If you’re looking to build a website in 2018, you’re in luck: there are today over thirty website-builders to choose from, all with a broad array of advantages, and (as is definitely the case for most of them) a long list of disadvantages.
With so many on the market and new ones coming out what seems like every day, claiming to be “the ultimate website builder of them all”, how do you choose which one is the right one for your website?
With our review of four of the best ways to build a website in 2018, that’s how.
As the platform of choice for over 28 percent of all websites on Earth, it’s only fair to talk about wordpress.org first.
As opposed to WordPress.com, WordPress.org is the self-hosted version which is widely preferred due to being open source and therefore offering much greater flexibility in design and functionality. With its seemingly endless and constantly updated database of themes, many of which are free, businesses and individuals can use it to build everything from an ecommerce store or SEO-friendly blog to a social network or community forum.
But arguably what makes WordPress.org so great is that, as it is open source, by building your site on it you get access to over 50,000 free and paid plugins made by its vast network of developers and users. And — unlike many website-builders as we’ll see — crucially, you stay in complete control of your data.
The platform of choice for many agencies, store owners, and professionals, Squarespace is a fully-hosted website builder that makes it possible — at least theoretically — to create a smart-looking and functional website in minutes.
It’s particularly popular for it’s professional designs and drag-and-drop builder that you can use to add text and items without any technical or coding knowledge. Another key feature is its 24/7 customer support service and in-house hosting that means you don’t have to worry about doing things like manually updating plugins and making backups.
One major limitation that users of Squarespace often have problems with, however, is its ability to only integrate with PayPal, Stripe, and Apple Pay. Add that to its monthly fee and lack of advanced ecommerce features, and Squarespace performs best when it’s restricted to simple and small purposes.
A recent entrant to the website-building scene, Israel-based Wix is quickly rising in popularity thanks to being, like WordPress.org, a fully-hosted and ‘free’ website builder that gives you access to thousands of templates.
Unlike WordPress.org, though, Wix is not open source and makes money on its free plans by including Wix branded ads on your website. Not being open source also means if you want to move your website to another service provider, you may have an incredibly difficult time doing so.
Wix can make a good option for businesses that want a quick and dirty way to throw up a website. But for those who are looking for ultimate flexibility in how their website looks and functions, as well as complete ownership of their data, you may be best finding another way to build a website.
Unlike the majority of the ways to build a website in our list, Shopify is a website builder dedicated to building ecommerce stores — and with over $40 billion (£30 billion) worth of products sold, one of the most successful ones.
Like Wix, Shopify is an off-the-shelf solution for building a website that offers a fully-hosted platform and takes care of things like installing updates, making backups, and managing software — the kind of things open source website-builders don’t do. As a dedicated ecommerce platform, it also integrates with all major credit cards and includes inventory, shipping, and marketing management and analytic tools.
But as we’ve seen with Wix, this increased convenience comes at a cost: for businesses just starting out in ecommerce, it’s pricing structure may seem a little steep; and for everyone, you’re not in full control of your data so moving your website from the platform can cause issues.