Every business needs a website in order to be successful these days. A website gives your business a level of credibility that is established well beyond your first sale.

Today, more people than ever look a company up online before they can even make that first contact. They do this for two reasons: one, to see if the company is able to solve their problem(s) and two, to see if the company is worth the time to work with.

The determining factor to whether someone works with you is your reputation.When building your website, there are two options available. First, you can use a hosted website builder. There are plethora of builders to choose from depending on your needs and budget. The second is custom building your website’s content management system which can be expensive and time-consuming as it can require specialized knowledge of coding.Utilizing the first option is ideal for new business owners as it allows you to scale your online efforts fairly easily with minimal cost, until you are ready to drop some cash on nice, business building features. Using a website builder means you do not need a technical background or the need to hire a developer.

You will do well if you know basic website coding such as HTML and CSS, but they are not required, at least in the beginning.

Ready to dive into the top 5 reputable website builders that fits your budget? Check out my list below:

1. WordPress

Brushed Metal WordPress Logo

WordPress is a free and open-source content management system (CMS). It is customizable with well over 350 different templates, layouts, and formats. It also supports plugins which can be thought of like apps on your smartphone that you can either pay to download or download for free depending on your needs and the vendor’s business model.

Some examples include but are not limited to grammar and spelling checks, programmatic ads, form customization, tracking tools, and much, much more. WordPress is websites are programmed to be able to work on computers, tablets, and mobile devices with ease.

Why Would You Use WordPress?

WordPress can be used to build websites that are automatically optimized for multiple devices such as phones, tablets, and desktops. It’s super easy to use and flexible enough for just about anything. Due to WordPress’s popularity, many of the most influential and well-known brands use WordPress to power their websites such as: Time Magazine, Google, Facebook, Sony, Disney, LinkedIn, The New York Times, CNN, eBay, and many more.

One of the reasons why businesses love WordPress is because it is a free software and it scales very well. Regardless if you run a small personal blog or you run a media company that gets millions of views a month, you are free to download, install, use, and ultimately modify it with jumping through hoops or paying royalties.

You can use WordPress to create any kind of website. It is also open source which means the source code is available for anyone to study, modify and play with. It is a great platform to use as a business or outreach tool or even a beginner friendly way to learn to code.

There are currently over 2,500 WordPress themes and 28,000 plugins available to download and install for free. You are free to use as many as you need on any website, although it’s worth mentioning I would keep the plugin count to 20 or below per website for performance and security concerns.

Why is this Builder Trustworthy?

Many users find WordPress to be trustworthy for a variety of reasons. Here are the big four:

  1. Security: WordPress can be an inviting target for hackers especially as it runs nearly 74 million websites. Many WordPress users say security is their top concern when using this builder. Much like other services, the platform has been hacked multiple times but no major vulnerabilities have been discovered inside WordPress’ core since January 2013.
  2. Blogging: There’s a reason WordPress is typically the first platform that comes to mind when you think of blogging. It’s set up perfectly for bloggers. The set-up is quick and easy with the tutorial being very friendly to first-time users.
  3. Cost: It’s open-source — AKA, FREE! Yes, the world’s most popular website building companion is available to download, install, and use for no cost.
  4. Ease of Use: Compared to other website builders like Wix, WordPress is not as easy to use and navigate as the menus haven’t changed too much in the past 15 years or so. However, with a rating of 4.6/5, it’s still has one of the highest ratings in the industry.

To give you an idea of how trustworthy WordPress is, or in the very least, how many people actually trust WordPress to power their website, take a gander at this post on ManageWP called 14 Surprising Statistics About WordPress Usage. The amount of adoption is staggering, like how there are over 74 million websites built on WordPress.

Pros

  • Themes allow you to change the design of your website quickly.
  • Plugins allow you to extend the functionality of your WordPress website well beyond the standard offering without knowing how to program.
  • Easy to update. Once it is set up, you can update your content anytime you want. This is great for engagement with your visitors and for the search engines that bring them to your website.
  • Google loves WordPress websites. Google has gone on record as recommending WordPress for business websites. The reason? Those who use WordPress tend to update more frequently and create better quality content.

