Those days are gone when you had to learn coding to build a website or hire a person with coding skills to build one for you. Lately, website builders have burst into popularity as hundreds and thousands of websites keep flocking the already overcrowded market every day with the notion that they can make it big. Some do, most don’t!
The success part is a different thing altogether. I will leave it out of the discussion because that’s not the purpose of this blurb. Instead, I will focus on the best website builders. While you may argue that this website (Cloudzat) is built on WordPress, why on Earth am I suggesting website builders?
No, I am not suggesting website builders to you. I am only giving you a list. I will always tell you that you build your website using WordPress. However, if you are not comfortable taking the technical load that comes with WordPress, website builders are always a better option.
There are many website builders available. If I were to ditch WordPress and build a site using a website builder, the obvious choice would be Wix. That may not be the case for you. Since your needs differ from mine, I cannot say that Wix is the best option for everyone. It is one of the best, but keeping in mind the need for diversity, I added a total of 15 builders in this list with their pros and cons, leaving the judgment part on you for good!
Here is my pick of the best six (6) website builders:
1. Best overall features and templates – Wix.
2. Most intuitive – Weebly.
3. Most blogger-friendly – Squarespace.
4. Cheapest website builder – Webnode.
5. Best for multilingual websites – Duda.
6. Fastest setup – Jimdo.
It would be best if you decide which one shines out from my list of the best website builders in 2020. My obvious choice will be Wix, and so, it sits on the top. What’s your choice? Which one would you like to see on the top of this list? Once you read this entire article, tell me about your preference, and we can discuss it!
What is a Website Builder?
I believe you have a fair idea of what a website builder is. In case you don’t have that idea, let me give you a brief.
A website builder is a type of software that allows you to build a website without writing a single line of code. The whole thing is already coded so that you can drag and drop certain elements to get the placement you want. You can edit colors, fonts, etc. to customize your site as per your preference.
Generally, there are premade templates that you can modify slightly. You are not allowed to fiddle around with codes. Some website builders will allow you to change the template after you publish the site, while others will allow you to select a template only until you publish the website. Once you publish your site, you cannot change the template!
A website builder will allow a certain degree of customization, but it will not give you endless customization possibilities.
There will also be limits to your website’s functionalities because website builders usually do not have a big pool of plug-and-play plugins (like WordPress) that can add almost any conceivable function that you can think of.
Also, website builders are not suiltable of creating complex database-based websites or hypercomplex websites.
This brings us to the next question.
So What Can You Build Using Website Builders?
Website builders offer a wide range of templates that can cater to various industries. You are allowed to make small design changes to these templates. Such changes include changing the fonts and the colors, adding your own images and content, alterting the layout (if alternate layouts are available), etc.
You are not allowed to make any major changes. The reason for such restrictions is that website builders are made for rookies who know nothing about coding. Drag-and-drop builders are best-suited for them.
Because of their limitations, website builders are perfect for building small websites like a blog or a photography site, or a portfolio website, a hotel or restaurant website, church websites, club websites, small e-commerce websites, etc.
If you are thinking of building a complex website like a job board or a real-estate listing website that requires a complex database, a website builder is not an option. Also, if you are looking forward to build a hypercomplex website like a social media platform (similar to Facebook) or a website like Airbnb, or eBay, you will definitely need a developer team who can build such complex functions for you. Website builders are not designed to handle such complex tasks.
So, before you set out to build a website using a website builder, you better set your expectations right.
Best Website Builders – A Quick Snapshot
|Website Builder Name||Quick Pros & Cons||Pricing Structure|
(please don’t confuse it with WordPress.org – the self-hosted version that this website and millions of other websites use)
Okay, now that you have a quick knowledge about the various website builders that exist, it is time to learn about them in details.
So, let’s start without wasting time!
The Best Website Builders of 2020
Wix – Best Overall Features and Templates
There shouldn’t be an iota of doubt that Wix is, by far, the most popular website builder to exist today. It has over 110 million users globally. You must have heard that Wix websites cannot rank properly on Google search results.
You can ignore those gossips!
