*Note: This comparison has been updated as of 3/13/2014, and expanded to provide an in-depth look at the three website builders: Wix, Weebly and Squarespace.*
Are you looking for a website builder?
Not sure how to sort through all of them and find the best one?
If so, you’ve come to the right place.
I’ll help you find a website builder that’s easy to use, yet powerful enough to build the website you want.
The goal here is to help you find the website builder that is best for you.
Let’s get started…
How To Use This Guide
For ease of navigation, I’ve divided this comparison up into the following sections. You can jump directly to a section that interests you by clicking on the link provided in the “Table of Contents” below.
You’ll also find a link entitled, “Table Of Contents”, at the end of each section, which will take you back to the Table of Contents section you see below.
Table Of Contents
What Makes A Good Website Builder
Before you begin your search, it’s important to understand what makes a good website builder. There are a lot of builders on the marked, but how can you tell the good from the bad?
They can range from, very “user-friendly”, to “extremely frustrating” but there are three main benefits that you’ll want to look for when making your choice.
- Ease of use.
One of the biggest considerations is how easy or difficult the website builder’s editor is to use. If the editor is too difficult and you get frustrated and give up, it’s pretty much useless to you since you’ll never build your site.
- Power to build.
Often people will look at the price, or ease of use when selecting a website builder.
Ultimately, you need a website builder that offers the tools you need to build your site. If you can’t build the site you want, there’s no reason to select a builder just because it’s cheap or easy.
- Proven track record.
With website builders, it’s important that you’re able to trust them. You don’t want to build a great website and then lose everything when they go out of business a few year later.
If a builder has been around for a while, it’s probably popular because it’s easy to use, and is powerful enough to build websites that customers want.
Wix and Weebly have both been around since 2006; and Squarespace was started back in 2004. With that kind of longevity, they really should be around for some time to come.
All three of the website builders in this comparison meet at least two of these criteria. The only challenge we have now is finding the one that will fit your needs.
How To Find The Best Website Builder For You
One way to find the best website builder is to use each of them to build a website. Fortunately, you don’t have to do that because I’ve already tested them and reveal the results below.
I used Wix, Weebly and Squarespace to build a one-page website with basic elements on it. I show the final result at the bottom of each section with the result being what I was able to accomplish with 1 hour of work on the site.
That 1 hour period includes all of the following:
- Signing up for the service.
Registration, and login are an important part of using a website builder, and I wanted to ensure that it was a simple process for each service.
- Figuring out how to get started.
It’s important to have simple and clear instructions about how to get started building your site. This eliminates frustration and saves time.
- Building the site.
Of course, this is where the bulk of the time is spent, and a simple, yet powerful, interface will determine how efficiently you’re able to build.
Now comes your part…
In order to determine which website builder will meet your needs, you’ll want to understand the 7 key factors for finding the best website builder.
Here’s what you’ll want to look for…
These are the necessities such as bandwidth and storage that you get with the plan you choose. Some website builders, have plans that appear cheap, but are quite limiting in the resources they provide. You’ll want to make sure to select a plan that doesn’t have too many limitations for your needs.
Website builders will have feature sets that range from very basic to very extensive. You’ll want to make sure to also consider the features that are available through third-party integrations, as these can help you add a lot of functionality to your website.
When looking at a website builder’s editor, we want an uncluttered interface with menus and buttons that lead to tools when you need them. All three of these services have great editors, so this isn’t something you’ll have to worry about too much.
It’s important that you’re able to find a template you can use for the specific type site you want to build. The better the templates looks out of the box, the less you need to adjust the elements on the page.
Price is often the deciding factor, but shouldn’t be the only one. As consumers, we’re always evaluating the value we get with a product or service. And website builders, shouldn’t be any different. We want to find the builder with the best value that still fits within our budget.
You want an editor that’s not slow and clunky. That will eliminate frustrations while you’re building your website. At the same time, you want your website to load fast and reliably. That will ensure your visitors stick around and read or buy what you have for them.
When building your own site with a website builder, support is critical to your success. It’s important to be able to access support 24/7 and that they’re competent enough to help you resolve your issue right away.
