So you’ve decided to make a website, now it’s time to choose one of the best website builders to get your site off the ground.
The technical bit of finding a website builder and designing your site is often the biggest headache for new website owners. But… it shouldn’t be.
If you choose the right website builder, creating your website isn’t difficult at all. And you won’t even need to learn how to code.
Ten years ago back when I was first starting to build websites, it was a completely different story—but today, all of the best website builders are completely visual (meaning you won’t have to write a single line of code) and extremely easy to learn, build and publish on.
In this detailed breakdown, we’re comparing all of the best website builder options on the market today.
9 Best Website Builders for Bloggers and Business Owners (Easy to Use) in 2019
- My Verdict and Final Analysis
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission. When you purchase website hosting using one of my affiliate links, the company compensates me, which helps keep all of my content free of charge to you. Know that I only recommend tools I’ve personally used and stand behind.
Now quickly, before we dive into our comparison of the best website builders (without coding) for bloggers and business owners today, let’s talk about what you need to look for in your website builder of choice.
What is a Website Builder?
A website builder is a software tool that allows you to easily build a website without needing any coding skills. The best website builders offer visual, drag-and-drop functionality that allows you to effortlessly create the pages on your website.
Apart from the obvious benefit that a website builder helps you to build your website with little effort, website builders also come with advantages like:
- Creating a professional website on a budget. Getting a professional looking website is no longer a matter of hiring a pricy web developer. A good website builder will help you create your own site without spending much at all.
- Saving you time. Building your own website takes a matter of only a few hours of your time with the best website builder.
- Extensive customization capabilities. The best website builders allow you to customize your website to suit your own purpose and visual styles.
Before we dive into my breakdown of the best website builders for bloggers, let’s look at the qualities you need to evaluate before deciding upon a website builder.
So what makes one of these tools qualified to be considered among the best website builders?
Ease of Use in a Website Builder
Ease of use—how quickly you’ll be able to learn and create your website—is one of the most important factors you need to consider when evaluating a website builder.
Especially if you’re learning how to start a blog, I recommend only considering a website builder with intuitive design tools and an easy to use drag-and-drop features where you won’t ever need to write a line of code. The website builders on this list here today are all very easy to use and learn.
Extensive Theme and Template Library
Another very important feature you need to look for in a website builder, is an extensive template, theme and image library.
This is the core feature that’ll help you customize the look and feel of your website—and give you starter layouts to hit the ground running with (like these ones that come with the Elementor WordPress website builder I personally use).
Most people confuse themes and templates when it comes to website building, but the main difference in WordPress (a website builder we’ll be talking about soon), is that a theme is the complete overall design of your website. A template, on the other hand, dictates the layout style of an individual page on your website.
Both your theme and page templates—which are components of the website builder you choose—can be tweaked & customized.
Robust SEO Features
Particularly relevant if you want to eventually monetize your blog, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plays a major role in making sure your website is properly optimized to drive traffic from the search engines.
The best website builders for bloggers all have robust and easy to customize SEO features, which enable your website to have a better chance of ranking high in search results.
Fast Load Times and High Uptime
In order to ensure that visitors to your website have a great experience, you need to guarantee that you get a fast-loading website builder. According to Google, websites that load slow (in 3 seconds or more) have as much as a 123% probability of visitors immediately leaving. It’s pointless to design a beautiful website, work to drive tons of traffic to it, only to have those readers bounce.
Apart from fast load times, the best website builders also have high uptime (meaning that your website consistently stays visible on the Internet)—as close to 100% uptime as possible.
Today, about half of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices, and it’s only increasing—making it crucial to choose a website builder that offers a foundational layout that’s mobile responsive (automatically adjusts the layout of your website for different screen sizes).
Increasingly, your website must display as well on mobile devices—as it does on desktop and tablet devices. Don’t worry much about this one though, as my list of website builders for bloggers here only includes website builders that are mobile responsive. Those that aren’t mobile responsive shouldn’t even be a consideration today.
Now without further delay, let’s dive into my picks for the best website builders!
9 Best Website Builders for Bloggers and Business Owners (Easy to Use) in 2019
Picking the right website builder for your blog (even from a list like this) can feel like a daunting task given all of the different options out there.
