of writing.
Shopify Plans & Pricing
For its range of services Shopify is around standard in pricing. There are three tiers which ring in at $29, $79 and $299 – each which also has added transaction fees per sale. The price differences mainly reflect additional marketing options such as gift certificates, extra shipping rates and more shopping cart options.
- Plenty of add-on tools available
- Simple and powerful integrated payments
- Cost is a little prohibitive unless you’re a dedicated e-Tailer
Which Shopify plan to go with?
Shopify Basic – You can always setup a store and pick a plan later. Hence it's best to start at the lowest plan.
Note that some features at Shopify (ie. POS, Abandoned Cart Recovery, pro reports) are super useful but they might not be needed in some business operations. If all you need is a simple website with basic business features, you might want to go with Weebly or Wix, which is cheaper and easier to maintain.
Also read – How to create an online store using Shopify
Shopify might be the most expensive website builder on the list but it offers a range of features and tools that are quite useful for an eCommerce store. At $29/mo for the basic plan and $299/mo for the advanced, it can get pretty costly. However, if you want a hassle-free eCommerce website builder, Shopify is definitely your best choice.
BigCommerce was founded back in 2009 and is currently headed by CEO Brent Bellm. Since its inception, the company has grown with over 500+ employees, serving over 120+ countries, and have established offices in Sydney, Australia, San Francisco, California, and in Austin, Texas.
BigCommerece is slightly off the usual profile of the standard website builder in the sense that it serves a very specific purpose. The site is designed to help build eCommerce stores and has eventually morphed into a complete all-rounder in terms of virtual commerce, right down to offering product retail packaging!
BigCommerce Plans & Pricing
Given that BigCommerce is all about helping people sell things, it’s not unusual that the pricing structure is pretty far above the standard site builder. It starts at $29.95 and scales up all the way to $249.95 following the volume of your sales transactions. However, on top of that there is also a per-transaction charge and possible another fee you may have to pay if you choose a premium template.
- A complete online sales tool
- No transaction fees for all 40+ payment gateways
Which BigCommerce plan to go with?
BigCommerce plan is designed based on sales threshold – hence you don't have to sweat on which plan to go with.
To begin with BigCommerce – simply signup on their 15-day free trial.
For years Shopify remains the first-hand competitor to BigCommerce. Generally we think both of them are good eCommerce builders. Tools from BigCommerce are slightly more exhaustive than Shopify; while Shopify is slightly cheaper than BigCommerce.
Initially founded in 2002 by college buddies David, Dan and Chris, Weebly began its journey as a site builder officially in 2007. The company has since powered more than 40 million sites around the world and is currently headquartered in San Francisco with offices at New York, Scottsdale, and Toronto.
With a combined annual traffic of more than 325 million unique visitors, the company is now backed by funding from major players such as Sequoia Capital and Tencent Holdings (April 2014).
Weebly has an easy-to-use user interface. It is ideal for users who are interested in building a simple online store or sites that deal with static information and products.
Weebly Plans & Pricing
Weebly offers free accounts that are capable of handling basic sites easily. That scales up in varying degrees offering extra features such as video backgrounds and user registrations. At the top end of the scale with full bells and whistles, Weebly can cost up to $25 per month.
- Free plan available
- Extremely user-friendly
- Low-level online stores get charged extra per transaction
Which Weebly Plan to go with?
Weebly Pro is right for business owners who need a simple website that lives on its own domain.
For users who plan to sell products directly from their websites, we recommend Weebly Business Plan (or above) because:
- Display unlimited products on your web store
- Support product reviews and coupon code
- Support shipping fees and automatic tax calculator
- No additional fees for using a 3rd party provider
- Integrated shipping labels
Weebly is a great website builder if you need to create a simple website fast. Their drag-and-drop system is very intuitive and you can easily launch a decent website within minutes.
WordPress.com is a hosted solution where Automattic (the owner of WordPress CMS) take care of all aspects in hosting a website – the infrastructure, software upgrades, web security, as well as the theme designs.
Unlike other site builders, WordPress.com does not come with drag and drop page builders with different design modules. Basically, you just get what your theme offers, hence choose carefully.
