The best website builder allows you to create your own website without needing any web design skills whatsoever. You don't need to understand coding: instead, you can just drag and drop content where you please, and the web builder will do the rest. And if you're in a hurry, or don't have a design vision for how your website will look. you can just pick a template (also known as a theme), add your text and images into the layout, and you're done.
But with so many website builders on the market, how do you pick the right one? In this post, we've selected our eight favourite platforms for building a website, and explain what each offers, outline how much the service costs, and highlight any unique features.
Short of cash? Then scroll to the bottom, where we've pick out three of the best website builders that are totally free. Meanwhile, if you already have a website, and need hosting for it, check out our guide to the best web hosting services.
The very best website builder services today
01. Wix: The best website builder for just $3.54/ £3 per month
Not only is building a website with Wix super-cheap, it's also really easy. Its drag-and-drop editor and 500+ templates makes creating a standout website a cinch.
02. HostGator: Simple to use and great value
If you're after a simple, no frills website at a low price, Hostgator is an excellent option. Easy to use, HostGator includes a drag-and-drop editor and 150 gorgeous website templates to choose from.
03. Squarespace: The best option for professionals
A popular choice among the professional creative community, Squarespace has some of the most beautifully designed templates on the web. Perfect for online portfolios, selling online or promoting your podcast.
Once based on Flash, but now HTML5, Wix is one of the biggest and best-known website builders. Its unique template designs help it stand apart from the crowd, making it a great way to create eye-catching websites. Wix is primarily a paid service but if you're on a tight budget, there's a free version with a limited number of features to get you started.
The best website builder services in full
Wix is the best website builder on the market right now, mainly because its drag-and-drop editor is so easy to use, even if you’ve never built a website before. But that doesn’t mean every Wix site looks the same: the platform actually offers a lot of flexibility in how you’d like your design to look. And if you want to make things even easier to set up, there are more than 500 templates to choose from. These are divided into categories then subdivided into design or industry type, so it’s easy to find a layout that suits you.
How much you pay depends on what you want. You could just take the free option, which offers everything you need to create a website and get it live, forever. Of course, there are limitations to this plan: you’ll get limited bandwidth and storage space (500MB), a Wix-branded domain name, and Wix ads on your site. But as you’re paying absolutely zero for this service, you can’t really complain about any of that.
The paid plans, meanwhile, are pretty cheap at between £3 and £18 per month, and offer great value. Upgrade to one of them, and you’ll be able to give your site a custom domain, remove ads, boost bandwidth and storage, and add an online store if you wish. In short, whether you just want to play around and build a website for fun, create a full-time online business, or anything in between, Wix provides an easy-to-use system to do so, at an excellent price.
As the name suggests, Hostgator is best known as a hosting provider. But it also has a very good web builder service, which is calls Gator. This includes a drag-and-drop editor, much like Wix’s, and 150 templates to choose from to get you started.
The system 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 won’t be able to schedule posts or allow visitors to add comments (other than via Facebook comments).
However, if you’re running a small business and just want a basic site up and running quickly, this is a very good option. Particularly as, with unmetered storage even on the starter plan ($2.75) you’ll be able to add as many images and videos to your site as you like. And if you get stuck, there’s 24/7/365 support available via live chat, email, or yes, even the phone.
Squarespace is a web builder that’s popular amongst creative professionals, such as designers, artists and photographers. That’s largely due to its beautifully designed templates. Designed by creatives, for creatives, they feature lots of white space to show of your portfolio work in the most elegant light. Squarespace is also a good option for settng up an online store, writing a blog or promoting your podcast.
That said, it’s not just creatives who are attracted to the platform, and you’ll also find specialised templates here for a wide range of other business types, from restaurants to musicians, weddings to real estate. All of these are brilliantly designed, but also very customisable.
The drag-and-drop web building interface is quick straightforward to use, with useful prompts every time you hover your mouse over any part of the page, although it’s not quite as intuitive as Wix’s. What we do really like, though, is the ability to switch templates; at which point all the text and images you’ve uploaded will automatically move over to the new design.
The main downside to Squarespace is the price, which is a little more expensive than most web builders. Squarespace doesn’t offer a free plan, but there is a 14-day free trial, which should be more than enough time to see if you like it before committing. In fact, 10 minutes thumbing through the templates alone will probably be all you need to decide if Squarespace is for you.
Intimidated by the whole idea of web builders, and want something that’s very simple to use, even if it means your website will be quite basic? Then you should check out Jimdo. Because although it doesn’t have as many features as other web builders on this list, its interface is quite easy to grasp, and works very well in practice. Depending on your overall internet speed, it works very quickly too. And that principle carries through to the website itself, which generally loads quickly on the user’s side.
