So, you want to build a website.
You want to build a website for your hobby, or your personal blog. Maybe for your small business.
You need something that is relatively user-friendly, but which still lets you control a good deal about your website and make something that looks good.
Well, the best option for a lot of people is to go straight to a website builder.
My experience with hosting means I’ve also used a lot of website builders—a sort of overlapping category.
oh boy, was this list difficult. No doubt, quite a few people will disagree with my choices.
But I think if you take a look, you’ll see where I’m coming from.
*Note: Some features are standard when it comes to website builders. So if I put one thing as a “pro” or “con,” it does not mean other builders lack this thing.
It just means the builder at hand is particularly good or bad with that thing. For example, all the names here have customer support.
And all of them, in fact, have decent customer support. So I won’t make many notes about it…unless it’s exceptionally good or exceptionally problematic.
But first, there’s a question we need to be clear about:
What is “website builder?”
Some of you might roll your eyes, but it’s a pretty important question. Because by some measurements, a ton of platforms are website builders. As in, way more than just the platforms that call themselves website builders.
So let’s just keep in mind first that I’m using this term in a fairly fluid way.
By website builder, I basically mean a platform that lets you build a website in a fairly easy manner.
What qualifies as easy certainly ranges, but the gist is that a user won’t need to know programming to build a site.
These typically are drag-and-drop format builders, though not necessarily. They let you edit most aspects of your site’s pages, including not just content, but appearance.
Now, this definition obviously has quite a range of platforms. Some names here are overall good with everything. Some are best for specific niches.
So on the note of niches, let’s start things off with our 7th best website builder:
Option #7: Shopify
Shopify is not a traditional website builder. It can be best thought of as…
A shopping cart builder.
Because while Shopify is definitely all about building websites, it’s about building specific types of websites.
Websites for businesses, with ecommerce needs. Websites that are selling products, that need to handle payments securely and efficiently. Often, sites that need to ship items regularly.
Shopify is probably the most successful shopping-cart builder:
Yep. $100 billion is more than the GDPs of quite a few countries—so I don’t think we can doubt how much of a powerhouse Shopify is.
But is it the platform to you?
Unsurprisingly, most of you who have no need for an ecommerce site can skip this section. But anyone who does should take a look at Shopify.
True, it’s not for everyone…but it is very good at what it intends to be: an ecommerce website builder.
- Very easy to use
- Although all the names on this list have ecommerce tools, Shopify is specifically geared towards ecommerce. As such, Shopify has the strongest ecommerce tools on this list (both in number and in quality).
- Great shipping perks and features for selling physical products.
- TONs of support resources, in addition to good customer support representatives.
- Overall strong site-builder software.
- Although Shopify’s store building software is pretty good, it’s not always on the level of more robust drag-and-drop editors (such as what other names on this list offer). It’s also less intuitive.
- There aren’t a ton of templates, and they tend to be a little too similar. Plus, most of them are premium.
- Things get expensive quickly, as prices start at $29 a month and you will probably invest in design and premium app extensions, etc.
- Adding to that, domains aren’t included for free.
- And Shopify takes a small percentage of your sales.
- Anyone who wants to use programming with their Shopify site can do so, but they have to learn Shopify’s own language—Liquid—instead of being able to use the ones they already know.
- Generally speaking, not all businesses need the degree of power Shopify offers, or need to invest the amount Shopify requires. There’s a $9 a month plan, but it’s just for selling on Facebook—so it’s not really a full site.
So to put it together, Shopify is clearly a powerhouse, and a phenomenal website builder.
…So why on Earth is it in last place?!
Well, there are a few big reasons. First, Shopify isn’t an all-purpose website builder. It might be one of the best ecommerce platforms, but as far as overall site-builders go…eh.
It’s also kind of expensive for some businesses. Sure, a lot of businesses are fine with investing in a useful software like Shopify—but others may not actually need everything Shopify gives them.
These companies and individuals could use a more affordable builder—especially if they don’t have such heavy on-site ecommerce needs.
Keep in mind that every other site builder in this list has ecommerce functionality. It’s just a question of more or less.
And Shopify has the most of the companies here, unsurprisingly. But you have to invest in that power, which will be the main barrier for most people.
So while Shopify might be the BEST choice here for some of you, it can’t really be the top choice in a general list.
