Best Website Builders of 2017 (The Complete Comparison)

Website builders are cropping up more and more, all offering exciting new technology, innovative features and tools, and all trying to compete to be the most affordable and design-savvy in the market. I wanted to test all of them by signing up to some of the best website builders, setting up a sample website and experiencing their tools and features.

I used my own credit card and signed up to each website builder...

Website builders are a perfect solutions for individuals and small businesses; the ability to create a website in less than a day and have it visible online is pretty impressive, wouldn’t you say? Previously, if any of us wanted a website, we’d be looking at hiring a web developer for the cost of thousands! Paying them to update the website on a regular basis, and likely being afraid that any changes to your website could cost you more.

Now, for only a few pounds a month, you can design and create your own custom website, without requiring any technical skills, you can choose from thousands of professionally designed templates, or you can request exactly what you want, for a fraction of the price.

Web Hosting Reviews

6 Best Website Builders (As of Nov)

Sitebuilder.com has been around for some time and has a firm foot in the door when it comes to website builders, especially those that are high scorers with customers. Sitebuilder offers many different features, templates, and options, allowing any user to be comfortable and happy with the services they offer.

We’ll start by taking a look at the pricing plans that Sitebuilder offers to their customers, which covers 5 different plans, from starter to ecommerce.

Starter Personal Pro Premium eCommerce
Domain name Included Free Included Free Included Free Included Free
Website Builder
Website Templates
No Website Ads
Free Email
SEO Tools
Priority Support
eCommerce Store
Price FREE £10.79/mo £5.99/mo £9.34/mo £14.39/mo

 

The above pricing plans reflect the current prices, including any promotional discounts, as of April 2017. Aside from the starter plan, all of Sitebuilder’s pricing plans offer a free domain with every package, for life. The domain is yours, for your own website, and will remain yours, even if you cancel, where there is a £15 fee to retain your domain. Once you’ve chosen a plan, you can choose a template to start building your website, from literally thousands of templates, with an easy editor to customise your website, just how you like it.

Templates and Designs

Templates and Designs

Sitebuilder offers thousands of free templates and design ideas to get your started; whether you’re creating your first website, displaying your CV, writing a blog, or setting up an online store, Sitebuilder has endless designs to please all of their users. If you see a template that is 99% to your liking, you can always edit the design to make it your own, and give it your own stamp to make it perfect.

There are many different categories to choose from, including, lifestyle, music & entertainment, pets & animals, photography, and many more. You can upload your own videos and images to your website via Sitebuilder, where they offer an extensive customisable gallery in order to create a true work of art.

If, however, you don’t find anything to suit your needs, Sitebuilder offers a truly unique service that not many other website builders are likely to offer; the ability to order your own custom template for your website. This allows you to have your site designed exactly how you want, ensuring that your website stands out from the crowd, and is distinctively different to the rest.

Once you’ve chosen your template, the website builder itself is easy to use, simple in its design, and packed with helpful hints and tools. The design of the builder isn’t necessarily up to other website builder designs; however, it does the job, and it does it well. Some of the features can be a little frustrating and slow to load, but the ability to edit pretty much anything on the template, shuffle the layout around, and adjust the look and feel of the website, overshadows the frustration.

Features & Support

Features

Now you’ve created your website or online store, you’ll want your customers to be able to see your website and to contact you. Sitebuilder allows you to link specific email addresses, related to your domain, to your website e.g. [email protected] which is brilliant for security and shows your customers that your website is in the professional category, which will in turn increase sales conversion. When you create a website, and especially when you have an online store, you’ll certainly want your customers to be able to find you, as well as enticing new customers to your business. Increasing the SEO on your website means these things can happen by making you appear higher in the rankings on search engines, your website will be more visible. Sitebuilder’s SEO tools will certainly set you off on the right track to achieving this, where you can monitor your website’s performance and continue to increase its visibility on search engine results.

Customer Support

At first glance, we were disappointed not to be able to contact Sitebuilder via live chat, which is a popular option across the board for most online businesses who offer a service. Especially when it comes to your website, you’ll want support there and then if it’s required, and with no telephone number to call, it’s a little disheartening to see Sitebuilder haven’t caught up with some of their competitors. Saying that, once we received a response from their customer support team, they were very knowledgeable and helpful. The FAQ’s and knowledgebase on their website can be accessed instantly, and often can provide you with the answer you’re looking for without having to contact support.

Our final thoughts..

Summary

Sitebuilder is an easy to use website builder with lots of useful features and tools, whether you are starting on your first website or blog, or you’re creating an online store. There are thousands of templates to choose from, the editing and design of existing and new templates is simple, and you can even request custom templates should you so wish. The builder itself is a little slow, even when tested on a high-performance PC, but once you get past this, the features are extremely slick and the process is very pleasing.

The lack of instant customer support is certainly a disappointment; however, we feel that most questions can likely be answered via the FAQ’s and knowledgebase, and if you desperately need to speak to someone, the support staff are really friendly and very knowledgeable. Overall, considering the price and features, we would definitely recommend Sitebuilder.com as a solid choice if you’re looking for an affordable website builder, with your own free domain name. If you have any doubts, you can always take up their free, no obligation trial.

PACKAGE NAME: eHost Plan
Cost per month (12 months): £2.25 (for the first year)
Cost per month (36 months): £4.00
Websites: 1
Unlimited Storage
Unlimited Bandwidth
Free Domains: 1
Marketing Offers: £200 in Ad Credits
Visit SiteBuilder.com ($4.99/Month)

A very popular brand name in the category of website builders, Wix has been around since 2006 and has established a firm hold in the market. Wix is an all-inclusive website builder, allowing you to build your website with their tools, host your website with them, and access you website through the Wix control panel. Wix have a positive history of constantly adding new tools, designs, and features; so if you’re having trouble finding something specific, it’s likely Wix will offer it later down the line. Recently they’ve introduced ADI – Artificial Design Intelligence which means your website can be built automatically by Wix’s AI program.

Connect Domain Combo Unlimited eCommerce VIP
Connect domain
Free domain
Bandwidth 1GB 2GB Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Storage 500MB 3GB 10GB 20GB 20GB
Remove Ads
Customised Favicon
Ad Vouchers $75 $75 $75 $75
Online Store
Price £2.55/mo £5.16/mo £3.88/mo £5.05/mo £15.57/mo

The above prices are reflective as of April 2017 and are subject to change dependant on promotional offers. All of Wix’s premium plans include free hosting, domain connection, Google Analytics, Premium Support, and no setup fee.

Templates & Designs

Templates and Designs

With over 500 professional design templates, Wix are very much up to date with today’s trends, allowing you to choose the right template for your website. If you’re not very creative, however, Wix’s templates are all pre-populated with example content, so if you’re struggling to think how to layout your content, Wix’s templates have got you covered.

With so much choice, you’re bound to find the right website template for your needs. If you want to add a blog to your website, Wix makes this easy with their blogging engine; you can schedule blog posts, add featured posts, create custom feeds, and toggle social media comments.

If you’re already in the world of eCommerce, or are looking to stretch your business into this area, Wix offers its own eCommerce platform with a large selection of customisable options, with multiple payment selections, coupons, and tax management. Wix ShoutOut and Smart Actions allow you to create, choose, or design beautiful newsletters that you can send to your customers, giving everything you need to setup your business. All of Wix’s apps, both in-house and third-party are all able to full integrate with your website, and will look great on mobile or desktop.

Features & Support

Features

Wix offers an extremely innovative drag and drop website builder, topping the industry and ensuring that their features are always updated. You can check out their features by date so you know what’s already been released, and what’s coming up. Features include, parallax designs (one-page smooth scrolling), Wix ADI, and plenty of SEO tools to get you started.

If you are already in the know, Wix offers something for everyone; if you’re a professional web designer you can visit Wix Arena and WixEd where you can connect with professionals, find clients, and gain first access to all of Wix’s new and exciting features.

We briefly touched on SEO, but it’s worth another mention. Once you’re happy with your website design and content, the next step is to ensure that your name, website, and brand are ‘out there’ in the world, and visible on search engine results. Wix’s SEO wizard and monitoring tool will guide you through the whole process to ensure your website is SEO friendly.

