So you want to build a website but aren’t sure which road to go down next? It’s a journey I’ve done a few times so hopefully this article will help clear your head and take you in the right direction – towards the Best Website Builder for your own needs.
I sympathise with you wholeheartedly if you’re wondering where to put your money but can’t decide. And that money may well be limited so it’s important you make the right choice. I’ll use my experience to give you a steer…
Which is the best website builder? It depends. I have used several and I can honestly tell you that different builders are best for different reasons. And they each have their downsides too. And you really need to understand which one is going to work best for you before you dive in.
I’ve chosen to look at WordPress, Wix and Weebly, not because their initials spell WWW (see what I did there?), but because I genuinely believe they are the best out there.
There’s a fair bit of detail here, but believe me, you want to get this decision right, so you don’t end up having to change platform (sooooo time-consuming ) when your website isn’t doing what you wanted it to.
So do read through it all to make an informed choice…
What kind of website do you need?
First of all, how complicated do you need your website to be? Do you just need it to look great and work well, but be simple in both structure and maintenance?
Are you wanting to include a store and take payments? Do you want people to make appointments or book tickets through your site?
Do you need a portfolio of photos? Or do you need to play videos or audio files?
Will your site be based on blogging? In which case, will you try to monetise these blogs? Do you need sidebars to run affiliate links and subscription forms?
Are you building a website for a client? And do they want to manage it once it’s complete? Will you have to train them in how to use and edit the site?
All these things will impact on which best website builder is best for your business. So have a good think about what you really want.
I changed my mind so many times with my first few websites, partly because I’m a perfectionist(!), partly because there was so much choice in how a website could look, and I wanted to experiment.
But essentially, you want to get down to business. So having a clear plan of what you want your website to do and look like could save a lot of time.
DIY website: What you need to know
Employing a professional website builder can be extremely expensive. I’m guessing that’s why you’re here, to find out how easy it would be to do it yourself, or have a member of your team put a site together.
The good news is, it’s very easy these days. You don’t even need any knowledge of code – the technical nuts and bolts of how to put a site together.
You can even build a site completely free of charge – though it would look more professional if you spent a little on packages to remove adverts, or invest a little in a customised domain name – your personalised or branded web address.
WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
Before we get deeper into things, a word about WordPress. Every mention of WordPress below will relate to WordPress.org, because WordPress.com is more for hobby bloggers – there are severe restrictions on monetising sites on this platform.
I’ve made the assumption that most people reading this want to make money from their blog or website! So remember, from now on, WordPress = WordPress.org.
What are the differences between web builders?
- Wix and Weebly are one-stop shops. They look after everything from templates to hosting to SEO and security. WordPress sites are built with the aid of plug-ins and require hosting, all services coming from third parties.
- Wix and Weebly allow you to build a website with no knowledge of code. You simply drag and drop the elements to where you want them. They both have the option of adding code for those with the knowledge.
- WordPress can also give you the option of drag-and-drop, but that depends on which ‘theme’ you use and which page builder is available.
- It is highly likely that all WordPress users will require some knowledge of code sooner or later, which makes using this platform more difficult to access for some (though it’s relatively easy to learn the basics). A little code here and there does allow for greater customisation.
- There are thousands of third-party plug-ins for WordPress sites, adding extra features. They range in price from free to expensive but must be tested to see if they work with your website.
- Wix has a large number of apps available which do the same as plug-ins, and Weebly a smaller amount. Because they are all developed and tested in-house, they should be less prone to bugs and viruses. But there is not as much choice as on WordPress.
- Wix, Weebly and WordPress all offer free-of-charge plans for your website, although you will have to pay to have the site hosted somewhere if you build with WordPress. All web builders offer a range of upgrades to your plan, offering extra features at each price level.
So let’s look into more detail at the pros and cons of building your 2020 website with Wix, Weebly and WordPress…
- Extremely user-friendly. It’s a drag-and-drop, What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get web builder, so you position everything on screen as you would like to see it on your live site. Easy for beginners to use and popular with expert web builders, too.