Having been in the blogging world myself for nearly a decade, I’ve had the opportunity to test each of these first hand though.
And for 90% of new website owners, the best option is going to be #1 here on this list.
Now, let’s get you to the best website builder for your needs.
WordPress.org, not to be confused with WordPress.com (we’ll take a look at the .com version later), is hands down the most popular website builder for bloggers.
Best for: Anyone who wants to start a blog on a budget—or otherwise make a website that has the potential to generate income online. Self-hosted WordPress as a website builder is not only the most affordable way to create a beautiful site, but will also give you the highest level of customizability, lowest overall costs, the most search engine-friendly (SEO) foundation and an easy-to-use building experience.
In fact, the (free) .org version of WordPress powers more than 34% of the internet—making it the website builder of choice for everyone from bloggers to small business owners, media companies, publishers and more. It’s also the website builder I use to power my blog right here.
So what makes WordPress.org a blogger favorite?
WordPress.org was created before WordPress.com and is the version people are talking about when they recommend “using WordPress.” It’s also often referred to as self-hosted WordPress, when reading through guides like mine about how to start a blog.
The software powering this website builder is free to the public, meaning that WordPress requires no money from you whatsoever.
However, with WordPress.org, it is self-hosted—so you’ll need to pay for a hosting company to “host” your website, which is what makes it live and visible on the Internet.
Hosting is very affordable though, and I personally recommend Bluehost, one of the longest-standing companies in the WordPress web hosting space, for getting a domain name and hosting set up.
While some of the other website builders we highlight here today offer an all-in-one solution (both hosting + building tools), opting for a self-hosted WordPress website, powered by a hosting company like Bluehost will be by far the most affordable, customizable and long-term best option.
It’s also the most sustainable and safest long-term solution to make a website—because you’re not dependent upon a particular website builder still being in business 5 years from now.
This is the website builder I personally recommend to every friend that’s considering creating a website or blog of any kind.
Now, let’s look at the pros and cons of choosing self-hosted WordPress as your website builder.
- Easily and fully customizable. With self-hosted WordPress, you can truly build any kind of website you want. From both free and paid options of WordPress themes, templates and plugins to get you started, this website builder gives you the most amount of control over your website design.
- Extensive range of features. Whether you want to create an online store, blog, community forum, or paid membership area, WordPress comes with features (and a network of developers who make free & paid add-ons) that allow you to turn your website into the kind of money making endeavor you want.
- Limitless number of plugins. Think of WordPress plugins for your website as being like the apps you have on your smartphone—plugins allow you to extend the functionality of your website. And people have built WordPress plugins (either free or inexpensive) to do anything you’ll ever need.
- Powerful SEO foundation. WordPress comes built in with a well-constructed framework for giving your website a powerful search engine optimization starting point. And with the installation of free SEO plugins like RankMath SEO or Yoast SEO, you can fully optimize your website with crucial recommendations and suggestions that’ll get your content ranking higher in search results.
- There’s a learning curve. One of the only potential drawbacks of choosing WordPress as your website builder, is that it can come with a bit of a learning curve. Other website builders on this list (that have far fewer customization capabilities) will be easier to learn at first. But still, the learning curve is nothing that can’t be quickly overcome with the right learning resources, tutorials and video walkthroughs…
Head over to my (free) 3-step tutorial that’ll walk you through the process of how to make a website using self-hosted WordPress as your website builder, powered by very affordable hosting and free themes & plugins.
Want to Build Your Website with WordPress?
Follow along with my 3 Easy Steps to Make a Website.
Perhaps the original reason why WordPress became so popular, is the fact that the software is free.
However, you do need to pay for securing your domain name (the name of your website—its address on the Internet) and hosting.
This is where a web hosting service like Bluehost comes in.
Why Bluehost? They're an extremely easy-to-use, inexpensive web hosting service that comes with a few big advantages for WordPress users:
- Unbeatable hosting cost (typically as low as $2.95/month)
- Free domain registration included in your hosting plan (valued at $14.99/year)
- Free SSL certificate that gives your website visitors a secure browsing experience
- 1-Click installation of WordPress right after choosing your hosting plan
- 24/7 technical support over the phone, via email or live chat
- A 30-day money back guarantee if things don't work out
Especially considering the fact that Bluehost includes an automatic WordPress installation and technical support, you get a really good deal with their hosting plans.