On the negative side, support is quite limited: there’s no live chat or phone option, and unless you’re on the most expensive plan, you’ll have to wait up to two days for an email response. There’s also no way to back up your content; and your site can only accept payments via PayPal.
On the whole, though, we’d say this is a good option for absolute beginners who just want to create something simple, particularly on the free plan. But if you’re looking more advanced, you’d be better off elsewhere.
Founded in 1988, 1&1 is one of the oldest and established web hosting providers, and its web building platform is called MyWebsite Now. Both are very much geared to small businesses who need to get a website up and running, and don’t want to spend a lot of time and effort doing so. MyWebsite Now helps you do this by providing more than 400 templates, which can be searched by topic or keyword.
The interface offers a lot of different features for customising your site, but there’s minimal clutter (and newbies won’t be intimidated) because they’re all cleverly hidden in popup boxes, which only appear when you right-click on the relevant area. And if you do get confused, 1&1 IONOS offers 24/7 phone support, with much better response times than other companies.
So while this service is a little pricier than other web builders, we feel it does represent good value. And if your small business is short on cashflow, you'll appreciate that the first six months come free, as long as you commit to the full year.
Many web builders focus on making things as simple as possible for confused beginners and nervous novices. But if you’ve got a bit of experience under your belt, you might be more interested in having fine control over how your website looks and operates. Which would make you the kind of customer than Voog is firmly focused on, especially if you’re a web designer or developer.
The company was founded in the early 2000s when the founders were running a digital agency, and got frustrated having to build a content management system (CMS) for each separate website they were building for clients. In response, they started working on creating a universal CMS that anyone could use to create website.
Voog is the result, and it’s an excellent choice if you have a bit of web building knowledge and are seeking a high degree of customisation of your website. The blogging editor is particularly powerful and feature-rich, and while there are a limited number of templates available, each one is very well designed. (And if you really need a lot of template hand-holding, you’d probably be better off with another web builder anyway.)
The thing that most sets Voog apart is its support for multiple languages. It just takes 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. If that’s something you can make use of, then Voog is definitely the web builder for you.
Weebly is very similar to Wix, in terms of both the way you create your website and the pricing options. The drag and drop interface is very easy to use, and while it’s not as feature-rich as Wix’s, there’s a slightly smaller learning curve as a result.
Weebly offers you hundreds of templates to choose from, and we especially like that you can access free images. That’s something that could prove very useful if you’re setting up a site for a small business that lacks decent photography (which we’ve found is definitely not a rarity).
If you’re interested in selling online, you’ll want to check out Weebly’s cheaper ecommerce plan, which we feel offers better value than Wix’s. Also note that unlike Wix, Weebly offers live chat support. And perhaps best of all, you can export your Weebly 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 do with Wix, making backup a bit more of a chore.
Duda was founded in 2009 by two programmers who saw the impact the iPhone was going to have on web browsing. The platform was consequently built from the ground up for those who want their site to perform as well on mobile as it does on desktop (which in 2020, of course, is pretty much everyone).
So 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 starting building your site as well.
In general, the interface is slick, quick and responsive. We especially like how you can duplicate a website you’ve created, or save it as a template. This is handy when you need to create multiple minisites for one campaign, for example.
The best free website builders
Founded by a former Wix employee, IM Creator offers a massive range of website templates in categories ranging from sports and medicine to business and academics. Use one of them to build your website, or start off with a blank page and create your own design; it's your call.
We'll be frank: IM Creator is not as slick and easy-to use as, say, Wix or Weebly. But it does offer something those web builders don't. Students, artists and non-profits can apply for a free account, with free, unlimited hosting, no ads, and ecommerce capabilities to boot. You have to provide written proof, and explain why you need a website, but in return you'll get a pretty sweet deal so it's worth the effort.
WordPress.org is an open source project that's been around for decades, enabling generations of people to build websites for free, although you have to organise your domain name and web hosting separately. In terms of simplicity, this is a far cry from the easy drag-and-drop interfaces offered by the paid-for websites builders on our list. So if you're new to WordPress, it will take some time to master.
On the plus side, though, you'll have extensive control on how your website looks and feels. And to get you up to speed, there's a lot of good documentation, a thriving worldwide community, and a mass of other help dotted around the web (check out our guide to the best WordPress tutorials for more on that).
Joomla! is similar to WordPress: open source software that you can use to build your own website without paying a penny. Plus if you build your site via launch.joomla.org, you can even get free hosting, and a free domain ending in joomla.com. (This option means you don't have to download any software either.)
Joomla! isn't quite as popular as WordPress, which dominates the field of open source software the world over. But it still boasts a lively community, and some say a more friendly and open one. Like WordPress, there's a big learning curve, so it's not for the faint-hearted, but you will be able to customise your website to your heart's content.