Cons

  • Tantalizing target. Hackers and spammers usually target WordPress websites because of its huge world-wide adoption rate. Due to this fact, your website is more vulnerable to security hacks and other malicious activities. With WordPress you’re usually responsible with your own maintenance and security.
  • Dated discussion and sharing features. Besides the default commenting system, trackbacks and pingbacks are no longer used like in the web 2.0 craze.
  • Automatic Upgrades can potentially be frustrating. Depending on  your setup and patching plan, you may never know how your website will react to a plugin update or even how well the update has been coded. Safe updates and even mild testing may be recommended depending on how you have your website setup.
  • Potentially Expensive. WordPress itself is free and there are free themes and plugins but there are many attractive options that are not.

Using WordPress.com as an Alternative

When researching WordPress, you’ll see two options come up. WordPress.org and WordPress.com.

With WordPress.org, YOU host your own blog or website. WordPress.org is where you’ll find the free WordPress software that you can download and install on your own web server. Most hosting platforms have a once-click install feature as well, but this is referring to the same WordPress.org solution.

WordPress.com on the other hand, takes care of all of the hosting for you. You don’t have to download software, pay for separate hosting, or manage a web server. There is a free tier and a couple premium tiers. This can be a god option for overwhelmed, first-time business owners. I’ll have an upcoming article better explaining the differences between the two platforms coming up shortly.

2. Squarespace

Small Squarespace Logo

Source: Wikipedia

Squarespace is a builder that allows individuals and businesses to create and maintain beautiful, imagery based websites, blogs, and online stores. Many celebrities use Squarespace for their own online businesses and brands. An example is Keanu Reeves with his website Arch Motorcycle.

Why Squarespace?

Squarespace is a highly recommended website builder for small business owners, artists, and actors. They have a great reputation for being dependable, easy to navigate, and for having a community that answers questions. The example websites are beautifully designed and everything is laid out and explained very well.

Is this Builder Trustworthy?

Squarespace is very trustworthy to users for a variety of reasons. Here are the big three:

  1. Better templates: Visually stunning, mobile-responsive designs that make your website look professional.
  2. The Powerful and flexible editor offers more design flexibility than other website builders.
  3. 24/7 support with one-hour email response and Squarespace live chat.

Pros

  • Beautiful Templates: allows you to have a clean, professional website fairly quickly. Each template gives you different options when it comes to design and functionality so that you can create that amazing user experience on your website.
  • Mobile-Friendly: Once completed, your website will be automatically made mobile-friendly which is a must in today’s web ecosystem.
  • Easy to Manage: Make changes whenever you want, without the need to hire a developer. It’s all there for you.
  • 24/7 Support: If you ever run into problems or even just have questions about your website, Squarespace has a 24/7 support team that is there to help you. You can get quick answers through their 24/7 online support via live chat, email, and Twitter. Imagine the peace of mind that comes with having a support team always on call in case you have a simple question or even if the unthinkable happens.
  • Managed For You: Squarespace actually hosts all of their websites. A common problem that WordPress users run into is having to manually update plugins if it’s needed, or even find new solutions for your website if a plugin is abandoned. This won’t happen with Squarespace because everything is hosted in-house and they manage the updates for you.

Cons

  • Website Editor: The design flexibility can come at a cost, as compared with other builders, updating templates and content format can take longer to perform.
  • Pricing: At $12 per month for only a 20-page website is outside the norm for the industry. Even for an online store, at $26 and $40 a month, there are cheaper and more affordable options like Shopify.
  • SEO and Page Speed: Squarespace templates score low in Google’s Page Speed Tool compared to others like WordPress. This can harm your search engine rankings and result in poor mobile performance.
  • No Preview Mode: All website edits are made public immediately. This can be a huge disadvantage with longer updates.
  • Heavy Reliance on Images. If you don’t have good images they’ll stand out like a sore thumb. You may also get a friendly nudge from Squarespace staff (not even kidding 🙂 ).

3. Shopify

Small Shopify Logo

Source: Wikipedia

Shopify is a Canadian e-commerce company headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario. It is also a e-commerce platform for not only online stores but retail POS systems as well. It has thousands of merchants with over $45 billion in inventory.

Shopify makes it easy to establish your brand when starting with your custom named online store. Once your account is created, you have access to hundreds of the best looking themes, and complete control over the format of your store.

Why Shopify?

It’s a fantastic, easy-to-use e-commerce platform for those wanting to quickly and affordably start their online store without messing with auction websites and FBA programs. Shopify makes it easier than ever for you to impress your visitors with a beautiful store.