Add a free WordPress theme (like Elementor) and you’ll be able to build a beautiful website in an afternoon—without any hassles. Here's a preview of the Elementor WordPress theme I recommend to all new website owners:
WordPress is my pick for the best website builders for bloggers—as millions of bloggers around the world will tell you.
So, if your main online activity is going to be blogging or creating regular content with the goal of attracting visitors to your website, then this is the website builder I’d recommend you build your blog on.
If you're ready to get started with your own self-hosted WordPress website, head on over to my (free) 3-step tutorial on how to make a website today.
Although its gained much more popularity in recent years, Wix has actually been around as a website builder since 2006.
Best for: Small business owners that want a good looking, relatively simple website that's easy to create, without a ton of fancy features or functionality. If you plan on blogging, collecting email subscribers to market to, or eventually selling products from your website, you're better off with another website builder on this list.
Now regularly ranking amongst the best website builders for bloggers and small business owners, Wix solidifies it's place on this list because it's an incredibly easy-to-use platform—thanks to it’s super intuitive drag-and-drop functionality that powers the website builder once you create your account.
Apart from their drag-and-drop builder, what else makes Wix so popular amongst the more than 110 million other bloggers using their website builder today?
- One of the best drag-and-drop builders on the market. The engineers at Wix have done an amazing job of making their tool suite a true drag-and-drop website builder that can be learned and mastered in a matter of minutes. Just about every visual element of your website can be manipulated with a click of the mouse.
- Easy to customize. While the customization options using a website builder like Wix will be more limited than what you can ultimately achieve with a self-hosted WordPress website, you can still set up a very unique website quickly with Wix using their library of templates and other third-party apps. Their AI-powered design tool even helps make light work of whipping up beautiful website elements based on your preferences.
- Highly responsive templates. With more and more traffic coming from mobile devices, Wix's mobile-ready templates are a core feature of the product.
- Free and paid options available. The free version of Wix is a great way of testing whether or not Wix will ultimately be the best website builder for your needs.
- Awesome customer support. Like most website builders, Wix offers a hands on level of support ranging from a massively in-depth library of tutorial articles & videos, all the way up to 24/7 live phone support.
- Limited apps for customization. Wix runs on their own internally built native applications & features, of which there isn’t a wide selection to choose. That being said, their collection of apps is still growing quickly.
- Switching templates after your website is live gets very difficult. Giving your site a visual makeover after it's gone live live can be a time-consuming endeavor. While the initial website building process is easy using Wix, switching to a different layout is like starting completely over.
- Limited eCommerce features. While your Wix website will look visually appealing, it won’t work as seamlessly for eCommerce purposes as other platforms like Shopify.
While Wix starts out as technically free, paid plans are also available if you want to remove Wix ads and branding (you'll definitely want to do this).
Their paid plans also help you add more functionality, scale to allow more visitors,
So how much does Wix cost?
Their paid plans start at $13.00/mo for the baseline level that includes hosting your website on its own unique domain—and can go up to as much as $39.00/mo in order to unlock more features like additional file storage, a speed boost and first priority support.
If you’re looking for a super easy to use and functional website builder, then shortlist Wix as one of the best website builders for you to consider in your search.
Though Wix will initially be a little easier to set up your website, you'll be ultimately much better off with a self-hosted WordPress website from both a cost and functionality standpoint.
Founded in 2003, Squarespace is another widely recognized website building platform that's earned its rank amongst the best website builders for bloggers.
Best for: Freelancers that want a visually appealing, mostly static website (a small number of pages with little expected change moving forward). While not the best website builder to choose if you plan to blog regularly due to lack of customizability, their content publishing tools are stronger than Wix's.
Creating your website with Squarespace is a breeze (even without writing a line of code) as it has one of the most intuitive and easy-to-use drag-and-drop builders on the market.
So if you want to set up a beautiful website for your business—and maybe blog a little bit here and there—then Squarespace is definitely a top option to consider.
