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Best website builder: top website builder services in 2021

best website builder
(Image credit: Wera Rodsawang at Getty)
The top 5 best website builders

The best website builders means you don't need to pay a web designer to build a website for you: anyone can do it. With an easy to use interface, you don't need to have any technical experience or coding knowledge. Just choose a template, add your own text, images and videos, and you'll have your very own website, available for billions of people around the world to access.

So how do you choose the website builder for your needs? There are so many to choose from, and with so much jargon flying about, it's often difficult to know what you're getting and how much it will cost. So to save you stress, we've gathered together the very best website builders in this article, and explain clearly and simply the differences between them. 

As well as helping you build your website, some of these services will also host it for you too. For those that don't, turn to our list of the best web hosting services. However, if you have no money to spend at all, skip to the end of our guide, where you'll find the best free website builders

Finally, if you need a portfolio site, it's also worth checking out of guides to the best website builder for artists and the best website builder for photographers.

The best website builders available today

The best website builder services of 2021

Wix web builder interface

(Image credit: Wix)

01. Wix

The best website builder overall

Free trial: 14 days | Free version: Yes | Templates: 800+

Easy to use
Lots of templates
Free version
Lacks advanced developer tools 

Want a website builder that's cheap and easy to use? Then you'll find Wix's drag and drop interface a cinch, even if you're not technically minded. It's also very affordable. And for those reasons, this is our best website builder of 2021 overall.

Wix takes pains to make things super-simple for people who've never built a website before. Simply select a template, add some text, images and/or video, and you've got your very own website. There are more than 800 templates to choose from, which may sound like a lot, but they're neatly divided into categories so it’s easy to find the perfect fit.

The pricing varies depending on what you want. If you're just dipping your toe in the water, it may be worth starting with the free plan. But bear in mind this comes with limited bandwidth (1GB) and storage space (500MB), which restricts the number of people who can access your site and the amount of content you can include on it. Also, your URL will be Wix-branded (so it will read something like username.wixsite.com/siteaddress), and Wix ads will appear on your site. 

The paid plans are pretty cheap, though, and that way you'll get a custom domain, remove the ads, increase your bandwidth and storage, and even add an online store if you wish. 

In short, this flexible web builder platform really does offer something for everyone, although if you are an experienced web designer or develop you'll probably prefer Wix's new Editor X platform, which has more advanced tools. See our Wix review for more info.

Adding stock photos via the Gator interface

(Image credit: Gator)

02. Hostgator

The best website builder for launching a basic website

Free trial: 14 days | Free version: No | Templates: 200

Get sites live quickly
Good customer support
No free plan or trial
Limited blog features

Another great option for getting online quickly, especially if you're happy with just a basic website, is Hostgator. The company is best known as a hosting provider, but also offers a web builder service called Gator. This provides you an easy to use, drag-and-drop editor and a choice of 200 pre-made templates. It's also nicely integrated with Unsplash, a library of free stock photos, making it easy to download images to use in your site without leaving the interface.

Gator is very easy to use, although the features are a little more limited than some of the other web builders on our list. For example, if you’re building a blog, you can't schedule posts or let visitors add comments, other than via Facebook comments. For most uses, though, it offers everything you're likely to need.

There's no free version, but the starter plan is very cheap. Plus you get an impressive variety of options if you run into trouble. Customer support is available via live chat, email, or (unusually) on the phone, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

Overall, if it's a basic website you're after, we'd say this is the best website builder for your needs. For more information, see our Hostgator review.

Squarespace web builder interface

(Image credit: Squarespace)

03. Squarespace

The best website builder for creative people

Free trial: 14 days | Free version: No | Templates: 110

Beautiful designs
Focus on creatives
No free plan
Not the cheapest

Squarespace is specifically targeted at creative professionals, such as designers, artists and photographers. And it has a great reputation among this community thanks to its beautifully designed templates. So we're happy to make this our clear choice as the best website builder for creatives.

These templates feature a generous amount of white space, which is perfect for framing your portfolio work in a professional looking manner. But Squarespace is not just about portfolios: it also lets you build blogs and online stores, and includes templates for businesses in other sectors, including weddings, restaurants, travel, fashion and more (110 in total). Plus there are some great SEO tools to help drive customers to your business.

The drag-and-drop interface is quite straightforward to use, with useful prompts wherever you hover your mouse. In all honesty, it's a bit more fiddly than Wix’s or Hostgator's, but the templates are nicer looking, and you can customise them to a finer degree, so there's a pay off there. 

Also note that Squarespace is a little pricier, and there's no free plan, although there is a 14-day free trial. For more info, see our Squarespace review and our Squarespace vs Wix comparison.

Jimdo web builder interface

(Image credit: Jimdo)

04. Jimdo

The best website builder for easy use

Free trial: No | Free version: Yes | Templates: 100+

Easy to use
Sites load quickly
Free plan
Limited customer support 

Have you tried website builders but found them too difficult to use? Then check out Jimdo. Because although it's a little short on features, its interface is exceedingly simple to grasp. And so if you don't want to waste time fiddling around, then this is a great option. 

The website you build will normally be pretty basic. But on the plus side, that means will generally load quickly on the user’s side too. There's even a free plan, where you'll get all the basic features, although you will see a lot of ads, and your site's URL will end in .jimdosite.com.

One disadvantage of Jimdo is that there’s no live chat or phone support. And unless you’re on the most expensive plan, you’ll have to wait up to two days for an email response. On the whole, though, this is the best website builder for beginners who just want everything to be simple. 

IONOS interface

(Image credit: 1&1)

05. 1&1 IONOS MyWebsite Now

The best website builder for small businesses

Free trial: 30 day money-back guarantee | Free version: No | Templates: 400

Focus on small business
Good support
First six months free
Not the cheapest

1&1 is well known in the web hosting world, and its web builder, MyWebsite Now, is very popular. Both services are squarely targeted small businesses. This becomes obvious when you check out its 400 templates, most of which are focused on specific business types and can be searched by topic or keyword. 

