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- January 9, 2020 at 4:59 pm #83707Participant@chinomnso
For individuals and small business looking to put themselves on the world wide web, website builders provide a great solution. They make it possible for non-techies to spin up web pages without knowing how to code or without hiring a developer. Even for techies, the speed at which websites can be created with website builders can be alluring. With a lot of website builders on the market, it could be quite difficult making a good choice.
Hiring A Web Developer vs Website Builders
Bloggers, musicians, artists, photographers, event planners, freelancers, content developers and others use make use of website builders. A good custom website could cost as much $2,000. And updating your website could still cost you money over time.
With a few dollars per month, you could maintain a subscription that gives you allows you to just login, edit your content, upload media or add new pages.
What To Look For In A Website Builder
You surely would need to keep an eye on the list of features available. Quite a number of website builders offer a drag-and-drop user interface, which I consider very important. You would certainly need to ask yourself some questions: Does my website require e-commerce features? Does it require a blog? Would the website be needing regular updates? Would it need to generate dynamic data; would it be database-driven? And most importantly, would it scale to meet your business needs?
You need to be sure the website builder would choose would be able to handle your business needs, right from the beginning and in the long run. Without much ado, let us take a deep dive into a review of the most popular website builders.
WordPress.org – the self-hosted version of WordPress is by far the world’s most popular website builder. Therefore, it is not surprising that I could not resist the urge to start with it. Note, however, that this article does not list website builders in any order of preference.
WordPress is free and open-source, allowing giving you total control over your website if you are a developer. You can tear it apart and build it into whatever you like without having to worry about ambiguous end-user license agreements. In contrast to other website builders, you need a web hosting service to use WordPress.
WordPress comes with an architecture that supports extension and addition of features by means of plugins and enhancement of the appearance by means of themes. There are lots of free plugins and themes available on the WordPress plugin and theme repositories. There are premium plugins and themes available from individual developers, software companies and third-party marketplaces. In addition to all of this, it possesses powerful SEO capabilities by default, and SEO plugins can greatly improve your site’s SEO. It is available in several languages and translation into other languages is ongoing. In fact, I have contributed to the translation of WordPress into Nigerian Pidgin.
With all the benefits, WordPress could arguably be the cheapest website builder, especially if you do not require features of premium plugins. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Using WordPress, you get total control over your website. And because of its architecture that makes it almost infinitely extensible, you can use it to build just about any kind of website – social networks, e-commerce sites, forums, personal websites and even more You wouldn’t expect less from a website builder that boasts over 50,000 plugins. And apart from the aforementioned, these plugins add extra features like live chat, photo galleries, analytics, contact forms and even more. WordPress offers both free and paid drag-and-drop page builders you can use to design your website’s pages.
You will have to keep with WordPress’ regular updates and ensure all your themes and plugins are up-to-date. And you may also have to create backups of your website on a regular basis if your web host does not do that for you.
Although WordPress is free, you will need to have a domain name and web hosting. And if you don’t have your way around WordPress or don’t know some basics about website design and development, you could easily spend a lot of money on premium subscriptions and purchases of plugins, themes and page builders.
A fully hosted platform, you don’t have to pay separately for hosting when you use Wix. The cost for hosting is added to your billing. Wix gives you access to hundreds of templates from which you can choose to get a design that matches your business needs. Each of the templates is fully editable and their drag-and-drop site builder is quite intuitive. To add functionality to your website, you can choose from several apps – some developed by Wix, others by third-party developers.
To test-run Wix, you can use the free plan which offers limited bandwidth and storage but does not offer a domain name. However, you get free SSL with all Wix plans, but it has to be activated by you before use.
The free plan offers a Wix-branded subdomain, but you can connect a domain name for $9.16 per month. The combo plan starts at $14.85 per month, offering a domain name with the package. The e-commerce plan
Using Wix, you can build almost any kind of website including those with e-commerce features supporting multiple payment methods. Wix has a very large library of templates, making it a great option irrespective of the category under which your site falls. It is one of the most popular websites available, hosting over 100 million users.
