If you've spent some time looking around for website builders, you've probably noticed that there are a plethora of options available. Popular options include GoDaddy, Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace, though these only represent the tip of the iceberg. Although Wix is often automatically selected by most people, you should also compare GoDaddy and Weebly. When you look at objective reviews and ratings, GoDaddy ranks very well. This is due, in large part, to the affordable plans and reliable brand name that's backed by around the clock support. Weebly, on the other hand, features a far more intuitive drag and drop interface that's consistently rated by users as one of the easiest to use. (It's also extremely affordable.)
When people don't feel comfortable with GoDaddy or Weebly, they tend to look at Wix and Squarespace, which are comparable in many ways. You won't meet very many people who have a problem with Wix. It's simple, intuitive, and offers some pretty beautiful designs and templates for users who want a drag and drop solution. Same thing with Squarespace - though many believe it has superior customer support.
But with varying choices available, how can you be sure you're selecting the right one? Here are a few tips to help you in your evaluations:
1. Determine Your Purpose
What is the primary purpose of your site? Are you simply using it as a landing page for people who search for you online, or do you expect it to be a sales platform? There's a big difference between a basic site and an ecommerce site. Some site builders are better suited for different purposes.
2. Think About Experience Level
A lot depends on your overall level of experience with building websites. If you're a non-technical amateur who has zero familiarity with site development, you probably want a site builder that walks you through every step. For developers who know how to build websites from scratch, a high level of functionality is probably preferred. Then there are designers who have an eye for style, but don't know much about the development side of things. Think about experience and choose a site builder accordingly.
3. Take Cost Into Account
It shouldn't be the first thing you consider, but do take cost into account. Most of today's top builders have comparative pricing, but you could find some variances depending on what you need. If nothing else, price can help you decide between two options that are otherwise the same. Generally speaking, most business plans are going to be comparable from site builder to site builder. What you may want to consider are any add-on features that you plan to use. Some builders may include these features, while others charge in an a la carte fashion.
4. Give Weight to Customer Support
What happens when something goes wrong with your site and you need someone to walk you through a solution? Customer support is very important and you should take a company's level of responsiveness into account when choosing a builder. Some website builders offer 24/7/365 phone support, while others only give the option of email support or live chat. Depending on how much help you envision yourself needing - and the style of communication you prefer - one website builder's customer support may be preferred to another.
5. Read Reviews
Finally, it's a good idea to get some objective opinions from actual users. A company's site is great, but they're naturally going to post positive testimonials and say glowing things about their product. You want to get an unfiltered look at reality. Make a point of reading both positive and negative reviews. The more you read, the less likely it is that one single review will influence you. You'll start to identify themes and get a more realistic picture of what's true.
6. Consider the Refund Policy
There's always a chance that you'll sign up for a website builder, tinker around with it, and discover that you don't like it. It might not be intuitive, or perhaps there simply aren't enough styles and features that satisfy your eye. Whatever the case may be, you want to be sure you don't find yourself in a situation where you're unhappy and stuck.
Thankfully, most website builders offer a trial period where you're able to get a full refund if you don't like the platform. For example, Wix has a 14-day refund period that allows you to cancel - no questions asked - after upgrading to a paid plan. Weebly has a similar refund policy, though it extends to 30 days. Squarespace is perhaps the most generous, allowing users to cancel a plan at any time and get a credit for any of the unused portion of the plan.
It's always a smart idea to have an eye on the future. While your primary goal is to build a site that's successful for you in the short-term, think about what will happen if you ever need to move your site to another host down the road. Unfortunately, this isn't possible with most site builders. The custom code each platform uses simply doesn't translate well. However, there are a few exceptions. The most notable exception is Weebly, which lets you download the standard site server folders. Other platforms, like Squarespace, offer some transferability. Most just tell you that you're out of luck.
Don't Rush Into a Decision
The website builder you choose can have a pretty significant impact on the quality, functionality, and aesthetic appeal of your site. While you probably feel some pressure to get your site up and running, slow down and do your due diligence. You'll make a much better decision if you take your time to weigh the pros and cons.