Best Website Builders 2018 – Who Shall be Crowned King? 👑
I’m going to let you in on a little secret…
For years, I absolutely hated website builders! Hated ‘em! And if you know anything at all about the OG site builders of the late 2000’s then you know that my hatred was not without merit. Until very recently, using an online site builder to create an aesthetically appealing and feature rich website felt something like trying to move two tons of sand with a pair of tweezers.
In recent years, however, I’ve been forced to reconsider my stance.
The industry has undergone a massive revolution that was driven by two leading factors. 1) Learning how to code can be really freaking hard and 2) Few would-be-webmasters want to pay $3,000+ for a decent website (especially if the website in question is to promote your new knitting eBook instead of a larger scale business).
Fueled by the laziness and the frugality of the average individual, the leaders of the site builder industry set to work in an attempt to give us common folk the ability to build functional and beautiful websites without an advanced degree or years of coding experience.
And gosh darn it, they succeeded.
In 2018, you can build an absolutely stunning and highly functional website in under 30 minutes by using the right site building software. However, you’re not out of the woods just yet.
Because of the sheer abundance of site builders to choose from, most of us aren’t familiar enough with the plethora of offers available to effectively analyze, compare, and select the site builder that is right for their specific needs. (these company’s great marketing makes matters even harder)
Not to fret. The entire purpose of my existence (other than devouring ungodly amounts of Oreos and watching the latest Game of Thrones episodes) is to help everyday people just like you uncover the best website builder (and hosting companies) on the planet.
But before I dive into the juicy details, I’m sure some of you aren’t keen on reading much more so…
If you want to skip the salad and jump straight to the steak and potatoes, the top website builder that I’ve ever reviewed is, hands down, Wix. It’s simple to use, intuitively designed, and is catered to the absolute novice and advanced users alike.
Their support is fantastic, uptimes and speeds are high, and it’s cheaper than many of the (less effective) site builders out there.
Even though we run a web agency, Wix is still our go-to recommendation for people who want to build a kickass site in an afternoon without breaking the bank or banging their head on the keyboard in frustration.
If you’re looking for the best website builder in Canada. Wix is definitely a solid choice.
Check it out here.
I Thought Site Builders Weren’t That Good?
Shouldn’t I Hire a Website Developer Instead?
There’s no question about it. If you have $3,000+ to blow on a new website and you want more bells and whistles than the latest Tesla, working with an experienced web developer is the way to go. But you’ll need to remember that the upfront costs are only a small part of what you’ll actually pay and monthly fees for maintenance, updates, and hosting can stack up pretty quickly.
On the other hand, if your face is turning white and the thought of spending that much money just to get your website running is giving you a stress induced ulcer… Just breathe. Because you can achieve the same result – a professional and high quality website (albeit slightly less functional) – for about 1% of the cost of hiring a professional.
And I’m about to show you how.
Can I Really Use a Site Builder Successfully?
Before I answer this question, let me ask you a few questions. 1) Do you have opposable thumbs? 2) Do you have the ability to type words on a keyboard and use a mouse to click on and move items?
Yes? Then you’re in luck because, much like Geico, using a website builder is so easy a caveman could do it. In fact, entrepreneurs and freelancers from every conceivable industry have used site builders to create effective and profitable sites in a matter of days. Everyone from:
- Small local business owners
- Dog walkers
- Bull semen collectors (yeah that’s a real thing)
You get the idea.
It doesn’t matter whether you want to launch a personal blog, a beautiful website for your new marketing agency, or a side project that falls somewhere in the middle. With a little bit of know-how and elbow grease, and the right site builder, darn near anyone can build a great website in a very short amount of time.
What is Our Review Process Like?
Here’s the process I used to conduct these reviews and ensure that I’m bringing you the best and most unbiased information possible.
- I narrowed down my options (because there are a LOT of them) to only 10 site builders by checking out other reviews on sites like PCMag.com
- I opened up an account on each site builder using real monies and an anonymous email address (so I didn’t receive special treatment for running a review site)
- Set a timer for 30 minutes and built a quick website to test how easy the builder was to use
- Tested each sites loading speed with Pingdom.
- Reviewed the builder’s ACTUAL cost after the “advertised” rate expires (you’d be appalled at how many companies will bait and switch you with the introductory offer)
If you fall into the demographic of individuals whose attention span is less than that of a Goldfish’s (don’t worry, I qualify too… what was I saying again?) here’s a chart where you can compare each of the site builders in less time than it takes to refresh your Twitter feed.
Full Disclosure: Yes, this article contains affiliate links. That means if you click on one and end up purchasing a product or service, I earn a small commission (about enough to pay for of a cup of coffee). You can hate me, get out your pitchfork, and assemble an angry mob if you want, but before you do… Please remember that I already invested money to bring these reviews and help you find the best website builder. I don’t recommend any product I haven’t used and loved myself and I value my integrity way more than the paltry sum I get paid from commission. M’kay?
Best Website Builder Canada 2018
1. WIX – King of All Canadian Website Builders
(The Cream of the Crop) Easiest to Use/Most Online Resources
300+ quality templates
Extensive FAQ and knowledge base
Pricing starts at $8.50/month
Nearly instant sign up and activation
Responsive and helpful support
Intuitive and beginner friendly
It’s like the Staples of the site builder world. Everything about it will leave you saying “That was easy”
The site builder itself rocks, but it can get pretty pricey if you need any of the higher level add-ons ($5/month for email anyone?)
What was once the “Great Hobbies” of site builders has since evolved into a legitimate and widely respected website builder intended for professionals and small businesses alike.
It’s incredible easy to use, highly intuitive, and it’s almost as much fun as a box of Legos (almost). It’s the perfect place to get started if you want to get a “dope website” on the cheap.
When it comes to easy to use builder with a TON of support and resources, Wix takes the cake as the best website builder in Canada.
2. SQUARESPACE – 2nd Best Canadian Website Builder
The best site builder for visual businesses.
Dozens of high quality templates
Great live chat and 24/7 support
FREE domain and privacy settings with purchase
Uptimes are great, the loading speed is lightning fast, and getting started will take about 2.73 seconds.
The learning curve is much steeper than it is for other site builders.
SquareSpace is cool, don’t get me wrong. But unless you’re a photographer or some other sort of artist, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere. It doesn’t come with as many features as Wix and is a lot pricier than some of the other builders (a functional website will cost about $18/month). It’s not bad but it’s definitely not for everyone.
(OK But Not Good)
Consistent uptime and page speeds
Free domain AND email account
Over 1,200 high quality templates
Great features and functionality
$80 is a steal for the value you get
Account activation can be a little slow.
One of my personal favorite site builders on the whole list. SiteGround is easily offers you the most bang for your buck. They offer great uptime and loading speeds, a free domain and email account (in your face Wix!), and more templates than you’ll know what to do with. No seriously… They have a ridiculous amount of templates.
(Slightly Easier than Learning HTML)
If you can dream it you can build it
There are thousands of themes to choose from
It costs less than you’ve spent on Starbucks today ($4.17/month)
FREE domain, email, and eCommerce
You can literally do whatever you want with this builder.
Because you can do whatever you want with this builder the learning curve is NOT beginner friendly.
Bold Grid was designed for people who are too lazy to learn HTML or CSS but not so lazy that they’re willing to settle for premade templates and designs. The learning curve with this builder is incredibly steep (set aside at least 20 hours and a few pots of coffee after installation) but since it runs on the WordPress framework the list of available features and customizations is longer than the list of plastic surgeries purchased by the Kardashians. (and that’s a LONG list)
(Good Marketing, ‘Meh’ Product)
You get a free email when you sign up (yay!)
Instant account activation
The editor is super simple.
The editor is too simple for anyone who wants to build a highly functional site.
Weebly is like the iPhone of website builders. Sure, everyone knows who they are, the product is ‘ok, and it’s easy to use. But you can find a more feature rich and usable product at a wayyyy lower price if you know where to look.
It’s not that Weebly is bad. It’s just limited. You’ll be hard pressed to build a truly spectacular website with Weebly, but you could certainly do worse for the price. See the test website.
(Your Website Will Look Like It’s from the Early 2000’s)
Fast page-loading and uptime
The editor is actually pretty good
Email and eCommerce included
Cheap price (only $7.50/month)
With a 99.96% uptime, it’s the most reliable site builder on the list.
With only 17 themes to choose from it’s too limited for the uptimes to matter.
Seventeen… That’s how many themes Jimdo has to offer their paying customers. Not 170, or 1,700… 17. And unfortunately, all 17 of them look like something out of the early 2000’s. I can’t say that I recommend them for… well, anyone really.
(It Sounds and Performs Like a Silly Mobile App)
Free domain and unlimited email
Um… It’s kinda affordable I guess
There was a two-day wait for account activation and I fell off of my dinosaur while trying to build my website.
I thought that Jimdoo was kind of rough when I first reviewed it. But that was before I reviewed DoodleKit. If Jimdoo produces websites from the early 2000’s, Doodlekit lets you create websites reminiscent of when Al Gore first created the internet. (please tell me you picked up on the sarcasm?). Everything about it feels archaic and musty.
In fact, 11 out of every 10 Doodlekit users report smelling mothballs and denture cream when they loaded up the site. I wish that I was being hyperbolic but Doodlekit really is that bad. Here’s proof. Here’s the Doodlekit test website. Not too impressive.
