BEST WEBSITE BUILDERS

Here are our picks for the best website builders

At Santrel Media, we aim to help you make the most of digital marketing and make decisions with confidence.  To make this possible, many of our featured programs are from our partners.  This does not influence our evaluations.  Learn more

The Pick

Rating

Highlights

Verdict

Next Step

4.9
4.9/5
  • Clean, professional templates
  •  Curated for perfect mobile and desktop sites
  • Excellent blog features
  • Great ecommerce features like cart-recovery

Squarespace is an easy #1 thanks to its sleek, professional design. Unlike Wix, the rigidity of Squarespaces trades customizability for clean, seamless design with ease.  Add in a great online store, and you have a well balanced winner.

4.7
4.7/5
  • Free form editing
  • 300+ teamplates
  • Free version
  • 8+ Price options
  • 300+ Apps
  • Email marketing options
  • Fantastic integration

Wix is among the most popular for a reason.  The combination of the freeform-style editor, and the countless apps means your imagination is the limit.  Nearly anything is possible (and easy).  Some even argue Wix is #1.

4.5
4.5/5
  • 300+ apps
  • ~100 templates
  • Drag and drop
  •  Cheap plan options
  • Weebly Promote email campaigns

If Squarespace and Wix had a child, it would be Weebly.  It is simple and curated like Squarespace, yet a bit more free with the drag and drop features.  Add in the app store, and you have a winner here.

4.4
4.4/5
  • Easy drag and drop layout
  •  Simple SEO
  • Great customer support
  • Not the best for blogging
  • Convenient appointment scheduling features

GoDaddy is a very popular name in the website development community for their excellent wordpress hosting and domain services.  Few people know about their website builder, but it certainly competes! GoDaddy's website builder is perhaps the easiest to use.

BEST ECOMMERCE BUILDERS

Here are our picks for the best online store website builders

Note: We also recommend WooCommerce for many online stores.  For more details, check out our WordPress ecommerce chart!

The Pick

Rating

Highlights

Verdict

Next Step

4.9
4.9/5
  • Excellent mobile app
  •  Large app store
  • Easy to set up with any number of products
  • Easily add blogs or legal pages with templates
  • Very long free trial

With the dropshipping craze, Shopify became wildly popular.  Many people use this and have found massive success with it.  This may be the #1 option for dropshipping, and has been climbing in our rankings

4.7
4.7/5
  • No transaction fees
  • Comprehensive reports
  • Easily sell in many different currencies
  • Unlimited staff accounts
  • MailChimp integration

BigCommerce is a very popular ecommerce website used by the likes of Ben&Jerry, Skull Candy, and Woolrich.  Many large and small brands use BigCommerce for its scalability and premium options.

4.7
4.7/5
  • Clean, professional templates
  •  Curated for perfect mobile and desktop sites
  • Excellent blog features
  • Great ecommerce features like cart-recovery

With easily the cleanest and most professional templates out there, Squarespace is extremely popular for online stores.  We recommend Squarespace for digital and physical products, but it is not the best for dropshipping.

4.7
4.7/5
  • Very easy to start
  • Great value
  • Uses ADI to build sites
  • Simple inventory, tax, revenue, and shipping tools

Square is among the easiest ecommerce sites to set up, with a wide variety of ecommerce tools available.  You can also easily integrate with social media platforms like Instagram.

BEST BUILDERS BY CATEGORY

Find out which website builder is best based on your needs

Category

Pick

Highlights

Verdict

Next Step

  • Great online menu options
  • Fantastic templates for restaurants
  • Book online

Squarespace is a fantastic way to bring your restaurant to the internet.  With great SEO options, customizablilty, and apps, you can compete with all the best restaurants

  • Squarespace has been known for their blogging features
  • Easily integrated with site
  • Great blog editing tools

Since the dawn of Squarespace, they were known for their blog features.  Squarespace sites are beautiful and elegant, with great integration.

  •  Excellent dropshipping tools
  • Many robust apps/plugins
  • Customize easily
  • Easily add pages for blogs

Shopify is perhaps the most popular ecommerce site on the internet, and for good reason.  Easily create a store for digital products, physical products, or dropshipping.

