Are you planning on building a website for you or your small business? Unsure of where to start?
Website building software might be the answer for you. To help you get started in the world of website building and design, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to website building software.
Table of Contents
- What is Website Building Software?
- Do I Need Website Building Software?
- Website Building Software Use-Cases
- What are the Benefits of Website Building Software?
- What Should I Consider When Evaluating Website Building Software?
- What Website Building Tools Should I Consider?
- Best Practices and Tips for Using Website Building Software
What is Website Building Software?
Website building software helps individuals and organizations create professional-looking websites, without the need for complex code.
Different solutions offer their own unique design tools and templates, and are usually sold on a monthly subscription basis. Website building software also typically includes domain hosting, which means that users don’t have to use a separate platform to purchase or get a free domain.
The types of website builders vary widely. Overall, cheaper solutions are best for small businesses who need to build simple websites. If you want to build a website with more design and function complexity, you would need to opt for an advanced website builder, which usually comes with a higher price tag.
Website building software can also be used for functions beyond website building – including ecommerce, digital marketing, and blogging. With these in mind, it’s best to research a solution’s full capabilities before deciding which one is the best for your business.
Do I Need Website Building Software?
Website building software is perfect for SMBs that do not have the resources to create a website from scratch. Even if someone on your team has the technical skills, it will take a long time for them to build a new website on their own.
Some companies choose to hire web development teams to launch custom-coded websites. However, this can be pricey and many ask their clients to write up detailed, time-consuming briefs. Therefore, using website building software can save you time and money.
Key signs that you can benefit from website building software include:
- Neither you nor your IT team has coding experience
- You need your website to be up and running ASAP
- Your IT or marketing budgets cannot accommodate third-party development services
- You’re not too choosy about the design of your website and are happy to use a high-quality template
- You want an easy way to edit site content
Website Building Software Use-Cases
A large percentage of SMBs use website building tools to market their services and run their operations. According to recent stats, 35% of websites are powered by WordPress alone.
Many types of professionals from a variety of industries use web creation software, from solo tradesmen and artists to successful ecommerce businesses and non-profit organizations. Whether you’re planning to spread the word about your high-quality tutoring services, display your portfolio to potential investors, or collect donations for your local church, a website builder will support your efforts and drive engagement.
To give you a sense of what a website builder could do for you, we’ve collated a list of impressive sites created using services such as Wix and Squarespace:
1. Active Schools – Squarespace
Active Schools is an organization committed to enhancing opportunities for kids to get involved in sports. Its site uses Squarespace and, as you can see, it is compelling, professional-looking, and easy to read.
Active Schools has boosted its chances of gaining leads and support using only a killer color scheme, digestible copy, and inspiring photography. If you’re a non-profit looking to launch a website, this is a good example to emulate.
2. Vermont Pressed Flowers – Wix
Vermont Pressed Flowers is a small business that sells unique pressed flower artworks, including bookmarks and notecards. It is also the brainchild of artist Ellie Roden, who enlisted the help of search engine optimization – SEO – company Wallaroo Media to boost company sales in 2017.
Wallaroo works closely with website builder Wix to deliver outstanding services to its clients, the likes of which include IKEA, Disney and the NBA, as well as a handful of thriving SMBs. Thanks to the SEO features included in the Wix Editor, Roden could easily add regular keyword-rich content, including meta titles and meta descriptions.
Guided by Wallaroo’s expertise, Vermont Pressed Flowers soon made its way to the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs) for pressed flower art, and Roden’s profits rose significantly. If you’re new to SEO and digital marketing, website building software such as Wix could help you crack search engine algorithms with minimal effort.
3. Flourist – Shopify
Shopify is an intuitive platform used by e-commerce companies to sell their wares. Take a look at this gorgeous Shopify shop front created by Flourist, for example.
Its simple layout makes shopping for items super easy and quick and is great if you’re looking to attract casual browsers and new customers. Shopify stores are overall highly customizable, and allow users to perfect their brand esthetic and tone of voice.
4. Colin King – Squarespace
Squarespace is great for freelancers and artists hoping to build their personal brand and host an online portfolio. Creative Colin King, for example, recently overhauled his online presence using the platform, creating a visually stunning site that shows off his full range of talents. As King noted in a recent interview with Squarespace, traffic to the site has increased since the relaunch.
What are the Benefits of Website Building Software?
If you are still unconvinced of the virtues of website builders, these amazing benefits could change your mind:
No Technical Skills Required
Website builders are typically designed with non-experts in mind and feature user-friendly interfaces. Whether you’re looking to upload a picture or refine your site’s SEO, you won’t have to write a single line of code.
You Don't Need a Background in Web Design
Thanks to the availability of templates on website builders, you don’t need a talented eye for graphic design to create something visually pleasing and profitable. Don’t worry if you have brand guidelines to follow – all good website building platforms feature customization options.
You Edit Your Website Remotely and On-Demand
You edit your website remotely and on-demand: Website builders are hosted on remote servers, meaning you can log into your account and make changes to your website at any time.