I don’t actually select a “best website builder” as I feel that decision is best left up to you. Instead, report on the 7 factors discussed above and let you decide which builder best meets your needs and budget.
The Wix Website Builder
Wix is great because you can build a pretty good-looking, free website with their builder. Of course, nothing’s free, so you’ll have Wix ads on your site, but it’s a great way to build a temporary site for something like a party or event.
Wix has a limit of 2GB for bandwidth usage and 3GB for disk space. It doesn’t seem to have any limitations on the number of pages you can create with your site. The bandwidth limit of 2GB might be a little low for some.
Wix offers a basic list of features along with a free domain name when you sign up and pay for a year. The only drawback is that they don’t provide email service just like most other website builders. So if you want to use an email address associated with your domain, you’ll have to sign up for Google Apps.
I found the Wix WYSIWYG editor quite easy to use. I was able to easily drag and drop, resize and position elements on the page and see the changes instantly. All of the tools were pretty intuitive and were out of sight when not in use.
Here’s the Wix editor in action…
Wix offers over 100 templates that are pretty well designed and professional looking. They already had all of the page elements laid out so that all you had to do was change the text or images and publish your page.
I’m glad to see that Wix has included a Mobile editor which allows you to build a mobile version of your site. However, I’d still like to see responsive designs with their templates.
The Combo plan Wix offers is, $8.25/month. That’s the price if you pay for a year in advance. If you pay month-by-month, the price goes up to, $10.95/mo.
The editor was a little slow to load sometimes, and I would have to play around with certain design elements to get them just right. Nothing serious, just a little frustrating.
Wix used to only have Flash based templates, but fairly recently updated almost all of them to use HTML5. This is great news for those who thought Flash websites didn’t rank well in the search engines, and makes Wix that much more attractive to the masses.
Wix has what they call an “Online Support Center” where they offers many different ways to get support when you need it.
They suggest starting with the knowledge base of videos and articles. If you can’t find an answer there, they recommend posting your question in the forums where you can choose to make it private if you don’t want everyone else to see it.
If you want to contact them by phone, you have to make a call back request between 6:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (PST).
Wix is a great basic website builder solution. It was very easy to use and I would recommend giving them a look if you need a free website and can put up with their ads (which aren’t actually that intrusive).
Here’s the final result of my hour spent with Wix…
For the price, I think one of the other website builders will provide more value. But that doesn’t mean they’re no good. If there’s something specific that you like about Wix, then go ahead and give them a try.
You really can’t go wrong.
The Weebly Website Builder
Weebly is a hugely popular website builder. Over 20 million websites have been created with the platform. In 2007 TIME magazine was listed as one of the top 50 websites, and it has been growing steadily ever since.
Weebly is the only website builder of the three that offers unlimited resources for around $8.00. Perhaps the most comforting thing is the fact that you won’t have to worry about going over a page limit and can even create up to 10 websites with the Pro plan.
Weebly has a number of great features, including the ability to use Weebly Analytics, or integrate Google Analytics. They have a cool form builder that give you default Contact, RSVP and Survey forms to customize to your liking. They also use a powerful image editor, ImagePerfect, that gives you basic tools for changing your image before you use it.
The drag-and-drop interface was very easy to learn how to use. All of the tools and controls were hidden when not in use, but easily accessible when I needed them. The best thing about the editor is that it gives you the ability to edit HTML/CSS, allowing you to customize the design of each page.
Here’s what the Weebly editor looks like…
Weebly has over 100 professional looking templates with a good variety for building different types of websites. While Weebly’s templates aren’t responsive, there’s a mobile version of your site that is automatically loaded when someone visits from a phone or tablet.
Weebly’s pricing scheme is a little hard to figure out. They don’t have a very clear comparison of features across plans. The Pro plan, which seems comparable to Wix’s “Combo” plan and Squarespace’s “Personal” plan, is $8.25/month. Unfortunately, Weebly doesn’t give you a free domain when signing up like Wix and Squarespace do.
Weebly’s cloud hosting seemed to be fairly quick and reliable with decent page load times and no down time. I’ve heard that Weebly sites do fairly well with SEO, and I would assume that’s the case being that you’re able to define Title and Description tags at the page level.
