The Best Website Builder
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The best thing about using a website builder is knowing that, in a world where an online presence is absolutely mandatory, the technical proficiency to build and publish that presence isn’t.
Sure, you can sign up for web hosting, implement a template, and launch your own WordPress website. But there is an easier way. We should know: We’ve built some of our own business sites with website builders. It’s easy, fast, and unobtrusive to use an all-in-one tool.
Every one of our picks for the best website builders will help you get your site up beautifully and simply:
What we look for in a website builder
We also ask questions in 5 key areas
Our top picks for the best website builder
It’s easy to choose Wix as a website builder. It truly takes on the name. Wix’s artificial intelligence asks you a few questions and literally builds your website before your eyes — unique color palette, features, and design all in one. It’s the best tool we’ve seen to get a site that matches your vision, even if you don’t know yet how you’d articulate that vision. Honestly, building a site with Wix’s AI felt a little like getting our minds read.
To start, click create site. You’ll be asked a question: What kind of website do you want to create? From there, the AI will help you build your website. (You can opt-out and go it alone at this point, too, but we appreciated the AI’s help.)
We loved how easy it was for us to find a template that matched our vision. The AI stayed with us as we edited the page, a little pink square in the bottom (it looks like a chat pop-up) helping us pick the next thing to edit and showing us how to do it. The Wix AI matched our business to its online presence, used our logo to create a color palette for our site, and gave us a template pre-populated with our logo and address. Connecting images from existing social media accounts made it easy to pull in all the assets we already owned.
There’s a lot of variety between the Wix themes, and the personality of each theme matches its name well. The Business Advisor had a spot-on graphic of an analytics dashboard, while Astrologer features an astral hero image.
Editing your desktop site with Wix requires some patience. To change the text on a text box, you’ll need to hover precisely in the right spot. We did some deep breathing and were able to find enough inner zen to make all the changes we needed. The mobile editor has the serene helpful feel we wish the rest of the editor maintained. It’s super easy to click through the options for how your menu, quick actions, and scroll options work on your mobile page. What you change in the mobile editor doesn’t affect anything that happens on the desktop.
Wix does have a free tier, but we don’t recommend it. It has some of the most in-your-face “this was not paid for” company branding we’ve seen — an instant trust breaker. Wix free sites also have one of the most cumbersome domain structures: yourusername.wix.com/sitename so we’d be QuicksproutEditorial.wix.com/Quicksprout. Connecting your actual domain also allows you to attach a Google Analytics profile and add email accounts if you’d like ($5 / account / month, or about half that with an annual plan). Unfortunately, none of this pricing is very upfront. Wix wants you to connect your domain before you see the email pricing, for example. We found answers to pricing questions in the support center, not the user flow.
Take note: all of Wix’s plans are automatically set to auto-renew. Sticker shock is real, especially if you signed up with an introductory promo pricing (at the time of publish, premium plans were a full 50% off, for example). There are many frustrated customers on TrustPilot who’re unhappy with this. It is possible to turn off your auto-renew, but you’ll need to do it more than 14 days before your plan’s anniversary — and if you do it during your 14-day free trial, your trial will be cancelled immediately.
As for which paid plan to pick, you have 7 options: 4 “regular” and 3 “ecommerce.” The difference really boils down to whether you’ll be accepting payments on your site or not. If you’re not sure about how much bandwidth you need, you can always start with a smaller subscription: if you go over the limit, you’ll get a notice from Wix (with no penalty) and use that as your signal to upgrade.
“Build something beautiful” is right. There’s no doubt that Squarespace wins the design and beauty contest here. The user interface has a bit of a learning curve and there’s not much of a Squarespace community to help you out, but the page you’ll end up publishing will be phenomenally good-looking.
But, building a website with Squarespace can feel a little like building IKEA furniture: in the showroom it’s all so beautiful and simple, but somehow it feels a little more complicated to put together than it promised. It can be hard to understand where exactly you are in the editor. We kept getting notifications that we were editing demo content, or that we would see the social logos once we connected our social media, or that we could unlock this or that feature with a paid subscription, but Squarespace didn’t go the extra step to make it easy to make that required move. It was a lot of fumbling through a beautiful interface, not exactly sure what changes were real, or where to head next. We also had some issues saving changes — an error message popped up and we had to move on, without our changes.
Unlike IKEA, Squarespace is pricier than other website builders. That all being said, we love the way sites built with Squarespace look, and think it’s one of the simplest ways to create a beautiful, contemporary site.
We love the free Landing Page option from Ucraft: create a single, mobile-ready page and connect your domain for free. The free version doesn’t get rid of the Ucraft branding but it’s minimal and not invasive. The template has all the features we’ve identified in our anatomy of a high-converting landing page. You can drop the branding by upgrading to a $6 / month Basic Website plan, and sell up to 50 items on the $14 / month Pro Website plan. If you have more items to sell, upgrade again, but note that once you upgrade, you can’t drop back down to a less expensive plan.
We’re also impressed with the $229 Lifetime plan. If the subscription set up (and realization that if you love the site you build, you’ll be paying that monthly fee for… forever) isn’t your favorite, then this is a nice compromise. You still get the easy-to-use editor and tools of a website builder, and the one-and-done payment.
We were so surprised to name Onepager a top pick. The templates look dated and the product tour video hasn’t been updated in six years. But Onepager is so dead simple and easy to set up that we were able to publish a workable website for a local pizza shop in minutes. Yes, every webpage builder claims you can get started that fast, but with so many options, templates, and features, we’ve found that we’re distracted and deep in the weeds of perfecting our site, not publishing it. That wasn’t the case with Onepager.
The Onepager templates aren’t very modern, but they’re straight-forward and the user interface is helpful, and we were pleased with the overall look of our super-quick site. (And, as we written about before, websites with simple homepages convert better.) For a small business that just wants to stake out its territory online — as opposed to, say, building an online empire — we think Onepager fits the bill.
We’d also recommend it to anyone who gets asked all the time to build a website for a friend, a family member, so-and-so’s neighbor who has a family business. For $15 a month, you can build up to 5 sites. With the $199 per month agency plan, you can build up to 150 sites with a white-labeled version of Onepager’s editor platform.
The 26 other website builder platforms we considered
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November 28, 2018 at 03:13PM