Best Website Builders
Website Developer & Designer.
Last update: October 9th, 2018.
Until now, I had never used a website builder before…
Having developed websites for a while, I’d rather dive straight into coding HTML, CSS and PHP. And avoid those drag-and-drop functions that website builders have.
I was pretty sceptical.
However, I was positively surprised by the ease-of-use and customization options that some of these website builders have.
Especially for the cost. Unfortunately, I also ended up trying website builders that were just outdated or used sketchy billing strategies (hint: #10).
Website builders vs. hiring a web developer?
A good custom website could easily cost $2000 (on the low end). Making changes could still require a freelance designer and developer to help you continually update your site (additional $$$).
Yet, for only a few dollars each month, some of these website builders below could give you almost everything you’d ever want at less than 1% of the cost.
Not to mention, you can easily login yourself and change copy, upload images, or add new pages within seconds (all without calling for tech support).
Website builders for Who?
Website builders are the perfect solution for individuals or small businesses with low budgets. Just to name few of them:
- small business owners
- wedding planners
- and so on…
Here’s What I Did To Uncover Website Builders:
Unlike many other blogs you might read on this same topic, I really spent some money and signed up with each one – so you’ll be able to see the “test sites” I made.
My goal is to provide a review, by actually going through each product in detail, to help you make the best decision.
Here’s the process I took:
1. I signed up with the top 10 website builders (I paid for them).
I searched on Google until I had a list of 10 most popular website builders on the market.
2. Setup a simple ‘5-minute’ test website.
After signing up with them, I decided to make a quick ‘5-minute’ website on my own domain name, like websitesetup-wix.com and websitesetup-yola.com etc.
3. Monitored each site’s uptime and page load times (1-12 months, ongoing).
Over a period of 1 to 12 months (still ongoing), I monitored my websites uptime and page load times via Pingdom.com. Some of my sites had more than 24 hours of downtime…(!)
4. Uncovered the TRUE cost of each website builder.
Many of these website builders trick you with their low introductory prices, like letting you set up a website for free. But once you want to launch it, you’ll need to pay. That’s why it’s VERY important to check the pricing before you set up a website with them.
This last point is especially important because most website builders will claim to be ‘free’ even though you’re gonna be forced to take out that credit card at some point.
So before we dive into the detailed review of the top ten website builders, here are the gory pricing details. Read why…
Best Website Builders 2019 (Review)
Keep in mind that the usability is the most important factor of a website builder. Second is uptime, third is speed, and the least important factor (for me) is the price.
Full disclosure: I earn a commission if you end up purchasing a SiteBuilder, Site123 or Wix through my referral links in this review. This is how I keep WebsiteSetup.org up and running and there are no extra costs to you at all. Regardless, I only recommend website builders that I’ve personally used and found reliable and simple.
|WEBSITE BUILDER||PRICE||SPEED||UPTIME||USABILITY||MY RATING|
|GoDaddy Website Builder||$5.99||260ms||99.99%||AVERAGE||★★★|
Without further ado, let’s dive into a detailed review of each website builder. Starting with the best, narrowing it down until we reach the ones to avoid.
1. SiteBuilder (www.SiteBuilder.com)
Best “All Around” Website Builder
CONS of SiteBuilder Website Builder
#1. Emails cost extra at $5/monthly through Google’s GSuite. (You’ll notice that this is a pretty common tactic across nearly every website builder on this list.)
#2. E-commerce plans are only available on the most expensive plan. HOWEVER, that plan is currently only priced at $9.22/month. It’s promotional for the first year (about 50% what it usually is), but it’s easily the cheapest e-commerce option available here.
PROS of SiteBuilder Website Builder
#1. SiteBuilder is a very reputable option with over 200,000 users.
#2. With over 1,200 template options, I honestly don’t think you’ll find more design options to pick from.
#3. As mentioned, they boast an awesome (and affordable) e-commerce product to build a fully-functioning online store. Each template is extremely easy to customize as well. Just point, click and adjust.
#4. SiteBuilder gives its users a free domain name for the first year, and not forcing any ads on your site under any plan, either.
#5. My test site saw excellent uptime over the last six months, only going down for about two minutes across two outages. That’s almost as good as it gets over 99.99%.
#6. SiteBuilder’s friendly support rep hopped on our live chat session within seconds. They were helpful throughout, answering my (many) questions with personal detail. They didn’t just link out to a bunch of support docs and force me to manually comb through, looking for a needle in a haystack. Very positive experience!
They are also currently running a massive 50% discount. So if you purchase a 12 or 24-month plan, you’ll not only get a free domain but lock-in a lot of savings, too.
For example, I paid $143.76 for two full years. The $16 domain was free as well.
Just keep in mind that renewal prices will adjust back to the normal rate. That means you’ll often lose the initial discount.
You’ll notice below that pretty much all website builders do this. So try to lock in a longer term, if possible to save the most.
Do I recommend it? YES.
SiteBuilder is at the top of my list.
There are tons and tons and tons of theme options that can be easily modified by dragging and dropping sections.
The current promotions they’re running right now are awesome, too. You get a free domain name for the entire first year. And, the e-commerce plan is significantly less than any other website builder on this list.
All of those reasons, plus near-flawless uptime, make it an excellent place to start.
Very easy to use, professional and reliable website builder (out of 10 I’ve used).
Here’s my 5-minute test site. (Bet you can do better in 5 minutes.)
2. Site123 (www.Site123.com)
Very Simple and Straightforward Website Builder
CONS of Site123 Website Builder
#1. I found customer service to be a little lacking.
For example, I tried asking about how many users they have, how many template options, etc. Yet, they wouldn’t be transparent and answer anything, instead of responding with, “In our webtool support department we do not have access to information concerning how many clients we have.”
Seems more like they just didn’t feel like finding the answer for me.
And when I asked a few other standard questions, they would just give me a link to the answer.
#2. Standard pricing is pretty good, but the bigger plans get really expensive quickly.
For example, the Gold and Professional plans range from $22.80 – 28.80 per month paid annually.
PROS of Site123 Website Builder
#1. Emails are thrown in on three out of four plans. Hooray!
#2. E-commerce is heavily supported with a huge, dedicated help section.
#3. From what I can tell (they wouldn’t confirm), there are at least a few hundred design templates to choose from. They’re both visually pleasing easy to navigate!
You can reorder pages or posts in minutes by clicking and dragging in place:
#4. Site123 is another website builder that delivers strong uptime at 99.99%, going down slightly more than SiteBuilder.
#5. Basic plan pricing is good if you only need a simple, content-driven site or blog. I only paid $129.60 for the year, which also included the domain name.
Do I recommend it? YES.
Overall, I definitely recommend it for relatively simple sites.
There are a lot of design template choices, uptime was great, and you even get a few emails without having to pay a ton extra! Customer support and the editor were a little lacking, though.
You can use it for bigger, more complicated ones. But it also gets expensive in a hurry.
So it might be a good alternative vs. getting a custom site built out. Just be ready to spend a decent amount over the course of a year if that’s the route you’re going.
Here’s my 5-minute test site. (Looks good to me…)
3. Wix Website Builder (www.Wix.com)
Most Popular and Easy to Use
CONS of Wix Website Builder
#1. Wix partners with Google’s GSuite to offer email accounts for $5 each. Notice a trend, here?
#2. E-commerce and online stores are only available on more expensive plans, starting at $20/month.
PROS of Wix Website Builder
#1. Wix is legit, hosting more than 100 million users worldwide. There’s a reason so many people use it.
#2. Wix is also an excellent option for e-commerce stores. This includes everything from simple products to even bookings and registration for events.
#3. Wix has one of the biggest libraries of site templates, boasting over 500 “designer-made” options. They’re also good for any level, whether you’re a beginner or pro.
This site builder might just be my favourite. The customization options are almost endless. And you can tweak your site in a matter of seconds.
#4. You can build just about any site imaginable with Wix. That includes typical e-commerce features to handle online payments, but it also includes a customizable music player, video uploads to the media gallery, events with invitations and bookings, even online ordering for restaurants!
#5. I submitted a support ticket with a few questions for their customer service department and received this thorough reply about 12 hours later. Pretty good overall!