Shopify offers a large range of professionally designed themes, with prices ranging from free to $180. If you are looking for a more custom approach than a standard theme, you still have a range of options.

Is this Builder Trustworthy?

Shopify is very trustworthy to users for a variety of reasons. Here are the big three:

  1. Dynamic Marketing: From an online marketing standpoint, Shopify makes it easy for you to edit the most important elements of your website to be search engine friendly. You can input meta titles, page titles, meta descriptions, unique URLs, toggle visibility settings, and redirect pages where necessary. This gives you great flexibility to optimize your e-commerce store the way you want it.
  1. Unmatched Technical Support: A reliable and responsive technical support service is vital when running a e-tailer operation. You can call up the team around the clock on their toll-free numbers or simply live chat with an online operator.
  2. 24/7 Security: Shopify invests millions of dollars into ensuring their platform is secure. Security is more important than ever and when store owners are taking customer’s credit card details to make purchases. As such, it’s extremely important your website follows best security practices as well as following regulations.

Pros

  • Simple Interface: Shopify’s user interface is simple yet powerful, giving you access to the data you need. Plus the themes look great. No coding knowledge required so you can simply focus on running your business.
  • App Flexibility: Shopify provides access to hundreds of fantastic apps that can enhance the functionality of your store.
  • King Builder for e-commerce. Super easy to create product listings, track inventory, track and process customer orders, and more.
  • Sell Anywhere: With Shopify, you can use a tablet and Bluetooth card reader to take your product catalog anywhere and sell in person. That means you can sell at markets, festivals, fairs, exhibitions, and shows without a problem.
  • Social Interaction: To succeed you need to promote your product or service especially on social media. Shopify makes this easy through some fantastic social integration features.

Cons

  • Non-Standard Coding: Shopify uses a different framework through Ruby. It’s fairly simple to learn if you’re a programmer but you certainly won’t have time to brush up on it if you’re a regular business owner. So if you want to change the coding on your website, you’ll need to hire a developer.
  • Lack of Features: Shopify seems to lack a number of important features such contact forms, a section for recommended products, a section for emailing products to a friend, and saving wish lists. This could result in extra costs due to the need to hire a developer. Just know that it’s more of an online store so there will be limitations on certain types of content.
  • Expensive: Aside from the monthly plan that the users should pay, Shopify also asks for a transaction fee that is highly dependent on the monthly sales of its users (1%-2% from the monthly sale). So the more sales, the higher the monthly bill would be. This transaction policy doesn’t apply when using the Unlimited plan, but know that this option is also pricey.
  • The Release of New Features: An issue that Shopify struggles with is the speed at which it releases new features and updates. Their update schedule could potentially be misaligned with your needs.

4. Wix

Small Wix Logo

Source: Wikipedia

Wix is a cloud-based web development platform. It allows users to create HTML5 websites and mobile websites through the use of online drag and drop tools.

Users may add social plugins, an e-commerce store, online marketing, contact forms, email marketing, and community forums to their websites using a variety of Wix-developed and third-party applications.

Why Wix?

Wix is a free, user-friendly, website building platform. Their websites are professional, and can be updated with ease. No knowledge of coding is needed in order to create an amazing website.

Is this Builder Trustworthy?

With over 100 million registered users Wix is very trustworthy to users for a variety of reasons. Here are the big three:

  1. Anyone can do it: Without needing technical knowledge in coding, let alone needing to find plugins and themes, Wix is an easy choice for first-time website builders, especially small business owners.
  1. It’s Free: Normally, the cost of building and maintaining a website using a professional developer, would cost hundreds, or even thousands of dollars. The Wix Editor has been designed to be as easy to use as possible so that anyone with a computer can have the opportunity to build their own website.
  2. Wix is made for the masses: Wix has a wide range of templates covering a variety of subjects. You can personalize any template with many of our special features, including an online store, a hotel booking system, and an advanced blog manager and much more.

Pros

  • Cost Effective: There is a free trial with numerous additions, so you get a realistic view of Wix before purchasing a monthly plan.
  • Ease of Use: There are more than 200 templates accessible and this could help remove any confusion you might have over what you would like your website to look like. Editing your Wix website is very simple as it’s really instinctive without prior coding knowledge. One of the best hosted drag and drop builders in the business.
  • Simple Integration: Wix lets you add several third-party tools like Google Analytics without compromising usability.

