Designing a website from scratch is no easy task, despite most family members and potential customers having “a nephew who can do that stuff for free.”
Furthermore, despite the huge number of web design tools available today, most professional agencies and developers still remain prohibitively expensive – even for simple projects – unless you’re willing to try your luck with those willing to accept subpar wages.
But it’s not all bad news! In fact, with the advent of modern ‘website builders’, designing a website is within reach of even the less computer literate among us.
That brings us to the topic of this article – a showdown between the most popular website builders on the market today: Wix, Squarespace, Virb, and Weebly. We’re going to take a look at each in turn – focusing on key features and offering our opinions – and conclude with our final recommendations.
Our experience reveals that Wix is the clear winner when it comes to website builders.
Wix stands out thanks to its remarkably intuitive builder – which anyone should be able to pick up in a matter of minutes – and wide range of customization options. On top of that, it’s the cheapest option on our list. That’s a hard combination to beat.
Here’s a quick comparison, done on September 2016.
|Price starts at|
|Drag and Drop Functionality||✓||✓||X||✓|
|Ease of Use||10/10||10/10||7/10||9/10|
Let’s get cracking!
As far as simplicity goes, it’s hard to beat Wix. Their free plan, however, offers a rather stingy 500mb of both storage and bandwidth, which means that if you’re expecting to receive any sort of serious traffic to your website, you’re going to have to spring for one of their premium plans.
- Drag and drop website builder – as intuitive as Lego.
- Over 500 professionally designed and easily customizable templates.
- Hundreds of fonts, vector shapes and icons available, all of which can be combined to create unique logos.
- Over 40 types of galleries and a gigantic collection of stock images.
- Enables you to include video backgrounds to add a dash of life to your website.
- Fully responsive templates and designs.
- Enables you to add a blog to your website with a few clicks.
- Includes a healthy app market (including the likes of Shopify and MailChimp) that can be used to level up your site.
- Comes with Wix ADI which designs a tailor-made website just for you.
- Offers free hosting so you don’t have to worry about the technical bits.
- Mobile-optimized design allows webmasters to cater to a growing mobile audience.
- Tons of customization options on offer to help you create a truly unique website.
- Pre-integrated blog, social buttons, and Facebook Apps that enable webmasters to get the word out.
- An overwhelming amount of customization options may be a bit too much for webmasters who aren’t particularly inclined towards web design.
Anyone can pick up Wix quickly, and with a little experimentation, produce a presentable website. Their library of templates and design tools is wide enough for an experienced designer to work wonders even within the limitations of their free plan, but for anything remotely serious, we would recommend upgrading.
As far as their editor goes, the experience couldn’t be any simpler – hence the Lego talk above – and the team behind Wix keep improving its features constantly.
Their app market includes a lot of well-known names, but some feel like stripped down versions of the original services and the experience is mixed overall.
Squarespace offers no free plan and their options may seem a bit narrow, with just two plans each for regular websites and e-commerce along with a single cover page option. The scope and pricing of their plans, however, is wide enough to satisfy the needs of most customers looking for a professional website building tool.
- Simple, yet powerful building tools based on Squarespace’s LayoutEngine and a block system.
- A wide collection of templates built from scratch by a professional design team.
- Fully featured editing tools that enable you to customize most aspects of your website.
- Cover pages can be easily switched between templates (this feature is also available for their other plans) and include call-to-actions from the get go.
- All plans include premium Typekit fonts at no additional cost, as well the best offerings from Google Fonts.
- Squarespace supports custom CSS for more in-depth personalization of your pages.
- The Squarespace interface is incredibly user friendly.
- All of the designs automatically include a mobile experience which ensures that your site looks great on all devices.
- The image manager features drag and drop functionality which significantly reduces the time you spend on uploading and adding images to your website.
- This feature-rich platform has just about everything you could possibly need from video compatible galleries to a wide range of connected services.
- Most of the design templates available require high-quality images. If you don’t have these then your site may not look as visually appealing as you might have hoped.
