While the Global Web evolves welcoming billions of users every day, having an online representation can be very important. It does not matter if you are planning to become a blogger, launch a small business, start selling products online, or promote your brand on the global arena, you will definitely need a website. And choosing a platform that meets your needs is the first step to establishing a solid web presence.
With so many different website builders, selecting the right one may look daunting especially for users who are new to the web building technology. They have to consider various crucial points. What is more important, they will need to identify core issues that will define their future website type, functionality, features, and the way visitors are going to interact.
Website complexity and user’s technical background are also the questions to be answered. Do you have enough skills to cope with coding or programming? Or would you like to launch a ready-to-go site in minutes using pre-designed templates with all necessary features in the pack? Are you going to sell products or simply highlight some of your works via a simple online portfolio?
If you still cannot make up your mind, which platform is the best bet, follow our ultimate guide in how to choose a website builder depending on your needs, goals, and requirements.
How to Choose a Website Platform
The first thing you need to decide is what type of web building technology to choose. The two main options include website builders and CMS platforms. They are different in terms of customization, editing, managing, and maintaining. Moreover, they require a different level of technical background. In other words, what will work for professional users who know how to code, will hardly work for non-technicians.
Let’s have a closer look at major benefits and possible downsides delivered by website builders and CMS-based platforms.
Also known as content management systems, CMS platforms are programs that help to create websites of different types. They will work fine either you need a blog, business card, or a digital store. They mainly come as self-hosted platforms, which means that the CMS itself will only let you create a website layout. Project hosting, maintenance, and support will require additional effort and rely on the user’s budget, technical skills, etc.
✔ Customization Freedom – CMS platforms are available as open-source frameworks where users are free to edit every element, block, or feature. This fact ensures total flexibility over the website design and functionality. If you have enough coding skills, it is possible to create a stunning design even with a typical free template.
✔ Thousands of Templates – the selection of free templates for CMS platforms are endless. Simply choose the one that refers to your niche and edit it. However, you should be prepared that some of your competitors use the same theme. To stand out, you will need to modify it manually. Once again, coding experience is vital.
✔ Integration and Plugins – CMS users are able to choose from hundreds of plugins that can be installed with a click. They include promotion and SEO tools, analytic instruments, email marketing, and security services, etc. Unfortunately, they are not all free. Besides, they require manual installation, configuring and regular updates to ensure website features running normally.
✔ Free to Use – platforms are free to use. A feature that could make the difference unless users did not have to pay for the hosting and domain separately.
✘ Technical Skills – CMS systems are difficult to use right from the start. It may take days for newbies to figure out how it works.
✘ Maintenance and Support – also, website maintenance will call for manual system updates, third-party service compatibility with a chosen theme, hosting configuration, domain name connection, etc.
CMS is a flexible solution for people who require extra functionality or access to source code. But it can make no sense for non-technicians who require a simpler way to go online. This is where website builders are a better alternative.
A website builder is a SaaS software that usually comes as an all-in-one solution for users with absolutely no technical skills. The technology has evolved introducing new AI-driven and other features that let people create different websites literally in minutes. In addition, modern platforms come with enhanced functionality letting users edit the source-code or even develop and integrate exclusive features. In other words, we have an updated version of a traditional CMS with some crucial advantages.
Website Builders pros:
Website Builder Cons:
✔ All-In-One Solution – unlike CMS, with website builders you have templates features, hosting, and domain already included in the plan. No need to manage them manually.
✔ Professional Websites in Minutes – to build a fully-featured website, you need to sign in, pick a plan, choose a template, add content, and publish it. That’s it.
✔ Responsive Templates – no matter what template you choose (a blog, small business site, or digital store), it will run well on all devices including laptops, tablets, and smartphones. What’s more, some platforms let you edit mobile site versions right inside the editor.
✔ Intuitive Editing – most website builders are equipped with a drag-and-drop editor. It means that you can add a necessary element and place it wherever you need it. The same is with website blocks. Users are free to arrange them in the way they want. They can also add content or upload images with a click.