WordPress.com Plans & Pricing
Paid plans start at $4/mo when paid annually – you'll get 6GB of storage and a free domain for one year. The highest tier – “eCommerce” cost $45/mo and come with 200 GB storage and advanced design customization.
- Free plan available
- Extremely popular
- No drag-and-drop web editor
- Lack of real eCommerce supports
Wix is by far one of the site builders that has seen a meteoric rise in uptake over a relatively short period.
Created by Avishai Abrahami, Nadav Abrahami and Giora Kaplan in 2016, by 2017 the company laid bold claim to a stunning 100 million users. Over that short timeframe it has introduced multiple upgrades from a HTML5 editor to their drag and drop 2015 version.
Wix Plans & Pricing
In line with the number of users on its site, Wix has a wide spread of what it calls ‘premium Accounts’ available that range in price from $4.50 per month all the way to $24.50 per month. (To see these numbers in context – read our study on website cost.) What it doesn’t advertise widely is that you can still use the drag and drop editor for free.
- Good range of pricing options
- Extensive option drag-and-drop user interface
- Does not allow exports of data (You’re stuck with Wix)
Which Wix plan to go with?
We suggest business owners to start with Wix Unlimited Plan and only move up when you need additional site features.
Wix has always been the “go-to” website builder as they offer a ton of features and flexibility for beginners and advanced users alike. The fact that more than 100 million people uses it is a testament to that. The only downside is that if you want to create an eCommerce store or want extra features, you’ll need to pay a bit more.
Targeting itself against CMS behemoth WordPress, SiteJet nevertheless has its unique skew – web designers, freelancers and service providers. Starts at $11/mo, the site builder is easy to use and comes with a ton of features.
SiteJet Plans & Pricing
Like web hosts which increase the number of sites you can host based on your plan, Sitejet also offers a tiered publishing system. A single user site will set you back $5 a month – and remember, this is only for published sites.
You can have many projects in the works on that account. If you’re a web designer and end up publishing a few more websites, then you pay more. Consider it the cost of doing business and that you only pay more if you’re earning more from more clients.
Unfortunately, most of the collaborative features I shared about earlier are only available under the Team Plan, which costs $19 per month. This may not seem link much, but to a starving young web designer can seem like a lot at times.
- Simple yet powerful drag-and-drop interface
- Great features for website designers
- No free plan available
- Lack of marketing tools
Strikingly is simple, beautiful, and focused. For those who want a quick resume site – Strikingly can convert the information from your LinkedIn profile into a beautiful personal website in just one click.
The platform added eCommerce feature named “Simple Store” recently where users get to sell their products and receive payment via Stripe or PayPal.
Strikingly Plans & Pricing
Strikingly entry plan starts at $8/mo when subscribe annually.
Is Strikingly right for you?
A report from HubSpot says that 55% of visitors spend less than 15 seconds on a website. In other words, majority of your website visitors are not reading your website.
One-page websites (that you can built with Strikingly) solve this problem. They are short and actionable. They can convince visitors to take action within this short timeframe.
We recommend Strikingly for those who are searching for an affordable way to create:
- Simple company info websites
- Fashion / design / photography portfolios
- Event-based / charity websites
- Resume website
9. Gator Website Builder
Hopping into the website building scene this time is HostGator with its new Gator Website Builder. This new tool isn’t being offered as part of its standard hosting packages though and is available as an individual product – pay for the builder and you get free hosting.
Looking at it as a stand-alone thing, it seems to hit all the right check boxes for rapid site development. You can start of with one of their many templates (which look decent) and work your way forward from there. Customizations are easy since the entire thing is drag and drop.
If your requirements aren’t all that complex and you just need a pretty website fast – this is a perfect tool for you. Slapping together a site and customizing it can take you less than 30 minutes. Likely less if you’re already familiar with how website builders work.
The bigger difficulty is moving forward form there since there seem to be very limited options to take your site to the next level. For example, ecommerce isn’t possible unless you pay for an upgrade to your plan. There is also nothing you can do in terms of SEO management, not even set your basic site meta.