After working with several website building tools, Squarespace came as a pleasant surprise. Their templates stick to modern design considerations, which gives websites a professional look and feel comparable to custom solutions.
E-commerce integration was also pretty simple to deploy, which makes it a good choice for online shops launching on a budget. The only downside is that there’s only support for a single payment processor at the moment – Stripe. Despite being a fantastic processor, this may be a turn-off for some.
Their editor hits the nail in the head with a perfect combination – it has an amazing number of features while remaining simple to grasp.
Note: We are no longer recommending Virb. Reason being, in 2014 it got acquired by Godaddy and since then there have been no new features or developments.
If you don’t want to deal with the headache of trying to figure out which plan would suit you best, Virb may be the choice for you. They offer a single “A site for everyone” plan that covers pretty much every base, with support for blogs, e-commerce, and unlimited pages.
- Offers a well-curated library of ready-to-go themes that cover every style and look great on mobile devices.
- Their themes, which emphasize visuals, are especially well-suited for portfolio sites.
- Their single plan offers unlimited storage and bandwidth, as well as advanced SEO features.
- One-click setup for several page types, such as galleries, stores, contact, blog, and Tumblr blogs amongst others.
- Enables you to customize your pages using HTML and CSS if you want to go beyond their editing tools.
- Virb offers great value for money.
- Multiple page types, integrations, and hosting dramatically reduce the time you’ll have to spend on configuring your website.
- Users get access to a plethora of versatile design templates which allow them to create virtually any kind of site.
- This platform is easy to use for all kinds of webmasters regardless of their technical expertise.
- Although Virb has a ton of customization options available, it’s missing the drag and drop functionality.
While Virb’s templates are surprisingly stunning, their website editor leaves a lot to be desired. It resembles a basic WordPress editor where you can add their pre-made elements, whereas specific page types are added separately.
The rigid editor is somewhat offset by the ability to jump between themes with little effort while maintaining the structure of your content. Overall, Virb works great for visually heavy sites, such as portfolios.
Weebly is one of the best-known names among website builders and they offer four different plans for potential customers. Aside from the free tier, which is limited to 500mb of storage and limited support options, their premium tiers mostly differ in terms of smaller features, such as phone support, password-protected pages, and site search functions.
- Weebly offers an intuitive and deceptively powerful website builder with drag-and-drop options along with more advanced features such as form builders.
- A comprehensive library of themes ranging from minimalistic to bold, with the option to customize fonts, color schemes, and most other elements.
- All themes were designed with responsiveness in mind.
- If you want to go a step further, you can avail yourself of their advanced editor and take full control through simple HTML and CSS editing.
- Weebly offers an intuitive, user friendly interface with a drag and drop builder that’s easy to navigate through and use.
- The ability to create sites as subdomains under weebly.com makes it a great choice for new webmasters to test out the waters.
- The platform is search engine optimized to help your content rank better on search engines.
- Weebly has built-in email marketing services available that allow webmasters to connect with their subscribers.
- The Starter and Pro pricing plans charge a 3% transaction fees on all checkouts.
- The Starter and Pro pricing plans limit the number of products that you can sell through your site (up to 10 on the Starter plan and up to 25 on the Pro plan).
In terms of website editor tools, Weebly was a clear winner for us. Building a website from the ground up isn’t an easy business and a lot of other services sacrifice flexibility within their editors in order to maintain visual standards, yet Weebly manages to provide a stellar builder with few compromises.
The Jimdo website builder platform powers over 15 million websites. It offers a full-featured free plan – as long as you don’t mind ads – that includes everything you need to build most types of sites except for e-commerce sites.
To create an eCommerce site, you’ll have to opt for a premium tier. Premium plans also offer other advanced features such as in-depth analytics and advanced SEO settings.
- An ample collection of templates to choose from as well as the option to start from scratch.
- Their templates offer a good balance between portfolio, e-commerce, personal, and business designs.