Integrations & Add-On Applications Can Extend the Functionality of Your Website
Most web building services allow you to improve site functionality with a vast array of internal or third-party plug-ins. Whether you’re looking to integrate analytics software or payment processing technology, there’s something out there to suit almost everyone.
You Can Publish Your Website Quickly
Are you looking to launch your business in a hurry? With a site builder, you can publish your website the minute you finish designing it.
You Don't Need a Big Budget
The vast majority of site builders offer very competitive pricing plans, and you can minimize your total spending by opting for a smaller package. Some site builders even offer free accounts for those looking to create very simple sites.
What Should I Consider When Evaluating Website Building Software?
No two website builders are the same – each offers a variety of perks and drawbacks. Before you commit to a certain solution, there are several factors you should consider that will help you evaluate whether it suits the unique requirements of your business.
Every website builder comes with its own in-built features and add-ons, some of which are better or more advanced than others. There are several key features to look out for and assess when conducting your research – website builder, ecommerce tools, blogs, integrations, SEO optimizations, analytics, mobile, and legal & security compliances.
This is probably the most important feature to consider when selecting your software. How intuitive or sophisticated are the editing tools? Does the builder come with a range of attractive templates, or are your options limited? Do you have the option to add navigation elements such as a search bar? Can you edit your website with mobile devices in mind? Asking yourself these kinds of questions will help to guide your decisions.
If you’re hoping to sell goods and services on your site, you must assess whether your prospective web builder contains the right tools to handle your operations. Key tools to look out for include tax calculators, shipping rate calculators, payment and coupon processing tools, inventory managers, order trackers, and more. If you sell a wide range of products, it may also be beneficial to use a web builder with robust search capabilities.
Many website builders contain blogging software that allows users to upload and edit content. If you’re hoping to enhance your SEO strategy with a regular blog, you need an accessible content management system (CMS). It is also advisable to find a CMS that allows readers to add quick comments, as this could drive engagement and highlight areas for business improvement.
Depending on the nature of your business, it is highly likely that you will require third-party integrations to enhance the functionality of your site. Indeed, integrations could help to boost everything from SEO and analytics capabilities to your data backup and malware protection. Remember to browse app options before settling on a web builder.
A strong SEO strategy is vital if you want to push your site to the top of search pages and drive business growth. Fortunately, most site builders include features designed to satisfy search engine algorithms such as sitemaps, robots.txt editors, URL redirect managers, and site verification tools.
Try to find a site builder with comprehensive analytics capabilities. Decent editing software will display a range of useful metrics such as traffic stats, average session duration, total site sessions, bounce rates, conversions, unique visitor numbers, traffic by location, and average sales and revenue (if your site features e-commerce options). With this data, you can assess the success of your marketing campaigns and hone your plans accordingly.
To maximize the success of your site, you may need to edit it on the go. Fortunately, many web builders are mobile-friendly. Many let you view important site analytics and even manage your ecommerce store through their applications.
Legal & Security Compliances
You must select a site builder with adequate security protections such as SSL certifications, firewalls, and GDPR compliance. Any data breaches or losses could damage your reputation and cost huge amounts of money.
If you’ve never built a website before, try to find software that is user-friendly and suitable for beginners. It may be worth trying out free or demo versions of your desired software before committing to a subscription.
Based on our research, Wix and Weebly are the most user-friendly website builders.
The price of web building software can vary widely, and it can be difficult to switch providers. In this way, you must conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis before you start building your website.
In general you can expect to pay between free and $500 for your website builder software. Details on pricing can be found here.
Consider whether prospective packages will generate a positive return on investment (ROI), and remember to ask for the opinions of senior colleagues.
4. Customer Support Provisions
Customer support is a crucial component of any software vendor’s offering. Look for a website builder with active (ideally round-the-clock) customer support channels that you can utilize when things go awry.
Live chat options are often relatively reliable and can help you to secure answers quickly. Email and phone lines can also help you obtain reliable answers to your questions.
If you’re new to web building, look out for software providers with a comprehensive knowledge database, including user guides, forums, webinars, podcasts, and more.
Overall, we found X and Y to offer the best customer support.
What Website Building Tools Should I Consider?
The website building software market is saturated with a wide variety of solutions that serve different customer types. We’ve listed the top website building software platforms that you should consider..
Wix is our top ranked website builder for small businesses. It has over 200 million users. Its platform is robust in terms of features and website design capabilities, but also user-friendly. It is suitable for beginner website creators and ecommerce business owners.
Wix is a website builder with over 200 million users. Its main features include highly customizable website builder, a WYSIWYG blog editor, ecommerce tools, SEO tools, and analytics dashboards. Overall, Wix is design-friendly and can support beginner website builders.
Squarespace is a website builder with over one million paying customers. It places an emphasis on website design and offers incredibly modern templates. Its platform is intuitive enough for beginner website creators and ecommerce business owners, but feature-rich enough for more experienced users.
Squarespace is a website builder with one million paying customers. Its main features are highly customizable website builder, a WYSIWYG blog editor, ecommerce features, SEO customizations, email marketing, and traffic, sales, and engagement dashboards. Overall, Squarespace is the best solution for design-forward websites and displaying visual work.
