Thinking of building your own website and not sure what service to use? Figuring out what builder works best for your needs without spending hours actually using them is near impossible.
For this post, I did the dirty work for you and spent time on each of the most popular platforms:
Squarespace templates are beautiful and polished but share the same aesthetic, offering limited variety; not everyone is into minimalism. If you do appreciate a clean, crisp looking website, Squarespace may be for you.
This platform offers more customization options than other builders in the form of an easy to understand editor menu. Site elements (text, images, slideshows, etc.) are in “blocks” that can be dragged and dropped within the page. This sounds like a great feature but in my use, it turned out to be more annoying than helpful. Also, the sheer number of customization options available may be overwhelming to some. If you are familiar with coding, you are able to inject your own CSS rules into the site, with the risk of breaking the design, of course.
Sites made with Squarespace are automatically responsive, meaning they will adjust to all different screen sizes. This is an important feature as more than half of time spent online is done on mobile phones. Even with all that Squarespace offers, there is a big drawback: all account types are paid. This isn’t a concern for everyone, but it’s worth mentioning.
Wix offers a huge variety of templates. Some are a little outdated looking but there are literally hundreds of designs to choose from. The downside is that once a template is chosen, it cannot be changed without having to rebuild your site.
Wix also uses drag and drop elements, this time functioning much better than Squarespace. Placement of elements is completely up to you, unlike Squarespace and Weebly that snap elements to appropriate areas. But, the Wix editor doesn’t offer as many detailed customization options and is cumbersome, with windows piling inefficiently on top of one another. One of the biggest disadvantages to using this platform is that there is no access to the CSS code, even with pro or business accounts.
Like Squarespace, every theme is naturally responsive.
Weebly templates are laid out similarly and have a definite blog vibe to all of them, so this option won’t work for everyone. If you’re willing to pay, there are some viable third party themes out there.
Out of the three, Weebly has the best drag and drop elements simply because it functions smoothly at all times, shortening the process of building a solid site to as little as an hour. Seriously. One of the coolest features of Weebly is that free users get access to CSS editing and advertisements are minimal. Here’s the catch with free accounts: you’re limited to only five pages. Again, all themes are responsive.
WordPress offers the most options as far as templates because it is an open source platform. Customization is easy with open source plugins that can be downdloaded. The problem with this however, is that plugins are prone to bugs rendering them useless. Some digging and patience is required to find quality tools.
Unlike the “What You See Is What You Get” builders above, WordPress does not show a live preview at all times. This can make the process of creating your website quite time consuming. Still, in my Google + poll, WordPress came out on top. One user mentioned that other platforms are limiting in comparison, especially when it comes to making the site search engine friendly. Another said that even though she has no website building experience, WordPress proved easy to use.