- Apps for both Android and iOS devices are available so you can edit your sites from any device.
- Tweak your site template with HTML and CSS.
- Includes a wide variety of widgets that add extra functionality to your pages, such as Google Calendars, Vimeo videos, and Soundcloud audio files.
- Jimdo templates are fully responsive and can be edited with a drag and drop editor.
- The free plan is impressive and genuinely useful. It is limited to 500mb of storage but it offers most of the premium plan features.
- Preview how your site looks on desktop and mobile devices (including both portrait and landscape orientations).
- You can switch between templates with a single click and preview how your content will look before activating the new template (more on this in the cons section).
- The platform offers plenty of third-party integrations and most of them include tutorials.
- Switching between templates tends to mess with the layout of your site, even if you’re using templates that are pretty minimalist.
- Premium plans require you to pay in advance for either a 12 or 24 month period. Furthermore, if you decide to cancel your subscription, you need to do so at least four weeks before renewal takes place.
- The Free and Pro plans have a cap on the number of items you can list in your store: a maximum of five and fifteen items respectively.
The Jimdo site builder was a bit of a disappointment for us. The layout is simple enough to navigate but looks outdated. Plus, it hides several important configuration tools under the Settings tab in the sidebar, including store settings, footer settings, and email management. This is an odd layout choice that could mean that inexperienced users never access these tools.
With regard to the site builder itself, interacting with elements on your site is simple enough. You can drag and drop any section, configure elements, and replace them with a few clicks. The only glaring downside is that content tends to break when switching between templates, which shouldn’t happen considering that most sites are built using the same limited number of templates.
For this reason, the first thing you should do upon signing up for Jimdo is to take a very close look at each available template and choose the one that best suits your needs. Changing your mind later on may cost you a lot of time, so choose carefully.
Who Is This Service For
Despite its shortcomings, we consider Jimdo a good choice for users that need to set up a simple website with a few pages and don’t want to spend too much money doing so.Jimdo’s templates are good enough for simple business sites, portfolios, or landing pages. However, we would not recommend this service if you’re interested in setting up an online store, since you would need to subscribe to the Business plan at a rate of $20 per month billed annually to add an unlimited number of items. For that kind of money, you can easily find a better alternative.
Voog’s flagship feature is the ability to create and manage multilingual sites to maximize your reach. No free plan is available, but the Standard tier does come with a 30-day free trial (no credit card required), and allows you to build a site using up to 2GB of storage, incorporating up to three languages, and even allows the creation of password-protected pages.
The premium plans build upon the free plan by offering additional features such as database visualization and full SSL connections.
- Supports multilingual websites. Just keep in mind that someone will still need to translate your site content.
Offers a modern collection of templates.
- All templates are fully responsive.
- Advanced users may opt for a self-hosted installation by contacting the Voog support team.
- The multilingual feature enables you to check which pages still need to be translated.
- You can monitor your analytics at the click of a button from your dashboard.
- You can create password-protected pages.
- Switching between themes does not break your content.
- There isn’t support for e-commerce out of the box. You have to contact customer support to enable basic e-commerce functionality.
- The editor does not include a drag and drop features.
- It doesn’t offer a blank template, the closest thing to a blank template is the Plain vanilla theme seen below.
The Voog builder looks great, but it’s rather limited. It only offers a limited number of site elements such as galleries, videos, and contact forms. While you can customize site elements, there aren’t many customization settings available.
Another downside is the limited number of themes. If you don’t want your site to look too cookie-cutter, you’ll need to use the Plain vanilla theme and effectively build your site from scratch. Even then, what you can accomplish is limited by the small number of customizations enabled within the editor.
To be fair, every page we built with Voog ended up looking great on both desktop and mobile devices. However, it’s not a platform we would recommend for every user.