There is an app market available (like what all major website builders have) but right now there are a grand total of four apps in the store – all of which are labelled ‘premium’. Initial impressions are that this site builder needs to go a little further before asking for more from its potential users.
Gator Website Builder Plans & Pricing
Gator Website Builder's entry plan starts at $3.84/mo and goes all the way up to $9.22/mo.
- Very easy to use
- Free templates available
- Very basic features
- Ecommerce functions requires an upgrade
Firedrop.ai is one of the more unique website building tools that we’ve encountered so far. It’s one of the newer site builders out there and to find out more, Lori Soard interviewed founder and CEO Marc Crouch earlier.
The Firedrop.ai concept developed in 2015 and as far as I know, is the first website builder to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) elements in its build.
Firedrop Plans & Pricing
Firedrop prices itself from free to £15 per month with the free account able to support a single web page that comes with Firedrop branding.
For paid accounts, there are two options and both allow your own brand to dominate. The Plus account allows you to create multiple web pages.
- Free plan available
- Unique design experience thanks to Sacha the AI bot
- Limited building components available
Carrd helps users to create beautiful one-page website. At time of writing, there are 18 built-in templates available at Carrd, of which about 6 are part of the premium plan. The free templates too are gorgeous and editing is easy. Some useful elements, though, like the form element (the element you’ll need to create a contact form) are only available in the pro-version.
Carrd Plans & Pricing
Pro plan starts at $19/year. Carrd could be one of the most (if not the most) affordable choice to take your business online.
- Free plan available
- For one-page website only
- Does not support eCommerce
With more than 12 million users worldwide, Yola is a solid free website maker builder tool to take your business online. While Yola has limited templates, they’re good for basic business/professional websites.
The free websites you make with Yola are ad-free. So even when you’re running your website on a Yola sub-domain, your readers won’t be annoyed with ads popping up from every corner of your website.
Yola Plans & Pricing
When billed yearly, Yola’s Bronze plan costs $4.16/mo.
- Free plans with no ads
- Nofollow tag control for paid plans
- Only support 6 languages
- Does not support eCommerce
Jimdo lets you create “colorful, original, and unique” websites. About 15 million people trust Jimdo for their websites.
Jimdo has limited but beautiful templates. If you check out Jimdo's website showcase section, you’ll see that Jimdo customers have built some really sleek and creative websites.
Jimdo Plans & Pricing
You get about 500MB storage to make a free website or blog with Jimdo. You also get access to all the templates. Jimdo paid plans start at $9/mo and go all the way up to $39/mo.
With 40 million users, Webnode lets you build beautiful business websites as well as online stores. Webnode has some great looking themes. Its higher premium plans offer unlimited membership registrations, so if you ever need to let people create accounts on your website (ie. a membership business site) you can go with the Profi plan ($19.95/mo).
Webnode Plans & Pricing
Webnode paid plans start at $3.98/mo and go up to $19.95/mo when paid annually.
Tilda is a handy drag and drop website maker tool that lets you build beautiful websites. Tilda offers a great mix of templates for freelancers, businesses, agencies, online tutors, and many more.
When I first checked out Tilda, I thought it was a lot like Squarespace, especially when I saw some of the cover page designs. But as I dug deeper, I realized that Tilda has many more templates on offer. Plus, it has 350+ design elements, which is far more than what Squarespace offers. Another thing worth noting is that Tilda comes with beautiful landing pages too.
Tilda Plans & Pricing
The free version supports up to 50 pages and offers a storage of 50MB, and is ad-free. Paid plan starts at $10/mo with annual subscription.
Caution: Avoid Paying for SiteBuilder.com, WebsiteBuilder.com, Sitey, and Sitelio
Having just completed our review of SiteBuilder.com we noticed that we had the same initial problem with WebSiteBuilder, Sitelio, and Sitey – the About page was missing. Curious enough at this discrepancy, I did some digging and discovered that they all are owned by Endurance International Group (EIG).
EIG only acquires and runs technology (here’s a list of hosting companies owned by EIG) and does not actually create anything of its own.