It has a mild learning curve, therefore using it is very easy. With a vast array of customization options, you can keep tweaking every detail of your website until you get what you want. Judging by response time and effectiveness, their customer service is not bad. Page load times have been reported to be very fast, and in one test, uptime over a period of one year was 96.6%.
The Wix Free and Connect Domain plans display Wix-branded ads on your site – something I don’t think you will like. Moving away from Wix could be quite challenging because of how complicated the process can be.
Each email account costs $6 per month and is provided through Google G Suite. Wix doesn’t offer support via live chat, but they can be reached round the clock via phone calls and support tickets.
BoldGrid comes in two flavours – a standalone cloud-hosted website builder based on WordPress and a WordPress plugin. Either way, you get to enjoy the benefits that come from using WordPress. You can choose beautiful designs from a gallery of beautiful, professionally designed themes. These themes can then be customized with a drag-and-drop customizer, allowing you to change colors, layouts, fonts, navigation menus and many more.
BoldGrid also offers a full-blown WYSIWYG editor. You don’t have to wonder what your site will look like because you’re seeing the changes happen as you make them. And it also offers a drag-and-drop feature.
All BoldGrid themes are WooCommerce compatible, allowing you to quickly create an e-commerce store on your website.
The BoldGrid basic plugin is available for download for free. If you want to enjoy the goodness of WordPress and the beauty of a cloud-hosted platform, BoldGrid is great for you. If you want to enjoy WordPress in its raw state, the plugin also brings a lot to the table.
If you are using the plugin option, you would need to purchase hosting for it. But the good thing is that BoldGrid offers backups. Therefore, you can focus on other things without having to bother about backing up your site regularly.
Squarespace is a hugely popular professional website builder hailed for its fantastic designs and ease of use. Their hosting infrastructure is top-notch, allowing you to focus on growing your website and business without worrying about hosting.
It offers lots of website design that are suitable for different website categories. Each of their designs is editable. On top of this, you can use multiple designs on one website. Squarespace focuses heavily on designs so you can be sure your website would be very beautiful.
If you intend to build an image-heavy website, Squarespace is a great choice. Offering over 200 design templates, you can hardly go wrong with your designs. The editor is quite intuitive and allows you to tweak things to your taste without wasting time.
None of their plans have storage or bandwidth limitations – they’re all unlimited. And during a six-month test, 99.98% uptime was recorded. And their speed too is great.
Their customer support is reportedly not stellar. There are lots of how-to articles on their knowledge base, but finding your way is not always easy. The live chat feature is not easily accessible and before starting a chat session, you would have to fill out a small form regarding your issue. The live chat feature then provides you with how-to articles while you are waiting on the queue. Even when you get to chat with an agent, you may end up being directed to a how-to article.
Squarespace is relatively pricey, yet the billing costs exclude email addresses. Each email account goes for $5 per month. A standard website on Squarespace costs about $12-$18 per month, with the cost for e-commerce rising to $26-$40 per month. It’s not just that the prices are expensive on the average, but the premium e-commerce package is very expensive.
One of the largest domain name and hosting service providers in the world, GoDaddy offers a simple online website builder. It is preloaded with several ready to use blocks that you can drag and drop to create different layouts. It offers access to a library of professional stock images from Getty that you can use on your website. And it allows you to upload your own images.
Talking of pricing, the personal plan goes for as low as $5.99 per month, the business plan for $9.99 per month and the business plus plan for $14.99 per month.
The GoDaddy website builder works on smaller screens, allowing you to work on your website while on the go on your mobile phone or tablet.
They offer over 1,500 design and template options, sorted into categories. It supports e-commerce quite well. And if you offer online coaching, GoDaddy website builder’s scheduling feature is great for you.
On top of all of this, it offers you one a free month of trial That’s as good as it can get. You have enough time to test out their features and see if you’re satisfied with them. And talking about uptime, GoDaddy reportedly offers 99.99% uptime. It surely could not get any much better.
Email accounts go as high as $9.99 per account per month. Customer service is not exactly great. It appears that to receive support, you must be a customer with an active account. But that is not the best, because potential customers who may still be evaluating their options could just ask questions to aid them in making decisions.
They offer a one-year free domain name, but the renewal costs at $17.99 per month. And migrating your website from GoDaddy website builder to WordPress can be quite challenging. Although the builder may be suitable for a basic website made up of just a few pages, it is not great for content-rich websites.
Without Shopify, this list would be far from complete. However, Shopify is a niche website builder, crafted specifically for e-commerce websites. It is the software behind over 500,000 business and the platform has about 1 million active users. Shopify’s platform has processed sales worth over 40 billion US dollars.
Shopify’s basic plan sells for a$29 per month. It is upgradeable to their medium plan for $79 per month or their premium plan for $299 per month. Among their offerings is the Shopify Lite plan which goes for $9 per month. It does not do more than allow you to add a buy button on any website.
Because Shopify is a fully managed platform, you don’t have to worry about any of the heavy lifting. Shopify installs updates, keeps backups and manages software behind the scenes. Although Shopify’s inbuilt payment gateway is available to subscribers, you can also integrate third-party payment gateways to accept payment from customers.
It offers full inventory management, powerful statistics and allows you add unlimited products. And there are hundreds of designs from which you can choose, allowing you to manipulate designs without having to code.
Shopify can be integrated with WordPress, making it possible for you to use both powerful solutions simultaneously.
The intuitive drag-and-drop interface allows you to create a powerful e-commerce store with great ease. Shopify’s in-store POS allows you to sell products at your location, accepting credit cards, and taking advantage of Shopify’s shipping, marketing and inventory management tools.
And Shopify offers you a 14-day trial to look around.
If you’re just starting out, Shopify’s pricing may not be so budget-friendly because it is a bit higher than some other website builders on this list.
Moving your website to another platform in the future will be a difficult task to accomplish. There fore, don’t start out with Shopify hoping to migrate in the future when things scale up.
Constant Contact Builder is an AI-powered website builder that helps you build a custom website within a few minutes. Their free plan offers a fully functional online store. This gives Constant Contact website builder an edge over the other builders on this list.
Their AI-powered website builder can synchronize with your Facebook page, automatically pull photos and posts from your page and make them part of your website. It is easy to use and the template designs are quite modern. For those who may struggle with even basic features of a website builder, the AI wizard can guide you through the creation of a personalized website with image and content suggestions.
Signing up with them gives you access to a massive library of over 550,000 free professional-grade images to add visual appeal to your website. All templates are mobile-friendly by default, making your website look great on all devices.
The free plan is generous with its offerings, considering the fact that you can create an online store on the free plan. The paid plans are also affordable, starting at $10 a month and giving you access to a free domain name and other powerful features on the builder.
All the plans are unlimited – no caps on bandwidth or storage. And you get a free domain name for the first year without having ads forced on your site.
In addition to the regular website builder capabilities, Constant Contact website builder offers lead capture forms, website analytics and even a logo maker. And since it is a fully hosted solution, you can be sure of a hassle-free website building experience.
They offer 24/7 support via chat, phone and email, making it a good option for small businesses.
To connect a custom domain name, you will have to upgrade to a paid plan. And the developer community around this builder is small, limiting the number of third-party extensions that can be used to extend your website’s functionality. And they don’t provide phone support for free users.
An easy to use website builder, SiteBuilder offers an intuitive drag-and-drop builder to help you put your business on the world wide web. Thinking of where to start? You can pick one out of hundreds of professionally designed templates and customize it using the drag-and-drop interface provided.
All their templates are optimized for a great mobile experience, ensuring your site would render well on all devices – desktop computers, mobile phones and tablets. A popular website builder, it has powerful analytics and you can build a blog or an e-commerce site with it. And they offer a free domain name along with all their plans.
You don’t have to worry about support or technical assistance. They offer live chat and phone support.
SiteBuilder is not open source, so migrating your website to another platform may be quite a challenge. Because of this too, finding developers to build extensions and add features is impossible.
Unlike many other website builders, SiteBuilder does not offer a free trial, neither do they have a free tier among their plans. But they offer s 14-day money-back guarantee in the event that you are unsatisfied with their service.
Weebly is an easy-to-use website builder with beautiful designs. The page builder allows you to edit your website without knowing how to code. A fully hosted platform, you don’t need to install and manage any software. They take care of all the hard work behind the scenes.
The website builder comes with built-in features like contact forms, sliders, photo galleries and more. These features allow you to easily add features to your website without having to install addons.
Their paid plans start from $8 per month billed annually. The pro plan goes for $12 per month, while the business plan sells for $25 monthly.
They offer a 25-day trial during which you can test the software and make a decision – to purchase or not to purchase. Weebly also offers a free plan with limited options. They have a gallery of hundreds of beautiful templates sorted by category, including drag-and-drop options that also support e-commerce.
Weebly is rated among the best website builders because of its beautiful features. So if you choose to use Weebly, you would have a great experience. They are also reported to offer great support via live chat, answering questions without having to send links to articles.
Weebly has just about 60 themes from which you can choose and quite a number of them have not been updated for quite some time. This leaves you with very limited options from which to choose.
Weebly charges 3% of every purchase made on your e-commerce store, except you upgrade to their business plan.
Gator is a website builder owned by HostGator, one of the largest web hosting service providers in the world. A fully hosted platform, it is great for small business and individuals who would like to ditch regular backups, web development and software updates.
Boasting over 200 website templates, each design offers simple customization options that can be tweaked within the website builder itself. Editing your website is as simple as pointing, clicking and typing. You can also rearrange items images, columns, maps, text, videos, contact forms and other page elements using the drag-and-drop interface. When you use Gator, you have access to their built-in library of stock photos with which you can enhance the visual appeal of your website.
All their paid plans offer a free custom domain name for your website. An e-commerce plan allows users to set up online stores and sell products online.
Gator is a paid service. Therefore, they don’t show ads on your website, neither do they sell your data to any third party.
Gator’s paid plans are affordable in comparison to the other website builders on this list. Their starter plan sells for $3.84 per month, the medium plan for $5.99 dollars per month and the plan supporting e-commerce goes for $9.22 per month.
Gator does not have a free plan or a trial period for you to test run their software. And you cannot hire a developer to make significant modifications to your website’s design. It is not open source.
BigCommerce is arguably the best e-commerce site builder available in the market. If you’re looking for a builder with which you can create an online store that would grow with your business needs, BigCommerce is a good option for you.
BigCommerce offers many built-in features to boost your conversion rates like an enhanced product search, coupons, product reviews and even more. Their dashboard allows you to see powerful analytics that help you ascertain what you need to do to grow your business.
All their plans come with a 15-day free trial offering. Their basic plans sell for $29.955 per month, offering all necessary features for your e-commerce store. Their Plus plan goes for $79.95 per month and offers extra conversion optimization features. The Pro plan costs $249.95 per month, offering all the advanced features you would want for your e-commerce website.
BigCommerce offers integration with popular payment gateways including Chase Pay, Apple Pay, Square, Ayden, Stripe, Visa Checkout and PayPal. And in contrast to Shopify, BigCommerce does not charge a transaction fee for you to make use of any of these payment gateways.
BigCommerce has built-in integration with WordPress, offering you the best of both worlds – the flexibility of WordPress and the e-commerce power of BigCommerce. Talking performance? Your website will not break when hit by huge traffic. This is possible because it is a fully hosted solution – they handle all technical stuff including server management, backups and software updates. So you can be sure of security too.
If you decide to switch platforms in the future, BigCommerce may not be a good starting point – it’s not open source. And for beginners, the pricing may be a bit on the high side.
An easy-to-use website builder, you can get your website up and running in less than 20 minutes with Jimdo. If you are looking to build a one-pager, Jimdo is a great option. However, it would not be a great option for bigger websites.
