The time has come to take the plunge and learn how to build a new website. You’ve already decided that using a website builder is the right choice for you— a web designer is too expensive, and you don’t have the skills to build it from scratch.
Now you just need to decide on the best website builder package for you.
What’s Included in Website Builder Packages?
Website builder brands generally offer a number of different website builder plans that each package together different features, customization tools, website templates, and services. Since every plan is different, what’s included in a website builder package depends on the particular company you go with and plan you choose.
There are some common features and services you can expect to find in the website builder packages you consider.
Common Features Included in Basic Website Builder Plans
Most website builder packages you encounter will include most, if not all of these basic plan features. They’re some of the most essential things to look for in a website builder plan.
Part of what makes creating a beautiful website with a website builder so easy is the option to start with a design template. The web design template provides a basic structure for you to start with so you don’t have to build anything from scratch—you make changes to what’s there already. Any good website builder package you consider should offer a number of templates for you to choose from.
Good website builders provide an intuitive website editor that allows you to move items around on the page easily with the drag and drop function. When you want to move a button or image a little to the left, simply click on it and drag it to where it should go. It makes turning the template you choose into the website you imagine a simple process.
Ability to change colors and add original images
In addition to moving elements on the page around, you also need to be able to change out the color scheme to your preferences and include images that are unique to your site. A good website builder should let you select your color and fill in spaces on the page with a simple click. And it should make loading and positioning your original photographs or illustrations an easy process as well.
All the different elements of your website will take up some space. Each image and word requires some bit of storage, and bigger files like videos or audio will require more. Even the most basic website builder plans should provide some storage for you, although for free or cheap plans, it might not be much.
Even for website builders that are easy to use and generally work well, you may come up against an issue where you need help from a human. Any website builder package worth considering—particularly any that comes at a cost—needs to include access to customer service staff you can reach out to when you need help.
Often it’s more convenient to find your own answers though, and website builder plans should also include a library of educational resources such as tutorials, articles, or videos that explain how to use the website builder and all the different features included.
Premium Features Included in Some Website Builder Plans
While for some people, a simple website builder that includes little more than the features above will work just fine, for a lot of website owners, especially for those making a business website who want to run an ecommerce store, you’ll need a website builder package that provides more advanced features.
Here are some of the features included in premium website builder packages.
With free website builder plans, the company often makes money by displaying ads on your website. You have limited control over what ad shows up where and must accept a website that looks more cluttered and not as professional because of the cost of choosing that plan. One of the main benefits of paying for a better website builder package is getting that control back and knowing your website will be ad free (or only include ads that you profit from directly).
Once you register a domain name, that will be the main address people will find you with on the web. Choosing the perfect domain name that’s memorable is important for any website to have. Some website builders may come with a free domain name included—either one that’s a subdomain of the website builder’s domain (e.g. something like websitebuildername.yourname.com), or a unique domain (yourname.com).
There are branding and SEO (search engine optimization) benefits to having your own unique domain name. Website builder packages that don’t come with a domain name included in the cost may still make it easy for you to find and register one from within the platform.
Web hosting is a necessary expense for any website that wants to go live online. But it’s an expense you can save on if you go with a website builder package that includes it in the price. If you do go with a website builder plan that includes web hosting, make sure it comes from a web hosting provider that has a strong reputation in the industry for consistent uptime and speed.
If you send people emails from a Hotmail or AOL account, you look unprofessional. Gmail’s a step up, but it’s still not quite as impressive as sending an email from an address at your own domain name.
Many premium website builder packages include the option to create email addresses at your domain name. Sometimes they’ll allow just a limited number, sometimes you can create as many as you want, which is a useful option for large and small business owners that want all employees to have a branded email address.
Not all website owners will need eCommerce options, but if you hope to ever sell products through your website, then they’re essential. Some premium website builder packages specialize in eCommerce store features, providing shopping cart functionality, an easy checkout process, and a secure way to accept payments. If this is something you’ll need, it’s important to find a plan that supports it.
Mobile friendly options
Having a website that’s mobile friendly is no longer optional. A good portion of your visitors will view your website on a mobile device and, if it doesn’t look good or the functionality is lacking in that format, you’ll lose them. A bad mobile experience is also bad for SEO. A good website builder plan will include easy ways to create a website that’s mobile friendly, such as offering responsive website templates.
Supports multiple websites
Some website builder packages will allow you to use the builder to create multiple websites under the same plan. You’ll still need a separate domain for each, but you can do all the design work and monitoring in one place without paying extra.
Ability to take your website with you
Website builder plans typically use a subscription model, meaning that you’ll pay monthly or yearly for as long as you keep your website. If down the line you decide you want to switch to a different website builder, many plans won’t allow you to take what you’ve built with you. Some premium plans will let you export the website you have so you won’t have to start from scratch with a new plan.