  • BigCommerce has excellent product management tools
  • Manage website design separately
  • Many pre-made templates

Used by countless big brands such as Ben & Jerry's, Skullcandy, and Woolrich as well as many more small brands, BigCommerce is popular for its scalability.  Create a large product library with 0% fees

  • Squarespace has great templates for portfolios
  • Easily customize the portfolio
  • Excellent slideshow/gallery options

Squarespace is a no brainer when you are looking to create a portfolio website.  The designs and ease of use make it perfect for sharing your work in a beautiful site!

  • Wix has great templates for weddings
  • Completely customizable
  • Excellent gallery features
  • Free version available

Wix is a fantastic way to bring your restaurant to the internet.  With great SEO options, customizablilty, and apps, you can compete with all the best restaurants

BEST BUILDERS EXPLAINED

Need more info?  Read more about the pros, cons and common questions of each

Squarespace (Majority of readers choose this option)

Squarespace is one of the most inclusive website builders on the internet, with options for ecommerce, podcast hosting, blog hosting, digital storefronts, and so much more.  Of the many website builders out there, few can compete with Squarespace’s elegant themes, robust editor, and expansive options.  We wrote an entire review on Squarespace here, but below are some of the highlight pros and cons of this platform.  In short, Squarespace is our favorite because it is all inclusive, and for most users, will require no extra purchases or plugins.v

Squarespace Pros

  • Clean, elegant themes.  This is easily one of the biggest pros with Squarespace.  To have a beautiful website, you barely need to do more than add your text and images.
  • Few extensions needed. Squarespace may only have 30 extensions, but few are needed since most features are already baked in, including blog, store, scheduling, etc.
  • All inclusive. Many of the squarespace plans include domains, a business email, the ability to sell on instagram, and essential everything else you might want.
  • Elegant, website centric ecommerce. If you are not looking to build the next amazon.com, and just want to sell fewer than 15ish products, Squarespace is great.
  • Straightforward blogging. Blogging with Squarespace is easy, and integrating posts with your site is extremely easy.  Ideal for sites looking for 40 or fewer blog posts.
  • Additional features. Email marketing campaigns, G-Suite hosting, webinars, and more make Squarespace websites capable of more than just being a billboard on the internet.

Squarespace Cons

  • Editor is slightly less intuitive. The squarespace editor is powerful and robust, but may not be intuitive at first glance.  For easy learning, check out our tutorial video!
  • Limited extensions. You only have 30 extensions with Squarespace, but to their credit, many of the competitor’s apps/extensions are already built in the editor by default here

Can you sell on Squarespace?

Squarespace is a popular website builder for general websites but it also has powerful tools for blogging, online stores, and podcast hosting. With clean and robust templates, professional onlines stores are easy to make with Sqaurespace. Squarespace accepts payments from PayPal, Stripe (most credit cards), Apple Pay, and Square.

 

Who should consider Squarespace?

We DO recommend Squarespace to:

  • online stores looking to sell 15 or fewer items
  • restaurants and hospitality services looking for a digital storefront
  • recreational bloggers
  • artists and musicians looking to gain a following and share their creations (free or paid)
  • Physical businesses looking to gain an online presence with minimal effort

We DO NOT recommend Squarespace to:

  • Personal portfolios or school projects looking for a free website
  • Bloggers looking to make a website with 40+ posts (WordPress might be better for you)
  • Online stores looking to sell more than 15 items (See BigCommerce below)
  • Anyone looking to create advanced custom web applications and tools (obviously)

Squarespace is a powerful, all-inclusive website builder that requires few extra purchases or plugins.  We recommend Squarespace to the majority of people looking to build a website for its excellent performance with minimal effort.

Shopify (Majority of eCommerce websites choose this)

The online store builder that broke the internet.  Shopify is extremely popular for its ease of use, long free trial, and expansive customization options. As the most popular store builder on the internet, Shopify earns its popularity with a robust store builder at a reasonable price.

