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 site builders (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.
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 to you in the first place and have to spend money to keep this site running. 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?
(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.
- 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.
3. SITEGROUND (My Personal Favorite)
- Consistent uptime and page speeds
- Free domain AND email account
- Over 1,200 high quality templates
- Great features and functionality
- Only $80/year
$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.
4. BOLDGRID (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)
5. WEEBLY (Good Marketing, ‘Meh’ Product)
- You get a free email when you sign up (yay!)
- Instant account activation
- Good support
- Good(ish) pricing
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.
6. JIMDO (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.
7. DOODLEKIT (It Sounds and Performs Like a Silly Mobile App)
- 170+ themes
- Free domain and unlimited email
- eCommerce integration
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.
8. WEBS (It’s Like Paying to Get Hit in the Face)
- 500 themes to choose from (most of which are bleh)
- eCommerce functionality
- 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.
9. YOLA (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).
10. WEB (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.
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.