Jimdo does not have any hidden charges. They are straightforward with their pricing. Getting extra email accounts is very cheap at $1 per month per account. For their free tier, they offer a .jimdosite.com subdomain, but a free domain for their paid users a free domain for a year renewable at $20 per year.
Their e-commerce plans allow for the uploads of unlimited products. And generally, the website builder is straightforward and simple. It is very intuitive.
Their speed and uptime are reportedly unreliable. And their gallery has only 16 templates. This greatly limits your design options. Getting support for your business plan can take up to 2 business days, and they do not provide a phone line you can call if you need help urgently.
WordPress.com is a fully hosted variation of the self-hosted version of WordPress (.org) created by Automattic. WordPress.com was originally a blogging platform but has evolved into a website builder.
With over 200 themes from which you can choose, you can hardly go wrong with your designs. However, not all of them can be edited by dragging and dropping. It is built around the core of WordPress.org. This means that if you are familiar with WordPress (.org), using WordPress.com would not be difficult for you. You can take advantage of the customizer to tweak some design settings, add navigation menus, use widgets and do much more.
The most popular software for website creation, getting support when you’re stuck is very easy. Their business plans allow you to install custom plugins, making it possible for you to extend your website.
WordPress.com offers you access to hundreds of free and paid themes. Their designs are beautiful and they are easily customizable.
Their uptime is very high and has reportedly hit 99.99%.
The cheaper plans are quite limited. As an example, not all templates are included in all the plans, and they don’t allow you to add a PayPal button.
A good website builder for small businesses, Site123 offers a good drag-and-drag builder. They offer over 250 design templates, ensuring that you have enough options for your designs.
Their pricing is good if you just want a simple website. With $129.60 per year, you can get a website up and running with a domain name included.
Uptime and speed are top-notch and they offer a free plan to test out their software, although the plan is limited.
Their cheapest e-commerce plan goes for $22.80 and they have a dedicated help section on their website for it.
Their support has not been reported to be great, and you need to upgrade to a higher plan to get custom emails. There is no option of buying them separately.
Webs has been around for over 10 years, hosting over 55 million websites. It offers a very limited plan at $5.99 per month, a medium plan at $12.99 per month and a pro plan at $22.99 per month.
They offer over 400 templates, and they provide a good customer service experience. Starting a live chat session takes just a few seconds, and their agents can be very helpful.
In one test, their performance was not exactly stellar. A 98.83% uptime was recorded during a few months.
The renewal rates are higher. Discounts are intended to lure you in, after which you will start paying the regular bills. Generally, it’s cheaper to pay for subscriptions covering longer durations.
Many of their templates are outdated and do not look good on the modern web. In addition to that, they are not easy to edit.
It appears I have only negative things to say about them. Design is a very important consideration when choosing a website builder. Although they have a large selection of themes, they don’t look great and they are quite out-of-date. It appears they do not have a drag-and-drop builder.
Online reviews don’t look great, either. When there are not many positive reviews, it is a red flag, after all, the purpose of reviews is to let you know how other users feel about the product.
Their billing process seems to lack transparency, and the only way to cancel your plan is to call them on the phone. Certainly not what you want.
Is “Free” Really Free?
Some of the website builders we reviewed here have a free tier. To some persons, especially those on a low budget, that might seem alluring. But there are some things you must consider.
Sometimes, you add products to your website, upload files and do some customizations. You may have even written some blog posts and done some more work on your site. You may be shocked when you check back later and find out that your content is gone. They may have taken down, claiming you have violated terms of service for free accounts.
No Domain Name
The free option offerd by most website builders often gives you a subdomain like yourname.webs.com. I would not take any business seriously if their website looks like that. Having a custom domain name is the best option.
In many cases, the free plans are greatly limited. Some features like contact forms, search boxes or video uploads are restricted. And if you want to enjoy them, you would have to upgrade your account. Sometimes, you may need a paid plan to enjoy e-commerce features, email addresses or use some layouts or templates.
Its is often best to go for paid options because the limitations on free options often greatly restrict what you can do. So, just pull out as little as $6 and you can get a good starter plan.
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