Let’s take a look at what makes Squarespace the website builder of choice for the close to 2 million users running their websites on the platform.
- Best in class drag-and-drop builder. For a fast, do-it-yourself website build that needs to happen in a weekend, you can’t go wrong with Squarespace.
- Solid design. Squarespace makes your website look professional and gives it a custom feel. No one will be able to tell you designed your website yourself.
- Exceptional performance. Squarespace websites load lightning fast and have a 99.98% uptime on average.
- Beautiful themes. Professional, clean and beautiful themes are one reason Squarespace has a big customer base—especially amongst website owners that need to publish a lot of images.
- Average customer support. By no means do they have bad customer support, but you'll be limited to either live chat during business hours or email-based support which can take you longer to resolve technical issues (that are often pretty time-sensitive).
- Limited integrations and features. Their website builder is pretty limited (especially compared to self-hosted WordPress) when it comes to adding features and functionality beyond just a good looking, mostly static website.
When it comes to pricing, Squarespace treats websites and online stores differently.
- A personal website will cost you either $12.00/mo or up to $18.00/mo if you want access to advanced website analytics for your site.
- An online store will set you back between $26.00/mo and $40.00/mo in order to unlock the ability to sell products from your website.
Squarespace definitely ranks high among the best website builders for business owners to get started with, but most people will eventually migrate to a self-hosted WordPress site once they've started to get traction and see their blogs growing.
Considering that it does have one of the best drag-and-drop builders on the market though, it’s still worth evaluating.
Shopify is a website builder that leans heavily on helping you to create a well-optimized online store. Like all of the other other website builders on our list, it comes with easy customization options, but with Shopify, those are geared towards helping you sell more products from your website.
Best for: Business owners that want to sell products from their website. With the explosion of eCommerce onto the scene as a more accessible businesses to start today, Shopify rises to the top amongst website builders that are specifically designed to help online business owners convert more visitors into paying customers.
With a wide range of templates and support by a lot of third-party plugins and apps, you can easily create an eCommerce store that matches your brand and visual preferences.
Shopify is likely the most-used eCommerce website builder available on the market today—and they're invested a ton of their own resources into creating extremely in-depth training resources, blog content, guides, video trainings and more to help their customers become successful with an eCommerce business.
All of this combined makes them my pick for the best website builder for bloggers who want to venture into selling products on their website. And yes, you can also publish regular content to your own blog with a Shopify-powered website (though the features and customizability lags far behind that of self-hosted WordPress).
Let’s quickly explore a few factors that make this website builder a fan favorite among eCommerce aficionados.
- Optimized for eCommerce. Shopify makes it easy to set up an attractive online shop that's beautiful from a customer-perspective and very easy to manage. That's by far the biggest use case for choosing this website builder.
- Reporting. Data should be the lifeblood of every online business. Shopify has an excellent reporting feature that gives you all the data you need to strategically grow your business, ranging from insights into your website visitors to cart abandonment rates and much more.
- Staff accounts. As your website grows over time, staff accounts allow you to set different permission levels that grant access to those helping you run your store.
- Straightforward payment gateway systems. Unlike other eCommerce website builders, Shopify actually processes your customer payments themselves. While some website builders in this space allow you to connect your own Stripe and PayPal payment gateways, Shopify acts as the go-between for all of your payments—but mostly does so at an industry-standard rate (varying a bit based on the plan you choose).
- Lots of professional themes to choose from. Shopify's ranked here as one of the best website builders in part because they also have a wide range of professional-looking, easy-to-customize website themes you can start with and tweak to make your own. Their themes all feel very modern, are mobile responsive and very visually appealing.
- POS systems for selling in physical locations. If you're starting out with an online store, but plan to one day open up a brick & mortar location of your business, Shopify makes that easy with an easy point-of-sale system you can set up in your place of business to accept payments & log orders all through one single system.
- Shipping discounts. This is one of the most overlooked features of Shopify as a top website builder—they've gone out and brokered up to 74% off discounts with major global shipping providers like UPS, DHL and USPS, which helps you increase your margins on each product sale.