✔ Flexibility – website builders can also be integrated with third-party services. Besides, some platforms have their custom app markets with widgets ad add-ons to be installed.
✘ Fewer Customization Options – website builders are not as flexible in terms of web design as CMS. But is it actually a downside? As a rule, all major functions are already integrated into the template depending on the project type. For example, if you need a digital store, you get a layout with built-in payment options, shopping cart functionality, and an integrated product management system. Portfolio themes will have stylish galleries and blocks to interact with potential customers. So on.
✘ One a User, Always a User – if you opt for a website builder, you will have to stick to it. A few platforms offer site import or migration feature. The question is will you ever need to move to another system considering all pros mentioned earlier? Probably not.
As a result, website builders appear to be a simpler, faster, and sometimes an even cheaper alternative to CMS. Now, we need to highlight the core points to consider when choosing the software.
Tips to Consider for Choosing a Website Builder
The process of choosing a website builder relies on the goals. Different companies offer tools developed to meet specific users’ needs. Some platforms are designed mainly for eCommerce. Others are specialized in small business sites, landing pages, or portfolios. A good idea is to opt for a niche-oriented solution. On the other hand, multi-purpose software to build websites of any type can also be a good choice.
Here is a list of crucial tips to consider when choosing a website builder.
Ease of Use
We have already said that the majority of website builders come with a drag-and-drop technology based on the WYSIWYG concept. This is where all types of software are pretty much the same. However, you may additionally look for extra options like inline editing. It lets you save and see all the changes made in real-time without switching to a browser preview mode.
By the way, preview mode can also make a difference. While some platforms only let you check the way your site looks on different devices, others let you edit the mobile version separately from the desktop. Also, check if it is easy to connect a domain, manage general settings, etc. Ease of use is not only about editing the website but also about its maintenance.
Add-Ons and Widgets
Users should check if the website builder has an app store. You might need various widgets to customize your page. Make sure there is a possibility to connect custom domains as well as third-party services. For example, a user may need to place a discount timer, calendar, or price calculator to keep customers engaged. Additionally, look for CTA blocks, contact forms, social media coverage, etc.
Let’s say, you want to launch an online shop. You will need extra services that include payment gateways, tax calculation services, shopping cart functionality, promotion tools, reporting instruments, and more. A platform should be compatible with major services. On the other hand, small business site owners may require email-marketing tools, CRM integration, so on.
As we have stated earlier, if you opt for a website builder, you need to stick to it. So, make sure the platform meets all your requirements and has the features mentioned above. This is where a free trial or plan will help. Although users generally do not have access to all paid features, at least they can test the editor, try some of the features, have a closer look at templates, built-in options, etc. Why should you ever lose that chance?
The more complex project you have, the more features it will need. It will result affect cost. Pay attention to initial price tags, as they may differ when it comes to the plan renewal. The good news here is that trusted platforms often come with special deals, discounts, and yearly offers that let you save up a bit.
Look for video tutorials and Help Center with all major steps described there. Additionally, use the available contact options and get in touch with the team to check if they are fast to respond. Do not be afraid to ask questions about the functionality, price, and technical issues. Make sure you will not be left stranded inside the website builder.
How to Pick the Best Website Builder
After you have learned, what features to look for in a website builder, check out the list of best three platforms that have been the #1 choice for millions of users in different niches. Here we have options for any need. Wix is a multi-purpose software to create any website type. Shopify is the best solution for eCommerce while uKit is perfect for small business sites, portfolios, and landing pages.
Read our short reviews with each platform describing their core features, options, and prices.
Wix – The Best Multi-Purpose Website Builder
Wix – is the best website builder for beginners who want to create small business sites or online shops. The multi-purpose software lets you go live in less than 10 minutes thanks to AI-driven functionality. Users will appreciate hundreds of responsive templates, available add-ons, and affordable prices.
- Ease of Use – the platform will suit newbies and experienced users. Beginners can benefit from Wix ADI functionality – an AI-based option that creates ready-to-go websites for users. If you want to customize the layout yourself, you may modify a template or create your design from the blank. Wix Corvid is a feature for pros who may code their own functions and integrate with the website.