Speaking of our list:
Option #6: uCraft
Aside from Strikingly, uCraft is one of the less popular site-builders on this list. I’m sure a lot of you have heard of it, but I bet a lot haven’t. Even if you’ve Googled for website builders before.
Well, among those who pay attention to website building, uCraft definitely has held a presence for the last few years.
My general take? Unlike Shopify, which excels in a particular category, uCraft is more of a generally strong contender that doesn’t have a super strong niche.
Of course, it’s far from perfect—but I’d say it’s generally underrated and is a good, affordable website builder.
- One of the best free plans I’ve ever seen, because: uCraft’s free plan lets you connect your own domain, rather than a subdomain, and gives you SSL. But, you’ll still have to use uCraft branding and you only get one page.
- UCraft is one of the most beautiful looking site-builders.
- UCraft offers easy builder/creator tools for landing pages and logos, instead of websites overall. Whether you’d use these or not is a different question, but it doesn’t hurt to have.
- The pricing allows for generous features. The FIRST paid tier starts at $10 a month and is already okay for some ecommerce, allows team members, password protected pages, and has no transaction fees, among others:
- As you might have noticed, uCraft takes no transaction fees on ecommerce sales.
- You CANNOT downgrade plans. You can only move a plan up a tier, but not down. This is a pretty restrictive measure, in my opinion.
- Template options are okay. Not bad, but not fantastic.
- Although the plans themselves are generous with features per price, the actual website builder has less features than rival builders.
- In general, uCraft tends to have a little less flexibility in its page design than some of the other companies here.
- Adding to the last point, some people may need more complicated websites. uCraft can handle some complexity at a point, but after a certain threshold it’s simply easier to use another surface. uCraft is best for easy/simple site-building.
So it seems pretty clear to me that uCraft actually doesn’t have that much bad stuff going for it.
Sure, it has some flaws, but it essentially does what every other website builder aims to do—but it does one of the most successful jobs.
uCraft is especially good at delivering bargains. For example, the free plan is easily the BEST free plan I’ve ever seen…because even though there’s branding, you can CONNECT A DOMAIN for free.
…That’s almost UNHEARD of.
Not to mention, the first paid plan offers a lot of features that come for much higher prices on other platforms.
So why is it second to last on this list? Basically, it’s more because the other options are really good than because uCraft has serious flaws.
And to be frank, uCraft sometimes doesn’t deliver on top-tier user-control and flexibility the way the top picks do.
It’s GREAT for simpler sites—ones that are visually focused, that are just landing pages, or that are for mobile users. And when you consider how affordable it can be…it’s an even more stand-out choice!
But people who want to add some complexity to the equation, or add a lot of content, may want to go elsewhere.
Speaking of which, next on our list:
Option #5: WordPress.com
There’s no doubt that you’ve heard about WordPress. Everyone interesting in building stuff online has heard of WordPress.
And sometimes it seems like everyone who’s built anything online USES WordPress. There are lots of figures floating around, crediting WordPress with powering somewhere between a quarter and a third of websites.
Regardless of the precise amount, there’s little doubt WordPress is SUPER POPULAR.
But what a lot of people don’t know is that there are two types of WordPress:
WordPress.org is the free, open-source version…and it’s fully featured.
Wait—free, and fully featured? Why would anyone use any other version?
Enter WordPress.com: founded by one of WordPress.org’s founders, but…commercial.
It offers essentially the same software and very similar format, but has some price tags attached. In exchange, you get a much more convenient software.
Popular as WordPress.org is, WordPress.com is NO joke when it comes to its users:
As WordPress.com says, you’re in good company.
Check it out:
- The first plan in the tiered system is FREE.
- Because WordPress.com is super popular, making an account—even a free one—gives you access to a massive network of WordPress blogs. This can make it easier to build an audience, participate in the community, etc.
- Very easy to use.
- Great for blogging, unsurprisingly.
- But it’s also strong on making normal websites, even if blogging is the fundamental strength:
- Paying for higher tiers will give you access to WordPress plugins—which means access to the biggest extension store around.
- Depending on the amount of control you want over your site, WordPress.com can be very affordable, starting at $5 a month.
- Primarily made for the blog format. Again, you can totally make great “normal” websites WordPress. It just happens to be particularly strong for easy blogging.
- Customization is more restricted compared to other website builders. To really get full control over your site’s appearance, you have to 1) upgrade to higher tiers, or 2) install paid plugins, or 3) pay for the premium version of a theme you’re using. OR you may have to do all three.
