How To Choose A Website Builder
Each year, millions of small business owners, entrepreneurs and freelancers take to website builders to make their dream websites come to life. When choosing a website builder, it is paramount to know that you are not only getting great value but a feature-rich website builder that will help create a professional-looking and functional website as well.
With so many options, it may seem like finding the best website builder is easier said than done. But here at WebCreate, we have made it our mission to simplify every step of the website creation process – including selecting the right platform. So don’t wait any further, read on to discover how to compare and choose the best website builder for you.
Make a Plan For Your Website
Before we jump right into it, it’s important to establish a framework for your website (as we suggest in our ultimate guide- how to build a website). Take a few minutes and walk through the goals and objectives of the site you want to build. I.E., ask yourself:
What is the primary function of my website?
If you are an online retailer, it could be to increase sales through your website. A local business may wish to increase more foot traffic, while a consultant might hope to build awareness of their services and collect leads to expand their business.
Having defined your website’s goals, you will realize the exact features you require from a website builder, and can, therefore, compare and select the best website builder for your business with ease.
In addition to defining your website’s goals, asking the following questions when considering which website builder is right for you will further guide you in the right direction:
- Who is my core audience?
- How many pages should the website be?
- How advanced are the design offerings of the builder, such as templates, fonts and third-party integrations?
- How much traffic should my site support and if it grows, can the web builder support this?
Now that you have a better sense of what your goals are and what you hope to accomplish with your site, the following is our recommended set of criteria one should examine when selecting a website builder:
- Third-Party Integrations
- Customer Service
Check the Website Builders’ Pricing and Plans
Having a website builder that is affordable is important. This means allowing flexible payment options like allowing you to pay monthly, bi-monthly or annually. Some website builders require payment in full upon the agreement of terms of service, so checking the frequency in which you will have to pay before you agree to the terms of service is highly-advised.
The good thing is, most, if not all website builders allow you to try their service free of charge before you commit long-term. Squarespace, for example, offers a 14-day free trial period, but once your trial period is up, you cannot further edit your site unless you upgrade to a premium account (although you can ask for a 7-day extension). Wix and Weebly, on the other hand, offer an unlimited trial period- and you can even publish your website on their free plans (but it will feature a Wix/Weebly domain and advertising).
If you’ve tested out a few builders now, and are close to making a decision — be sure to check the refund policy of the builder you want to use. Most offer a 30-day money back guarantee at minimum, but others have been known to offer extended guarantees in some cases, up to 90 days.
Make Sure the Website Builder Offers a High Level of Customization
One of the biggest selling points of website builders is that they give you, the user, full control of your website’s design. And the better the drag-and-drop functionality of the builder, the easier it will be to edit and manage common elements of your website’s layout. Can you add additional text, images, change colors or fonts? What about changing templates without losing content or even exporting content from one site to another? This can be explored by trialing the platform you wish to use.
In the case of Wix, it has over 500 professional-looking templates, giving you more than enough options to choose from. Not only are there over 500 templates, but they come in a plethora of styles, colors and categories.
You also need to consider if managing the mobile interface separately from the desktop is important to you. Whilst most website builders offer responsive and automatically mobile-friendly templates, not all allow you to edit the display for mobile without it affecting the desktop site (and vice versa). Squarespace, for example, does not offer this capability, whilst Wix and Weebly (with the purchase of an app) do.
Last, you may also wish to choose a website builder that gives you access to the backend of your site by letting you insert custom code. Although becoming more common than before, especially through most paid versions of website builders, this is one of the ultimate forms of customization.
This will allow you to make further modifications to your website but does require basic web development skills and knowledge. If editing the code sounds too advanced, check for the website builders (such as Squarespace and Wix) that offer simple integrations enabling you to embed music, video players, social feeds and more.
Investigate Third-Party Integrations
Third party integrations like Insightly, Amazon, YouTube, Spotify and the ability to accept foreign currency are among countless integrations available through most website builders. There are many others too, but whether or not the integrations are paid or free, depends on the package you choose. These integrations can be used to enhance your website’s design or bring a feature to life.
Conversely, there are numerous integrations that can be helpful for retaining customers and assisting with the conversion funnel. Take email newsletters and MailChimp’s integration with Squarespace for example. With this integration, you can collect leads through their customized forms and build your email list with the Newsletter Block. Then use MailChimp to send those leads targeted newsletters- advertise a sale, encourage blog subscriptions, promote new products and more.
There are a number of additional integrations, which we’ve listed below:
- Point of sale solutions such as Shopify’s integration with Ucraft.
- Website performance analysis tools such as Google Analytics.
- Social media share buttons for Twitter, Facebook & Google Plus.
- Music & video apps like YouTube, SoundCloud and Spotify which are available across most leading website builders.
Take Note of the Website Builders’ Support Offerings
Ideally, access to 24/7 online, phone or email support is preferred. We know this is not always the case though. If one or more of these forms of support are available, take advantage of them, but bare in mind there are more channels for support to keep an eye out for.
If there’s a section dedicated to videos, FAQs and Q&As, there is likely more than a wealth of knowledge spread across these channels that can help you solve almost any issue you’re trying to resolve. In addition, most website builders allow users to submit tickets for technical issues.
There’s also a more immediate solution offered by website builders such as Strikingly and Ucraft – live chat. With live chat, there’s almost little-to-no wait time for answers.
At the end of the day, talking to a real, live customer service representative is preferred, especially if the problem is too complex to solve through live chat. In the event that you need to reach someone regarding your website, both Weebly and Wix offer phone support, a standout benefit when considering the support options offered by the top builders.
Exploring the world of website builders can seem overwhelming and time-consuming. This is why we’re here, to provide direction on what to look for when choosing the best builder for you. Using the above guide should make it easier for you to compare the advantages and disadvantages of the website builders you’re considering. And of course, don’t forget to try-before-you-buy!
To find out more about top website builders such as Wix and Squarespace, check out our Website Builder Comparison.