Weebly is one of the most user-friendly and affordable website builders available for small businesses, and supports over 50 million websites internationally. Even though Weebly is a basic platform, it is well-rounded in terms of features. Those who are beginning their website building and ecommerce journey should consider Weebly.
Weebly is a website builder solution that supports over 50 million websites. It offers an easy to use website builder, a WYSIWYG blog editor, ecommerce tools, email marketing tools, and analytics dashboards. Weebly is one of the most user-friendly solutions available in the market and best for beginner website creators and ecommerce store owners.
WordPress is one of the most popular website building platforms available. It powers over 75 million websites. Its platform is advanced and does have a steeper learning curve compared to other solutions. However, it is one of the most customizable through the use of plugins.
WordPress is a website builder that supports over 75 million websites. Its main features include a robust website builder, a WYSIWYG blog editor, ecommerce tools, an extensive library of plugins, SEO tools, and several analytics dashboard. Overall, while not the most user-friendly, WordPress gives you more control over your website's design and functionality than other solutions.
Webflow is an advanced website building platform with over 200,000 users. It gives you the most control over your website’s design and offers Photoshop level customizations – including editing borders, padding, and transforming elements by rotating, scaling, and skewing them. However, this platform’s learning curve is steep, so we recommend taking advantage of Webflow’s tutorial and support resources before purchasing.
Webflow is a website building platform with over 200,000 users. It offers feature including the most customizable website builder, a blog editor, ecommerce functionality, and SEO tools. It is best for designers and experienced users who want the most creative control over their website's design.
GoDaddy is a basic, intuitive website building software with over 20 million users. It includes a wide variety of digital marketing tools and is best for building simple web pages. However, GoDaddy is not as feature-rich as other user-friendly tools like Wix and Squarespace.
GoDaddy is a website building software with over 20 million users. Its main features include a website builder, a WYSIWYG blog editor, ecommerce functionality, SEO tools, social media tools, email marketing, and analytics reports. Overall, GoDaddy is one of the more user-friendly solutions available and offers better digital marketing tools than those found in other solutions.
Best Practices and Tips for Using Website Building Software
Now that you’ve found your ideal software, you need to know how to use it to your advantage. Here are a few best practices and tips to ensure your website makes the desired impact.
1. Select an Industry-Appropriate Theme
Most web design builders boast tons of gorgeous themes. While it may be tempting to pick the most flamboyant or colorful, you must select a theme that aligns with your brand esthetic. If you own a high-flying law firm, for example, you should probably stick to a sleek, muted design.
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It is also worth noting that some themes may generate unexpected functionality issues. Themes full of features and complex animations could end up hindering your site speed, while others may not work on mobile devices. If in doubt, opt for simplicity and edit the site to suit your specifications.
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2. Use Plugins Sparingly
Plug-ins are great for improving the functionality of your site. However, installing too many could affect your loading speeds. Stick to downloading the plug-ins you simply can’t do without, such as contact forms, live chat platforms, or e-commerce tools.
It is also a good idea to opt for well-reviewed plug-ins created by respected organizations. Remember – downloading anything from a third-party source carries risk. Enhance your security strategy by selecting trusted sources.
3. Write Killer Copy
Writing effective copy is all about reaching your target audience. We recommend you do not inundate casual browsers with long paragraphs and technical language.
If you own an e-commerce site selling everyday items, try to stick to short paragraphs rich in well-researched keywords. On the other hand, if you run a B2B business selling niche and highly technical services, your content will need to be more detail-oriented and authoritative.
If you’re unsure about how to tailor your content, it is worth conducting some research before you get typing. Use survey data or other metrics to craft a few user personas on which to base your copy.
4. Include Clear and Persuasive Calls-To-Action (CTAs)
Don’t forget to include some short and visually appealing CTAs on all of your web pages. Typically, the most effective CTAs are between one and three words and encourage click-throughs to web forms or other lead-generating pages. If you want your readers to purchase something, for example, a large button emblazoned with the words "Buy Now" should help to drive sales.
5. Avoid Clutter
Overly cluttered sites can look unprofessional and are likely to confuse your visitors. To reduce bounce rates and enhance your chances of digital marketing success, try to keep widgets and ads to a minimum while including plenty of white space on the page.
6. Include Testimonials
If you have been in business long enough to garner some generous testimonials, don’t be afraid to include them on your site! People often feel encouraged to invest time and money in unfamiliar companies if they can see proof of their reliability. Try to include a few personal details about your reviewers to boost trust in your brand, such as a headshot, first name, location, or job title.
7. Don’t Forget to A/B Test Your Website
A/B testing involves producing slightly different site pages and testing them to see which your target demographics prefer. Although this may seem like extra work, it will pay off in the long term by ensuring your site is a hit from the outset.
8. Make Sure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly
Nowadays, there really are no excuses for producing a website that doesn’t work well on mobile devices. Optimize your site by selecting a mobile-friendly template, compressing your images, and placing key information about your site above the fold.