- On that note, one drawback of WordPress.com is that things can quickly get more expensive if you’re not careful. WordPress.com won’t force or hide many extra charges on you, but making the most of the platform can add up quickly.
So to put everything together, WordPress is a force to be reckoned with, not least because it’s immensely popular and super reliable.
The WordPress.com platform is built for content. You CAN do simpler stuff, like beautiful looking landing pages…if you want.
But if you want to add a lot of content, WordPress is one of the best places to go to. It’s especially great if you want to run a blog, or otherwise see yourself adding lots of content into the future.
Most of the downsides come in terms of price and customization. The truth is that WordPress.com’s site builder is limited because it’s not a drag and drop builder.
You choose aspects of your site to change from a sidebar, but you need to pay extra to really get full customization. Sometimes it’s not a bad price, sometimes the cost is higher than it would be on another platform.
WordPress can be a super affordable, yet powerful, site-builder. But it can also become costly if you don’t do your research first.
So while WordPress is a lovable platform, especially for content-creators and bloggers, its limitations put it behind our other options.
Options such as:
Option #4: GoDaddy Website Builder
You might have noticed that this item is a bit unique in the list:
GoDaddy is first and foremost a WEB HOST and domain name registrar. Sure, it does website building too, but MOST major web hosts offer some kind of website building software.
So why is GoDaddy the only one to make it here?
In short, GoDaddy has made it onto the list because it provides a fantastic all-in-one package: a domain name, website building application, and hosting.
And the funny thing is it does this in two ways.
You can buy web hosting that includes a website builder. You can also buy a website builder package that includes hosting:
GoDaddy’s got a lot going for it. But it also can be a little iffy about the pricing—something that changes often enough I can’t really make a definitive statement other than to keep an eye open.
Anyway, let’s take a look at the details:
- As said, GoDaddy provides a big all-in-one package. You get good hosting and a domain name included along with a website builder.
- Quite a few pricing options, some with more storage space and more features. However, you get MORE resources for a LOWER price, compared with a lot of website builders.
- Depending on your pricing plan, GoDaddy could be way less expensive than a lot of other website builders…even after the first year. Maybe. It depends on how you access GoDaddy’s website builder (such as whether you buy it through hosting).
- The website building app is easy to use and fully functional.
- Higher tiers allow for pretty comprehensive ecommerce, marketing, and security.
- GoDaddy’s blogging function is good.
- If you buy the hosting plan, GoDaddy renews at a price SIGNIFICANTLY higher than the price for the first year. The first year basically gives you everything for a few bucks, but the second year onwards will charge higher prices for hosting AND the website builder. This is not the case for the website-builder packages.
- Although the website builder is overall pretty good, it’s not AS flexible as some of the top choices here. It might be technically drag-and-drop, but it’s less drag-and-drop than other platforms are.
- GoDaddy’s customer support is often unreliable. Usually phone support is great, but live chat is often down.
I don’t want to lie to you, GoDaddy may be higher than some GREAT choices—like uCraft, WordPress, or Shopify—but it’s still limited in some key ways.
However, these limitations are part of what make it a good choice, too.
The primary drawback to GoDaddy is its infamous pricing. If you buy a hosting package that includes website building and a domain, those things will likely be included free…for the first year.
And then after the first year, your hosting price will increase, you’ll be charged for the website builder, and your domain.
You can also just choose the website builder itself, which will include website hosting. As far as I know, you won’t face high renewals on that, so it’s currently a serious bargain.
But the other limitation basically comes down to the builder itself. It’s pretty good, but a little less user-friendly and flexible than some of the others here.
Of course, GoDaddy’s supremacy as a domain registrar and web host also gives it some advantages to website building software.
True, basically everything here includes hosting by default, and most let you purchase a domain or integrate one.
But GoDaddy specializes in those things, and is particularly good at bringing them together—so you can control more aspects of your hosting with GoDaddy than with a lot of the other names here.
Not to mention, although it’s not as flexible as some of the other names here, you can still do plenty good with GoDaddy’s website building software.
Speaking of the other names:
Option #3: Strikingly
Strikingly is a less-famous name. In fact, of all the platforms I’ve talked about, Strikingly is probably the one you’re least likely to already know about.
And I’ll be upfront: quite a few people might disagree with Strikingly’s high placement on this list.
There are quite a few flaws that will make Strikingly less than ideal for a lot of people. BUT, Strikingly succeeds really well in some of the core tenets of easy website building:
It’s easy to build a website with Strikingly.
Yep. Sounds like a truism, but Strikingly does well with the basics, and it’s a strong contender because of that.
But let’s be specific:
- There’s a free option and an option to pay month to month instead of yearly (though of course it’s more expensive).
- Large time commitments are available, which let you save money if you’re okay with sticking to Strikingly for years.
- The first tier lets you build TWO sites with first-tier plans and unlimited “free” sites (sites operating by the free plan’s features). Later tiers let you build more.
- On that note, you can actually purchase more sites than your plan allows…WITHOUT needing to upgrade plans.
- Relatively generous storage and resources for the first tier. Plus, later tiers get unlimited storage.
- True, a lot of platforms here are easy to use. Strikingly is one of the easiest—it has one of the best combinations of ease of use and functionality.
- Strikingly keeps its branding until the second paid tier. This is seriously unnecessary and annoying, as almost any other platform will ONLY have branding on the free plan.
- Although you don’t have to register a domain or custom email with Strikingly, if you want to, you’ll find the prices are higher than they should be:
- eCommerce is not super robust. At one point in time, Strikingly’s inclusion of ecommerce functionality in all plans would have been really impressive. But currently, it’s a bit basic for people who really need to sell online.
- No site backup features. Although if you use the Strikingly app store you may be able to get an extension that helps.
- In general, Strikingly tends to be a little more basic/offers users less control.
So it sounds like Strikingly has too much going wrong with it, for it to be a third-ranked choice above some of the heavy-hitters mentioned earlier.
We’ll, that’s not completely wrong. The thing is that Strikingly isn’t geared towards being a super complex platform.
The goal seems to be simplicity and efficiency—a person on Strikingly should be able to easily get a site up that looks GOOD.
In that sense, some flexibility is naturally sacrificed. There are some basic features that are lacking, which I find annoying.
So sometimes Strikingly can seem a little overpriced to me—but that’s because of what I value in a site-builder.
Other people won’t have such similar needs. And for a lot of people, the first or second tier of Strikingly will in fact be RELATIVELY affordable, but still offer a lot of decent features and be an efficient way of making a good site.
And to be real, some of those flaws are kind of minor in the scheme of things.
So because it’s overall great at the core of what easy website building is about, Strikingly has earned a spot in the top 3.
So let’s look at the two platforms that beat out Strikingly:
Option #2: Wix
I don’t think anyone could be surprised to see this name here, at least among those who have Googled “website builder” before.
Wix is probably the most popular easy-website building platform around right now. By the latest count:
Dang. It’s up there with WordPress in terms of popularity.
Wix provides even more flexibility and site customization without being much more complicated. For a lot of people, it’s the best website builder around.
- The first plan in the tiered system is free, and almost fully featured. By this I mean that while you lack the critical things—storage space and a domain—you get almost all the tools and the full builder software.
- The building software is probably the BEST combination of ease of use and complexity/user control.
- Literally hundreds of templates are available, and a lot of apps/extensions.
- You get a full suite of SEO and marketing tools with your customization. True, all the names here offer those too—but Wix is the best all-rounder in these.
- For more advanced and niche design and appearance, Wix might fall a little flat. It’s great for customization, but for more standard web pages.
- Although Wix has a ton of templates, a lot of them are pretty similar.
- Adding to that, although Wix does allow people to edit site code, it’s still geared primarily for drag-and-drop users and is thus a little limited in that way.
I think my take for Wix is that it…basically does everything.
True, all the names here kind of do everything. That’s the point of a website builder, more or less.
But Wix does everything pretty well. It’s website builder is easy to use, but comes with a lot of flexibility and user control. At least, considering how user-friendly it is, it’s pretty robust.
Plus the pricing isn’t bad. I personally think Wix used to have better pricing, but what it has now is okay. You can still get a fully functional platform for standard pricing.
In other words, there’s not a whole lot of “new” stuff to show you for Wix. It just happens to be one of the BEST exemplars of easy website building, with a phenomenal mix of user-friendliness, speed, and easy customization.
So how on earth is it not the first spot, the place everyone else would give it?
Let me explain:
Option #1: Webflow
I already know that I’ll get some flak for putting Webflow first.
After all, on a list of website builders, it’s kind of impossible to see Wix not taking first place. And if it doesn’t, you’d expect Squarespace, WordPress, or another big name to take the top spot.
