DIY Website Builders: Are They Easy to Use?

Last updated on September 12, 2018

DIY Website Builder

DIY website builders are a way for regular people to design and build their own websites without using code. Technological knowhow is no longer an obstacle to you getting online, whether you’re an entrepreneur or a hobbyist.

They’re being used more and more people. Industry leader Wix now has over 119 million registered users, over 3 million of who are paying customers. That’s a whole lot of websites.

This piece will cover everything you need to know about DIY website builders — what they are, what they’re capable of, and which one is the best fit for you (if you want to give one a try).

If you want to cut through the noise and learn more about specific website builders, we’ve got you covered. Some of the best DIY website builders currently around include:

Follow the links for full reviews of each builder. Or check out this summary table of our top three:

Best All-Around Website Builder
Top Choice

4.7 out of 5

Ease Of Use

4.5 out of 5 stars

Help And Support

5 out of 5 stars

Design Flexibility

4 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

4.5 out of 5 stars

Design-Oriented Website Builder

4.3 out of 5

Ease Of Use

3.5 out of 5 stars

Help And Support

4 out of 5 stars

Design Flexibility

5 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

3 out of 5 stars

Easiest To Use Website Builder

4.1 out of 5

Ease Of Use

3.5 out of 5 stars

Help And Support

3.5 out of 5 stars

Design Flexibility

4 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

4.5 out of 5 stars

As for the rest of you, read on for the complete lowdown on DIY website builders.

What Is a DIY Website Builder?

DIY website builders are a way of doing a website yourself. Shocker. That’s it in a nutshell, but there is more to it than that. Like anything else they have their strengths and weaknesses — and history.

Early websites had to be manually written using html. Dreamweaver was one of the early pioneers, while some of you may remember GeoCities from back in the day. Although the latter folded in 2009, its spirit lives on in Neocities, a superb platform for those looking to learn about website building at a coding level.

That said, a lot of us don’t have the time or inclination to learn code and build a website from scratch. Nor do we have the money to pay a professional to do it for us. Today’s website builders exist to fill that gap. They’re about providing the flexibility of code without having to do any yourself. They’re about the freedom not to build a website from the ground up, to focus on the bigger picture.

More Information:

How to Build a Website – Our step-by-step guide for putting a site together

They do this by providing templates and letting you customize them as you see fit. If you want to enter basic details and leave it there, fine. If you want to change everything about it, you can.

This is all done online.You don’t download website building software and make a site on your computer; you go to the site in question, log in, and manage your website there. This lends itself to the catch-all approach of most website builders. They can take care of all the technical stuff (hosting, domain name, etc.) if you want them to.

Convenience and control are the bread and butter of DIY website builders. They allow you get fully functional websites up and running quickly. You can get one going in one hour, as our video shows below.

Believe it or not, that video is legit. You really can set up a fully functioning website in under an hour on most website builders. Anyone passionate about their site would devote a bit more time to the project than that, of course, but builders like Wix ensure time and expertise are no longer a barrier to entry.

As Wix co-founder Avishai Abrahami puts it, website builders “simplify web creation for everyone”. That’s the long and short of it.

Who are they for?

What’s great about website builders is they’re effectively for everyone. Amateurs and professionals alike can use them to set up websites for business or pleasure. Our own research has shown two-thirds of websites are made for personal use. Don’t feel like only businesses need websites. They’re in the minority! DIY website builders are for just about every type of site.

Templates are designed to cater to a wide variety of site types. Want to set up a site for your restaurant? There’ll be a selection of templates just for restaurants. Photography portfolios? Yes. Blogs? Yes.

A growing number of DIY builders are explicitly focused on ecommerce — selling things online. They provide the framework you need to get an online store started. Shopify and BigCommerce are the big dogs at the moment, with platforms like Sellfy looking to keep them on their toes.

In short, website builders are for limited financial and technical resources. As we found out ourselves, the cost of building a website is a constantly moving target, with a lot of scope for getting out of control. The fixed rates of website builders mean you can foray into the world of web design without burning a hole in your pocket.

What can they do?

The main value of DIY website builders is allowing you to focus on design and function. They tend to take on one of two forms: drag and drop, and generated.

Drag and drop builders do what they say on the tin (if they’re any good). You simply position the elements of the page where you want them and style as you see fit. Generated sites will ask you a few questions then make a site for you based on your answers. You can still customize the results and add or remove elements, but they’re usually a more structured experience.

In the backend they help you manage search engine optimization (SEO), giving your site the best chance possible of ranking well on Google and Bing. Many also offer analytics, which allows you to see how many people are visiting your sites, what they’re doing, and where they’re coming from.