- You don’t need to know how to use code. You can add extra code if you want, but your site won’t suffer because of lack of coding knowledge. You can put together a great looking, highly functional Wix website with no knowledge of code whatsoever.
- As Wix is an all-in-one platform, you don’t have to go anywhere else to host the site, incurring extra charges. Wix hosting is secure, fast and reliable. And included in the overall package price.
- Website themes are also built in, so are tested and secure and free of charge. There are more than 500 templates to choose from, all stunning designs. Although they are geared to specific businesses, hobbies or requirements, it is important to remember that these are only guidelines and you can use any template as a starting point and then tailor it to your own needs.
- There are more than 250 apps, many of them free, which can be added with ease to your Wix website from the side menu. These include everything from adding a blog or forum, integrating social media feeds and chat widgets, accepting payments, adding a store (premium account needed), launching email marketing campaigns, adding contact forms, taking bookings and providing a map of your location.
- Designing a stunning looking website is easy. You can drop on slideshows, galleries, hover boxes, videos, audio and much more to make your site stand out.
- Wix sites are 100% compatible with mobile phones. It was one of the first web builders, back in 2012, to become mobile-responsive and all templates look great on all devices. Crucially, you can edit elements of the mobile site which you can’t do on many other platforms.
- There are thousands of royalty-free images available and thousands more that can be paid for at a small cost. Wix also has in-built photo editing to crop, add filters to, and retouch images.
- Wix also has a large library of free videos to use as background images, or on strips anywhere you want to place them.
- You can choose different options for scrolling through your site, including parallax, which portrays a 3D effect.
- You can use the ground-breaking Wix Artificial Intelligence web builder – ADI – to build a great-looking personalised website, literally in minutes, and free of charge unless you want to remove the Wix adverts.
- There are many other platforms that integrate seamlessly with your Wix website, such as third party marketing features like Facebook Pixel, Mailchimp (for email marketing) and Google Ads.
- You can even design a business logo through Wix and download it to use on your website and across all your branding.
- Wix gives lots of options for a detailed e-commerce store if you upgrade to one of the higher premium plans. You can also create an app for your store.
- Blogging is easy, with the option of changing layout, fonts, colours and adding images or video. Blog settings allow you to make the most of SEO keywords for higher ranking on search engines.
- Wix SEO Wiz is a free app which takes you through your site, step by step, using a checklist of pages, images, headlines etc, making sure you have used keywords correctly and in the right places to optimize your site for search engines. You can also register your site with Google through a simple click.
- Prices start from free and even the most expensive plans for larger businesses will not break the bank.
- The Wix support centre is huge, with hundreds of thousands of topics posted in the official forum, along with a seemingly endless supply of walk-through videos. There is also email support and help prompts on every page you create.
- Any software issues (rare) are dealt with by Wix and nobody else, so you don’t have to go chasing individual developers. Software updates occur automatically, with all apps too, so again you do not have to keep on top of technical issues.
- You can buy email addresses @yourwebsitename and connect your own domain name. Some price plans come with a free domain offer.
- Once you’ve built a Wix website, or even part way through building, you can’t change the template you have chosen. However, this should not be a problem, as each element is customisable so there is nothing stopping you changing fonts, colours and layouts even if you haven’t started with these.
- You cannot transfer all content from one site to another. You can copy regular pages now, but only basic pages will transfer with losing something. However, you can make as many duplicate sites as you want. You cannot download the site and then upload the content to a new WordPress site, though there are partial workarounds.
- It’s great that Wix sites work on mobile, it’s great that you can optimize them and customise them further for mobile. But sometimes the desktop site doesn’t translate quite into the correct order so there may be some tweaking to do. A minor gripe, though.
- Although code can be used on Wix websites, extensive customisation won’t be as possible as it is with WordPress, for example. But for the vast majority of websites, all tools and features provided in Wix should be more than enough without the need to customise further.