WebSiteBuilder, Sitelio, Sitey, and SiteBuilder Plans & Pricing
In terms of what features are available, SiteBuilder (and other clones) offers what I consider should be the standard of website builders. It includes drag and drop elements, editable sections in templates, eCommerce support and much more. All of that is backed by a template resource pool that numbers in what the site claims is ‘thousands’ – I lost count after 50.
All four website builders have five distinct plans for subscribers that range from free to $11.99 a year. Free plans are functional, but their paid plans all come packaged with a free domain name. For a mere $4.99 a month onwards, you also get free email accounts, priority support and create an online store. I would say that the pricing tiers are reasonable and match real needs.
Why exactly they have chosen to market through so many channels under separate identities is beyond me, but even the pricing structures are almost identical. Of note though are the multiple billing complaints against the site, which does not bode well, given how fractured the business seems to be.
It's okay to try out the free plan offered by these brands but it's another thing when you are building your business on the premium plans.
We do not recommend using any of these four site builders to serious webmasters and business owners.
Is Website Builders Right for You?
Advantages of Modern Website builders
Different from the traditional website hosting, a web company that brand itself as “Website Builder” offer a number of benefits that are quite useful for a beginner. Among them are:
- Easy to create and manage – Website builder offers the ability to create and main a website without any coding experience. Users can build their website with drag-and-drop web editor and setup a blogging / podcasting platform at ease.
- Beautiful website themes and designs – Website builder usually come with hundreds of free, professional designed, website templates and themes.
- 100% web base – Users have the ability to work on your website from anywhere with an Internet connection.
- One stop solution – Everything – from domain registration to hosting and development are done (and billed) in one place.
- Comprehensive business support – Payment gateway support, inventory management software, shipping and tax cost calculator are (usually) covered in store builders or eCommerce plans.
- Limited customization/flexibility
Using a website builder means you’re limited to what the provider has to offer. You might want a certain template for your website but if the website builder doesn’t support it, you’ll have to choose something else.
- Dependence on one provider
If the provider closes down, then your site goes down it. Ideally, the website builder that you opt for will remain in the long run. Also some providers do not allow their users to move their websites away.
- Data location
When you go for website builders, you won’t have control over the location of the data. It’s up to the providers where they choose to store information. A good web hosting provider, on the other, usually runs their operations from multiple data centers in different locations.
- Lack of advanced functions
Using PHP, Java, and SQL is not possible for website builders as you’re stuck using their internal programs. If you’re a programmer, you won’t have access to advanced functions when using a website builder.
How to Select the Right Website Builder?
Ideally, the best website builder should be one that fits the need of your website. If you want to know what are the things that you should look for in a website builder, we’ll go through that below.
Take a moment and write down what kind of website that you want to make. What features you would like to have and what you intend to do with it.
Some ideas would be: a contact form, Google Maps, blog section, gallery mode, or even an online store.
Alternatively, you could do some research on your competitors or other websites for inspirations or ideas on what you would want for your website.
Aside from knowing what your website needs are, it’s also a good idea to use these five factors to decide. The 5 factors are:
1. Ease of use
An important factor for a choosing the best website builder is whether the interface is user-friendly and easy-to-use. Doubly so if you’re just a newbie with no technical knowledge whatsoever.
The great thing about website builders is that most of them use a drag-and-drop system to build a website and that they usually offer a trial account. That means you can test it out first before choosing which is the best website builder for your small business.
A few things that you should ask yourself when testing a website builder are:
- How easy is it to add elements to templates, without messing up your current site layout?
- How easy is it to make changes such as adding new products or updating your contact details?
- Can you quickly find the features you need for your website? If you’re a bakery shop, can you embed a Google map showing the location of your store?
- Do the templates and color schemes fit your brand and business? If you’re a bakery shop, then your website design is likely going to be very different from that of an advertising agency.
The list of website builders that we recommend are definitely top-notch but we can’t say which one is the best for you as much depends on personal preferences.
We definitely recommend that you test out each website builder using a trial account to get a feel for their interface and whether it’s easy to use or not.
Also read – How to create a simple website
2. Social media integration
In this year and age, every business should have a social media presence. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even Pinterest, social media has proven to be a great way to get more eyeballs on your website.
Not only that, social media is an important tool that you can use to generate sales or interact with customers.