Who Is This Service For
Voog is a decent platform for users that want to create simple, modern websites and aren’t concerned with adding complex features. Multilingual support is an added bonus for users interested in reaching a wider range of visitors. However, we would argue against adding multiple languages without using a professional translator. Nobody wants to read pages spit out by Google Translate.
E-commerce websites in particular could benefit from adding support for multiple languages. However, you have to contact Voog customer support to enable even basic store functionality for your site. As far as we’re concerned, that’s a gigantic downside.
Website Builder Comparison Table
|Drag and Drop Functionality ||✓||✓||X||✓|
|Email Integration ||✓||✓||X||✓|
|Payment Gateways ||7||1||N/A||4|
|Special Offers Generator||✓||✓||X||✓|
|Ease of Use ||10/10||10/10||7/10||9/10|
|Active Online Stores||290,000||50,000||N/A||441,000|
|Overall Score ||10/10||10/10||7/10||9/10|
Which Solution Is Right for You?
Picking an overall winner wasn’t an easy task, but as far as design features and price go, Wix rules the roost.
Ultimately, the choice of which service to use remains up to you and we encourage you to make liberal use of the free trials available on most of these tools so you can familiarize yourself with the features that make them unique.
Using a website builder these days is refreshingly different from the past. If you’ve got the time and don’t need any complicated functions, the idea of making your own website without paying a professional is completely within the realm of reason.
If you’re the DIY type, you might prefer some of the other options available out there for website development, such as WordPress or Joomla, which will take some time to master but will reward you with a barrage of advanced features.
That being said, it’s important to realize that each of the services we covered above has its limits, and past a certain point you may need the aid of a professional. The choice is up to you!
Do you have any personal experience with the services listed here? Share your opinion with us in the comments!
 Price – The prices given are monthly charges. If you opt for an annual plan then the charges will be lower as compared to the monthly charges for the same duration. Selecting a plan based solely on the price isn’t a good idea since the builder may not come loaded with all of the functionality in its starter plan. Be sure to visit the builder’s respective website and evaluate each plan in more detail before coming to a final decision.
 Drag and Drop Functionality – Drag and drop page functionality in a page builder makes it easy for non-techy webmasters to design unique, professional-looking websites in minutes. All of the page builders on our list – except for Virb – offer drag and drop functionality. If you’re not particularly design-inclined then selecting a page builder that offers this feature would be in your better interests.
 Design – Each of the contenders on our list ship with a wide range of free themes to help you set up a niche-specific or general website. We’ve rated the themes based on their design, aesthetic appeal, and the number of themes available for users to pick from.
 Email Integration – Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing tools for online stores. It helps store owners connect with their customers on a personal level and develop a strong customer relationship with them. Sending special offers and notifications about events to email subscribers is a great way to boost sales.
 Extensions – Wix has a plethora of extensions for users to pick from in its store. Extensions can be used to enhance the website’s functionality without causing your site to slow down. Essentially, you’re only installing the extensions that you’ll be using and none of those that you won’t. The Wix App Market contains extensions for social, forms, galleries, online stores, marketing tools, and business apps.
 Payment Gateways – This evaluation criterion determines how many payment gateways each platform currently offers users to add to their website. A higher number of payment gateways gives your customers more flexibility to purchase products. N/A signifies that the platform doesn’t mention how many payment gateways will be allotted.
 Ease of Use – This criterion was scored based on our own real-world analysis of each platform. We tested each one out for ourselves and graded it accordingly. Be sure to check out the in-depth description of each under its respective heading.
 Support – Each of the platforms have comprehensive knowledge bases which users can refer to if they encounter any issues with their website. Support through phone call and email is also available with both Wix and Weebly. Squarespace and Weebly both offer live chat support and the quickest way to get in touch with Virb’s support staff is through email correspondence.
 Overall Score – The overall scores are calculated with each platform’s functionality kept in mind. Your final decision should not be based solely on the overall score. In fact, as there are multiple qualitative factors involved with each platform’s set of features, the best way to pick the right one for your needs is to identify your own criteria and match it with our comparison table.