Shopify Pros

  • Excellent mobile app. Easily manage your store from anywhere using the app on your phone.  Although other services have similar apps, I cannot stress how useful this is.
  • Large app store. Perhaps the biggest reason to choose Shopify for your online store is the massive selection of apps.  You can easily add powerful tools like SMS notifications, dropshippers, reviews, currency converters, rewards programs, SEOs, and much more.
  • Scalability. Shopify is great for as little as one product, and can easily be modified and scaled to include many products.  All can be easily managed with tracked inventory too.
  • Designs. Much like the app market, there is also a large selection of themes to choose from so you can make your store look exactly as you want it.

Shopify Cons

  • Transaction fees may bite you. Depending on the plan you choose and if you accept anything besides Shopify Payments, you may incur up to 2% transaction fees.
  • Weak blogging toolsIf you are making an online store, it is unlikely you’ll be writing as many articles as the NY Times.  If you are, consider using WooCommerce w/ WordPress

Who should consider Shopify?

Shopify is easily one of the best ecommerce website builders out there. With simple website construction, endless customization options with apps and themes, and a robust structure, Shopify is an easy recommendation. 

We DO recommend Shopify to:

  • Any online store looking to sell less than 30ish products (otherwise, see BigCommerce)
  • Anyone looking for advanced online store features made easy by free applications
  • Any online store looking to scale up in the future, but start with 1 product
  • Dropshippers (great integrations available)
  • Anyone looking to sell digital or physical products easily

We DO NOT recommend Shopify to: 

  • Online stores looking to create large blog libraries
  • Online stores looking to have multi-lingual website
  • Anyone on a very tight budget (it starts at about $29/mo)
  • Anyone making a website where the store is not the primary focus (obviously)

What can I sell on Shopify?

The options for selling on Shopify are very expansive.  Users can sell almost any type of product (digital or physical) with Shopify and use the available tools to track inventory and profit. Shopify is a great ecommerce builder for selling things like

  • Physical products
  • e-Gift cards
  • Digital products (software)
  • Memberships (online courses, etc.)
  • Consultations/classes/workshops
  • Quotes
  • Rentals
  • Event tickets
  • Dropshipped items

BigCommerce (Best option for large online stores)

For its scalability and powerful tools, BigCommerce is the best ecommerce builder for stores looking to take things really seriously. With powerful navigation options, many templates, no transaction fees, and in-depth comprehensive reports, BigCommerce is the real deal.  Used by the likes of Skullcandy, Woolrich, and Ben & Jerry’s, BigCommerce is popular among small and large businesses alike.

BigCommerce Pros

  • Capable of large product libraries. Whether you are selling 5 products, or 500 products, BigCommerce is a great option.
  • Product management tools. With excellent product management tools, you can create sales, track inventory, track SKUs, and much more.
  • Used by many large brands. It is reassuring that big companies like the ones listed above find BigCommerce to be the best option for them.

BigCommerce Cons

  • Learning curve. This is a powerful platform and may be intimidating at first glance.  If you want to start with BigCommerce, check out our full tutorial on YouTube here.
  •  Sales limits. BigCommerce has revenue limits, after which it automatically bumps you up to a higher plan whether you want to or not.

Who should consider BigCommerce?

We DO recommend BigCommerce to:

  • Stores looking to scale online.  If you have one or a few products today, that is fine too, but choose BigCommerce if you plan to have dozens or hundreds in the future.
  • Online stores with large product libraries today.  If you aren't looking to scale because you already have a big store, this is a great option.
  • Stores with many product variants.  BigCommerce has excellent variant tools (create SKUs, discounts, buy one get one deals, etc.)

We DO NOT recommend BigCommerce to:

  •  Small stores on a budget.  Like Shopify, Bigcommerce is not “cheap” by many standards.
  • Again, this is not great for multilingual sites
  • Don't choose BigCommerce if the main focus of your site is not the store (e.g. if you are a blog with merchandise)

Is BigCommerce easy to use?

Like anything, there is a learning curve, but getting started with BigCommerce is simple and within a few hours, your store can be up and running. BigCommerce separates website design from product management and analytics, so you can learn one thing at a time as you build your store.  To learn more, check out the full tutorial we made.

