How to choose a web builder

Back in the day, to build a website you had to know how to write code or be able to hire someone who did. Enter web builders: Service providers that allow anyone to build a website using simple tools. They handle the coding and offer you templates that you can customize with your own text, designs, images and more. Today, millions of people use web builders to establish their web presence.

Is a web builder right for you?

Using a web builder can be a wonderful option for new ventures large and small. To determine whether a web builder is right for you, think about the following questions:

Budget, maintenance and capabilities are some of the factors in considering a web builder.

Who will be designing and maintaining the website? Web builders are ideal options for those with little or no technical experience who want to be able to make their own changes to the site without hiring a professional. They’re also a good option for people who want to hire a web designer to do the initial site build, but have anyone be able to make updates to the site later on.

What’s your budget? Web builders can be a very cost-effective option for creating a site. Many offer their most basic package as a free plan, while others offer free trials. After that, they typically charge a monthly fee that scales up with your site size and allows for add-on services such as web hosting.

What will your site be used for? Web builders offer design theme or templates that span a wide range of industries and website types, including those designed for blogs or portfolios, retail and e-commerce, events and professional services. Once you determine what type of site you want, it will help you determine which web builder is right for you.

What will your site look like? Keep in mind that while web builders offer many ways to customize your site, you’ll still be working within some restrictions. If you’re looking for a layout or template that’s never been used before or that’s totally customizable from top to bottom, you may wish to create a custom site.

Are there any special capabilities your site needs to have? Today’s web builders can handle a variety of sophisticated web needs, from newsletter publishing to e-commerce. Most web builders will also automatically optimize your site for mobile devices — a must-have these days.

Having specific site needs will not disqualify you from using a web builder, but it will help you determine which one to use.

Identifying your top priorities will help you choose a web builder.

Your web builder checklist

Once you decide you’re interested in using a web builder, it’s time to compile a list of what you’re looking for. Here are some considerations to think about. Order these in the priority that makes sense for you, and keep them in mind as your consider your options:

  • Ease of Use
  • Popularity
  • Pricing
  • Free plan
  • Design flexibility
  • Themes/templates
  • Mobile site optimization
  • Support
  • Blogging
  • E-commerce
  • Newsletter creator
  • Membership creator
  • Mobile app
  • Web hosting

Which web builder should you use?

The best way to identify the right web builder for your needs is to do some comparison shopping. We’ve broken down the basics from some of the top web builders out there today, all of which partner with Google Domains.

Google Sites
Google offers a free web builder, Google Sites. It mirrors the tools and technology used by Google Docs, Sheets and Slides to make it simple to create, share and manage a basic site.

Blogger is a free tool offered by Google for creating blogs, which often double as simple sites. It offers basic tools and easy-to-use templates to get started. You can also post directly to Blogger from Google Docs.

Squarespace is a design-oriented web builder that provides sleek and sophisticated templates, drag-and-drop editing tools, and mobile responsiveness (aka optimization) for building websites, portfolios and online stores that adapt to any device.

Weebly is a drag-and-drop web builder that offers professional templates and integrated e-commerce and marketing for websites, online stores and blogs — no experience required.

Wix is a popular web builder that offers a free basic plan, over 500 templates and adds new tools and features regularly. It also includes an artificial design intelligence (ADI) tool that helps you build your site.

What began as a blog builder has now expanded into a website builder, offering simple tools to create and maintain your online brand, business, blog or portfolio. WordPress sites can be hosted independently or through Bluehost, which offers simple setup.

Shopify is an e-commerce platform focused on making it easy to create and run your own online shop using storefront themes; it supports 1,500 apps and offers 24/7 support.

In addition to the information above, one of the best ways to get a feel for a web builder is to check out websites that have been built with it. Most web builders feature a portfolio of live sites built on their templates.

Like what you see? If you’re ready to create your own site, get a great domain with Google Domains and you can immediately start creating your website with a web builder.