Weebly offers a wide range of support options in their Help Center including the following:
Weebly has made some vast improvements to their website builder since the last time I tested it out. They’ve added a lot of great looking templates and this version of the editor is much more user-friendly.
Here’s a look at what I was able to accomplish with Weebly…
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend giving Weebly a try as millions of users can’t be wrong. They provide a simple editor and fairly elegant templates to help you build your site.
The Squarespace Website Builder
Squarespace is the oldest of the three website builders we’re looking at. In September of 2012, Squarespace was named as a top 50 website by TIME magazine. It’s now in its 3rd version and has given WordPress a run for its money.
The Personal plan is the only one that has limitations on resources, however, with 2GB of storage and 500GB of bandwidth, you shouldn’t need to worry. This plan only allows you to create 20 pages and sell 1 product or receive donation, which might be too limiting for some.
There isn’t much difference in the feature set between the Personal and Professional plans. Squarespace has a number of great features including the powerful Aviary photo editor. For analytics, you can use Squarespace’s own tracking system, or integrate Google Analytics. The also provide you with a powerful form builder that can be integrated with autoresponders such as Mailchimp. There are lots of third-party integrations, especially for those who are building an ecommerce site.
The Squarespace editor takes a little getting used to, but after becoming familiar with the different editing modes, everything was quite simple and intuitive. When viewing your website, you can easily switch between modes by using the button in the bottom, right-hand corner.
Here’s a peek at the Squarespace editor…
Squarespace offers 25 very clean and professionally designed templates. As such, they were basically good to go, right out of the box, and I just had to quickly tweak the fonts and colors. Squarespace doesn’t create a mobile version of your site like Wix and Weebly do. Instead, all their templates are fully responsive (mobile-ready).
Surprisingly, Squarespace is a bit cheaper than Wix and Weebly. If you pay for the yearly plan, it amounts to $8.00 per month. They also give you a free domain name, and you can use the coupon code, “GIMME10″ for an additional 10% off.
Squarespace has fast and reliable cloud hosting provided by Peer1. I never experienced the editor bogging down, which was a slight problem with the other website builder services. Of the three, Squarespace probably has the best SEO out of the box, and as a result, is reported to do quite well in the search engine results. You can read more about performance in my Squarespace review.
Squarespace has a number of great resources to help answer your question, should you have one. One of the most popular ways to contact them is through their ticket system. They promise to provide a response within 1 hour, 24/7.
- Email 24/7
- Chat 11am-7pm
I would recommend Squarespace without hesitation based on its ease-of-use and beautiful templates. While Squarespace could probably be used to build any kind of website, it’s best suited for small businesses, blogs, portfolios and ecommerce type sites.
Here is the site I was able to build with Squarespace…
If you’ve never taken Squarespace for a test drive, I highly recommend giving them a try. Here’s a great no-risk offer they have for new customers…
NO CREDIT CARD REQUIRED”
If you decide to stick with Squarespace, you can get 10% OFF by using the Squarespace coupon code, “GIMME10” with any of their plans.
For your convenience, I’ve created a table which lists the features side-by-side and helps you compare Wix vs Weebly vs Squarespace.
|Number of Websites||1||10||1|
|Number of Pages||Unlimited||Unlimited||20|
|Email Service||Google Apps||Google Apps||Google Apps|
|Hosting||Grid Hosting||Cloud Hosting||Cloud Hosting|
|Domain Name||FREE (1 Year Plan)||Not Included||FREE (1 Year Plan)|
|Drag n' Drop||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Support||Phone - 24/7|
Email - 24/7
|Email - 24/7|
Chat - 11am - 9pm
Forums Webcasts Knowledge Base
|Email - 24/7|
Chat - 11am - 7pm
|Analytics||Google Analytics||Weebly Analytics|
|Custom HTML/CSS||HTML Only||HTML and CSS||HTML and CSS|
So there you have it…
I’ve tested and reported on all three website builders, and now it’s your turn. Hopefully, I’ve helped you narrow the field and saved you a bit of time and effort.
Let me know which one you like the best in the comments below.