Customer Support

One of the main benefits of Wix offering an all-in-one solution is that you know exactly where to go when you need support. As Wix offers free domains, hosting, and your website, if something goes wrong, everything is in one place; it eliminates the need to contact several companies to pinpoint the issue.

Wix offers telephone, email, and knowledge base support where their agents are extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful. The only downfall is that if you need instant support, there is no live chat feature, and when you have an all-in-one solution, time can certainly be of the essence. Luckily, there are many Wix forums, how-to videos, and step by step guides so the likelihood of you being completely stuck for support is slim.

Our final thoughts..

Summary

Whether you’re technologically savvy or not, Wix can offer you a professional package which is affordable. The system is easy to use, just drag and drop, and get your website out there in a matter of days. You won’t need to spend a lot of money to get somewhere fast, and with its constantly updated features and innovative website builder tools, Wix always has something new to offer to everyone. We’re certainly very happy with Wix as a whole, especially their exciting ADI technology, and look forward to seeing even more from them in the future; they’re sure to stay around in this business for a long time.

PACKAGE NAME: Essential Plan
Cost per month (12 months): £8.95 (for the first year)
Cost per month (36 months): £1.59
Websites: 1
Unlimited Storage
Unlimited Bandwidth
Free domains: 1
Marketing offers: £200 in Ad Credits
Visit Wix.com ($9.25/Month)

Weebly was founded in 2007, offering a complete platform for online businesses to create websites using templates, eCommerce, and integrated marketing. Weebly is one of the fastest growing website builders around, similar to Wix, Squarespace and WordPress, Weebly offers an all-inclusive package where all of their features and functions work seamlessly together. Weebly gives their customers a choice of 5 pricing plans, ensuring that Weebly is suited to anyone and everyone, regardless of their wants and needs for their website.

Free Starter Pro Business Performance
Domain
Google Ads ($100)
Drag & Drop builder
Storage 500MB Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Transaction Fee N/A 3% 3% 0% 0%
eCommerce products 10 25 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Marketing SEO, Lead Capture SEO, Lead Capture SEO, Lead Capture SEO, Lead Capture SEO, Lead Capture, 5 email campaigns/mo
Support Forum, Chat & email Forum, Chat & email Forum, Chat, email, & Phone Forum, Chat, email & Phone Forum, Chat, email & Phone
Price 0 7/mo 11/mo 23/mo 33/mo

 

If you don’t have a preference as to whether you have your website on a subdomain then the free option with Weebly is a great deal, especially if you’re just getting started on your website journey, or need a website on a temporary basis. Users considering the pro package will benefit from unlimited storage, unlimited products on the ecommerce platform, all at a very reasonable price, with no ads.

Templates and Designs

Previously, Weebly has been known for their basic and small range of templates; however, they have increased their number of templates significantly, ensuring that their selection is on-trend. All of their templates are mobile responsive, meaning they will look great on desktop or mobile without the need of additional coding or technical knowledge in this area. If you’re bored of your website design, Weebly allows you to switch templates very easily; your content will be transferred to the new template which is a brilliant feature. If you do know what you’re doing, and want to edit the template designs even further, Weebly gives you the ability to edit the HTML and CSS codes, giving you more customisation for advanced users.

With over 40 pre-set page layouts, you can choose from homepage, about us page, services, contact us page, restaurant menus, etc. All of the layouts can be customised so that you can make the content your own and personalised.

The drag and drop builder is very easy to use, where the drag and drop features are intuitive. Weebly has built in on boarding into their system, so if something doesn’t quite make sense, they will give you helpful hints and tips through drip feed, rather than being too in your face.

Features and Support

Features

Weebly’s features should be plentiful for all your needs; whether you’re setting up a personal website or a business; you’ll have access to blog functionality, contact forms, ecommerce, advertising, and more. Weebly offers lots of built-in features that will get you off to a good start; however, if you’re looking for more, the app store is available for 3rd party apps.

One of the downfalls, however, is not having access to root folders or FTP access, so this is definitely something to be aware of if you’re planning a long-term project. Some marketing tools, such as, custom email tools, custom packages, and custom social shares may be difficult to add due to a lack of server files access.

