Website builders are a great solution when it comes to small business putting their presence online. It is handy because you don’t have to spend much time on the technical end (installing, updating, fixing). This in return gives you more time to invest on the creative end (writing, designing, selling). If you got a bit confused with the last word (selling), it is no doubt a creative endeavor and something you should focus on when building your website. After all, you are here to build, and we are here to help you figure out which are the top 5 website builders.
But before we dive deep you should know straight ahead that the differences in these website builders aren’t that big. It will probably boil down to your unique case or the price. It’s probably not wise to base your decision on a $10 / year saving. However, for some, it will probably go down like that. In order to get on a top 5 website builders list, you have to be a top-notch software company. There’s a very good chance you are going to be satisfied with any on the list. Sure, there are some hiccups and bad reviews that some angry customers left. But I can almost guarantee that even the best products in the world have a few bad reviews.
Before you proceed reading, have in mind that none of the URLs below are affiliate links and I wasn’t incentivized by any of the website builder companies to write this post. There are many top 5 website builders posts out there that include only companies that provide affiliate commissions. And also, I am sure you’ve seen plenty of top 5 posts where 4 of the companies are world class with millions of users with that 5th provider you’ve never heard off (clearly paying for the entire post). This is not something you will encounter in this post. What you will get is…
Advantages of using a website builder and brief description of top 5 website builders
Building a whole website from scratch can be a daunting task, particularly if you are a beginner. Fortunately, these days it is easier than ever before to create your own website. Even if you don’t have any technical skills or programming knowledge. A website builder is mainly designed for non-tech savvy people because using a platform like WordPress or Blogspot requires you to have at least some technical skills and at least some coding knowledge. But with a website builder, it is quite simple to create a website because it is just like playing drag and drop game. You need to select from predefined templates, upload your logo, and update content relevant to your website, and your website is ready.
I understand you are reading the “top 5 website builders” post, but just in case you are still not sure this is the right move, perhaps it’s best to remind ourselves why website builder is a good idea in the first place.
Three main benefits of using a website builder
No need for advanced knowledge of coding
You don’t have to be a developer to use a website builder. They have all the script and the HTML built into the system, so you don’t have to write it. This will save you time and aggravation. Also, you don’t need to do extensive testing to check whether all the parameters work as they are supposed to work.
Convenient to use
Using a website builder gives you the convenience to upgrade your content easily. You need not have to write new code every time you have to make changes to your website. Using a web building program will minimize errors, and keep things running smoothly. Systems like WordPress do help, but some companies still consider website development from scratch. If you think that WordPress might be the solution you are looking for, perhaps read my post on comparing WordPress and Squarespace. As you will see later in this post, Squarespace is one of the solutions I recommend.
Control over everything, including design
When you choose a website builder for building your website, you are the boss of your project. You will have control over everything, whether it is the design, layout, functionality or the content. There is no need to ask any designer to make edits or send different versions. You will be able to update and maintain your website independently all the time. However, you should be aware that this is both a blessing and a curse. As much as it is great that you don’t have to wait for anyone, or spend a lot of money on expensive designers…
It is also a risk if you don’t have a clue about the design basics and which colors match. If trying to figure out how to become a better designer is not your thing maybe you should get some help. After all, your goal shouldn’t be to build the website, just for the sake of building a website. Your website should sell, inspire, tell a story, and many other things for which we don’t have time in this post.
Are these top 5 website builders free or paid?
There are many free and paid website builder services available online which will get you started in just a few minutes. You should always compare these services and should go with a web builder program that will give you extra features and functionalities for the lowest possible cost. However, as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. Although some website builders are free, they often lack support, graphics, functionality and other advantages that more robust solutions offer. A free solution may be great for a firs-time-beginner website, but that’s not what we are after here.
We want to provide you with a partner that will be able to support all your requests and tools to achieve your business goals. These solutions are therefore paid and trust me, the level of quality is well worth it. It is up to you to make it happen! Is your product great? Are you willing to do whatever it takes? Are your competitors better? Perhaps there are things you need to clear before committing with one of the top 5 website builders. Have in mind the prices were last updated in February 2018.