#6. Our Wix test site has seen decent uptime over the last nine months at 99.93% (and solid speed at ~600ms).
#7. Wix also offers long-term discounts. The longer you prepay, the less per month it comes out.
I opted for the annual plan and got a free domain in the process, paying just $132.00 for both.
You can also purchase two or even three years plans to save as much as $216!
Do I recommend it? YES.
Yes, I do.
Wix was one of the easiest site builders I used.
There are so many themes to choose from. They’re all well designed, too. The extra features that Wix sites include mean you can basically use it for any purpose, from a simple blog to an advanced restaurant site or e-commerce store.
Plus, the budget-friendly pricing is perfect for even your personal or hobby site. Highly recommended.
Here’s my 5-minute test site. (Not too bad, huh?)
4. Jimdo (www.Jimdo.com)
Website Builder With Best Performance (Speed)
CONS of Jimdo Website Builder:
#1. Jimdo comes with ONLY 17 themes. Yup, you need to pay $90/year to get access to ONLY 17 themes!
#2. You can easily change the colour and add text or images. Anything more sophisticated than that is difficult. Otherwise, the templates themselves are fairly rigid, making it difficult to make large-scale changes.
#3. If you’d like unlimited eCommerce product options, be prepared to pay $20/month (or $240/year).
PROS of Jimdo Website Builder:
#1. Pricing was advertised as $7.50/month and I paid exactly $90 for one year.
#2. Up-and-running in 30 minutes. Not bad!
#3. Best speed performance. Just take a look at the graph below (fast & stable loading times with over 99.96% uptime)
Do I recommend it?
Yes and no…
The initial design is very clean and neat, making it appear more contemporary than some of the ones we’ve already reviewed here.
I’m even OK with one email account and 15 eCommerce product limitation in the short-term. But it worries me that they only have 17 templates and your customization options are limited to only relatively basic changes.
Great for a one-page-website. Need something bigger? You’d be better off with SiteBuilder.
5. GoDaddy Website Builder (www.GoDaddy.com)
CONS of GoDaddy Website Builder
#1. Emails can get pretty expensive. And this time, they don’t integrate with Google but with Microsoft Office. So that could go either way, depending on which you prefer.
#2. I’ve previously had pretty good customer service from GoDaddy. However, this last experience was a complete nightmare.
I tried to quickly get some questions answered on their live chat. I logged on, and the estimated wait time was 35 minutes! Really? For “live” chat?
By this point in time, I had already been able to research everything on their site to be able to answer my questions. But I didn’t want to give up just yet.
So a rep finally connected, and they immediately said, “To access your account I will need your 4 digit support PIN. Please provide your PIN with this secure form I am sending you.”
But… what if I didn’t have an account? What if I was just looking to buy and had a few simple questions?
Not great, to be honest.
#3. E-commerce plans are more expensive, starting at $19.99 per month, paid annually (which means you’re looking at $239.88/year on the low end).
PROS of GoDaddy Website Builder
#1. GoDaddy offers hundreds of different design templates, all broken down into categories based on the site you want to create.
#2. All of the templates feature the same drag-and-drop interface that most website builders now offer. GoDaddy’s isn’t quite as intuitive as Wix, but it’s still decent.
#3. E-commerce is fully supported, as is a handy scheduling feature. This might be perfect for coaches who want to bill for their time and help clients schedule themselves into their calendar.
#4. GoDaddy might be one of the only site builders that offers a free month trial. That’s a good deal, allowing you to test things out before getting locked into a much bigger annual commitment.
#5. I’ve been pleasantly blown away by how solid the performance for each site builder has been. GoDaddy offers another 99.99% uptime, only going down once for two minutes.
#6. GoDaddy is slightly more expensive than the other alternatives we’ve seen so far. I paid $143.86 for the year, but no free domain is included. So that cost another $14.60. including tax.
Do I recommend it? YES.
Yes and no.
GoDaddy’s website builder isn’t terrible. But it’s not great, either.
I found the others on this list, like Wix, Gator by HostGator, and SiteBuilder, to be much stronger overall.
In addition, the e-commerce plans were expensive and I can’t overlook the half-hour live chat session, either.
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