(It’s Like Paying to Get Hit in the Face)
500 themes to choose from (most of which are bleh)
Free domain and 3 email accounts – one benefit I guess
10% discount if you sign up for a tortuous 12 month period
Well… You’ll have 24/7 support. And I can promise that you’ll need to use it.
The load times are slower than the first half of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody
Have you ever had a friend who seemed to take a perverse pleasure in spending way too much money on subpar products to prove that he’s a #baller? Yes? Then you should send him a link to webs.com.
Seriously, at more than $22.99/month Webs offers one of the most unimpressive, unintuitive, and uninspiring site builders in existence. I’m legitimately confused how they’re still in business.
.Check out my hilariously awful Webs test website.
(Great… If You Enjoy Root Canals)
215 (terrible) templates
Instant sign-up and account activation
24/7 live chat and tutorials (which you’ll need)
The price is only $8.33/month… which is still a rip off for what you get.
It’s better than Web
Everything else about it.
By the time I had finished reviewing Yola, I’d seriously considered scheduling an overdue root canal just so that I’d have an excuse to STOP using this site builder. After reviewing something like SiteBuilder, using Yola felt like going from a lightning fast Alienware laptop with an i7 processor and a bazillion GB of RAM to a Windows 96 PC. Just don’t waste your time, m’kay? My test website is a lot like a vacuum (it sucks).
(Marginally Better than Pouring Salt into a Paper Cut)
So, I’ve gotta level with you here. After doing a bunch of preliminary research I decided against actually testing Web because… I’ve never seen a single positive word about the company anywhere… ever.
No seriously. While I was conducting research I found…
- THOUSANDS of pissed off customer stories
- You have to call the customer service desk to cancel your account… What?
- There are NO details about the specific plans on the website (I mean, really?)
- My dog could create a better looking theme than any of the 2,500 that they offer
- Do I really need to go on?
Conclusion: If you’re the kind of person who has sent a Saudi Prince $2,500 to help him “Unfreeze” his assets, then Web is probably a great choice for you. If you’re smart enough to avoid scams when you see them, then it’s not.
Web definitely doesn’t take the best website builder award, but it might just be the number one contender for the worst builder award
In Closing…Wix = Best Website Builder for Canadians
There you have it folks. The 10 best (and worst) website builders on the market. If you want something affordable, effective, and easy to use, you’ll be hard pressed to find better options than Wix and Sitebuilder. If you’re a photographer or visual artist, SquareSpace is your cup of tea.
And if you like a challenge and crave the limitless options of WordPress’ CMS but don’t want to learn HTML or CSS BoldGrid is the droid you’re looking for. Check them out for yourself and let me know what you think.
Why You Should Choose a Website Builder over a CMS
You’re ready to build a website but find yourself moose-in-the-headlights frozen by indecision about whether to use a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or a website builder like Wix or Squarespace. Since you’re on a website builder review page right now, guess which we’re going to suggest?
Five years ago, the answer would likely have been WordPress, even though it’s harder to learn, but today’s website builders are far more sophisticated and easier to use than earlier versions. Here are a handful of solid reasons to consider them.
#1. Visual Editor
A website builder interface is a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) experience. That means that as you drag-and-drop elements around on the screen you see a representation of your website. To the human brain, this visual aesthetic makes us feel happy and in control of our environment. With CMS, you get what is called a form editor. It looks nothing like your website. It’s not naturally intuitive. Sometimes while using it, people get frustrated and throw things.
#2. They’re Easy to Use
As great as WordPress and other similar software programs are, there is a learning curve attached. Sometimes it is VERY steep. Website builders are so easy, well, a prehistoric cave-dweller could use them. Seriously. If Neanderthal Man hadn’t gone extinct, we’d sit him down in front of the computer after breakfast and have him hauling down big bucks as a web designer by dinner. They’re that simple.
#3. Built-In Hosting
Assuming you buy your domain through a website builder, you don’t have to figure out how to add it to a web hosting package and make everything play nice together. It just works. If you couldn’t care less about about the technology that makes it all possible and just want to see results, use a website builder. It’ll make you happy. With WordPress (or similar CMSs like Joomla or Drupal), you’ll need to point the domain name servers to your hosting package and understand rigmarole like PHP, MySQL, and FTP. Who needs it?
No Longer the Ugly Cousin
Website builders used to be thought of as a last resort for those who didn’t know how to write code or hadn’t the patience to learn a CMS. Not any more! Top of the line builders like Wix, Boldgrid, or Squarespace can stand toe-to-toe with anything WordPress creates and look great doing it. More people are starting to realize they can have a professional looking site in a fraction of the time and at a modest cost by going the builder route.
