Ready to create a new website but aren’t sure where to start? There are two main ways you can go about doing it.
The method you choose will depend on your budget and what you intend to use your site for.
One option is to hire a web developer. The other option is to use a website builder. So which one should you choose?
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about creating your site and deciding which approach to take.
Website Builder or Website Developer?
One of the most asked questions is “should I use a website builder or use a website developer?”
The answer is: it depends.
If you have a sizable budget, hiring a web designer is the way to go.
A good web designer can create you a customized site, but their services can cost a small fortune. Spending that kind of money isn’t an option for most people.
With a site builder, you’ll be able to enjoy a professional website at a much lower price.
You won’t be able to do as many customizations as you may like, but that’s something you may have to sacrifice to get your site up and running.
Should I Use a Website Builder?
If you’re working with a small budget, website builders are a great option. They’re ideal for small businesses, writers, photographers, and artists.
Which Website Builder Should I Use?
Before you decide on a website builder, you’ll need to decide what kind of site you want to build. You’ll need to think about how you want your site to look and how much customization you want to do.
You’ll also need to think about how much uptime and speed you want for your site.
It’s also important to think about how much interaction you may need with your builder’s customer service.
The other important factor you can’t ignore is the cost. We’re going to dive a little deeper into each of these areas to help you make the best decision.
The template is the starting point for how your website will look. It’s the basic foundation of your site, so you’ll need a site builder that offers a template you like.
Even if you do customizations, it’s always best to start with a template that looks like the site you want to create. The less customizing you have to do, the easier it will be.
So when it comes time to select a website builder, most users prefer those that offer a variety of quality templates to choose from.
Regardless of how good your initial template is, you’re most likely going to want to do some customizations to make it look exactly how you want.
To make your site look the way you want, make sure you choose a site builder that is intuitive and easy to use.
Opt for a builder that offers the ability to make changes but won’t take hours to learn how to do so.
Uptime refers to the amount of time that your website is actually running for readers to view.
Every site strives for 100% uptime, and while that’s not always possible, you should make sure that your uptime measurement is 99% or greater. You’ll need a server that can meet your needs.
Every once in a while a server, which is basically a big computer, will need to run an update or restart to achieve top performance.
Do your homework to ensure that your site builder can provide 100% uptime during these times.
When we talk about loading speed, we’re talking about how fast it takes a visitor to get onto your site. Think about what you do when you click on a site that seems like it takes forever to load.
You either get frustrated while you’re waiting or you exit out and go to a different site. This is why loading speed is so important.
The faster your site loads, the better. If it takes a few seconds to load, your visitors won’t mind, but if it takes a significant amount of time, it could be a problem. Make sure you create a site that opens up as fast as possible.
At some point during the website building process, you might need help. Make sure your website builder has a decent customer service team to help you out when you need them.
You might hit a snag in the building process or you might need to do something as simple as updating your billing info. In any case, it’s always good to have a reliable customer service team there to help you out.
For many users, the cost of a website builder is often the determining factor in who to use. Prices range from builder to builder.
Don’t assume that the cheapest option is the worst or that the most expensive option is the best.
We’re going to break down the pros and cons of popular website builders. In this breakdown, we’ll review the prices for each option.
Most website builders promise low or free fees, but it’s better to pay a fair amount for a better service. The free builders are usually pretty terrible, and in some cases, they’re not actually free.
They may allow you to sign up for a free account, but they usually tack on a variety of other fees.
With a free website builder you could have to pay the following:
- $20 per year for a custom domain
- $10 per month if your site has more than 5 web pages
- $20 per month to create a store
- $15 per month to create a custom email address
These little fees can add up, so make sure you know exactly what you’re getting and what you’re paying for. The free promotional price may seem tempting, but keep in mind that other fees are usually involved.
Pros and Cons of the Most Popular Website Builders
You’re most likely familiar with the names on this list. From Wix to Squarespace, these popular builders are the go-to builders for new users.
There are a variety of other options out there as well. Keep reading for a breakdown of the costs, services, and details of each of these popular site builders.
If you’ve read any of our other guides, you’ll know that we are huge fans of WordPress. WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world, powering millions of websites worldwide.
WordPress is an open-source content management system that is perfect for both skilled web developers and novice bloggers. It’s fully customizable, but it can also be very “plug and play” if you need it to be. And thanks to a huge network of users, the number of add-ons (called plugins) are basically endless.