That was true at one point in time because when Wix was launched, it came to market as a flash-based platform. Flash has fallen out of preference a long time ago. Flash-based websites are incredibly slow and they are always vulnerable to security threats. Google hates flash.
Fortunately for Wix, the platform has evolved into some way better. It is feature-rich and Wix ensures that new features are frequently added to the already existing laundry list. Wix has a decent (not really great) app store that will allow you to add extra functions to your website apart from what Wix already offers.
It has many features like Wix Bookings, Wix Restaurants, and more. These features will allow you to create booking websites with ease. They also have something called Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intellegnce). It is targeted towards absolute rookies. All you have to do is answer a few questions and the platform will spew out a website template that is best-suited for your purpose.
For those who want large websites with more than 30 pages, Wix is not a good option. Also, the navigation depth allowed is not great. This means that if you have too many submenu options, Wix will not work well. You will have to cut down on your menu items.
The advantages of Wix
- It offers many great templates to work with.
- It offers a lot of great tools that include SEO, social tools, SSL certificate, analytics, payment gateway, email collection, and more.
- It allows creating online stores with most important pages already existing.
- It has something called Corvid that allows creating dynamic pages.
The disadvantages of Wix
- It is not entirely mobile-friendly. In short, it allows creating mobile-ready designs using absolute positioning, which is not the same as responsive design. If you are to create mobile-friendly sites, you have to separately optimize the site for different screen sizes.
- The editor is not very polished.
- Corvid is too complex for rookies.
- Doesn’t allow switching themes after the website is published.
If you want, you can read my full Wix Review here.
Weebly – Most Intuitive
Well over 40 million websites in this world are powered by Weebly. It is extremely easy to use and its editor is super easy and intuitive. They keep adding new features frequently. In case you are looking for a website builder that will allow you to build a website with 150+ pages, it is a great choice.
What makes Weebly stand out from the crowd is that its paid plands do not have any bandwidth and storage limitations.
In case you upgrade to the Professional plan that costs $12 a month, you will get additional features that include stuff like site search, audio and video player for direct streaming from your website, etc.
The advantages of Weebly
- Amazingly stylish themes and templates.
- Completely responsive templates that adapt to any and every screen size.
- The page templates are open to customizations.
- They have an app center that allows you to add extra functions to your site.
- All plans include e-Commerce solution.
The disadvantages of Weebly
- It is not a great option if you are looking for building multilingual sites.
- The app marketplace doesn’t have many apps.
- The number of features added has dropped since they were acquired by Square.
Squarespace – Most Blogger-Friendly
Squarespace has been around for quite long now. It was first introduced in the year 2003. Ever since then, the platform has powered millions of websites across the world. The service focuses a lot on aesthetics and clean design and discards flashy design language completely.
Squarespace is quite pricey. The lowest price tag that they have is $12 a month. So, if you are looking for a free option, Squarespace will disappoint you. The company has marketed itself as a preferred destination for bloggers, and that is true!
Their blogging tools are amazing. In fact, their bloging features are second only to WordPress. That makes Squarespace a great tool if you are looking forward to creating a blog.
Though Squarespace is more geared towards blogging, it also has an e-commerce solution. They also offer various gallery styles and SEO features. The SEO features weren’t that impressive earlier. They recently made changes and now, they allow adding page descriptions, page titles and more.
The advantages of Squarespace
- Very easy-to-use interface.
- Awesome blogging features.
- Very good support.
- Flexible design options.
The disadvantages of Squarespace
- Lacks backup and restore features.
- Not really the easiest option available. There are simpler website builders available.
- Pagespeed not up to the mark.
- No app store to extend functionalities of the website.
Webnode – Cheapest Website Builder
Webnode is also pretty popular. It may not be as famous Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace, but many people still prefer it. A major chunk of its users comes from European countries. Some features that Webnode has to offer are unique to the industry, but at the same time, it doesn’t have some basic features that most people want.
Most of the premium plans of Webnode offer a free domain for the first year and some plans even offer a custom business email. It is one of finest options if you are looking for creating a multilingual website.
The advantages of Webnode
- Allows creating multilingual sites.