Cons

  • Ads on your website: Advertising on your website should benefit you, especially if you’re paying a fee. With Wix, the entry level plan does not remove Wix-based ads from your website. To remove the ads, you must go to a different monthly plan that will cost more than most of the website building competitors that are out there right now.
  • Limited App Store: The apps available to you through Wix’s App store are very limited in use. You’ll get to add I-frames instead of real functionality to your website through direct integration. These are easy to install and they work okay, but it isn’t the ideal solution that many would like to see.
  • Using SEO is a problem: You do have access to an SEO Wizard with Wix that can help you maximize content optimization, but the techniques offered are a little behind the times. Most of the focus is on keyword targeting, grouping, and ranking without any regard to other aspects of modern SEO.
  • Difficult to Change or Transfer. Once you choose a template you cannot change it. If you want to export your data or even transfer to another builder, you may have a difficult time manually rebuilding on your new website.

5. Weebly

Small Blue Weebly Logo

Source: Wikipedia

Weebly is a web-hosting service featuring a drag-and-drop website builder. Weebly’s powerful drag and drop website builder and guided setup helps you get to the finish line faster, with no coding knowledge required.

Why Weebly?

With over 40 million users, Weebly is one of the simplest and easiest to use website builder tools available. You can build and publish your website online within minutes without having any technical skills.

Is this Builder Trustworthy?

Weebly is very trustworthy to users for a variety of reasons. Here are three:

  1. Drag and Drop Editor: The visual composition of Weebly’s interface editor is amazing compared to some others on the market. You do not need to spend much time on installing or finding plugins like a WordPress website. Though with the limitations you will see clearly what you can do it with Weebly and try it instantly.
  1. Multimedia Content: Flash content can be added just by adding an element and any audio and video codes can be embedded using custom HTML element called embed element. Images can be directly dropped in the content area without using image element and Weebly will automatically ask to consider it as a gallery or slideshow if multiple images are dropped.
  2. No ads: The annoying part of most of the free website builders is the ads they display. Ads will distract the users and you do not have any choice to get rid of it unless go for an upgrade. Weebly is promising that they will never place ads including free websites.

Pros

  • Ease of use: Drag and drop editor is easy to use. See how your website will look before publishing with their Site Planner.
  • Portability: If you decide to move away from Weebly, you have a bit of portability with the capability to export data from your website to a zip file.
  • Customization: Improved template selections with over 100 themes that are modern and trendy. Not quite what you need? You have the ability to edit CSS/HTML codes for even deeper customization. Change your mind later? You can switch themes after you build out the website.
  • Reasonably Priced: Weebly is also competitively priced. This is great for beginners who want keep their funds a little closer to their chest.
  • Mobile Optimized: Websites are automatically mobile responsive. Furthermore, there’s an impressive mobile app available for iOS and Android devices.
  • Helpful Support: customer support via chat, email, and phone. If you’re new, there’s a helpful onboarding process and pre-designed page layouts to give you a head start.

Cons

  • Integration: Weebly has limited integration options. This is one of their biggest disadvantages.
  • Website Backup and Modification: Although downloading a zip file is cool and all, the disadvantage to this is the time to restore since you can’t directly upload this file to your website. You may have delays in updating that backed up content as well.
  • Blog Limitations: Weebly blog posts do not display the author name, although you can conjure your own author section on the sidebar. There is a very simple comment control and management system. The latest 10 blog posts will be displayed automatically in one page. There is a fixed blog layout with no additional blog display options. The only content sharing platforms available are Twitter and Facebook.
  • Styling Limitations. There are relatively few styling options and if you don’t know CSS/HTML you may feel a bit hamstrung.

Builder Summary

Alright, so we got through all that but what if you don’t quite have a grasp on the right one for you?

Let’s recap. We talked about the benefits of using these top 5 website builders:

  1. WordPress.org
  2. Squarespace
  3. Shopify
  4. Wix
  5. Weebly

As you’re picking a website builder, just know going in that every builder has its advantages and disadvantages. Try to pick a builder that aligns to your goals as much as possible. This will help prevent a potential time consuming migration in the future.

But at the end of the day, you really can’t go wrong choosing any one of these platforms, say for Shopify if you’re not running an e-commerce operation. The biggest thing you’ll want to do is just get started. A web presence is just that important.