WordPress pricing varies, depending on your needs. There are free plans that come with free domains if you are on a really tight budget.
There are actually two different versions of WordPress, to learn more about these differences, read this comparison. WordPress.com is the most comparable to other website builders on this list, while WordPress.org is the real-deal – perfect for people who take their websites seriously.
Wix is one of the most popular website builders due to its wide selection of stylish, modern templates, ease of use, and video backgrounds. It’s easy to use and it includes a variety of useful features, including pop-up tutorials that make it easy to create and customize your site.
They have one of the best customer support response times in the industry. It’s one of the most intuitive website builders around.
Wix lets you create a free account, choose your template, and customize the look of your site before you pay. This is perfect for anyone who wants to test out the product before buying it.
It’s a standard drag and drop building platform, and you can choose to pre-configure your site by adding in some basic background info. This makes the process easier to begin.
SSL is included with a Wix account. This is crucial if you ever intend to sell something online and need to process credit card payments.
So what are Wix’s downfalls? There are a few. You’ll need to pay $4 per month for a custom email address. If you only need one, that’s not so bad, but if you need many addresses, this fee can add up.
The “combo” package, which is enough for most people, costs $10 per month, so it’s not the cheapest option out there. If you need to build an online store, you’ll need to buy the more expensive package for $17 per month.
SiteBuilder is not the most recognized website builder out there, so it comes at a lower price yet still offers a host of great features.
You’ll enjoy a variety of template options, a drag and drop format to move things around, and an easy-to-use design. It’s a good option if you want a cheap yet efficient website builder to create your site.
SiteBuilder costs $4.99 per month, which is the cheapest service to have made this list. If you want to create an online store expect to pay $19 per month.
The templates are a bit generic, and while it’s not as outdated as some older builders, it’s not as modern as Wix or Squarespace.
Sleek templates and stylish options make Squarespace a favorite among creatives and design focused websites. It’s a bit pricey at $14 per month, but it is a high-quality option that many users find easy to use. Keep in mind that the $14 per month pricetag includes hosting.
The design of the builder is a bit different than most other website builders out there, but it is intuitive and very user-friendly. This video should give you a pretty good idea of what the backend of Squarespace looks like:
Some people think it’s a more expensive version of Wix, but we think Squarespace sites look much nicer. SSL is included, which is key if you intend to accept credit cards.
The interface may take a few moments to get used to, but it’s a viable option for anyone looking to create a new site.
While it is super easy to build beautiful looking pages, Squarespace does come with some downside. Some templates make SEO (search engine optimization) difficult and customization options are limited due to the built-in “block.”
Reasonably priced at $8 per month, Weebly is a reliable service, but you will have to do a bit more of the work yourself.
You can choose from a variety of modern templates, but those templates act more like a blank slate.
Once you choose your template, you’ll have to do most of the heavy lifting yourself. If you’ve got some decent tech skills, you may like it for this reason.
If you’re looking for something intuitive, this likely isn’t the best option for you.
Weebly has been around longer than most of the others, but their competitors have made more advancements in recent years.
If you know and like their interface, it’s a fine choice. But it doesn’t have anything to offer that the other website builders don’t.
Other Website Builders to Consider (or Avoid)
With a variety of modern templates to choose from, Strikingly is a good option, but it will cost you.
A standard package will cost you $16 per month (the most expensive option on this list) and customization is more challenging. They do offer a package for $8 per month, but it is very limited.
GoDaddy Website Builder
A well-known name that people trust and recognize, GoDaddy Website Builder is one of the newer website builders out there. You likely already bought your domain name from them or have paid them to do your web hosting.
Those services are excellent, but they’re not leading the industry in site building. Their template options aren’t great, and the system can be tough to figure out.
If you’re looking to customize your site, it’s not that easy to do.
We’re steering clear of Jimdo for one reason: they have only have 17 templates to choose from. That is basically nothing when you compare it to some of the other options on this list. The pricing is fair, but your options are so limited it’s not worth it.
We’re not big fans of Yola. It’s been around for a while, but it’s showing its age. They offer a variety of templates, but they look a bit outdated.
Unless you’ve got the room in your budget to hire a website developer, a website builder is the way to go. There are a lot of different features to think about, a lot of options to consider, and varying costs to weigh to pick the right one.
Every website builder has its pros and cons, so you’ll have to do your research to find the one that’s right for you.
Our recommendation? If you want to build a modern site that’s easy to use and has lots of options to choose from, Wix and Squarespace are your best options.