What DIY Website Builders Are Available?

The number of builders is growing all the time, and not all of them are terribly good. As the market grows it’s only natural for pretenders to try and climb on the bandwagon. What good website builders are available is the real question.

It depends on your wants and needs. There is no one-size-fits-all ‘best’ website builder. It doesn’t exist, and never will. There are too many variables. Rather, there is a selection of top DIY website builders that meet different demands.

You can get an at-a-glance idea of what we’re talking about over at our website builder comparison chart, but we’ll go into a bit more depth below.

More Information:

Choosing the Right Website Builder – Questions you should be asking yourself when deciding on a builder

Wix vs Weebly vs Squarespace vs Jimdo – Our in-depth breakdown of how the builders compare

Easy to use website builders

We wanted to offer more than an opinion on this, so we’ve conducted research on all the top website builders. User experience tests have been collated with features, support, and pricing to collate a list of the easiest website builders to use.

With that in mind, the following website builders are for people with no coding background. They are easy to use with good support and intuitive interfaces. They don’t always offer as much backend control as their advanced brethren, but if you want to make your own website with as little hassle as possible these are the way to go.

Wix →

Wix is the best drag and drop builder out there right now. It offers you complete control over how your website looks. Want your logo to be there? Move it there. Want that paragraph to be upside down? Knock yourself out. The interface can be a bit overwhelming at first, but once you get to grips with it Wix is one of the easiest builders to use.

For those new to the web design game and eager to learn, Wix is a fantastic option. The freedom it provides invites you to learn about the basic principles of web design: how to present your homepage, what to put in your navigation bar — all that good stuff.

Our user testing showed Wix’s combination of ease of use and customer support is currently peerless. Novices and pros alike enjoyed using it. We ourselves think it’s one of the best options for those new to web design. It lends itself better to simple websites, but then most websites are simple.

GoDaddy →

This performed really well in our user testing. GoDaddy provide a more guided building experience, and they do it in a way that’s intuitive and easy to follow. To get a small, polished website off the ground quickly there may be no better builder than GoDaddy. They also provide domain registration and hosting, so with them you can do everything in one place.

Advanced website builders

Further along the bell curve there are DIY website builders that are trickier to use but which offer more control and scalability. These hit a nice sweet spot where your website building efforts are supported but there’s also opportunity to develop your technical skills.

Squarespace 

Squarespace is the suave, mysterious, slightly pretentious website builder smoking in the corner. They’re far and away the most stylish platform in the game at the moment, and their backend is sophisticated enough to handle large, high-demand sites like magazines.

Squarespace Templates Examples
Squarespace is rightly renowned for the quality of its templates, all of which are optimized to work well on both desktop screens and mobile phones

Squarespace’s wealth of elegant templates mean you can focus on the content of your website, which is ultimately the most important thing. It’s not quite part of the drag and drop club, but it’s still one of the best builders for customizability.

This added functionality does mean you need to be comfortable with some coding to get the most out of Squarespace, but it’s a fine option for those keen to learn what goes into making a large site tick.

WordPress.org →

This is a whole other world — it barely even qualifies as a website builder. WordPress.org is an open-source content management system (CMS). If that didn’t make sense to you, you may be better off using a website builder. Still, it’s the platform to use when you want to take a site to the next level. Nearly a third of the internet is built on WordPress.org foundations.

A CMS is basically a website builder without the hand-holding. You need to be able to code, to take care of things like web hosting yourself. It’s not as technical as you might think, but you certainly lose the DIY convenience of website builders.

Also, just to be clear, WordPress.org is not to confused with WordPress.com, a superb though otherwise limited blogging platform.

Ecommerce website builders

Some website builders are focused on online retail. If you want to set up an online store with relative ease, these are the way to go.

Shopify →

Shopify launched in 2006 and has grown exponentially in recent years. As more and more people take to the internet to sell things, they’ve needed somewhere to sell them. That’s where Shopify has stepped in. They’re effectively an ecommerce website builder, providing a superb framework for setting up shop online.

Customer experience is at the heart of what they do. In fact, it was founded by three friends trying to sell snowboards online. Unimpressed by the options available to them, they made their own. Their mission today is to provide users “a hassle-free platform to build their retail business.”

General purpose website builders like Wix and Shopify offer ecommerce via plugins. This is fine to a point, but large-scale online stores need dedicated platforms. Shopify is the best of them at the moment, especially for those of you just starting out.