- Offers modern and responside design templates.
- They have amazing SEO features.
The disadvantages of Webnode
- Basic blogging features like commenting and tags are absent.
- No app store.
Jimdo – Fastest Setup
Jimdo has more than 20 million websites under its belt. They have introduced something called Jimdo Dolphin that allows creating a working website in just three minutes. Jimdo Dolphin works best for local businesses that have information available on Instagram and Google Maps. The Jimdo Dolphin will pull all those information and create a website.
Jimdo offers a complete website creation suite in addition to a basic online store. This means that if you are looking for building some complex e-commerce store, Jimdo is not a good choice.
As far as design templates are concerned, all of the available options are fully-responsive, and they scale perfectly on every screen size. You can customize the templates by changing colors, fonts, etc.
If you have some coding skill, you may check out their Jimdo Creator, which is nothing other than their classic editor. To use it, you will need some basic coding skills.
The advantages of Jimdo
- It offers the fastest way to create a website.
- You can add a basic online store too!
- Offers responsive templates to create mobile-friendly websites.
The disadvantages of Jimdo
- There aren’t many features available.
- Templates allow only basic editing.
- Online store is too basic and there’s no app store.
Duda – Best for Multilingual Websites
Duda is a great option if you are looking for a website builder that has everything in place right from the beginning. The company started in 2008 and it offers everything from responsive layouts to great SEO features, from a decent blogging option to an online store – you will get everything in a single place.
Duda allows creating multilingual websites. This is a feature you won’t easily find in website builders. They also have something called ‘website personalization tools.’
The website personalization tools will allow you to personalize your website for your visitors. For instance, you can show different content depending on the location of your visitor. This feature is not easily available in website builders. In fact, it is a great option if you have different customer or audience segment who prefer different content.
All the interesting features of Duda comes for a big price. If you want to settle for the basic plan, they will charge you $14 a month. The good thing, however, is that you can enjoy a 14-day free trial.
They once used to have an option called Site for Life under which you would pay $299 as one one-time fee for using Duda for the rest of your natural life. That feature no longer exists.
They even offer a CDN (from Amazon Cloudfront), and they have strong SEO features as well.
The advantages of Duda
- Create multilingual sites.
- Offers Amazon Cloudfront CDN.
- Offers website personalization tools.
- Offer strong SEO features.
- Offers a free trial.
The disadvantages of Duda
- No app store for increasing website functionalities.
- Prices are comparatively higher.
Webflow – Not Very Rookie-Friendly
Webflow is comparable to WordPress. There are obvious reasons for that. This website builder is perfectly suitable for freelancers, agencies, and designers. The company integrates powerful CMS features with visual editor (something similar to WordPress).
Of course, there is no coding required even if you want to build a completely responsive website with Webflow. This website builder has been created in such a way that designers can build elements and then reuse them as templates. This allows room for design consistency.
The basic plan of Webflow will set you back by $12 a month. If you want to build a single site, there are various plans. If you want multiple sites, different plans are available for that as well.
The advantages of Webflow
- It gives you control of every aspect of your website including design, responsiveness, interaction, styling, etc.
- The company offers 99.99% of guaranteed uptime.
- They also have very strong SEO features.
- They have something called Webflow University, which is packed with videos and tutorials to help you sail through the website creation process.
The disadvantages of Webflow
- Not particularly rookie-friendly.
- Needs a lot of custom work if you are looking for creating an online store or adding extra blog features.
- No app store.
- Higher prices for additional features.
GoDaddy – Focuses on Marketing
GoDaddy is one of the most popular hosting companies in this world, and it is also one of the biggest domain registrars in the world. You can read my full review on GoDaddy hosting here. GoDaddy’s offerings don’t end with web hosting or domain registration. The company also offers a fine website builder tool.
GoDaddy’s website builder is bundled with some interesting marketing tools that include things like social media, email marketing, and SEO. The website builder from GoDaddy has evolved over the years and now it has features like built-in analytics, password protection for pages, content creator for social media, etc.