- App Market – Wix has its app store with a wide selection of widgets and add-ons. Here we have ready-made store layouts, contact forms, analytic tools, countdowns, event calendars, widgets for the hospitality niche, social media live streaming services, and more.
- Stylish Templates – users may choose from over 550 different templates that refer to dozens of small business niches. They are all 100% responsive and easy to customize.
- eCommerce – start selling products in minutes. Use an eCommerce template with all necessary functions already built-in. No manual configuration, simple product management, integrated payment options, responsive product pages, promotions, and tools to offer special deals.
Wix price: Wix has a free plan, which is great although not enough for a scalable website. To start with a fully-featured small business site, the Combo plan looks like a good idea costing $13 per month with hosting and domain already included in the plan. The eCommerce plan price starts at $23 per month.
Shopify – The #1 eCommerce Platform
Shopify – is the software designed to meet enhanced eCommerce needs. It will work great to start a small online or establish a global marketplace with advanced functionality. Users will additionally have access to advanced promotion tools and responsive templates with a focus on digital shop owners.
- Product Management – the software comes with an ultimate product management system. Users will be able to create capturing product pages, add titles and descriptions supported by various languages, edit page SEO settings, create catalogs, best-selling and feature item lists, keep control over products on stock, etc.
- eCommerce-Oriented Templates – users will be able to choose from a variety of responsive templates that can be modified with the help of an intuitive editor. Here you may add content, create a blogging section, create new pages, configure SEO settings, and more.
- App Store – Shopify provides access to its custom App Market with add-ons to integrate. They include widgets from such categories as Warehouse, Marketing, Synchronization, Customers Servicing, Product Search, and many others.
- Additional features – with Shopify, you will be able to enter some of the biggest global marketplaces. The software can be integrated with Amazon. Additionally, there is a chance to connect POS software to grow your business.
Shopify price: the price starts at $9 per month for a Lite Plan that has everything you need to start a tiny digital store. For growing shops, there are three basic plans that cost $29, $79, and $299 respectively depending on the functionality you need. All plans include SSL, hosting, and domain in addition to baseline eCommerce options
uKit – The Simplest Small Business SaaS Software
uKit – is an intuitive software for newbies who want to create small business sites portfolios or landing pages in minutes. It comes with a super-easy editor, built-in functionality, responsive templates, and mobile editing option.
- Ease of Use – the software uses drag-and-drop functionality letting you move al custom elements and place them wherever you need. All you have to do is to add content, upload images, and go live. Perfect for dummies.
- Stylish Templates – uKit templates look great. They are 100% responsive. Besides, users will be able to edit the mobile website version separately. Each theme comes with already built-in features.
- Integration and Widgets – the software can be integrated with third-party services including maps, social media platforms, video streaming apps, etc. Users may connect CRM to manage customers and orders, set up contact info bocks, add galleries, and more.
- eCommerce – uKit may work for tiny shops. It offers several templates with a focus on digital stores. They come with integrated payment options, a baseline product management system, and a shopping cart feature.
uKit price: the platform is an all-in-one solution, which means you get everything needed in the plan. The price starts at $5 per month. It is the Minimal plans that are good for entrepreneurs and freelancers eager to launch a portfolio or represent their brand. Growing companies may start with Basic and Pro plans costing $10 and $15 per month. The eCommerce plan is for online shops. The price is $13 per month.
Website builders appear to be an ultimate solution no matter what kind of website do you want to build. They are easier, faster, and sometimes cheaper to use if compared to CMS or other web technologies. However, you cannot just pick a platform that will turn out to be a single tool for all purposes unless it is Wix.
Each website builder was created with a focus on specific customers. So, you need to define your website type, its functionality, and its complexity. Create an outline with all features you look for in the project and choose the software that delivers enough functionality to bring them to life. For example, Shopify is perfect to create and promote digital shops while uKit is great for simpler small business sites.