BigCommerce →

BigCommerce provides you with more tools ‘out of the box’ than Shopify does, the tradeoff being it’s clunkier to use. Read our comparison of Shopify and BigCommerce for a complete breakdown of how they compare and which one is likely to be a better fit for you.

What Are Their Limitations?

Like anything else, website builders aren’t perfect. Knowing what their weaknesses is just as important as knowing their strengths. Websites are a serious business and you don’t want to saddle yourself with the wrong platform.

Here are some of the potential shortcomings of DIY website builders:

Limits on customization. Some website builders can be quite restrictive when it comes to customizing your site. It’s the price you pay for structure and convenience. Drag and drop builders of the Wix variety strive to give you as much control as is reasonably possible, but even they have their limitations. For truly unique functionality and presentation there’s no way of sidestepping HTML and CSS. All roads lead to code on the world wide web.

Shared hosting. Websites need a place to be stored where anybody can access anywhere at anytime. This is called hosting. Most website builders do this for you, but you’re site will be sharing resources with other sites in the system. This is called shared hosting. It’s seldom an issue for small websites, but as they scale up there’s a risk they won’t be able to cope. Sites on shared hosting risk slower loading speeds or even complete outages if enough people are trying to visit it.

More Information:

What Is Web Hosting? – Our full guide to the weird and not terribly exciting world of web hosting

No backups. With the exception of Weebly and IM Creator, website builders typically don’t let you backup your site. This makes moving from one platform to another very difficult. Website builders aren’t charities. They want to keep you as a customer once they’ve got you, and this is one of the main ways they do it.

They don’t scale well. This isn’t universally true, but it’s the case often enough to flag. The bigger your site gets the less suited to a website builder it’s going to be. For small sites they’re ideal, but if you have dreams of a large, complex site you may be better off going with WordPress.org from the outset.

Many of you will never be confronted with any of the above. They’re small hurdles, but it’s worth being clear website builders are not without their drawbacks. Most of them offer free trials or freemium services, so there’s ample time to weigh things up for yourself before spending a cent.

If you’re starting out, there’s a strong case to be made for website builders. They’re an introduction to the world of web design. Even if you outgrow your site and look to something more advanced, your experiences will leave you much better equipped for that journey.

How Much Do DIY Website Builders Cost?

The long and short of it is DIY website builders are only expensive if you choose to go with the expensive plans. There are no tricks, no underhand fees. A basic site will only require the resources of a basic plan, and that’s all you’ll need to pay for. An advanced site with more demands will require the resources of an advanced plan.

For what it’s worth, our research ranked the following three builders as offering the best value for money:

  1. Wix
  2. Strikingly
  3. Weebly

Handily, they each offer quite different website building experiences. Wix is drag and drop, Strikingly is simple and structured, and Weebly hits a balance of both. They all offer free trials, so there’s ample opportunity to see which one clicks with you.

If you’re just starting out, the last thing you need to do is throw money around. Choose an affordable plan and scale up as your website grows.

Conclusion

Programmers no longer have a monopoly on web design. DIY website builders have made it possible for anyone to build a presence online that is stylish and functional. You could push out a website in a day if you really wanted to (though we don’t recommend being quite that gung ho).

There are plenty of excellent website builders, but there is no ‘best’ website builder. That depends on your needs. If ease of use is important to you, sign up for a free trial with the likes of Wix or GoDaddy. If you want to develop your technical knowhow as you build, something like Squarespace may be more up your alley. Give them a spin and see what clicks. It costs nothing to try.

Website Builder Expert aims to provide you with honest data. That’s why we conduct our own research and obtain direct, personal insight. Analyses and graphics in this article are based on authentic sources cross-validated by our in-house experts. We take great care to ensure the information we publish is reliable and accurate. However, WBE takes no responsibility for any inaccuracy in information supplied to us by users, research participants, or other entities.

Please note the insight contained within this article is for general information purposes only. We’re glad to answer any questions you may have about this article and its supporting research. For further information, please contact Website Builder Expert directly via email at info@websitebuilderexpert.com.

About Fred O'Brien

I know from experience that building a website is only as hard as you make it. The internet is more accessible than it’s ever been, with all the resources you need to join in and stand out. Anyone can get online. I’m here to help you do that.

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About Fred O'Brien

I know from experience that building a website is only as hard as you make it. The internet is more accessible than it’s ever been, with all the resources you need to join in and stand out. Anyone can get online. I’m here to help you do that.

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30 Responses to DIY Website Builders: Are They Easy to Use?

  1. #

    Hey there, first of all thank you so much for this post and honestly i was searching for the same information from last few days. Keep posting and keep sharing.