- Not supported in all areas of the world. If you're not based in one of these 13 major countries in the world, Shopify won't allow you to accept payments from your customers through their platform—meaning you'll need to go with one of our other eCommerce-focused website builders below
- Blogging functionality not as good as competitors like WordPress. Like I've said about most website builders, if you plan on creating blog content as a core part of your business, then going with self-hosted WordPress is your only smart option.
- Editor not as intuitive as it is on other competitor website builders. While Shopify's website builder does pack a pretty solid range of customizability options for an eCommerce-focused platform, it can have a bit of a learning curve (they've got plenty of training videos for that though).
- Embedding products in blog posts is not possible. Oddly enough, you can't directly embed a product from your online store into a blog post—not the biggest deal ever though, as you'll just need to link to your products and send blog readers over to the store side of your website.
Shopify’s payment plans make it pretty easy to launch an online shop on a pretty reasonable budget, making them one of the best website builders for eCommerce entrepreneurs. It’s also easy to scale your business on their platform and effortlessly move up to the next plan level. Here are the 5 pricing options you'll have with Shopify:
- Shopify Lite: $9.00/month
- Basic Shopify: $29.00/month
- Shopify: $79.00/month
- Advanced Shopify: $299.00/month
- Shopify Plus: For enterprise-level businesses doing well into the six, seven or eight figures in revenue (fees are negotiable but expect to pay $2000.00/month or more)
If eCommerce is your thing, definitely consider Shopify as one of the best website builders to launch your shop on.
Designed specifically for online merchants, it fulfills that purpose exceptionally well. However, when it comes to blogging, there are definitely better options (self-hosted WordPress).
Next on our list of the best website builders for bloggers is a familiar name—WordPress.com. Though this time, we're looking at the .com version of the platform.
Best for: Those who are brand new to blogging and don't want to take a little time to learn how to start a blog with the the self-hosted (.org version) of WordPress that can have a little more of a learning curve. While somewhat similar to a self-hosted WordPress website, the WordPress.com platform will act as your hosting company & website builder all in one. However, WordPress.com is a more expensive option to start blogging, and their website builder is much more limited than that of the self-hosted WordPress option.
Founded in 2005 by WordPress.org co-founder Matt Mullenweg, the WordPress.com version of WordPress is truly one of the best website builders for bloggers looking to just test the waters into the blogging world with a 100% free option. It's important to note though, that a free WordPress.com website does come with a lot of restrictions.
You know the drill. Let’s get into the pros and cons of this popular website builder platform.
- Robust design. Powered by the same fundamental technology that runs the (more) popular WordPress.org blogging platform, the .com version comes with a beautiful framework and is one of the better looking website builders out there.
- Easy to use and manage. Ease of use also scores major points with this website builder, as they've spent over 15 years perfecting their platform and taking insights they've learned from the .org version of WordPress as well.
- Extensive library of themes and templates. While the access to themes, templates and plugins on WordPress.com pales in comparison to what's available in the self-hosted WordPress ecosystem, they do pack in nearly 300 different theme foundations to get your blog started with.
- Excellent customer support. With one of the most friendly, approachable customer support teams in the website builder space, WordPress.com takes a very hands on approach to helping customers through technical challenges.
- Free sounds a lot better than it is. One of the biggest drawbacks of WordPress.com's free option, is how massively restricted it is. Sure, the expectations for a free blogging site should be lower, but with their free version, you're stuck with a WordPress.com-branded domain name (yourwebsite.wordpress.com) and need to upgrade to a free plan in order to get your own domain & remove WordPress advertisements from your site. Features and functionality are also limited quite a bit, so think of this purely as a way to test the waters.
- Limited in functionality. You can’t use custom themes and plugins to customize your blog. Compared to the self-hosted WordPress route, the number of themes, templates and plugins you'll have access to is limited to just those that are built in-house by the WordPress team. While there are still plenty of good tools you'll access, they aren't going to be the best at helping you do things like nail your blog SEO, write well-optimized blog posts, gain valuable insights on how to drive traffic to your blog and more.