For simple websites that don’t include many pages, a basic website builder plan that allows for one page or just a few will do the trick. But for more complicated websites that will include product pages, a blog, or lots of educational resources, you need the option to expand. Many premium website builder plans allow you to build websites with unlimited pages.
High level of storage
As previously mentioned, all website builders should provide some level of storage, but premium plans will often offer much more of it than basic plans. For any websites that will have a lot of pages, images, and media elements, having more storage will allow you to grow as you need without limitations.
The amount of bandwidth your website builder plan includes will affect how fast and consistently your site loads for visitors. This is especially important for websites that get a high level of traffic or include media elements that require more bandwidth to load, like high resolution images and videos. Premium plans usually include higher bandwidth so you can count on faster load times for your visitors.
Many website builder packages include access to an app store which offers a number of different apps you can add to your website builder to increase the functionality of your website. Add-on apps can provide new e-commerce website features, more advanced analytics, different ways to embed social media, and additional security options. Before settling on a particular website builder package, consider what add-on apps are available that may be useful for your website.
With so many websites online, getting noticed is a challenge. Search engine optimization is important because it’s one of the best ways to make sure people can find your website when they’re searching for the kind of information and products you provide.
While there’s a lot to doing SEO well, the right website builder package can make some of the initial steps easier with handy SEO features that enable on-site optimization, such as customizing your URLs, creating SEO-focused title tags, and adding image tags with target keywords.
If you want the ability to work on and update your website on the go, look for a website builder package that includes a mobile app. When you can easily make updates to your website from your phone, that provides flexibility to get your website done faster and more efficiently, no matter where you’re working from.
Even if creating your website is quick and easy with a website builder, that doesn’t mean you want to risk having to start over from scratch due to losing everything. To keep your website safe and avoid having to re-do work, consider a package that includes automated website backups or offers the option as an affordable add-on. You won’t have to make a point of remembering manual backups, and you’ll always have easy access to the last version of your website if you need to restore it.
Websites get hacked. It’s an unfortunate risk of putting yourself out there on the web. That’s why it’s so important to secure your website from hackers right from the start. You can reduce your website’s vulnerability with the help of security features like an SSL certificate and security software. Some website builder packages will include security features as part of the cost, or as add-ons you can buy.
Analytics give you a snapshot of how many people are visiting your website, how they find it, and how they interact with it once there. No matter what your website goals are, whether that be for a business or blog, following your website analytics is the best way to understand how well you’re achieving them and determine any changes you should make to do better. A good website builder package will provide access to analytics in your dashboard so it’s easy to check how your website is performing every time you log in.
The Cost of Website Builder Packages
As you’d expect, the more premium features a website builder package includes, the more you’ll be spending. Most basic affordable website builder plans start at around $4 a month and provide all the most essential features you need to build a simple website with just a few pages and elements.
For a more complicated website that will require a lot of pages, an e-commerce store, or more media elements, you’ll want to consider a website builder package that offers more of the premium features you need. These fall somewhere in the $10-$50 a month range.
Keep in mind that, in some cases, spending more on a website builder package can save you money by avoiding the cost of expenses you’d otherwise pay for separately. For example, no matter what, you’ll need to invest in web hosting for your website. If your website builder plan doesn’t include it, you’ll be paying separately for it. Carefully consider both the cost of the plan itself, and what you’ll be getting for that cost.
How to Compare Website Builder Plans in 4 Simple Steps
There are a lot of website builder plans out there. Trying to research them all to find the right one can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help you figure out how to hone in on the best one for you.
1. Figure out your priorities.
You’ll have an easier time identifying the right plan for you if you start by defining what you need. Some of the features listed above will be necessities for you. Some will be nice-to-have, but not required. And others will be completely inconsequential to the website you plan to build. Figure out which features fall into which category so you start your search with a list of what you need and want.
2. Research different providers.
Now go looking for website builders that offer the items on your list. You can easily rule out any plans that don’t provide your must-have features and compare the plans that offer your nice-to-have ones.
3. Consider a company’s different plans.
For website builder companies that offer packages that cover all the bases you need, also take a minute to look at their higher-level plans. Even though you may not need all the features offered in their more expensive plans right away, you want to have room to grow. If you’ll need those premium features later, it’s good to know you can easily upgrade with the website builder you choose now to get them.
4. Make your choice.
With your list and a little research into your options, you should be able to easily identify the website builder packages that come the closest to what you need for a price you can afford. Decide which of them is the best fit, and make your purchase.
Start Building Your Website
HostGator’s website builder offers users many of the features included in the list, including free website hosting from one of the most respected providers in the industry. If you want to get started with one of our website builder packages, sign up for our hosting services today.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.