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The best website builders

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By Jon Martindale


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We’ve put together a regularly updated list of our favorite website builders to walk you through finding the right one. Keep in mind nearly every free website builder on our list also offers a set of premium packages, many of which include expanded storage and bandwidth, as well as features often lacking from their freemium counterparts. The premium plans also remove unwanted ads on your page and the subdomain housed in your website URL, which is a must if you’re breaking into a professional field.

In most cases, you get what you pay for. While that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to spend a lot to have a great site, it’s important to consider how professional you want your website to look. More often than not, spending that little bit extra can go a long way.

Photographers should check out the portfolio site makers we’d most recommend, as that list looks specifically at how website builders handle and present large image galleries.

Our top pick

WordPress

wordpress
Wordpress

WordPress is the website builder Digital Trends is based on, though we have our own set of professional programmers behind the scenes. The service can be found at wordpress.org and is arguably one of the most capable given its open-source nature (especially for blogs), which allows for an extensive amount of templates, themes, and plugins which can be downloaded for free or bought for a premium price.

The platform has a relatively steep learning curve, which isn’t surprising given its long-term capabilities and sheer level of customization, the latter of which will likely require you to invest some time learning its various functions. Nonetheless, WordPress excels when it comes to ready-made themes, mobile-optimized templates, and widgets that allow you to include everything from comments to images. WordPress will also give you traffic information, which can help you cater your website to your audience, as well as 3GB of storage space and unlimited bandwidth.

You can download WordPress and install it directly to any hosting service you want to use. Doing this is more complicated, though, and requires more effort. If you want to rearrange the layout of a particular template, for instance, you’ll have to modify the code to do so. Plugins exist and can help, but installation often requires more than a single click.

If you want an easier option, that does exist. WordPress.com is an externally hosted version of the software, meaning you can create an account online, upload what you’d like to site, and publish it immediately. No downloads, no learning curve. It still offers a good amount of customization, and it’s available without the need for any kind of coding knowledge.

Build your website using:

Wordpress

A few other platforms we really like

Wix

wix
Wix

Wix is one of the best free website builders out there. Its hundreds of HTML templates are extremely user-friendly and reliant on the software’s drag-and-drop interface, which makes building a website a similar experience to crafting a PowerPoint presentation. While Wix offers more flexibility in terms of customization over other website builders, the unbridled freedom also makes it easier to create lackluster designs if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Wix does allow you to revert to older stages of your website via “Site History,” though, and includes robust integration with a wide array of third-party services like calendars and Instagram feeds. And the service lets you separately customize an accompanying mobile site.

Wix doesn’t allow you to switch templates if you’ve already started a project and only offers 500MB of storage and 1GB of bandwidth if you opt for the freemium package. Upgrades to more bandwidth and storage space include domain tools, ranging from $5 to $25 a month.

Build your website using:

Wix

Squarespace

squarespace
Squarespace

Squarespace gets a lot of attention, and for good reason. It’s sleek, full of features, pretty, and inexpensive. Squarespace will run you $12 a month for the basic package, with rates topping out at $40 a month for its Commerce package. The $12 a month nets you unlimited storage and bandwidth, but a restriction to 20 pages. You also have full e-commerce integration, and an included SSL security certificate.

The modern website builder allows you to create an HTML5-compliant site with a heavy focus in commerce, yet, it also hits its stride when it comes to analytics tools and its resounding ability to accommodate mobile devices. Buttons for adding and editing content line the left-hand side of the straightforward interface, as well a button for quickly previewing how your content will look once live, all of which adhere to your respective theme.

Squarespace’s integration with third-party widgets isn’t as impressive as other website builders, but the Developer Platform does give competent users the ability to insert their own HTML, CSS, and JavaScript coding if they want to add further functionality to their site.

The service also provides step-by-step tutorials for importing pages from other sites. It provides forums and even workshops to get you up to speed regarding nearly all aspects of the site. You can’t customize the mobile experience and the platform lacks on-page ad tools, but there a lot to be said for its hands-off approach and immense selling capabilities.

Build your website using:

Squarespace

Weebly

weebly
Weebly

Weebly is an old favorite among those who use template-based website builders. It’s easy to use, clean-looking, and offers plenty of customization options. Drag and drop features for adding images, text, and other elements are stored within the left-hand sidebar, though you can only insert elements into designated areas of your page.

That said, limiting the customization options also allows novice users to grasp the platform quicker than others on our list, regardless of the theme they opt for. Moreover, Weebly provides the ability to add maps and download your entire website as a ZIP file in case you want to move your information to a standard Web hosting service.

Although Weebly doesn’t boast the best image-editing tools on the market, it does let you to seamlessly add audio and video to your site, along with a wealth of commerce tools for putting up a storefront. You can customize your mobile site too, and the Weebly iPad app even lets you build your site on the go.

The free package grants you 500MB of storage space and unlimited bandwidth, with options for expanded storage and features ranging from $8 a month up to $25 a month paid annually.

Build your website using:

Weebly

Voog

voog
Voog

Edicy did more than just change its name when it became Voog in 2014, but the heart of the platform essentially remains the same. It’s built on a simple drag-and-drop interface that’s reliant on the horizontal menu bar located at the bottom of the page, one that gives you the option to adding text, movies and photo galleries.

It basks in the basics with only a handful of themes to choose from, but each is responsive and optimized for whatever platform users might be using to view the site. The lack of customization might be a deterrent to those looking for a more comprehensive package, though it also renders the site one of the easiest to use for novices with little design experience.

However, the hallmark of Voog is its multilingual component, a facet that lets you build parallel iterations of your site for different regions around the globe (i.e. the United States, Brazil, Canada). Few services offer such a feature, which makes the platform a standout for six Euros a month (about seven US dollars) if you’re setting up an international, web-based store. You’ll also receive 2GB of storage and access to the open API for the price, while more expensive offerings bestow you with additional storage and pages.

Build your website using:

Voog


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