If you’re looking to make your brand or idea legit — chances are you’re building a website. And if you’re looking to build a website — chances are, you’re overwhelmed with even just picking a website builder.
There are TONS of DIY website builders out there that all promise the same three things: fast, good, and cheap. (Unfortunately, we know that you really can only pick two from this list and it’s impossible to have all three…)
To help you make sense of the madness — below is my suuuuuuuper honest high-level assessment of the four most popular website builder options: Weebly, Wix, Squarespace and Showit.
Website Builder #1: Weebly
Pricing: Offers a free plan — but it keeps the ugly Weebly branding on it. Paid plans start as low as $6/month (but even that plan keeps the ugly Weebly branding on your site). To remove the Weebly banner from your site, you need to upgrade to the Professional Plan ($12/month).
Diana’s Overall Score: C
Diana’s Review: I’m going to tell it to you straight here and just cut to the chase: Weebly is my least favorite website builder. It’s the least customizable and most frustrating to work with (because of said inability to fully customize). It may be the cheapest — but seriously, you 1,000% get what you pay for with this.
To be fair — it’s a fairly simple drag and drop platform that works off pre-made templates. It’s also really easy to understand. In fact, I always tell clients that if you can open and format a Word Document, you can 100% work in Weebly.
But… some of my biggest pet peeves?
- You can’t create your own blocks and, instead, can only use pre-made formats that — again — aren’t customizable.
- The platform is glitchy and sometimes you need to save your work, logout, close out and start it up again just for certain features to work in the editor.
- You can’t work on other things while photos/images are uploading to your site. This is frustrating if you’re trying to move fast.
- Limited blogging tools.
For the beginner — some of the above might not be too problematic — but as your brand / business grows and scales, these limitations will cause you to think twice about keeping your site on Weebly.
Website Builder #2: Wix
Pricing: Offers a free plan — but to get custom domain, you need to upgrade. Lowest priced plans (not including e-commerce – that falls under a separate set of pricing) start at $14/month — but the best part about Wix is that they do 50% sales ALL THE TIME — so you can actually get a site up and running for a little as $7/month if your patient.
Diana’s Overall Score: A
Diana’s Review: Unpopular opinion? I actually really like Wix. Before I moved my site to my current builder, I was on Wix for years. Wix is a drag and drop website builder that affords a great deal of customization for the price you’re paying. They offer stellar customer service and have a ton of easy-to-use and non-glitchy features like embedding YouTube or Vimeo content, Members-Only pages and portals, pre-built/pre-designed blocks that you can 100% customize, and a fairly decent blog function. You can also start your site from one of their gorgeous pre-made templates (that you customize) or — from scratch!
Some things to consider before building on Wix:
- If you choose to start building from one of their templates, if in 2 years you decide you want to switch to another template — you will need to redesign your site into a new template and migrate the URL over. Essentially, there’s no button that “swaps” out templates on one given site. (Weebly does have this feature.)
- You will need to pay a separate fee if you are planning on selling product or booking services directly through Wix.
Diana’s Overall Score: B+
Diana’s Review: CLUTCH THOSE PEARLS! I’m about to ruffle some feathers here — but first, let me issue a disclaimer: The last time I personally built a site from scratch in Squarespace was in 2011 — so let’s all operate under the very true assumption that this website builder has made a TON of changes and improvements in the past decade, okay?
BUT — from what I do know about Squarespace — I still rate it the same as Wix, but only because it’s a little bit more advanced of a platform and I think Wix is a bit easier for those just starting out.
Squarespace is — like Wix and Weebly — a drag and drop platform that can be build off pre-made templates or started from scratch. The nice thing about Squarespace is that it’s a bit more of a respected platform among web designers, so there are actually Squarespace designers out there who can either design your website completely custom or work with you to customize a template. There are also a number of Squarespace designers out there who design templates and sell them to people who want to DIY a more high-end starting point.
I’ve read that Squarespace sites typically see low ratings from Google’s Page Speed Tool, which can negatively affect your SEO — but other than that, I’ve heard no complaints from brands whose sites are build on Squarespace.
Diana’s Overall Score: B+
Diana’s Review: Hear me out: my site is built on Showit and I love it. But if I’m rating all of these platforms on the same scale, I’ve got to be honest: There’s a fairly steep learning curve to Showit.
Showit started out as a website builder mainly for photographers, so a lot of their templates and features were catered to sites that were photo heavy. As the platform saw more and more success, they expanded their reach — and now a ton of creative service-based industries are building sites on Showit.
It’s a drag and drop platform and within the drag and drop features — it is 100% customizable. As in you can literally customize ANYTHING. But when you open it up for the first time and look at the backend of your site — it kind of feels like you’re a hacker staring into the underbelly of some sort of cyberheist. It’s unfamiliar and little confusing — but with practice and some careful poking around — you figure it out. (I also cannot recommend Amanda and the team over at The Website Workroom. They designed my site and when they put in my copy and handed over the keys — they provided super thorough training videos to help me get the hang of things quickly.)
Like Squarespace, because of the quality of the site builder and its gaining popularity — there are Showit designers (like the team at The Website Workroom) who custom design templates and sell semi-custom templates directly to you for your own DIY customization.
The nicest thing about Showit (aside from being truly 100% customizable) is that it integrates seamlessly with WordPress’ blogging platform — which is the industry standard for blogs (and has been for years).
If you’re just starting out and looking for a quick and easy way to get your site up and running — I’d recommend Wix without reservation. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort it takes to learn a more sophisticated and unfamiliar platform with a lot more customization and tools – I’d recommend Showit. (If you need help determining which one’s right for you, click HERE to work with me.)
What about you? What’s your favorite website builder?
February 8, 2021