- More difficult to monetize your blog. This is another major con and stands alone as a compelling reason I'd recommend not using WordPress.com if you plan to eventually make money as a blogger. While they do allow things like physical product sales through their exclusive plugins, and have their own WordAds platform built in for site owners to try and monetize, they place some restrictions on monetizing through affiliate links, how you can collect payments and the rules you must conform to. The self-hosted WordPress route is your better option in terms of monetizing your blog in the long run.
- Comes with WordPress branding and ads (on free). Unless you upgrade to a paid plan with this website builder, you'll be left with prominent WordPress ads places across your website. But once you do upgrade to a paid option, you'll be paying more than with a self-hosted WordPress blog (and getting less in terms of features and future monetization ability).
- You don’t really want to run your blog on WordPress.com forever. As I've said, this is a good website builder to test things out and begin learning the basics of building a website, getting a jump start on writing practice, or designing page layouts. My advice is to not think of it as your long-term home though.
While the basic version of WordPress.com is free (with ads and a WordPress-branded domain), you'll need to upgrade for more functionality and control. So how does the payment structure work?
- Personal Plan: $5.00/mo. Removes ads, gets you a custom domain and adds 24/7 customer support
- Premium Plan: $8.00/mo. Unlocks much more design features and functionality including more themes and templates
- Business Plan: $25.00/mo. Removes WordPress.com branding, gets you access to more marketing tools including SEO tools, the ability to upload custom plugins and themes
- eCommerce Plan: $45.00/mo. Gets you the ability to sell products to customers in 60+ countries, integrates with shipping carriers, eCommerce marketing tools
The bottom line about WordPress.com, is that it could be a good website builder for bloggers who love WordPress, but don't mind some restrictions in exchange for a more simple platform.
If you want to build a real blogging business though, you'll soon find yourself switching to a self-hosted WordPress website due to the limited functionality of WordPress.com.
Another good website builder option for bloggers to consider (that requires absolutely no coding experience), is Weebly. They even have a 100% free website builder you can use to get started with, though it does come with Weebly branding like yourwebsite.weebly.com.
Best for: Those that want to build a simple, yet elegant looking website without much complexity or fancy features. While this website builder won't be my best pick if you're looking to publish regular blog content or sell a high volume of products online, it's great if your focus is on either generating leads for a physical business—or testing your way into an eCommerce-style business with an inexpensive platform.
Founded in 2006, Weebly has steadily grown in popularity over the last fifteen years—now boasting more than 45 million websites built using their platform.
Why have so many website owners chosen to settle on Weebly as their website builder of choice?
- Free plan available. Like with WordPress.com's free plan, you'll be stuck with a Weebly-branded domain with the free website builder plan, but it's a great way to test out the platform and see if you like the features and functionalities they offer.
- Super-easy to use drag-and-drop builder. Weebly's website builder design tool has clearly been built with simplicity and user-experience in mind. You can easily drop in custom fonts, set a video background on a page, add website search and drop in custom code elements if necessary.
- Beautiful themes that work out-of-the box. What this website builder lacks in complexity and customization, it makes up for in terms of how good their simple themes can look with relatively little time & effort spent tweaking them before publishing your website.
- Very strong mobile app. A rare feature in the website builder space, Weebly comes with a free mobile app you can use to edit, manage and monitor your website right from your phone or tablet. It's surprisingly functional, allowing you to even publish new pages using the drag-and-drop builder while you're on the go.
- Limited selection of themes. Compared to most of our other best website builders here on this list, Weebly has the fewest themes to start with your website design. That being said, the options they do have are mobile responsive and do look great—just don't expect a ton of customization within them.
- SEO features limited. This website builder won't be your best bet if you're hoping to attract customers from search engines. Their SEO tools leave a lot to be wanted, so if you go with Weebly, you better plan to have other sources of traffic for your website.
- Connect: $5.00/mo. Includes a free custom domain, but still saddles you with Weebly ads on your website.
- Pro (for Groups and Organizations): $12.00/mo. Removes Weebly ads, gives you access to a shopping cart and payment processing so you can sell products online.
- Business (for Small Businesses): $25.00/mo. Adds more robust eCommerce features like automatic tax calculation, inventory management, coupon codes and more.
- Business Plus (for Power Sellers): $38.00/mo. All of the features in Business, plus cart abandonment emails and real-time shipping updates for customers.
