The hosting industry has grown mature over the years and this has lead to many of the companies going through mergers and consolidations.
You can see companies such as GoDaddy acquiring domain hosting brands such as Media Temple to expand its business. Endurance International Group is another company that has acquired a number of popular hosting brands such as BlueHost, iPage, Hostgator, and more.
As a user, having smaller hosting brands joining up together under one company ensures that will be a standard for all web host providers. Of course, with all the mergers and acquisitions, this led to many of the companies founders stepping down from their leadership role and exiting the business.
WHSR receives compensation from some of the brands and companies mentioned in this article. Our opinions are based on real experience and actual server data.
Rise of Modern Website Builders
The advancement of computer technology and internet speed has made it easier for people to start a website. Because of this, hosting companies are shifting their focus and are aiming to become a one-stop solution for all users with hosting needs.
Different from the traditional hosting services, a hosting company that brand itself as “ Website Builder” offer a number of benefits that are quite useful for a beginner. Among them are:
- Drag-and-drop web editor with built-in blogging and pod-casting – The ability to create and main a website without any coding experience.
- 100% web base – Customers have the ability to work on your website from anywhere with an Internet connection.
- Ease of use – Not needing to manage your web server and software and have everything done (and billed) in one place.
- For Online Store Builder like Big Commerce and Shopify – Payment gateway, inventory management software, as well as shipping and tax cost calculator are built-in.
What Are Your Choices?
Wix and Weebly are probably two big names that you’ve heard of. They’ve been the best site builders for first-timers or busy businesses since they provide a one-stop-solution for creating a website and are easy-to-use.
If you’re focusing on eCommerce, then Shopify and BigCommerce are the recommended options. These two, often also known as online store builders, provide key features that are useful for an online store; including the ability to create a store without coding, inventory management, multiple payment gateway and so much more.
On this page – we will first look into some popular website builders available the market. Next, we will do a side-by-side comparison between the best two – Wix and Weebly.
Best Site Builders for Small Business & Beginners
Weebly in a glance
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 50 million sites around the world and is currently headquartered in San Francisco with offices at New York, Scottsdale, and Toronto.
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.
- Free plan available
- Extremely user-friendly
- Low-level online stores get charged extra per transaction
Starting price: $8/mo.
Suitable for: Personal site, simple online store, portfolios.
Wix in a glance
Founded in 2006, Wix was created by Avishai Abrahami, Nadav Abrahami and Giora Kaplan. They currently have offices located in the U.S., Germany, Brazil, Ukraine, Ireland, Lithuania, and Israel, and have over 110 million users located across 190 countries.
Wix has a good range of pricing options and easy-to-use user interface. They are by far one of the few site builders that have seen a meteoric rise in uptake over a relatively short period.
- Good range of pricing options
- Extensive option drag-and-drop user interface
- Does not allow exports of data (You’re stuck with Wix)
Starting price: $4.50/mo.
Suitable for: Business & personal site, blog, portfolios.
BigCommerce in a glance
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.
BigCommerce is big on commerce and less towards site building. If you’re looking to sell, I recommend you stick to that and let BigCommerce worry about the technology.
Quick BigCommerce review
- A complete online sales tool
- No transaction fees for all 40+ payment gateways
Starting price: $29.95/mo.
Suitable for: eCommerce site, complex online store (sell on FB, eBay, Amazon, etc).
Shopify in a glance
One of the leading online shop builders in the industry, Shopify first started their journey back in 2006. Today, the company has over 600,000 active Shopify stores and has made over $72 billion worth of sales.
Quick Shopify review
- Plenty of add-on tools available
- Simple and powerful integrated payments
- Cost is a little prohibitive unless you’re a dedicated e-Tailer
SiteJet in a glance
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.
Quick SiteJet review
- Simple yet powerful drag-and-drop interface
- Great features for website designers
- No free plan available
- Lack of marketing tools
Firedrop.ai in a glance
Firedrop.ai is one of the newest website builders on this list. Founded by CEO Marc Crouch, Firedrop.ai is the first website builder to incorporate artificial intelligence elements into its web building UI with Sacha AI.
Quick Firedrop.ai review
- Free plan available
- Unique design experience thanks to Sacha the AI bot
- Limited building components available
Website Builder in a glance
Part of the Endurance International Group (EIG), WebSiteBuilder offers a wide range of web building features and functionality that you need for building a website and even a free plan.
Quick Website Builder review
- Free plan available
- Extremely user-friendly
- Shady ownership
- Multiple branding of the same product
Site Builder in a glance
SiteBuilder first came up in 2015 and beyond that, not much is known about the company. Despite that, they offer all the basic features that you would expect from a standard website builder such as drag-and-drop UI and editable templates.
Quick Site Builder review
- Free plan available
- Powerful and user-friendly editor
- Site transfers not allowed
- Bad reputation in billing practice
Best Website Builders Showdown: Wix vs Weebly
To make the most of the following comparison guide:
- Create a feature checklist for your ideal website builder, and
- Match the features in your checklist against the features in table below.
Doing so alone will help you filter out the builder that suits you the most.
This exercise will also help you set aside the right budget for your website because you might realize that you need to keep provision for some paid third-party apps as well in addition to the platform cost.
Compare Wix and Weebly Features & Pricing
|Free trial||14 days||30 days for annual subscriptions|
|Data transfer||2 GB for lowest plan||Unlimited|
|Storage||3 GB for lowest plan||Unlimited|
|Starting Price||$12/mo for monthly subscription; $8.50/mo for annually subscription||$14/mo for monthly subscription; $8/mo for annual subscription.|
|Free domain||Only for Combo plan and above||For all annual subscriptions.|
|SSL||Only for Business Plan.|
|Design from scratch|
|Built-in form builder|
|Built-in SEO||Optimize site and page titles, URLs, meta description, and keywords.||Optimize site and page titles, URLs, meta description, and keywords.|
|Online Store||Built-in Online Store for eCommerce and VIP plans, features include order management, inventory, payment processing and coupons.||The Starter Plan allows users to sell ~10 products. Higher plans unlock features like inventory management, shipping and tax calculations, etc. .|
|Transactions fees||Zero transaction fees.||3% transaction fees for Starter and Pro; zero for Business Plan.|
|Multilingual support||+ $20/year for Multilanguage App; +$19.9 for LocalizeInternet.|
|Analytics||Google Analytics||Google Analytics & Built-in web stats|
|Image editor||Basic image editor with thousands of free, high-quality images.||Basic image editor with 29 new image filter effects.|
|Forum||Difficult. Forums can only be created using a third-party software or services.|
|Extensions||Wide range of apps and extensions available at ‘Wix App Market’.||Limited extensions or third party apps.|
|Email marketing||Wix offers built-in email marketing tool – Wix ShoutOut. Price starts at $4.90/mo for users with less than 10,000 subscribers.||Weebly offers built-in email marketing tool – Weebly Promote. Price starts at $9/mo for users with less than 500 subscribers.|
|Ads policy||No ads for Combo or higher plans.||No ads for all paid plans.|
|Free trial||14 days||30 days|
If you still aren’t sure about which platform to choose, sign up for free trials or lite versions for these website builders.
Learn how to develop a website from scratch. Here are all the guides you need: