When you start planning to set up your first website, you’ll quickly find there are a lot of website builders out there. Which website builder is best for your project?
That depends on a few things, like the type of site you’re setting up, the skills and time you have to devote to making your website, and what kind of server space and speed it will need.
In general, website builders are best for people who want a simple, professional looking website up and running quickly and who don’t have the coding skills or time to build something from scratch. With that in mind, let’s look at what makes a website builder “the best” for different purposes.
The Best Website Builder for Blogging
Most bloggers want to get started sharing content and building a community of readers as soon as possible. The best website builder for blogs will keep things simple so you can focus on writing, photography, podcasting, or video production while providing a good-looking home for your work. Here’s what to look for when building your site.
A mobile-friendly site template (design) that makes it easy for visitors to navigate through your posts. Most of us do at least some of our leisure reading on our smartphones now, so making your blog easy for visitors to read on the go is a must.
Unless you’re deliberately making an absurdist statement, your blog’s format needs to follow a few conventions related to pages and sections:
- Your homepage should feature your current post above the fold (meaning visitors should be able to see at least the headline and first sentences without having to scroll down).
- They’ll also expect to find an archives or previous posts section, maybe a most popular posts section after you’ve been at it a while, and definitely an about me page or section that’s all about your background and why you blog.
- Finally, you’ll want to include contact information so your visitors can get in touch with questions and ideas.
Your ideal website builder needs a few other tools, too:
- Social media tools will help you grow your audience by making it easy for you to post your content and making it a snap for your visitors to share on their own pages.
- An image library is a great way to dress up your site design and illustrate your posts without spending big on custom photography.
- If you want to start monetizing your blog, make sure your website builder lets you connect to PayPal or another payment service.
The Best Website Builder for Small Business
Next, what’s the best website builder for a small business? All the features that make a website builder useful for a blogger can also help a small business, but you’ll need a few more bells and whistles to meet your business branding, marketing, and site management needs. Look for these tools:
An option to remove the website builder’s branding from your site. Website builders often include their logo on free or low-cost plans, because it helps make their services accessible to hobbyists like personal bloggers. But if you run your own business, you’ll want to make sure the only branding on your site is yours, especially if you’ve invested in having a logo designed for your company.
You can use your logo to create a favicon for your site, too, so make sure the website builder you choose allows you to set that up easily. A favicon makes it easier for visitors to find your site among open browser tabs and to pick your site out of their bookmarks fast.
For marketing, look for a website builder that helps you embed HD video from your YouTube or Vimeo channel. You can use videos to create portfolios and tours for prospective clients, make explainer and tutorial videos for customer education, and add punch to your company’s about us page by interviewing your team or showing them at work.
On the backend of your site, a website builder that easily connects to your Google Analytics account will make it easier for you to check your traffic sources, keyword performance, and other must-know search and site-visitor data.
Because your site is the digital storefront for your business, you’ll want to make sure it’s never accidentally locked up. Choose a website builder that gives you access to your site revision history so that you can revert to an older version if you ever make changes or updates that you don’t like.
The Best Website Builder for E-Commerce
Finally, let’s look at how to determine what’s the best website builder for your e-commerce business. The small-business tools we covered in the section above are all important, but e-commerce has some specific merchandising, promotion, payment, and inventory-management needs that a good website builder must support:
- Your website builder must include or integrate with shopping-cart software that’s optimized for mobile and web users. This software will display your products on your site and hold on to the items your customers select until they’re ready to check out.
- At that point, your site needs to give your shoppers the payment options they prefer, so your site builder needs to offer options like PayPal, Square, and Stripe. And it wouldn’t be e-commerce checkout without the option to use a coupon code, so your site builder needs to include that capability, too.
- Your site doesn’t need to be your only sales channel. Selling on social media is a growing trend. If your website builder doesn’t make it easy to sell on Facebook, look for one that does.
- The more you sell, the more important inventory tracking will be to your business. If your site builder offers inventory tracking tools, you’ll find it easier to keep tabs on what’s in stock, what’s running low, and when it’s time to reorder.
The Best Website Builder for Your Site
Ultimately, the best website builder is the one that best serves your particular needs. Of course, we’re partial to HostGator’s website builder, which can help you get your blog, small-business or e-commerce site up and running today.