A brief intro to the top 5 website builders
Weebly (acquired by Square in April 2018)
Weebly.com was launched in the March of 2006 and quickly gained popularity among those who were looking for a professional-looking DIY web builder. This website builder has undergone a number of transformations since its inception, each improving on the original concept. In 2014, it raised to the top ranks of drag-and-drop website builder editors. Even if you have zero programming skills, it is simple to use it. You can sign up easily with your name, email address and password. You can also sign up with Facebook or GooglePlus. Weebly has four plans to offer, Free, Connect ($4), Starter ($8), Pro ($12) and Business ($25). Once you choose the plan, you will be asked for the focus of your site. Next step will be choosing one of the templates and you are all set to design your website.
Weebly also released an App center (marketplace) where you can find add-ons and companies that can help you can spike sales, boost traffic or get social. Most of them are 3rd party apps (provided by companies other than Weebly), but some are developed by Weebly. Some are free, some paid and some offer both plans. Don’t expect huge app selection such as the one on WordPress, but there are some neat SEO, eCommerce, email plugins. Weebly says on their website they are trusted by over 30 million people.
Weebly was acquired by Square in April 2018 in order to give it an extra kick!
Launched in 2006, Wix.com has become a widely popular web builder for people who indulge in a large number of design options. In the past it switched from Abode Flash to HTML5. This was a successful move because it gained them millions of users. It allows you to sign up with your email, Facebook or GooglePlus. Although you will automatically get signed up for a Free Plan, you can upgrade to Connect Domain, Combo, Unlimited, eCommerce and VIP plan if you want more. Back in 2016, Wix reported (they are a public company) over $290 million dollars in revenue. So it is safe to say you would not be the only company choosing Wix.
Getting started is super easy. Just use your email (or your Facebook or Google credentials), and you can even let Wix (the exact feature is called ADI) create the website for you. ADI is short for Artificial Design Intelligence. Interacting with it was a pleasant experience. It produces good results, and when you are not happy with them you can get alternatives with a single click. Also, while ADI is working, you see how certain things are done so that later you can do them yourself.
Squarespace.com was founded in 2004. Similar to Weebly and Wix it is a website builder, a hosting provider and a blogging platform. The main highlights of Squarespace are gorgeous responsive websites, striking built-in statistics and metrics, and functionalities. And in 2018 non-other than the famous actor, Keanu Reeves welcomes you to their website! Since I am a huge Matrix fan, seeing the call to action “Keanu made his site with Squarespace. Make it yourself.” I had little choice.
When you start to use Squarespace, it will initially ask you whether you will need an online store or a website. Then, you will need to provide your first and last name, email address and password. So you see, the basics are the same as with all top 5 website builders.
After that, you will be welcomed and asked what your website all about is. Squarespace offers an initial 14 days trial period, and if you decide to use this web builder service, you will need to choose between two website plans and two commerce plans. Website plans are personal ($16 / month) or business ($26 / month) and commerce plans are basic ($30 / month) and advanced ($46 / month). Discounts apply on annual commitments.
I’ve decided to include Click Funnels into this top 5 website builders list because of several characteristics. Their approach is totally unique compared to other big players like Wix or Squarespace, and it is totally focused on conversion. Right from their own homepage, you can see their website is a funnel, and it is built with ClickFunnels. What a concept, Clickfunnels.com is built with ClickFunnels. Compared to other website builders it is outrageously expensive. It has a 14-day free trial (you need to enter credit card details), after which you can choose from paying $97 / month or $297 / month. You can get a 16% discount if you pay annually.
Is it worth it? Ask the people in the 2 Comma Club. It’s the club started by ClickFunnels for their users that pass the million dollar mark in shipping with their websites made with ClickFunnels. So either ClickFunnels is great at selling its system, or it actually does make sense. According to a Forbes interview, back in 2017, ClickFunnels was self-funded with 40,000 members bringing in roughly $60 million per year. So although this company is much smaller compared to other big players, I believe you will appreciate us listing this different approach to a website builder.
