Website builders are software tools that allow people with little to no coding experience to easily create professional-looking websites. With a website builder, you just select a template, drag and drop content blocks like text, images, contact forms etc, and customize things like colors and fonts to design your site visually. The website builder generates clean HTML and CSS code behind the scenes so you don’t have to worry about coding. Some key features of website builders include:
- Intuitive drag and drop editors to build pages visually
- Hundreds of professionally designed templates and themes to choose from
- Options to add and customize text, multimedia, contact forms, social media integration etc
- Responsive design so sites work on mobile devices
- Built-in SEO to help with search engine rankings
- Ecommerce capabilities to easily sell products/services
- Domain registration and web hosting included
- Analytics to track site traffic and visitor behavior
- Security features like SSL certificates to encrypt data
So in a nutshell, website builders empower anyone to create stunning websites without needing advanced technical skills. Even with zero experience, you can have a great looking, feature-rich site up and running in minutes!
Advantages of Using a Website Builder
Here are some of the main reasons businesses and individuals should consider using a website builder platform:
It’s Simple and Intuitive
The learning curve for website builders is virtually non-existent. The drag and drop editors with hundreds of templates allow you to put together professional pages just by pointing and clicking. Adding content like text, images, videos etc is a breeze – no coding needed! You can have a complete website up and running literally within minutes of signing up.
Requires No Coding or Design Skills
Hiring web developers and designers is expensive. Website builder plans start from just a few dollars a month and include hosting, domains, security, and more. So they allow you to get an impressive online presence on a budget.
Easy to Customize and Update
Website builders make it simple for anyone to tweak content or design. Drag and drop in new elements, change colors/fonts, add pages – updates take just a few clicks. No need to continually hire devs to handle changes. You remain in control of your site.
Optimized for Mobile
Templates offered by website builders use responsive design principles. This means your site dynamically adapts to fit everything from desktops down to small mobile screens. No special mobile optimization needed.
Many website builders like Wix and Squarespace provide built-in ecommerce capabilities for selling products/services. You can easily add online stores with payment processing, shipping etc.
Search Engine Visibility
Building with SEO (search engine optimization) best practices in mind allows your site to rank better in search engines like Google. Website builder templates and content elements follow SEO fundamentals to help visitors find you.
Growth and Conversion Tools
Beyond design and development features, website builders offer built-in tools for marketers. Email marketing, lead generation, contact forms, analytics, CRM and more allow you to generate traffic and convert visitors.
So in summary, a website builder allows virtually anyone to create a powerful online presence quickly, easily, and affordably. Taking advantage of a visual drag and drop editor and professionally designed templates means you skip learning technical skills and achieve results faster. If you want a website that leaves a positive impression with visitors without major effort or investment, a website builder is likely the best route to take.
Different Types of Website Builders
There are a variety of website builder solutions out there, ranging from limited free tools to more advanced premium platforms. Here are some of the main options:
Free Website Builders
Free website builders like Weebly and Wix provide basic templates and features to get a very simple site live. However, they lack advanced functionality, impose storage/bandwidth limits, and plaster your site with ads. Good for basic non-commercial sites only.
Premium Website Builders
Paid website builders like Squarespace and Webflow offer high quality professional templates, unlimited storage, ecommerce capabilities, and more. Prices range from ~$12 to $40 monthly for enhanced features and flexibility. Great for modern sites to build an online presence.
Ecommerce Website Builders
Specialized ecommerce website builders like Shopify and BigCommerce cater to retailers selling online. Integrated shopping carts, product listings, payment processing, shipping management and more allow you to quickly launch an online store. Prices start around $30 monthly.
Free Website Editors
Editors like Google Sites allow you to customize existing templates but offer less design flexibility compared to true website builders. Best for very simple sites with minimal requirements.
App Website Builders
App-based website builders like Strikingly provide mobile optimized editing and management of sites through iOS and Android apps. Convenient for on-the-go updates.
So with this range of options, you can choose a website building platform aligned to your goals, budget, features needs and tech comfort level. Focus on premium builders for more power and creative control over your site.
How Website Builders Work
Under the hood, website builders use two key technologies to allow easy site creation – themes/templates and drag and drop editors.
Themes & Templates
All website builders offer professionally designed theme templates that you can use as a starting point for your site. Themes handle the underlying code and structure while presenting visual layouts, color schemes, fonts etc. This eliminates the need for coding or design expertise.
For example, Squarespace has templates like Brine, Pacific, and Momentum featuring elegant designs tailored to different industries like restaurants, weddings, portfolios etc. Rather than starting from a blank slate, you pick the template whose appeal matches your brand.
Drag and Drop Editors
Website builders provide an intuitive page editor where you can visually place and arrange elements. For example, just drag in a text block, image gallery, contact form etc and position them by dragging. No coding needed – just simple clicks.
This enables full customization of template content. Keep what you like, delete what you don’t, modify everything from colors to fonts to fully make the template your own. The editor translates your point and click actions into clean code behind the scenes.
Many also offer mobile versions of their editor apps so you can even create and manage your site on the go.
Together, templates provide the backbone while the editor empowers easy visual changes. This combination enables anyone to craft and publish stunning sites. Modern website builders have come a long way in terms of flexibility and ease-of-use.