- Blogging is easy on Wix and blogs can look great. But if you want to monetise your blogs, have a sidebar of widgets advertising affiliate products, or embedding Google Ads, for example, Wix is still some way behind WordPress in terms of design, functionality and flexibility. The best thing to do is give it a try…
- Also a user-friendly, drag-and-drop web builder. A little more rigid than Wix so less flexibility with design but still easy to use and edit.
- Again, you need no knowledge of code to build a Weebly website, but you still have the option of extra customisation by inserting your own lines of code.
- Also like Wix, Weebly is a one-stop-shop, in that hosting is included in all packages.
- There are about 100 expertly-designed templates on Weebly, offering suggestions for a wide range of interests and industries. Fewer than Wix and WordPress, but still giving more than enough choice.
- Weebly allows you to buy external templates and import them into your website.
- Weebly has about 250 apps to choose from and easily integrate into your website. Check out the star ratings, features and prices when deciding which ones to use. More than 50 of the apps are free of charge.
- The blog module offers many features you’d expect, including RSS feed, categories, comments and social media tools.
- All Weebly websites are mobile-responsive. The Weebly mobile website editor allows you to test what the site would look like when live, as it does on Wix.
- There is a large database of royalty-free images to choose from, with many extra available for a small charge.
- You can easily run a business online through Weebly. Its e-commerce features include offering customers an option to order online and pick-up in store. You can also manage the store from your smartphone.
- You can change the template at any stage and can save the site’s content for use on another site. But it will lose its drag and drop formatting so it’s not a great benefit.
- Weebly’s Ultimate SEO Guide takes you through the process of using keywords, alt tags and meta titles.
- You can connect your own domain name and some paid-for plans come with a free domain up to a limited value.
- Weebly provides email and live chat support, and help by phone if you take out one of the high-end plans.
- As all the tools and software are built and managed by Weebly, they deal with all technical issues and you won’t have to wait for or chase down individual developers.
- Prices start from free and even the most expensive plans for larger businesses will not break the bank.
- Weebly’s drag and drop method of building a website is less flexible than on Wix, giving you less creative freedom.
- Weebly has fewer templates than Wix or WordPress but if you know how to code, Weebly does gives access to the template codes, allowing more customisation.
- You have to take out a Pro plan to use some features that you can use for free with Wix.
- Again, blogging has its limitations. It will be fine for most businesses, but if you want to monetize the blog, you could do with being able to customise it more.
- As WordPress.org is an open source platform, anyone can access its code and create plugins and themes. There are pros and cons of this but a major plus point is that WordPress boasts more than 45,000 plugins, so somewhere in that lot you will find the exact customisation you desire.
- Plugins are available for all the features that come with Wix and Weebly sites, such as forms, YouTube and Vimeo integration, PayPal and credit card payments, slideshows and more.
- WordPress offers plugins to run an e-commerce site, which can be further customised with paid-for extras.
- WordPress started as a blogging platform and is still the leader when it comes to blogs, in terms of how many people blog on WordPress and the availability and flexibility of themes for blogs.
- WordPress provides many themes for creating a basic website, and thousands more are on the market to be bought and imported for use on your site. Most themes are compatible with mobile phones.
- There is a huge selection of images which you can use and edit in the WordPress library.
- WordPress keeps content, design and functionality apart, which means you can save your database for such occasions as uploading if the site crashes, or moving to another site or platform.
- A number of well-used plugins give WordPress sites strong SEO powers.
- WordPress sites are very flexible in width measurements, and work well with a range of browsers and screen sizes.
- With WordPress, you own and control all your website files, you are not tied to one web hosting company, as with Wix and Weebly, and can move your website around if you wish. That’s great in one respect but it also means you are also responsible for the security of your site, you must make backups, and install updates. These tasks can be done automatically with the right plug-ins, and are done automatically with Wix and Weebly.
- WordPress is not naturally a drag and drop website builder, making it a steeper learning curve for beginners. There are, however, more and more drag and drop page builders coming onto the market to give you the option. It often depends on which theme you choose to work with.
- You do not absolutely need to learn coding to use WordPress. But you’ll soon come across obstacles if you don’t have at least some knowledge of HTML and CSS. This is fine if you’re up for the challenge of learning, not so fine if you want to steer clear of the technical side of things and get on with putting your website together.