As you can see from the screenshots, it’s all about creating funnels and improving them to convert better. In my opinion, ClickFunnels is great for authors, speakers, coaches and for large companies that want to hold webinars, surveys, and product launches. I honestly don’t see small businesses like restaurants, gyms, mechanics, hairdressers and similar businesses creating a funnel with cross-selling, A/B testing and squeeze pages.
Another behemoth like Wix and Squarespace, Shopify is a public company headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. For 2016 it had a reported revenue of more than $389 million with nearly 2000 employees and over 377,000 merchants using the platform. Their approach is with a strong accent on eCommerce. In essence, you can make money online with all of these website builders, but Shopify wants to be the place for selling physical products online. Comparable, you can sell products via eBay or via your Amazon store, but Shopify allows you to completely own your store, and dictate all the rules (not the marketplace).
Is Shopify a better eCommerce solution than website builders listed here, apparently back in 2016 more than 377,000 merchants thoughts so. Today even more! You can choose from: Basic Shopify ($29 / month), Shopify ($79 / month) and Advanced Shopify ($299 / month). Shopify expects you will sell products and makes it easier for you to do so. However, they also take a percentage of every transaction: 2.9% + 30¢, 2.6% + 30¢ and 2.4% + 30¢ respectively.
Another interesting addition that comes with Shopify is their marketplace! On their marketplace, which is called Exchange, you can buy and sell websites that are built using the Shopify platform, and are already generating revenue! So if you are building a business with the intention of selling, be sure to check it out!
The almost “Top 5 website builders” list
This website builder is most similar to Shopify with a strong focus on eCommerce. Founded in 2009 it’s packages are Standard ($29.95 / month), Plus ($79.95 / month) and Pro ($249.95 / month). Contrary to Shopify they don’t charge transaction fees, but it is outside the scope of this article to figure out what exactly that means.
This is a UK-based website builder that took of as a Seedcamp funded startup. Back in 2008, they received a £50,000 of seed funding, followed by a £23.4 million investment in the following years. You are likely to find BaseKit if your web hosting company offers it to you, because that’s their sales channel. Through more than 100 partners, they host over 8 million websites. So although you can’t visit basekit.com and signup, your web hosting or telecom provider could offer it to you. I’ve seen the demo of BaseKit during World Hosting Days in Rust, Germany, and it seemed simple to use. In my opinion ideal for a small brick and mortar business like the one I mentioned earlier (restaurants, gyms, mechanics, hairdressers).
A small Estonian team founded voog.com.You start by selecting the design theme, and you will be able to see a live preview of it on regular and mobile screens. Once you provide your name, password and the domain of your choice, you can access the website editor. The highlights of Voog include easy integration of multilingual websites, easy to use drag-and-drop editor and developer-friendly. It has a 30-day free trial policy. As it is a European-based company, the pricing is expressed in Euros. There are three plans, Standard (€8 / month), Plus (€14 / month) or Premium (€50 / month).
Founded in 2012, Strikingly.com brings beautiful mobile websites to everyone. The highlights of this website builder are simplicity, clarity and accessibility. It is quite easy to start using Strikingly. You just need to provide your first name, email and the password. You can log in with Facebook. When you would like to upgrade, there are three plans and one of them is free. The other two plans are Limited at $12 / month and Pro at $20 / month.
If you are still reading, I hope that I’ve delivered more than promised. I supposed you were expecting a shortlist of 5 best website builders but in return received a good guide. I hope that you have now limited your decision to 2 providers, based on your requirements. For example, if you a small brick and mortar store you might go for something like Squarespace or Wix. Or if you are really into dropshipping, you might want to check out Shopify. On the other spectrum, if you are really analytical, want to A/B test everything and you are ready to promote your book and webinar, maybe ClickFunnels is your thing?
My top 5 website builders are Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, and Clickfunnels. Whichever you decide to choose, you can always track your websites with our tools.
I’ve been an online entrepreneur for more than a decade. Back in 2011, I sold my first small business. 500 Startups alumni. I love to read and write in every shape or form. Founder of WhoAPI and webmaster.ninja and website investor.