Here’s a more detailed recap of each builder’s highlights:

WordPress Small Gray Transparent Logo

1. WordPress

Excellent builder to hit the ground running. There are so many ways to customize or extend your WordPress website.

  • Plugins allow you to extend the functionality of your WordPress website without knowing how to code.
  • Easy to update. Once it is set up, you can update it anytime you want, and that is important for engagement with your visitors and for search engines.
  • Google loves WordPress websites. They are updated more frequently and allow for the potential of some automated content. The content tends to be structured well, so you can get a WordPress website ranking very quickly compared to a static website. Google has even gone on record as recommending WordPress for business websites.

Squarespace Small Gray Transparent Logo

2. Squarespace

Chef, photographer, or other creative? Squarespace is perfect for those who rely on high quality imagery. Showcase your work easily with a modern style. No need to worry about heavy customization.

  • Beautiful Templates: allows you to have a clean, professional website when completed. Each template gives you different options when it comes to look and functionality, so that you can create an amazing user experience on your website.
  • Mobile-Friendly: Once completed, your website will be automatically made mobile-friendly which is a must in today’s world.
  • Easy to Manage: Make changes whenever you want, without the need to hire a developer.
  • 24/7 Support: If you ever run into problems or even just have questions about your website, Squarespace has a 24/7 support team that is there to help you. No more frantic phone calls to try to find a developer that can fix your website. You can get quick answers through their 24/7 online support via live chat, email, and Twitter. Imagine the peace of mind that comes with having a support team always on call in case you need assistance.

Shopify Small Gray Transparent Logo

3. Shopify

Easily the top dog in hosted e-commerce builders. Many ways to manage your physical product business with ease.

  • Dynamic Marketing: From an online marketing standpoint, Shopify make it easy for you to edit the most important elements of your website to be search engine friendly.  You can input meta tags, page titles, meta descriptions, unique URLs, toggle page visibility, and redirect pages where necessary. This gives you great flexibility to optimize your e-commerce store the way you want it.
  • Unmatched Technical Support: A reliable and responsive technical support service is vital when running an online operation. Should your website go down or a payment gateway stops working, it’s important you can get in touch with someone no matter what time of the day, which is a huge benefit of Shopify. You can call up the team around the clock on their toll free numbers or live chat with an online operator.
  • 24/7 Security: Shopify invests millions of dollars into ensuring their platform is secure and adhere to PCI rules and regulations. Security is more important now than ever. When you are taking customer’s credit card details to make purchases it’s important you’re PCI compliant no matter who or how big you are.

Wix Small Gray Transparent Logo

4. Wix

Beginner’s choice for those who wish to build their online presence in a day and not worry about other things. Their drag and drop editor is superior to other hosted website builders.

  • Cost Effective: It’s possible for you to try before you buy and even though the free version has limits, you’re able to get a clear view as to whether Wix is the right website builder for your requirements.
  • Ease of Use: There are more than 200 templates accessible and this could help remove any confusion you might have over what you would like your website to look like. Editing your Wix website is very simple as it’s really instinctive and no coding knowledge is required.
  • Simple Integration: Wix lets you add several third party tools like Google Analytics without compromising usability.

Weebly Small Gray Transparent Logo

Another great beginner’s choice who wished to quickly get their website up and running but wants the flexibility of future customization and portability.

5. Weebly

  • Ease of Use: You expect a modern website builder to have a drag and drop editor and Weebly doesn’t disappoint in this area It’s also fairly easy to use as well.
  • Customization: You can edit the HTML and CSS for true template customization. If you decide to move away from Weebly, you have a bit of portability with the capability to export data from your website to a zip file.
  • Speedy: You can expect fast load times because their websites are optimized for their own hosting.
  • Reasonably Priced: Weebly is also competitively priced.

My Pick for the Best Website Builder

There are a lot of great homes for your future website. Weigh the pros and cons and see what the best option for you is.

I’m sure you’ll never guess what my pick is. /sarcasm. Even if I hadn’t written about why I love and use WordPress, you’re astute enough to notice that this website is built on WordPress.

WordPress Small Gray Transparent Logo

I recommend WordPress for most people as it’s one of the easiest content management systems out there and there is plenty of room to scale.

Let me know what your favorite website builder is in the comments below and while you’re down there, explain why it’s WordPress. 🙂

Thanks for joining me in this lengthy article!

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