If social media is going to be a key component of your brand, then you should go for website builders that focus on integrating social media. Wix, for example, let’s you integrate Instagram, FaceBook, and Twitter to your website for free, including the ability to add popup buttons as well.
Use the trial account to check whether the website builder offers social media integrations that fit your needs and whether you can do the following:
- Add icons that link to your social channels
- The ability to pull content from your social media page — such as “Instagram Post of the day” — onto your website.
- The ability to post content straight from your website onto your social media pages.
3. Templates and images
Web design plays a major role in building a website. If you don’t want your website looking unprofessional or uninviting, you need to use the right templates and put in the right images.
A sharp and stylish website sends the message to users that your business is professional and trustworthy. The website builders that we suggest offers a wide range of free and paid stock photos and templates that you can use for your website.
Of course, it’s always important to check the templates and images first and whether they meet the needs of your website.
If you’re an online consultant agency, you want to use a more professional looking templates and the keep the images to a minimum. On the other, if you’re a photography or a food blog, then builders with more polished and attractive images might be better suited for you.
Also read – Free eCommerce website templates
4. Email marketing integration
For small businesses, email marketing is an important asset to build up the business. Using emails are a great way to connect to your users quickly and extend your reach to potential customers.
Whether you’re just starting out or have built up a big email list, having a website builder that lets you manage your mass-mailers will be useful. Apps such as MailChimp are a great way to scale up your email marketing efforts and acquire new subscribers. They also normally integrate well with popular website builders such as Squarespace.
The great thing about these email tools is that you don’t need to know any coding to create professional looking emails. Plus, they use a similar drag-and-drop interface that lets you create and design custom newsletters.
5. Customer help and support
This should go without saying, but if you’re looking to use a website builder, it should always come with a good customer support team.
This is especially true if you’re just starting out. Having a good support team that you can go to will make a huge difference in the overall experience of building your own website.
The website builders that we suggest all have great support channels that you can contact via email, phone, and even online chat, so you never have to worry about needing help when on the journey to launch your website.
Website Builders FAQs
The entry cost for a website builder can range anywhere between $8 per month – $29 per month. The prices are different depending on which website builder you choose and which plan you sign up to. Website builder for eCommerce purposes generally priced higher compared to others.
Weebly – they have one of the best website editors in market. Plus, every template is fully adjustable and editable which makes it easy for you to create a professional design website. Plus, with tons of free and paid apps, you can quickly add extra features and functionality to your website.
Time and knowledge are the two biggest factors that make website builder a good choice. It allows you to create and host a website easily without any coding skills.
Your website looks unprofessional as the website address will appear on a subdomain such as yourwebsitename.weebly.com. Most of the time, free website builders are supported by advertisements and your visitors may see all sorts of irrelevant advertisements when they visit your website.
The worst thing is, there's no guarantee of using free website builders which means your website can be shut down for no reason or your website is vulnerable to hacking due to poor security. These are among the risks of using a free website builder.
Yes and no. It is easier to connect the domain to your website when you are buying a domain name from the website builder. However, the domain registration cost is generally (20% – 30%) higher when you register with a site builder company of maintaining a domain will be higher (around $20 with a website builder). Also, it's (even) harder to move your website away from the website builder when your domain is registered with the company.
It's up to you to decide. You definitely can hire a professional to help you in case you are lost in the half-way.
For sure, you need to go through the learning curve of each website builder before getting used to it. Not to worry, most of the website builders offer a comprehensive tutorial. All website builders offer you a code-free way to building your website. You just need to decide on the theme and start inserting your content. Replace with your logo and favicon and your website is ready to launch.
No. Unfortunately, you can't do that with almost all site builders.
If you built a website with website builder, it also brings together several aspects with it. For example. web design, database, hosting and coding language are the things that involve. It may seem an easy task to just export and import but it's unrealistic. There are lots of proprietary aspects involved. Unless you are using CMS like WordPress, you can move your website to any host you like.
Yes. All the website builders are having easy to use drag & drop features. This feature empowers you to make a website even if you are not professional. The first step is to pick a suitable template for your industry. Then you can start editing and populating it with your content.