- If you’ve got any problems, you will find help among a thriving community of WordPress webmasters. WordPress also provides support forums. But there is no official support through phone, email or live chat.
- You have to pay for your own web hosting service, although costs should not be that great.
- Designing with WordPress can be trickier because you don’t always see what you will get – but using one of the modern website builders overcomes that traditional obstacle.
- If you want a feature-rich, flexible, well designed theme – the skin and bones of the website – you are going to have to pay more, usually at least £50 / $60.
- The quality of plugins is not always great, with so many third party developers out there putting them on the market. You have to be careful to test them for security and compatibility.
- Not all themes and plug-ins are mobile-ready, which quite frankly isn’t good enough these days, as most people will find your site or blog through their smartphones.
- WordPress often updates its platform, and plugins regularly update, too. Wix and Weebly update all these things automatically but you have to take more control in WordPress, unless you pay for a managed option.
THE BEST WAY to install WordPress is through a hosting service. Prices start at only a few dollars / pounds / Euros a month. Learn more HERE.
BEST WEBSITE BUILDER: CONCLUSION
For a simple yet stunning website, for a website you can hand over to a client after you’ve built it, for a website that is easy to build and easy to manage, choose Wix. If you don’t like the feel of that, consider Weebly.
If you want to run a blog, or a blog-based website, WordPress is still streets ahead when it comes to design options and the ability to monetise the blog through ads and links inserted as widgets in sidebars.
Looking at this Best Website Builder conclusion in a little more detail…
If you have little or no knowledge of coding, widgets, plugins, licences, hosting, themes and website maintenance, building with WordPress might drive you a little crazy as for . beginners, it can be time consuming and frustrating.
There is something immensely satisfying about having a WordPress site at the end of it all. Sure, it’s a case of no pain, no gain, but WordPress sites can look awesome, and offer you lots of flexibility.
Be aware though, that this often comes at a financial cost. The look and functionality of a WordPress site depends on its ‘theme’.
While many themes are free of charge, they often come with very limited features, and to get a great looking site which works well without paying for extras all over the place, you’ll probably have to invest at least $60 / £50 in a decent theme.
You’ll also find yourself trawling through boards and forums and copying and pasting passages of HTML and CSS to get certain features working just as you want them.
Now, let’s be clear, WordPress is evolving and including more page builders with WYSIWYG features, but these too can be confusing for beginners.
They don’t work with every theme (even when they say they do) but if you shop around you might find a best of both worlds solution that makes WordPress that bit easier to build with. Like I said, this often depends on which theme you choose.
If you want to keep things simple, with drag-and-drop design and all components, add-ons and updates managed through just one source, go for Wix or Weebly.
Personally, I have always preferred to use Wix, but I’d recommend playing with both on a trial basis – there are more links below – and if you like the feel of Weebly better, that’s the one you should choose.
Wix has come on leaps and bounds in recent months. It now includes the ability to enhance your site using code – called Corvid – so if you’re that way inclined, you can enjoy that added flexibility.
If you’re not coding, the way Wix is set up makes it incredible easy to put together a great looking site, using blocks, strips, galleries and the like that can snap to the grid.
If you are a sole trader or in charge of a small business (or you’re on the marketing side) and want to create a great looking website easily and for low cost, again, I’d choose Wix or Weebly.
If you believe you will need a complex, detailed website with the ability to customise absolutely everything, go for WordPress. But be aware, customisation is not for beginners..
If you want to run a blog with flexibility on design and options to monetise – which is one of the things this very website encourages small businesses and entrepreneurs to do – WordPress is where you should be heading. So check out the hosting options now.
The range of pricing basically starts at next to nothing for the most basic site, and can run to hundreds, even thousands.
I can’t tell you exactly how much you’ll spend on your blog or website, if you build it yourself, because it will depend on what package you take out, whether you need hosting, whether or not you want added extras etc.
But as I say, don’t over-complicate things if you don’t need to!