Weebly offers more basic functionality for beginning website owners (at this comparatively low price point) than many other website builders in its class—making it a particularly good option to consider if you just want to add a website to your existing physical-location business or test out an eCommerce business model.
Given the fact that it’s super easy to use (even on mobile devices), Weebly earns its spot as one of the best website builders for businesses.
As a creative for hire, you need a website builder that can both showcase your work and highlight your services in one place. That platform is Format.
Best for: Creators, designers, photographers, artists, writers and others that want to create a beautiful, visually-driven portfolio website that can showcase your work and land new clients.
Format is a self-funded business that came on the scene in 2010. Their mission is to empower creatives to showcase their talents in a professional and visually appealing manner. But Format is more than your average portfolio website builder, as it also has an integrated store component that allows you to sell your products online and a beautiful magazine side of their website that regularly showcases their customers.
So what makes this platform from Toronto a top option amongst the best website builders for creators?
- Easy to use and fully customizable. You can customize the design of each page of your portfolio website separately, which means you can custom tailor the look and feel of every area on your website based on the goals for that page.
- Powerful performance. A visual portfolio needs to work double time in order to load and process images quickly enough for your prospective clients to get a feel for your work—without losing their patience. Format's page speed and uptime ratings place it well amongst the best website builders in its class.
- Simple, clean designs. If you're particular about the visual brand of your portfolio website, then Format's got you covered. Their very modern approach to design translates into clean blocks of color, image galleries (to highlight your work), and elegant font choices.
- Excellent customer support. All of Format's website builder plans come with 24/7 customer support, and access to a massive knowledgebase with tutorials and answers.
- Customization options are plenty, so it can get overwhelming. If you're a visually-inclined creative, then fear not. You'll love just how customizable the look and feel of this website builder is—though it the very wide range of capabilities can quickly stray into "spending too much time tweaking my website and not enough selling my work" territory.
- Basic plan is limited in functionality. While the cheapest plan limits your number of pages to 15 for your website, you do still get your own custom domain.
Format offers 3 payment plans depending on the features and flexibility you want.
- Enthusiast: $6.00/mo. Limits your website to just 15 pages, but that's enough for many portfolio sites. Gets you a custom domain and up to 100 images hosted on your site.
- Pro: $12.00/mo. Upgrades your image count to 1,500 (ideal for artists and photographers that sell products), gives you unlimited pages and up to 30 products you can sell.
- Unlimited: $25.00/mo. Includes a 1 hour site setup consultation with a Format expert, twice a year website audit and optimization, unlimited images and priority support.
With so many rave reviews from the professionals that host their portfolios on this platform, Format gets my pick as the best website builder for creatives who want to showcase (and sell) their work online.
If you’re looking to create a beautiful portfolio that allows you to express yourself and grow your business, Format will serve you well.
Most of the best website builders lean heavily towards a particular function—say content creation over eCommerce functionality. With WooCommerce, you get the best of both worlds.
Best for: Website owners that want to strike a balance between an easy-to-use, free website builder that can sell products online (with simple layouts & designs) while still being able to publish SEO-friendly blog posts on a WordPress-powered platform that stand a chance of generating organic traffic. Awesome for bloggers and content creators that want to add an online store to their existing blog, without spending much more.
WooCommerce strikes this balance between eCommerce and blogging because it isn't technically a standalone website builder—but rather a powerful (free) shopping cart extension that will turn your simple self-hosted WordPress website into one with a highly functional online store.
Considering the fact that WooCommerce powers nearly 30% of all online stores and has been downloaded over 7 million times, it's definitely is worth considering. Especially since the platform is also free and just sits atop your existing self-hosted WordPress website.
- Advanced features to support large eCommerce store operations. This is perhaps the most highly customizable eCommerce website builder, with hundreds of options for adding new features and functionality through custom-built themes, templates and plugins made by third-party developers.
- Administrator and customer accounts. One very nice feature of WooCommerce is that you can give your team access to manage orders and view reports on the eCommerce side of your website without making them an admin over your entire web property.
- Tons of beautiful themes (both free and paid). WooCommerce is designed to work seamlessly with your existing WordPress theme (like Elementor), and comes with their own range of free & paid theme options should you choose to upgrade.