Wix.com (Best for total customization)

Perhaps the easiest and most customizable website builder out there, Wix rivals the best website builders.  Wix is arguably the most freestyle editor, allowing your creativity to run free with almost no learning curve.  Wix is a common recommendation for beginners looking to build their first website due to its very simple interface and intuitive guides.  Wix offers many beginner checklists, guides, and suggestions including their SEO wiz.  The SEO wiz walks users through a step by step quiz-style process, after which their website can be ready and optimized for search engines.  With hundreds of themes and apps to choose from, the limitations of a new website with Wix are few and far between.  One particular benefit and drawback to using Wix is the lack of a responsive website.  With the freestyle builder, comes the possibility that some items might display incorrectly on mobile.  The good thing is that Wix allows you to customize the mobile site independently.  This not only solves the previously mentioned problems, but it also enables website creators to customize their site for a slightly different experience on mobile.

Who should consider Wix?

We DO recommend Wix for:

  • Anyone looking to make a website and extensively customize their design
  • Anyone looking for a free website
  • Anyone looking to create an advanced website with one of the many apps available
  • Websites looking for simple hand-held SEO

We DO NOT recommend Wix for:

  • Blog sites looking to create many posts and gain substantial traffic
  • Large online stores (small ones will be just fine)

Can I earn money on Wix?

Yes. Whether you have a free or paid plan, Wix is a great tool for making money online.  Four of the biggest ways you can make money with your Wix website include:

  • Affiliate links on your website: this is a very common monetization
  • Google AdSense: This is an app for Wix and is usually the easiest income
  • Direct sales: sell your digital or physical products (requires paid plan)
  • Sponsored articles or native ads: These usually require a large audience

GoDaddy

GoDaddy is one of the oldest places to buy domains, wordpress hosting, email hosting, and now website building.  GoDaddy is a simple solution to website building, with decent website building tools and a simple layout.  The GoDaddy website builder is a convenient choice if you purchase a domain with GoDaddy and just want a simple website.  For some basic ecommerce, and most basic websites such as those for restaurants, this builder is sufficient. GoDaddy offers many unique services such as domain brokering, which will allow you to purchase a domain safely from the seller.  This

Who should consider GoDady?

We DO recommend GoDaddy for:

  • Photographers and artists looking for a simple portfolio
  • Users looking to purchase domains from private owners
  •  Anyone looking for a simple, quick, and robust building process

We DO NOT recommend GoDaddy for:

  • Blog sites looking to create many posts and gain substantial traffic
  • Large online stores (small ones will be just fine)
  • Users looking to make extensive modifications
  • Users looking for lots of tools, plugins, and themes (they have enough for most basic websites though)

Can GoDaddy host other website builders like Wix?

GoDaddy is popular for its cheap domains, so some might want to buy a domain from GoDaddy and use a different builder such as Wix, Squarespace, or Weebly.  The answer is yes, you can buy a domain from GoDaddy and use it on any website builder.  To do so, add your domain’s custom name servers to your new website by following the guidelines on your website builder’s support page. See here for Wix

Weebly

Weebly is a popular website builder that is often called a hybrid between Wix and Squarespace.  The Weebly editor is drag-and-drop based, like Wix, but the mobile website is based on a responsive, curated layout similar to Squarespace.  This hybrid makes Weebly an easy and safe recommendation for many website beginners.

Who should consider Weebly

We DO recommend Weebly for:

  • Anyone looking for a website builder with the concrete structure of Squarespace and the versatility and app market of Wix
  • Anyone looking for a free website builder
  • Anyone looking for a budget friendly website builder

We DO NOT recommend Weebly for:

  • Blog sites looking to create many posts and gain substantial traffic
  • Large online stores (small ones will be just fine)

Is Weebly SEO friendly?

Weebly has some great tools for search engine optimization (SEO), including an SEO starter checklist and accessible meta-description, title, and url-slug editors.  Weebly does, however, limits you to only H1 and H2 headers, not allowing anything beyond that (H3, H4, etc.)  You can also get SEO apps for your Weebly site to audit and improve your website.  Weebly’s checklist is nice, but you are left to make the changes on your own, unlike the SEO Wiz offered by Wix.