Key Players in the Website Builder Space
Some of the top website builders on the market today include:
Wix is the world’s most popular website builder with over 200 million users worldwide. It offers an AI-powered editor, thousands of templates, built-in ecommerce and marketing tools, and a free tier. Ideal for blogs, stores, and business sites.
Squarespace provides elegant designer-made templates focused on artists, restaurants, weddings, and online stores. Powerful features for content, community, analytics, and commerce.
Webflow differs in offering a layered visual editor that generates clean reusable code. Caters more to marketers, designers, and developers vs beginners. Integrates with CMSs and ecommerce platforms.
Weebly focuses on beginners and has an intuitive drag/drop editor. Lightweight option for simple sites like basic online brochures and portfolios. Limited compared to advanced platforms.
Shopify equips you to easily build and customize online stores and sell across multiple sales channels. Robust ecommerce features for products, inventory, checkout, and order management.
WordPress.org lets you download open-source WordPress software and host it yourself. Extremely flexible and customizable with thousands of plugins. Requires more technical expertise.
These represent some of the major players that enable you to get online and achieve your goals without major web dev skills. Focus on identifying the ideal platform matched to your specific needs and budget.
Pros and Cons of Website Builders
Below are some key advantages and potential drawbacks to weigh when considering a website builder:
- Extremely easy to use with no coding/design needed
- Quickly launch a great looking site via templates
- Built-in features like ecommerce, email marketing, analytics
- Affordable pricing, often much cheaper than custom development
- Easy to customize and update site content and design
- Many options tailored to beginners all the way up to professionals
- Less design flexibility and customization versus full custom-coded sites
- Hosted solutions can limit ability to customize backend code
- Some lack the functionality that comes with open platforms like self-hosted WordPress
- If builder service ever shuts down, you lose access to your site
- Maximum performance still requires upgrading to more expensive plans
The main tradeoff is between ease-of-use and design limitations. Advanced custom sites offer endless possibilities but require strong technical skills. Website builder platforms strategically constrain options in return for empowering anyone to build professional sites very quickly. For many, the pros outweigh the cons. Evaluate which set aligns more closely with your goals.
Should You Use a Website Builder?
Here are a few key questions to help determine if a website builder makes sense for your needs:
- Do you lack web design and coding skills and want a simple way to get online?
- Does your budget limit ability to hire web developers and designers?
- Do you value being able to easily edit and update your own site?
- Do you want access to built-in features like ecommerce without extra plugins/apps?
- Is a beautiful responsive site tailored to your industry a priority?
- Do you prefer a hosted platform over downloading and installing software?
- Do you want to spend more time on content/business goals rather than building?
If you answered yes to most of these, then a website builder may be the best fit to achieve your goals. The intuitive interfaces, professional templates, and included hosting/features let you hit the ground running.
But if you’re aiming for a more advanced custom site, or want under-the-hood access, then alternatives like hiring a web firm, using open-source platforms like WordPress, or learning to code may better serve your needs.
Evaluate your priorities and needs to determine if a website builder can provide the easiest path to getting your business online and in front of customers. For most, the uber-simple access website builders offer is attractive. But assess what’s optimal for your specific goals.
Getting Started With a Website Builder
Here is a brief overview of the process for getting started with a website builder:
1. Choose Your Platform
Research top website builder options like Wix, Squarespace, and Webflow. Analyze their templates, capabilities, reputations, and pricing to select the best fit.
2. Sign Up For an Account
Go to your chosen provider’s website and sign up for a new user account. This typically involves entering your email, creating a password, and specifying your site goals.
3. Select a Template
Browse the template marketplace and select one that both looks appealing and fits your industry. Most offer dozens if not hundreds of professionally designed options.
4. Use the Editor
Customize your template using the drag and drop editor. Delete, add, rearrange and style elements like text, images, videos and more through intuitive clicks.
5. Add Features
Integrate additional functionality like email marketing, chatbots, booking systems, analytics and more through built-in or third party apps/plugins.
6. Publish Your Site
When ready, use the platform tools to officially launch your live site either using your own domain or a default subdomain.
7. Manage Your Site
Log into your dashboard to monitor traffic, manage orders if running an ecommerce store, respond to inquiries and more. Update content and design as needed.
Many provide free trials so you can test the process at no cost. The steps are straightforward and designed to make building a powerful site intuitive for even complete beginners.
- Website builders empower practically anyone to create professional quality websites without coding
- Intuitive drag and drop editors paired with pre-made templates provide the foundation
- Benefits include simplicity, affordability, built-in features, easy customization, and quick setup
- Leading options include Wix, Squarespace, Webflow, Weebly, and Shopify among others
- Evaluate your goals to decide if a website builder fits vs going fully custom
- Signing up, selecting a template, and using the visual editor makes getting started very quick
Website builders have transformed web development by radically simplifying the process for business owners, bloggers, marketers, and individuals to get online. Taking advantage of the intuitive interfaces and pre-built themes offered by platforms like Wix and Squarespace provides a fast track to launching an impressive site. Consider evaluating popular website builders to determine if they present the easiest path for you to establish your digital presence.