- Robust SEO features. As a free, WordPress-built product, this website builder for eCommerce companies comes with a very SEO-friendly foundation
- No real technical support. Being a free, open source platform, WooCommerce doesn’t offer any direct support aside from help guides & tutorials, as most of the themes and apps you'll install to make your store more robust will be made by third-party developers.
The beauty of WooCommerce is in the way it easily allows you to run a blog and eCommerce store in tandem on one single website—both looking and running like they were created by the same professional (that's you).
It definitely stands out amongst the other website builders, and should be an option to consider for bloggers who plan on selling physical products on their website.
Unlike WooCommerce, which is free and sits atop your self-hosted WordPress website, BigCommerce is a standalone hosted (paid) website builder.
Best for: Medium-sized (and larger) eCommerce website owners that have an existing online business with some paying customers—and want to reach even more customers, increase their conversion rates and build a higher-performing business.
Hailing from Texas and founded in 2009, BigCommerce was launched with the aim of being the greatest provider of software solutions to eCommerce business operators that lack technical skills. Because of that intense focus, they've become the go-to eCommerce website builder for companies like Ben & Jerry's, Skullcandy, Camelback and more.
What does BigCommerce bring to the table as a website builder?
While they're mainly targeted at eCommerce business owners with little to no web design and coding skills, they're also still a great option for tech-savvy users, as their website builder does offer the option to tinker around with the code (should you choose to do so).
- Tons of integrations and choose your own payment gateway. BigCommerce actually enables your online store to be able to sell on marketplaces like Ebay, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, while tracking every order and associated analytics back in your one dashboard. Plus, you can connect your own payment gateways (whereas Shopify processes all of your transactions at a slightly higher rate).
- Robust SEO features (including AMP functionality). This website builder includes advanced SEO tools designed to help you drive more visitors to your store, including features to create SEO-friendly product descriptions and listings on high-traffic shopping sites.
- Easy integration with many third-party apps. The third-party app ecosystem in BigCommerce helps you unlock more functionality in the realms of marketing, shipping, inventory management, CRMs, accounting and much more—meaning your entire business can be streamlined through the platform.
- Limited number of themes (10 free) with the paid options rather pricey ($145-$235). The free themes you get with BigCommerce's website builder are all very well-designed and straightforward, but if you're looking for a wide range of options, you'll need to buy their paid themes in order to unlock more diverse page layouts.
- Not as easy to learn. There's a definite learning curve to picking up how to use this website builder, but once you do—the additional level of complexity comes with a much more in-depth range of features and functionalities than you'd get from another eCommerce website builder like WooCommerce or Shopify.
- Blog functionality isn't as strong as rivals. While you can spin up a blog and publish content through a BigCommerce-powered website, the functionality and publishing options don't go nearly as far as other website builders that have more of a publishing focus.
- Standard: $29.95/mo.
- Plus: $79.95/mo.
- Pro: $249.95/mo.
Overall, BigCommerce is a great website builder option if you’re willing to go through a bit of a learning curve. Once you’ve mastered it however, running and managing your eCommerce store will be a breeze moving forward.
While it may not ultimately be the best website builder for most bloggers and small business owners, BigCommerce is a great option to consider as your business grows and you're ready to upgrade for more features.
Now that we’ve made it through all of the contenders for the best website builders on the market today, which one takes the cake for you?
While the question may be simple, the answer can take time to figure out.
In order for you to determine the best website builder for you to settle on, consider these key factors:
- Your specific goals and needs (what kind of website and business do you want to build?)
- Technical abilities
Using these factors in your decision making will help you choose the platform that'll best serve your unique needs...
But, I'm not one to bow out of giving you a definitive answer.
Here are my picks for the best website builders (based on needs):
- Best Website Builder for Bloggers: WordPress (self-hosted)
- Best Website Builder for eCommerce: Shopify
- Best Website Builder for Portfolios: Format
If you haven’t started your website yet, and want to go the route of blogging—but want some more guidance on how to do it well—check out my free guide to starting a blog (for beginners). It’s a practical, easy to understand, and most of all... 100% free.