 

Customer Support

If you opt for a free account with Weebly, you’ll be entitled to free email support and access to their knowledgebase which has plenty of information and tools to help you out. For paid and starter accounts, you’ll receive email, chat, and phone support. Of course, we wanted to test these options out to see if they were suitable. The response times were great; having access to live chat is always a bonus, too, as websites are 24/7 support must on hand at all times, and we were very pleased with the support Weebly had to offer.

Our final thoughts...

Weebly is a great choice for an all-inclusive website builder, with competitive pricing, extensive packages to choose from, good functionality, and an overall satisfying user experience. Although an all-inclusive builder does have some downfalls, this is something that should be considered beforehand as to whether this model suits your personal or business needs. With drag and drop features, on-hand support, and excitingly modern templates, Weebly is a solid website builder choice, whether you’re a small-time blogger, or a big-game business.

PACKAGE NAME: GrowBig
Cost per month (12 months): £3.95 (for the first year)
Cost per month (36 months): £3.95
Websites: Unlimited
Space: 20GB
Bandwidth: 25,000 Visits/Month
Free domains: 1
Marketing offers: –
Visit Weebly.com ($12.00/Month)

Squarespace, launched in 2004 has had some raving reviews as a drag and drop website builder. Squarespace is renowned for its modern and highly polished delivery and experience for their users. From the offset it’s clear to see that Squarespace is going to offer us a slick journey; looking at their own website, it’s clear, clean, and easy to use and understand. Squarespace offers a range of features that are very desirable, such as, modern templates, template switching, editors, mobile websites, and lots more.

Squarespace’s pricing is split into ‘websites’ and ‘online stores’ as follows:

Personal Business
Pages 20 Unlimited
Mobile optimised
Web analytics
Custom domain
SSL included
24/7 support
Integrated e-commerce
Transaction fee 3% 2%
Professional email  
Google AdWords   $100
Price 11/mo 17/mo

 

Basic Advanced
Unlimited Products
Transactions Fees N/A N/A
Website with integrated galleries and blogs
Mobile optimised
Custom domain
SSL included
Powerful analytics
24/7 Support
Google AdWords $100 $100
Storage Unlimited Unlimited
Accounting via Xero
Abandoned checkout recovery
Real time carrier shipping
Checkout on your domain
Price 24/mo 36/mo

 

Squarespace’s pricing is a little pricier than some of its competitors, and no free option is available, but you do have the option of a 14 day free trial. However, we believe this to be because Squarespace is slightly more geared towards the professional sector of users who want a long-term plan.  Their ecommerce pricing plans generally fall in line with competitors, such as, Shopify, Bigcommerce, and Volusion.

Templates and Design

Squarespace’s templates, much like their website, are very modern and slick; it’s safe to say they probably outclass their competitors offering similar solutions. There are over 60 templates to choose from which are included in all of their pricing plans. All of their templates are responsive, meaning your website will look great on desktop or mobile, ensuring the whole site is fully optimised. Although 60 templates might not sound like a lot, they are all fully customisable and editable, with access to over 1000 Typekit fonts and 600+ Google fonts; you’ll be able to design your website to your wants and needs, making it stand out from the rest.

How much you can customise each template is dependent on which one you choose; some allow you to edit the size, spacing, and colour of the majority of components whereas others will benefit more from you editing the HTML and CSS directly, for more advanced users. Although this is helpful for advanced users, we would expect there to be a different section for these types of templates; those that cannot code should not be able to select templates that require coding to edit them.

Features and Support

Features

One of Squarespace’s most recent features is the ability to add video backgrounds, transforming an already beautiful template into a stunning masterpiece. You have the option of choosing a video from YouTube or Vimeo, using the URL you can create a looped video background for your website, which looks really great. The only issue with this is that there is no option to define the start or end points of the videos; perhaps this is something they’ll introduce at a later date to make the experience complete.

Image manipulation and management is another feature from Squarespace that allows you to resize, edit, crop, and apply Instagram-style filters to your pictures. You can apply a focal point to each picture so that even when the device you’re viewing your website on changes, the picture will change according to the device’s size. If you’re stuck for imagery, you can browse and buy Getty images directly from your account, so you’ll never be lost for choice.