    • Natasha Willett
      #

      Hi Emma,
      Thank you for the comment, it’s great to hear you enjoyed the article!
      Natasha.

  2. #

    My opinion about this blog, This is the best informative blog for all types of people. It’s really helpful for me. I really thankful to your blog.

    • Natasha Willett
      #

      Hi Eric,
      Thank you for the comments, really please you have enjoyed our site. Please do feel free to share with others who you think will also find the information engaging.
      Cheers,
      Natasha.

  3. #

    Hello Sir

    I have Website, Eberhard.com due to the current algorithm we lose some part of the traffic and now to thinking change the website php into WordPress is good or bad

    • Charlie Carmichael
      #

      Hi Mike,

      Sorry to hear you’re having problems. The amount of traffic is directly impacted by your site’s SEO. Both website builders and WordPress can be good for this but it’s worth reading our article on the differences here first if you’re thinking of transferring over your domain to a new platform. Best of luck!

      Charlie

  4. #

    So I’ve started writing content on Google docs and have moved the content to Google sites. I bought a domain name with WordPress. I’m trying to move the domain name at WordPress to my site on Google sites and nothing is working. Any suggestions on what to do.

    How does Google sites rank as a DIY website builder? I notice that it is not discussed above.

    Thank you.

    • Lucy Carney
      #

      Hi Allen,
      Thanks for your question! It seems that there have been recent problems connecting custom domains to Google Sites – instead this feature was only available on G Suite. I would recommend trying following this support guide on how to use a custom URL with Google Sites through web address mapping and creating a CNAME entry with your domain host (which in this case would be WordPress, so it’s worth also having a look on their help and support).
      We haven’t featured Google Sites as it’s mostly used as a collaborative tool between other Google services and is a very simple and minimalist website builder with a small range of features. It’s great for sharing work or creating a basic website, and is useful for integrating various Google services, but it doesn’t compare well next to more powerful website builders like Wix and Weebly. But thank you for your interest, we will keep it in mind for future reviews and comparisons. I’m sure that you’ve made the right decision for your website (you know what you need after all!) and I hope Google Sites doesn’t feel limiting after the flexibility of WordPress.
      I hope this has been of help to you and thank you for reading! Best of luck with transferring your domain,
      Lucy

  5. #

    Where would you classify WordPress on this list? We bought a WordPress template through a 3rd party site, thinking it would basically just be the website–editable for us online. Now it’s requiring WordPress URL host, admin, and PW. We literally don’t even know how to tell if that means WordPress.org or .com!

  6. #

    What this means is you must make certain every element of your web site includes
    your keywords. If you’re likely to do it, go for the top position because there’s an impact inside the traffic
    you receive even around the first page. If they’re not, people bolt and
    begin the next website the search engines like google have given them for his or her consideration.

  7. #

    Trouble is you will not have a custom site because you are stuck with their templates with a lot of options that can not be changed.
    I have tried half of those listed and they leave a lot to be desired.
    For example you can not put in you custom image with your custom title on their templates and they do not allow you to create actual blank sites from scratch to get the layout you want.
    Basically you are stuck with their layouts and only can add links, pictures and other things on certain locations on a template.
    In the late 90s we had offline software that allowed us to make websites from scratch with drag and drop but sadly they stopped it because they make more money doing it like they do today by limiting what web designers can do.
    I myself will continue to look for a real website creation option that allows actual true site customization.

  8. #

    Can my website be set up where a customer must prepay for access to the service I provide? It’s a “real estate protection” service.
    How do you actually get “paid” (meaning: by whom?)

    • Jeremy
      #

      Hi Lori,

      Unfortunately I don’t think the drag and drop website builders offer the capability for your customers to prepay for services.

      Although a workable solution is for you to sell a service up front (using a basic product page setup), collect payment and you can ask your customers to email you to “redeem” the payment they’ve made for services in return.

      You’ll just need to manually keep track of how much balance is remaining for each customer.

      Jeremy

  9. #

    It is anyway to get the code of the site created?

    Thanks

    • Jeremy
      #

      Hi Jonny,

      Weebly allows you to export your sites’ codes. But generally speaking, it’s not very helpful.

      Each drag & drop website builder has its own code base which enables their tools to work in a drag and drop way. So once you take your website out of the code base, then a lot of the functions won’t work any more.

      It’s the same idea as taking a component out of an iPhone, that’s built specifically for iPhones, and try to insert that component into a Samsung phone. It’s just not compatible due to the proprietary construction of that specific component.

