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A Brief History of Website Builders

Today I’m going to dwell upon website builders as powerful, effective and easy tools enabling novices to create a website free of cost or for a relatively low price. I’m going to spotlight the most significant facts of their history, evolution, current state of affairs of the niche and the future trends of its development.

Definitely, there are many other reliable resources that uncover the history of this sphere in details (Wikipedia, for instance). Yet in my post I’ll try to give you a better idea of what is a typical website builder, what are its key characteristics, what are the types of those software, and many more.

There are two types of tools that can qualify as website builders: offline website building software and SaaS website builders.

It’s important to realize that there’s a significant difference between those. The former are the downloadable programs that should be installed on your computer. With their help you create a website offline. While the latter are the online proprietary tools offered by hosting providers. These enable you to make a website free of cost via your Internet browser without any downloads.

Thus, on SuperbWebsiteBuilders we’re dealing with online builders, or SaaS (software as a service) platforms which are in fact web hosting companies offering tools for effortless site creation. Unlike offline software, they don’t require any prior HTML practice.

A Bit of Website Builders History

Adobe Dreamweaver

One of the first website builders was Dreamweaver. It has established its leadership in the niche by 1998. It was one of the first web development applications using WYSIWYG editing principle. However, when the industry switched to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Standards, Dreamweaver and other similar apps have lost their attractiveness. With the advent of the Standards these tools were criticized for not being flexible and compliant.

As a result of this process Amaya open source tool was created. It has integrated lots of W3C technologies in a single place. Initially it was developed as a CSS and HTML authoring system. At present it also supports XML, XHTML, MathML, and SVG.

On the base of these accomplishments online website builders appeared. The very first constructors were very buggy and clumsy. But they’ve rapidly developed into full-fledged online builders. Some of the first were Homestead, Webstarts, Webs and Squarespace. But with the increasing use of the Internet and growing demand for easy web design tools many other great platforms have appeared. Nowadays there is a huge competition in the website builders niche.

Custom Web Design vs Website Builders: The Pros and Cons

I’m often asked what option is better: custom web design or website builders. As you can see from my blog, I’m an avid site builders’ advocate. However, I’m also a big WordPress fan and I equally adore custom web design. I believe that none of the options is inferior to another. Each is good, especially when used wisely. And each may have its downsides. So, in this post I’m going to discuss the pros and cons of both. I hope this article will help you decide what direction you need to take.


Wix Website Builder

Website builders: Modern site builders are very flexible, and some can even compete with WordPress and other powerhouses in the web building/publishing industry. Surely, building a feature-rich website for a large-scale business offering sophisticated, unique user experiences needs and requires absolute professionalism.

DIY website builders aren’t the best option in this case. However, they can be effectively used for creating basic business sites, web stores, blogs, online portfolios, real estate and restaurant websites. Check out the compilation of websites built with Wix to see the variety of website types site makers can support.

Custom design: Custom design wins when it comes to complex websites with user profiles, automatic uploads and sophisticated, interactive features. These sites require professional expertise and often – ongoing support.


uKit Site Builder

Website builders: Website builders are affordable, and some – ridiculously affordable. Most of them (99%) you can try free of charge – no commitment, no contracts and no credit card details. So, you risk nothing but your time and effort.

Speaking about pricing policies, based on my experience I would group all site builders into two categories: subscription-based and license-based. Weebly for example, belongs to the former camp and thus charges monthly fee ($0-$25 including hosting). While MotoCMS website builder belongs to the latter camp: it sells templates (which are almost ready websites) at a fixed price and lets users host their websites anywhere on the web without monthly fees.

Custom design: Custom design is definitely pricier. The same project (with the same list of requirements) can cost for instance $1,000 – $5,000 depending on the agency. You won’t find fixed prices in the manual design segment as many professionals offer their services at pay-per-hour basis.


Weebly Site Builder

Website builders: Undoubtedly, they are faster. No doubt about that. It will take you less than an hour to create a basic ‘text and picture’ website with one of them. Since most are based on drag-and-drop editing principle, all you need is just to point and click, drag and drop.

Because there will be no middlemen, you’ll be able to publish your site faster and with less effort: there will be no need to review and approve different versions of the design and wait for someone to upload your content. You’ll be in charge of everything. When I tested Wix it took me 25 minutes to publish my website (5-7 minutes I was selecting a template :)). The same is about Weebly: thanks to their intuitive interface one can design a website, fill it in with unique content and even connect a custom domain within one hour.

Custom design: Manual design may require inordinate amount of time to bring about your ideas. At first, you’ll have to write down all your requirements and form a technical assignment. Be ready to spend long hours discussing these requirements with your contractor, receiving, approving/disapproving and sending back different versions of the most various website elements (background, buttons, favicons and alike).


If you plan to build a simple, informational website that will serve mainly as a virtual business card, site builders are just what you need. But if your ambitions go beyond the average site builder’s feature set, it makes sense to hire a professional.

The Future of Website Creation

What makes website builders so popular these days?

  • They Are Quick and Easy. No need to writes codes. Most of the top website builders employ What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get and drag-and-drop editing principles.

  • They Are Safe. Website builders help you find your peace of mind and get rid of many headaches. You’re responsible for your website’s content and design, while the rest (hosting issues, updates and administration) is left to the professionals. Site makers let you concentrate on what really matters.

  • They Are Cost-Effective. SaaS builder isn’t just a piece of web design software. It comes with a hosting, CMS and a domain. When you purchase all these elements separately from different places you need to synchronize them yourself and ensure everything works seamlessly. Saying nothing about the cost :). On the other hand, there are site builders that offer all these pieces (hosting+CMS+domain name) in one place and at a reasonable price. Even their paid plans are cheaper than building and maintaining a website on your own. On website builders everything works out of the box. Isn’t it great?

  • They Are Modern and Trendy. More and more people start creating websites using website builders. Website builders start ruling in the world of web development, as they put people in the driver’s seat – no need to hire someone to have your website built. They let creative personalities unleash their inner web designers and publish multiple websites independently.

  • They Are the Optimal Solution. Online builders are the perfect solution, as they require minimum technical effort on your part. They liberate you from the burden of daily technical issues and let your creative juices flowing :). When you build a website with a site constructor, you get plenty of time to make up your website’s SEO strategy, improve your website’s usability, and to generate high quality content.

To Wrap It Up

Website builders are definitely the future of web development. There are dozens of those in the market. All you need for building a dynamic site you can get online on a SaaS platform. Site builders work out of the box letting you concentrate on creating quality content rather than wasting time on technicalities. For this very reason I recommend using them regardless of your webmastering experience.

It’s up to you to decide which one to choose – just make sure it meets your needs and can help you build the site of your dreams. You may take a look at my Top 10 website builders rating. All the platforms from the list are suitable for building decent websites with wide functionality. They’re the best solution both for newbies and pros. In case you have any questions, feel free to contact me via email.

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