It also comes with email marketing tools, messaging features, and appointment scheduler, and guess what? Most of these features are absolutely free to use. However, if you are looking at a lower level plan, you will have to settle for fewer features. If you want e-commerce options, you will have to settle for the highest plan available.
The advantages of GoDaddy
- The website editor is easy to use and you can use it even on your mobile phone.
- The website templates available are responsive.
- There are various marketing add-ons that you can use for free.
The disadvantages of GoDaddy
- Full SEO features not available for free and basic plans.
- Some SEO features not available even on higher plans.
- E-commerce available only for the highest plan.
- They relaunch the website builder every few years without giving proper support for the older versions. That’s not a good idea.
WordPress.com – Needs No Introduction
Do not confuse WordPress.com with the self-hosted WordPress.org. WordPress is a very powerful CMS which powers more than a third of all websites in the world. You can guess its popularity, right?
WordPress as a standalone software is free and opensource. You can download it and install it on any server of your choice (self-hosted WordPress). There is also a version of it which works like other website builders you have read so far (and those that you will read after this). It is called the WordPress.com.
When you want to use WordPress.com, you will get hosting (just like every other website builder), some themes and some plugins will come preinstalled (like the famous or infamous Jetpack). They also have dedicated support.
The problem with WordPress.com is that its free and premium plans are very crippled in capabilities. If you want WordPress.com to compete with any of the above mentioned website builders, you have to settle for the Business plan that will cost you $25 a month.
The advantages of WordPress.com
- There is nothing to install or maintain. Everything is handled by the providers.
- You can get dedicated support.
- You can get support even for third-party plugins from the plugin developers or WordPress community.
- The support system is fast.
- The websites are pretty fast.
The disadvantages of WordPress.com
- Websites are severely crippled in functionalities.
- SEO options are not good enough unless you decide to settle for the Business plan.
- Even a few paid plans will not allow installing just about any plugin or theme you want.
- They will give you a preselected domain. You cannot use custom domain.
The crippling limitations of WordPress.com is what makes people opt for the self-hosted WordPress.
Strikingly – Best for One-Page Sites
If you want one-page websites, Strikingly is the best option that you can get. So, websites that want to show a landing page or an event registration page, etc. are the ones that are perfect for Strikingly.
While the templates you get with Strikingly are perfectly responsive, the platform has some serious drawbacks. You need to understand that the single-page websites are not really great in Google’s eyes. So, if you are to rank on Google with a single-page website, there’s going to be some tough times ahead.
The Limited plan that they have will allow you to create an online store where you can sell only five products. If you want to sell up to 500 products, you are going to need their VIP plan.
The advantages of Strikingly
- Free plan available.
- Great if you want to build a single-page website.
- Allows creating an online store.
- Top-notch customer support.
The disadvantags of Strikingly
- Google doesn’t love one-page sites.
- For basic features like adding code snippets, you will need the Pro plan.
- Pretty expensive (comparatively).
- The free-plan is ad-supported, which means they will run ads on your site. You will have no control on those ads.
Site123 – Supports Multilingual Sites
Site123 will allow you to create multilingual websites. Not only that! Their editor is also available in 20+ languages!
Unfortunately, the editor is pretty crippled. If you want to get a website done without worrying about creative stuff, Site123 might be your thing. Also, their template system is quite restrictrictive too!
It is one of the very few website builder tools available that will allow you to add a custom domain even to its lowest premium plan available. The cheapest plan, however, will cost 10.01 Euros. Compared to other site builders, Site123 is expensive.
The advantages of Strikingly
- Allows creating multilingual websites.
- Allows adding custom domain even to the most basic plan.
- The editor is easy and available in 20+ languages.
- Pretty satisfactory customer support with fast replies.
The disadvantages of Strikingly
- It needs to provide a little more flexibility in the templates’ department.
- For a price of 10.01 Euros a month for the basic plan, they will put ads on your site!
One.com – Costs Can Inrease Over Time
One.com website builder service is cheap and you will see that it offers one of the lowest prices on the market. However, you need to understand that “cheap” is quite relative. The cost can increase significantly if you want a website that has more than five pages. The higher plans are pretty much as expensive as Wix or Weebly, which is fine until you find that the number of features available are vey limited.