      With Weebly, while they allow you to export your entire website, you’d have to know how to upload all the codes into your own host, and any changes after that you’d have to hand code in the modifications.

      So you won’t be able to upload the codes into another website builder (say WordPress or Wix). This applies to other website builders too.

      Hope this explains things a bit.

      Jeremy

  10. #

    Thank you Jeremy. It was very helpful. I also found one called Pixel Together I found that it is very easy to use. I think it’s worth to try : )

  11. #

    A very encouraging introduction to the website subject. Thanks very much. MM

    • Jeremy
      #

      Glad you enjoyed our discussion Denos!

      Jeremy

  12. #

    Thank you for the helpful information on these DIY website builders. I’ve been using Weebly for a couple years but I’m interested in trying other systems that might have features that Weebly lacks. I tried setting up a sample site on IM Creator but the resulting site is blocked by OpenDNS as a phishing site. I liked the package options and features but it doesn’t do any good if you can’t see it.

    Thought you’d like to know.
    Good review!!
    Debra

  13. #

    Please help. I hosted my website in godaddy. Now I need to just put an image like site under construction message. I don’t know to do this cpanel 🙁

    • Jeremy
      #

      Hi there,

      If you are using GoDaddy as your hosting service already, try checking out their drag and drop website builder which allows you to drag any images to your website quite easily.

      – Jeremy

      • #

        Jeremy, thank you for all the helpful information. I actually have been using GoDaddy and their website builder for several years now, but they have recently “upgraded” the builder and templates and I find the new one absolutely horrible! I have always liked doing business with GoDaddy because of the ease of use and their wonderful customer service, but after 4 hours of trying to rebuild my website with their “new” builder, I finally gave up and am looking for a new one 🙁

        • Jeremy
          #

          Hi Deborah,

          Sorry to hear about that.

          In my view there are a few other better drag and drop website builders in the market today. All of them provide you with either phone or live chat support (in addition to email & forum).

          I’d suggest you take a look at Wix, Squarespace or Weebly. Here’s a quick overview comparison chart which will compare some of the more popular website builders.

          Good luck and thanks for updating us!

          Jeremy

  14. #

    Jeremy, given the massive limitations you described, do you have any web hosting sites with web site builders that you could recommend? Godaddy? or JustHost? Thanks!

    • Jeremy
      #

      Grant,

      If you really want to get much faster loading speed, able to heavily customize your site, etc, the best option is to build your website on your own dedicated host, and learn how to code so you can modify your designs (that is if you aren’t proficient with codes already).

      Getting a faster, dedicated server can cost you quite a bit of money per month (maybe from $50 to hundreds of dollars per month).

      Even if you use website builders that are provided by hosts (such as GoDaddy), you still only get access to shared hosting.

      So if those items are important to you, perhaps you can build a custom site with WordPress.org, and also get some dedicated hosting services for your site.

      Hope this gives you a bit of direction!

      – Jeremy

  15. #

    Jeremy,

    Can you tell me which website builder or e – commerce builder offers the option to buy my site after certain period?

    Would that be something that you would want to know?

    Thank,

    Amir

    • Jeremy & Connie
      #

      Hi Amir,

      Can you clarify what exactly you mean by the option to buy your site? Do you mean if you were to build a website with say Squarespace, that you have the option to have Squarespace purchasing your site after a certain period?

      If that’s what you are implying, then I don’t think any website builders provide this option.

      But if you are asking which website builders are best if you were in the business of creating and selling websites, then I think any website builders will do. But your potential buyer may prefer a website that is hosted on its own, such as WordPress.org. But best to check with the terms of services of whatever website builder you are using to ensure that you have the ability to transfer ownership / user title to another person.

      Just a thought.

      – Jeremy

      • #

        To clarify my question I would like to find my self free off monthly payments after I can tell that I am satisfy with my website after it’s done. so for example after 5 years of service of hosting and other services that the website builder provided me with, I decided to own my website , so i would like to purchase it from the website builder and by that , I save myself the future monthly fees.

        I hope that was helpful,

        Thanks,

        Amir

        • Jeremy & Connie
          #

          Hi Amir,

          Got it. So you want to know which website builder allows you to export your site and host it somewhere else, where you can purchase your own hosting and have the choice not to continue paying the website builder on a monthly basis?

          If so, check out our website builder comparison chart and look under the “Export Website” feature. You’ll see that amongst all the builders we have compared, only Squarespace and Weebly allow you to export their websites at the moment.

          Read footnote 6 there for more discussions, or visit our Squarespace review article or Weebly review article for more details.

          Hope this helps!

          – Jeremy