Customer Support

Email and live chat support is available from Squarespace, unfortunately there is no telephone support, which is quite surprising, especially considering the amount some users might pay monthly for their accounts. The live chat support team is very friendly and quick to answer questions; however, if you’re asking a technically advanced question, they likely won’t be able to answer. As with most companies, if you are attempting to send an email to Squarespace, you’ll be faced with multiple drop down boxes suggesting where to look on the topic of your question before you can finally send an email.

Our final thoughts...

Considering Squarespace as a whole, we believe that the website builder is ideal if you’re looking to create an online portfolio that relies on plenty of images, or a very modern and slick design. Perhaps those who are musicians, artists, or small businesses who want to showcase their products. If you’re a large business, we wouldn’t recommend Squarespace due to the limitation of a proper file management system. The website builder is easy to use, pleasing to the eye, and offers a simple platform for those who aren’t interested, or have no prior knowledge in the coding space.

PACKAGE NAME: StartUp
Cost per month (12 months): $3.95 (for the first year)
Cost per month (36 months): $3.95
Websites: 1
Space: 10GB
Bandwidth: 10,000 visits/month
Free domains: 1
Marketing offers: –
Visit SquareSpace.com ($18.00/Month)

Strikingly focuses solely on one page websites; being able to create a one page website in a matter of hours. Strikingly’s reasoning for presenting a one page website builder is due to the fact that more and more websites are being accessed by mobile users; with smaller screens, these users don’t want to spend their time searching through multiple webpages which can get confusing.

All of Strikingly’s plans come with a 14 day free trial to ensure you’re comfortable with their website builder and their features. We find it reassuring when companies offer a free trial; it shows confidence in the company, so we tested it out to see if this was true. Strikingly offer 3 pricing plans, as outlined below.

Free Limited Pro
Domain Strikingly.com domain Custom domain Custom domain
Free Sites Unlimited 2 Limited Sites 3 Pro Sites
Monthly bandwidth 5GB 50GB Unlimited
Simple Store 1 product per site 5 products per site 300 products per site
Support 24/7 24/7 24/7
Multiple Pages
Strikingly App Store
Embed HTML/CSS/JS
Remove Strikingly Branding
Invite Collaborators
Price $0 $8/mo $16/mo

Templates and Design

Strikingly offers 19 themes to choose from which are all extremely modern, optimised for mobile from the offset. Although there aren’t many, you can filter the themes by category so you can find what you’re looking for straight away. As with some other website builders, Strikingly allows you to transfer templates without losing your existing work, and you can do this as many times as you like.

If you opt for a paid version of Strikingly, you can add custom HTML code, but only for the header and footer of your website. The CSS cannot be changed which is a little frustrating, however, website builders are meant for ease of use, and are tailored towards users who aren’t able to code.

Features and Support

Features

We didn’t expect an extensive list of features with Strikingly as they only offer one page websites; you can upload your own content, enable different sections within your website, and make changes to the website’s design.

If you’re a blogger, Strikingly’s blogging allows you to add a blog section to your page, including images, videos, call-to-action buttons, and quotes. Similar to the website builder you can drag and drop features and sections within your blog, customising how your blog looks, including social media and SEO functions.

For ecommerce users, you’ll have access to the Simple Store, enabling sections within your website and adding products as and when you need them. As expected, you can select and setup your desired payment method and customise information on the dashboard. Surprisingly, Strikingly does not charge a transaction fee for any of your purchases; this is very pleasing for us to see! Bear in mind, however, even on the Pro plan; you can only sell up to 20 products on your website.

Customer Support

Strikingly’s support is a little lacklustre, with only the option to email them or check their help centre. Their help centre is very useful, offering a plethora of knowledge base articles, forums, and more. In all honesty, as there aren’t many features on offer with Strikingly, the lack of customer support didn’t affect us too much, however, it’s always nice to have the option to speak to someone there and then. The support offered via email was helpful, and the staff all seemed extremely friendly, answering our queries in a timely manner.

The help centre is helpfully laid out in categories, so it’s simple to find the answer within a short space of time, unlike other knowledge base’s we’ve come across, so this was a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

Our final thoughts..