Webflow isn’t nearly as well-known as Wix. So why is it here?
First off, it’s well-known to at least a few big names:
So don’t write it off too quickly.
Let me say that Webflow isn’t going to be the top choice for all of you—at this point, it depends on your specific situation.
But here’s the simple version: Wix and other platforms listed here let you use a drag-and-drop format that lets you edit a lot about site appearance. They’re easy to use, and great for non-experts—including small businesses—in editing a good amount of detail.
But even these builders are still fundamentally limited compared to what a developer could do with code.
WebStarts is basically an advanced building application that lets you do what a developer could—but without the coding knowledge required.
Check it out:
- Webflow offers users tremendous control over design, even more so than Wix—because Webflow lets you edit things that NORMALLY require coding, but still keeps things in a visual builder.
- Webflow has a TON of pricing options. You can choose either a “site plan” or “account plan.” Each of those has two sub-categories: individual, or team plans. And each of those has 2-3 tiers.
- Webflow’s free plan basically gets all the design tools the premium version would.
- Webflow is also great for people who want to go straight for the code, whereas a lot of other choices on this list are better for beginners and restrictive to developers.
- If your business is selling design services or making websites for clients, then Webflow is probably the best name on this list for you.
- All things considering, Webflow isn’t that much more expensive than most other options here—it’s pretty well within range.
- Compared to basically every other name on this list, Webflow is more difficult to use and meant a little more for designers and developers. True, you don’t have to know coding, but the Webflow platform itself has a learning curve.
- Although Webflow’s prices are worth the product, they do start higher than some of the options here.
Okay, so let me reiterate my defense of Webflow. Is it a better easy website builder than Wix, or the other names here?
But Webflow PUSHES the boundaries of user-friendliness with the amount of customization it lets users have.
In other words, whatever it suffers in ease of use and noob-friendliness, is almost entirely because it Webflow lets you do a ton of stuff.
I personally think Webflow is one of the most insanely flexible and feature-packed website builders out there. But despite giving users immense control over their sites, it also isn’t insanely difficult.
So yeah, tougher to use relative to other names here. But super well-made and decently priced, even if it is a little more expensive than some of the other names here (though not by much).
The main reason not to take Webflow on is that it could be overkill for some people—including small businesses. And those looking to save may find it a little pricey for unneeded features.
For artsy and creative types, or designers, Webflow is awesome, though. Or really, anyone who wants the most control they can get over their site’s design without having to code.
So I think Webflow is a phenomenal website builder. It blows me away a little, just thinking about it.
But let’s not get too carried away, right?
It’s time to put everything together:
So if you’ve read this far, it’s pretty clear that these builders possess their own strengths and weaknesses.
Despite all of them having sort of unique flaws and or high points, all of them can basically do everything.
For example, Shopify can make artsy designs and also handle blogs just fine. And basically every other name here can also do ecommerce.
But if you have heavier-duty ecommerce needs, Shopify is a great choice.
If you need to quickly set up a nice site, uCraft and Strikingly are great for the job. Wix is even better, but it’s more thorough.
If you really want to focus on blogging, WordPress is especially great, even if the other options here can do blogging just fine.
Suppose you want to manage your hosting more thoroughly, and also are looking for a good mix of affordability and reliability—GoDaddy could be your bet.
And if you want to really take charge of your site, especially its appearance, Webflow is arguably the best builder for you.
Now, you may still feel a little overwhelmed.
The best way to figuring out the best pick is to stick to the fundamentals of what your site/business needs, and the tools/features that will help you or your team manage your site the best.
You might be inclined to a bunch of fancy features, for example, but sometimes those can be overkill.
Don’t worry—we’re not done helping you! We have more detailed information.
If you’re interested in WordPress.com, for example, because of its blogging features but you want the flexibility of Wix…we deal with that match-up here.
Or maybe you still want that mix of usability and control that Wix gives you…but you’re not sure if it’s ecommerce features stack up to Shopify’s. We also take that on here.
And if you’re really looking to save, or just need a temporary home for your site, you can even check out our full list of free website builders.
And our list of WordPress alternatives goes into a TON of alternatives—some of them are on this list, but others are way more complicated, or way less complicated. You can check that out here.
Getting started and picking out a good website builder or content management system (CMS) can be stressful. But the burden of choice is also a great gift—if you think about it, you can find the perfect solution!