Are Website Builders Secure?
Given the prevailing hack-a-thon climate online, you would be a smart cookie to wonder just how safe these builders are that we’re suggesting you create a website with. When stories of billion dollar companies having their sites and information compromised are in the headlines daily, what chance does a DIY website builder have to keep you secure?
The truth is, you’re probably safer going the builder route than with a CMS. Here’s why. Let’s take Wix as an example.
When you create a website with Wix, hosting and ongoing maintenance is included in the monthly price. That means the powers-that-be at the company have a vested interest in keeping customers happy. If sites created with their software tended to get hacked all the time, they wouldn’t have a business for long.
Considering that, you can stop worrying about almost (we’ll mention the exception in a minute) all security measures when you build a site with Wix or any of the others on our list. Rest assured the company has a large, well-trained staff who do nothing all day but quality test and look for vulnerabilities, which will be fixed pronto when found.
One of the drawbacks to leading CMS platforms is that their source code is open to everyone — good guys and bad. The reason is to keep a larger (and presumably more talented) pool of people working to improve the product. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that. The open source philosophy is a wonderful thing but it does mean that the tools to create mischief through hacking are out there for anyone to use.
Wix and other website builders keep their code private, meaning that any potential cyber criminals have to work harder in order to penetrate a customer’s website. Additionally, when vulnerabilities are found and fixed, your website’s code is automatically updated whether you remember to do it or not. CMS platforms have a reputation for being buggy but at least some of the blame goes towards site owners who don’t install updates as soon as they become available.
Before we leave this section, let’s mention the one bit of site security that lies in your hands. That would be the password to log into your site. Just like with any CMS, it can be hacked by an automated bit of software that tries different passwords at superspeed. The bottom line is you should create a strong password and change it often. Use at least eight characters that include capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. The Wix team will take care of the rest of your website’s online security but password duty is up to you.
Website Builders vs Hiring a Web Developer
There are actually a few problems with hiring a web developer. The first is that you might have to sell a kidney or take out a second mortgage to pay him or her when they’re done. Full service web design agency prices can start out over one thousand dollars (for an oh-so-simple site) and climb into the $20,000 or more range if you’re looking for a tricked out ecommerce site with all the bells and whistles.
Got twenty grand lying on the end table you can just toss at the ravenous beast of web development costs? No?
The second, and maybe even potentially larger problem than giving up a kidney and assuming a load of bone-crushing debt, is that you won’t have complete control over your website and will be at the mercy of the developer’s schedule and motivation when changes are needed.
Let’s say your original vision included text being all in hot pink. A week after going live, you’re sick of looking at the color and decide to change it to black. With CSS it’s a pretty easy thing to do but another week goes by and you’re still waiting. And the developer is slow to answer emails and phone calls.
If you ever want this website to be your livelihood, you don’t want to fool with that mess.
Enter the Website Builder
We’ve touched upon one of the most important benefits of using a website builder. It remains firmly and eternally under your control. If you decide to change the font color, no big deal. You can do it yourself because everything related to designing with a builder is drop-dead simple. Just login to your account and make the change.
It’s All About eCommerce, Baby
Is a website builder your business partner? That’s one way to look at it. For those long on the entrepreneurial spirit but short on cash, a website and a good idea could be all you need to find small business success. We’re talking about ecommerce.
If you haven’t noticed, opening a cyber store can be a little less expensive than its real world counterpart. By the time you finish tallying the damage for space rental or purchase, remodeling, licenses, insurance, hiring employees, and stocking the shelves, there is a serious chunk of change involved.
Conversely, our favorite website builder, Wix, offers an ecommerce option that costs about $17 / month if you pay for it annually. That’s a pretty cheap ticket into the business world if you ask us.
Add-Ons and Upgrades
You don’t have to spend much time with the DIY website builder of your choice before you notice offers to add services like form-building, personalized email, and site-boosting. For an extra cost, of course. Should you pull the trigger? We’ll answer that with a solid “maybe.” It depends on your website’s purpose.
Are you intending to operate a hobby site only or is this going to eventually serve as your full-time income? Obviously, it makes a difference.
To be taken seriously, you need a professional-looking email address, preferably one tied to your domain. While an @gmail is okay, you really should consider the upgrade, even if it costs an extra five bucks a month.
When it comes to form-building, do you really need one? It allows you to collect information in a more organized manner than just posting your email for people to respond to. Are you noticing a pattern here? What we’re trying to say is that you might have a need for add-ons and you might not. Rest assured that the builders we recommend do not offer these upgrades as a scammy addition to their bottom line, though each is definitely a profit center in their overall business model.