If you’re looking to create a beautiful website with custom designs that stand out above the rest of the market, then Strikingly is definitely for you. Strikingly’s templates are quite photo heavy, so users that want to create a portfolio or very small business website may benefit from their competitive pricing plans, whereas professional or ecommerce users may want to go for another option.

Strikingly is not catered towards more technically minded individuals as there is much less flexibility compared to other competitors. However, if you’re looking for something simple, or to create a basic blog with a mobile friendly design, Strikingly offers a simple and easy to use platform at an affordable cost.

PACKAGE NAME: StartUp
Cost per month (12 months): $3.95 (for the first year)
Cost per month (36 months): $3.95
Websites: 1
Space: 10GB
Bandwidth: 10,000 visits/month
Free domains: 1
Marketing offers: –
Go To Strikingly.com ($8.00/Month)

GoDaddy is certainly a well-known brand name in the website hosting business, as well as domains, web security, and more. At first glance, their packages, plans, and features seem very plentiful, so we compared their different plans against their pricing.

  Economy Deluxe Ultimate
Websites 1 Unlimited Unlimited
Website storage 100GB Unmetered Unmetered
MySQL databases 10 (1GB each) 25 (1GB each) Unlimited (1GB each)
Domain 1 free with annual 1 free with annual 1 free with annual
SSL certificate No No Yes
1-click install Yes Yes Yes
FTP users 50 50 Unlimited
Database backup Yes Yes Yes
Multiple websites N/A Unlimited Unlimited
Price $2.99/mo $4.49/mo $6.49/mo

GoDaddy uses cPanel which is very easy to use; we love seeing web hosting companies offering this. There are so many features available on cPanel but these are only available to Linux hosting, whereas Windows uses Plesk. GoDaddy have gone to great lengths to customise the cPanel, keeping the theme consistent across their website which showed us that they take their time on their features and finishing touches.

As well as 1-click installations of our firm favourites, GoDaddy’s free website builder is a great place to start if you’re a beginner, and is all round an excellent tool. It was easy for us to create a website, add links, Google Maps, sliders, and more through a single drag and drop process. We loved the additional apps that could be implemented, too, such as, PayPal. With so many options available, it’s hard to know where to start; we found ourselves spending hours searching through the available themes and plugins, and were pleasantly surprised with the nightly backups and software updates. The site itself for doing so was a pleasant experience and easy on the eyes.

Uptime

With GoDaddy’s 99.9% uptime guarantee, we firstly consulted Uptrends to check out their response time against the homepage of their website. The results showed the maximum response time returned was 2.8 seconds, which, given the number of servers the website hit, was very impressive. We tracked GoDaddy’s uptime across a 4-week period to ensure that they were true to their word. Sure enough, the results showed that GoDaddy’s uptime was reliably and fantastically stable.

Customer support

GoDaddy offer telephone, live chat, forum, and social media support, however, it is worth noting that the live chat support is only really available for sales enquiries, rather than existing business or technical queries. We tested the various different channels of support with some basic and technical questions to get a gauge on how well they would cope. The telephone support was pretty straightforward and easy to get through to; the wait time wasn’t too bad and averaged around 4 minutes; we called several times to eliminate any one-off cases. The support staff knew their stuff and were very friendly and uplifting. GoDaddy’s forums had a lot of information and were very helpful across the board, and their Twitter support was very similar for general enquiries.

Our final thoughts...

GoDaddy, we felt, really offers the whole package at a very reasonable cost. If you’re looking to setup your website with speed and are unfamiliar with the process as a whole, or know what you’re doing, the services and features often go beyond the competition. If you’re an e-commerce website builder, there’s some brilliant software at an extra cost, including secure checkout, SEO tools, and store themes to check out. With the vast number of tools available, and a decent level of customer service once you get through, GoDaddy is a reputable and safe choice. If you’re not convinced, there’s a 45-day money back guarantee to reassure you.

PACKAGE NAME: StartUp
Cost per month (12 months): $3.95 (for the first year)
Cost per month (36 months): $3.95
Websites: 1
Space: 10GB
Bandwidth: 10,000 visits/month
Free domains: 1
Marketing offers: –
Visit GoDaddy.com ($2.99/Month)

UK Web Host Review: All Rights Reserved, 2017