The advantages of One.com
- Responsive and modern templates.
- Generous storage.
- Live chat and email support available.
The disadvantages of One.com
- Adding a blog requires adding it separately using another editor.
- No password protection for the site.
- Very basic e-commerce suitable only for small online stores.
Webstarts – Offers a Free Plan
Webstarts positions itself as a competitor of Wix and it is, indeed, quite similar to Wix. The features you find wih Webstarts are quite similar to what you find on Wix. The editor is easy and intuitive too. However, it is far from being as powerful as Wix.
They offer a free plan under which you get 1 GB storage and 1 GB bandwidth, which is good enough for starter sites. A blogging tool is also available in case you want to start a blog. You will also find a nice online store building option if you go for their Business plan.
The advantages of Webstarts
- Good and responsive templates.
- Decent storage and bandwidth for the free plan.
- Easy and intuitive editor.
The disadvantages of Webstarts
- The free plan shows ads (luckily, not very intrusive).
- The cheapest paid plan doesn’t include mobile-optimized views!
- They charge $8 a month for SSL certificate (no one pays for an SSL certificate in today’s world because it is available for free from Let’s Encyrpt).
Homestead and Webs
I will request you not to use them. They are dinosaurs. They used to rule the market once, but today, they are nearing their extinction. It is pointless to pay for something complex or something that is not under active development.
Not only will you be wasting your money, but you also risk losing your website because they may just decide to close their services at any point in time. You will be better off settling for one among the first six options.
There are many questions that people keep asking about website builders. Some of them may sound foolish, but unfortunately, they are all genuine concerns. So, let’s pick up those questions one-by-one and answer them in as precise fashion as possible.
Sounds good? Let’s start!
#1. Should I use a website builder or should I hire a developer?
If you have a big budget, and you want to get a very complex website done, you should definitely go for a developer. Website builders are designed for rookies. They are DIY things. You can keep fiddling with elements to figure out what you like or what you hate.
In case of a custom development, you have to provide a list of features you want and also specify the design that you are looking for. Your developer will work accordingly. Unfortunately, developing a custom site will come against a big cost, with a minimum starting at $1500.
That’s the basic price! Depending on the features you need and the design you seek, the charges can be extremely high. If you want a website like Quora or Facebook, be ready to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Don’t forget that there will be recurring charges of maintenance, domain name, hosting, etc.
#2. Which is better – a website builder or WordPress?
You need to understand that a website builder is designed for rookies who do not want to take the technical burden of building a website. Most of them allow small customizations in terms of fonts, colors and layout.
WordPress, on the other hand, is for rookies and nerds alike. For rookies, there are thousands of free and premium themes and free or premium plugins that will require little to no custom configuration.
The more advanced the theme or plugin, the more fine-tuning you need to make something that resonates with you.
WordPress is extremely flexible and this CMS is capable of giving you almost any type of website you want. However, there will be some technical burden that you need to deal with!
#3. How do I add custom functions to a website built using a website builder?
You can’t! Website builders are not open-source. They prevent custom development. If you need additional functions, you can use their app markets (if available) to get free or premium add-ons/plugins/extensions to add new functions.
But no one guarantees that the functions you need are already present in their App markets. Self-hosted WordPress, on the other hand, will allow custom coding to add custom functions through custom plugins or themes. That’s the reason why I always recommend WordPress.
#4. How good are e-commerce sites built with website builders?
There is no definitive answer to this question! Whether an online store is good or not will depend on what you are selling, how many products you are selling, what kind of traffic you are expecting, and definitely, the functions that you are looking for.
#5. Do I need to buy hosting separately if I use a website builder?
No! Website builders are usually proprietary stuff and they offer hosting. You cannot host it somewhere else. The good part, however, is that many website builders will allow you to migrate your site to a different hosting provider. Often such migrations are pretty complex and can break your site, if not done properly.
That’s the reason why I always recommend people to stick with whichever website builder they are using. Planning a migration might not be a great option. Don’t forget that migration is a technical thing!