What's great about the interface is that it has lots of options for customising your site, but they're cleverly hidden inside popups to keep the interface clear and uncluttered. You also get 24/7 phone support, with healthy response times. So while this service isn't super-cheap, this really is the best website builder for business-minded folk. For more details, read our 1&1 IONOS review.

Voog web builder interface

(Image credit: Voog)

06. Voog

The best website builder for fine control

Free trial: 30 days | Free version: No | Templates: 14

Powerful controls
Good customisation options
Supports multiple languages
Limited number of templates

If you’ve got some web building experience, and want to have fine control over the design of your website, we'd recommend Voog. The platform was originally created by two heads of a digital agency, who were frustrated by having to build a content management system (CMS) for every website they built for clients. So they created a universal CMS anyone could use to create websites, and Voog is the result. 

Voog is no good for beginners, but is an excellent choice for web designers or developers who are seeking a high degree of customisation. While there are only 14 templates available, each one is very well designed. There are good ecommerce and payment features. And the blogging editor is particularly powerful and feature-rich.

Another highlight of Voog is its support for multiple languages. It takes just a few clicks to ensure your site is available in for example, English, French and German; this can be either be selected from the menu by your visitors, or the site can automatically change language based on their location. See our Voog review for more info.

Weebly interface

(Image credit: Weebly)

07. Weebly

The best website builder for cheap ecommerce

Free trial: 14 days | Free version: Yes | Templates: 50+

Low-cost ecommerce 
Very easy to use
Limited support outside US
Limited payment options

Weebly is similar to Wix in terms of platform and pricing, so choosing between them comes down to small details. For example, while Weebly's drag and drop interface is very easy to use like Wix's, it’s not quite as feature-rich. That might be seen as a minus, or a plus because it means a smaller learning curve. 

 Weebly also offers a cheaper and better ecommerce plan than Wix’s, although your options for taking payments are limited to Stripe, PayPal, and Square. If you're a US resident, live chat and phone support (people outside the States have to rely on email).

You can access free images within the interface, and you can export your site to another platform, by downloading it onto a zip file. However, do note that you can’t continuously save different versions of your site online, as you can with Wix. For more details, see our full Weebly review.

Duda web builder interface

(Image credit: Duda)

08. Duda

The best website builder for mobile focus

Free trial: 14 days | Free version: No | Templates: 100

Generous free plan
Mobile-focused
Save site as a template
Not the cheapest

Founded in 2009 by two coders who saw the impact the iPhone was going to have on web browsing, Duda was specifically designed to make websites perform well on mobile. And while all the best website builder platforms now promise this, it's baked into the DNA of Duda in a multitude of ways. 

For example, when you click on the thumbnail for a particular template, you can instantly preview how it looks on desktop, smartphone, and tablet. You get the same viewing options once you start building your site as well. 

On the whole, Duda offers a slick, quick and responsive way to build a cross-platform website. We especially like how you can duplicate a site you’ve created, or save it as a template. This would be particularly useful for commercial designers building multiple mini-sites for a brand, for example.

The best free website builders

IM Creator web builder interface

(Image credit: IM Creator)

01. IM Creator

Free website builder for students, artists and nonprofits

Free, unlimited hosting for some
Good range of templates
Ecommerce functionality
Have to apply for free access

Are you a student, artist or working for a non-profit? Then you can apply for a free account with IM Creator. This isn't particularly easy: you have to provide written proof, and explain why you need a website. But if you succeed, you'll get a free website builder with unlimited hosting, no intrusive ads, and the option of adding online shopping features to your site.

IM Creator offers a massive range of website templates in categories ranging from art and design to health and wellness. And while its interface is not as user-friendly and easy-to use as, say, Wix or Hostgator, you can't really complain if it's costing you nothing at all.

WordPress Dashboard

(Image credit: WordPress)

02. WordPress

The best open source website builder

Good documentation
Fine control over your site
Big learning curve
Hosting isn't free

First launched in 2003, WordPress.org is open source software that's allowed generations of people to build websites for free. It should not be confused with WordPress.com, which is a paid-for service (see our WordPress.com review for more on that).

Be aware that WordPress.org only gives you web builder software for free: you'll still have to paid for a domain name and web hosting. And this software is not very easy to use. While it doesn't require coding knowledge, there's still a steep learning curve, requiring you to read a lot of documentation. 

On the upside, there are countless third-party templates (known as 'themes') to make things easier. And this will give you a much finer degree of control on how your website looks and feels than most of the paid-for website builders on this list. You can get started by following our guide to WordPress for beginners and our introductory tutorial, How to make a website.

There's a huge and lively community surrounding WordPress to provide help and support, not to mention a ton of tutorials online. Check out our guide to the best WordPress tutorials for more on that.  

Joomla web builder interface

(Image credit: Joomla)

03. Joomla!

Open source web builder platfom with free hosting

Free hosting option
High level of control
Friendly community
Big learning curve

Joomla! is another open source provider of free software you can use to build your own website. And unlike WordPress, if you build your site via launch.joomla.org, you can even get free hosting, and a free domain (ending in joomla.com). Choosing this option means you don't have to download any software either.

Like WordPress, there's a big learning curve, but you will be able to customise your website to your heart's content. Joomla! isn't quite as popular as WordPress, though, so there'll be fewer articles and people to support your training in numeric terms. But Joomla! fans will argue that smaller numbers are made up for by the passion, enthusiasm and friendliness surrounding this niche community.

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Tom May

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design, photography and tech. He is author of Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books. He has previously been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine.