Are you looking to build a website but don’t have the technical knowledge or coding experience? If yes, then what you need is a website builder. A website builder is a software that allows you to design a website without writing a single line of code. Many entrepreneurs have used these website building tools to create highly successful online businesses.
But website builders come with different feature sets, and some are better than others in terms of features and user-friendliness. In this article, we will go over top 11 features to look for in a website builder. After reading this article, you should have a better idea of what to look for when choosing the best website builders.
But first, let’s make a distinction between the types of website builders available;
Types Of Website Builders
There are two distinct types of website builders;
- Offline website builders
- Online website builders
Offline Website Builders
Offline website builders come as downloadable software programs for computers. With them, you can build your website on your computer. And when you’re satisfied with the look and feel, you can upload your website files to a web host.
One main advantage it has is that you can work on and edit your website even if you’re not online. But you’ll need to have some technical knowledge to be able to manage this type of website builder. And you’ll also need to purchase separate web hosting account in addition to your website builder software.
A typical example of an offline website builder is Rapidweaver.
Online Website Builders
Online website builder is web-based and runs on the provider’s service. All you need to use an online website builder is your web browser. You don’t need to download or install any software like in the case of offline website builders. So you can work on your website from any internet-connected device. There’s no coding-experience needed as this type of website builder was made for people with little or no coding experience in mind. Online website builders come with web hosting service, so you don’t need to pay separately to host your website.
A good example of an online website builder is Weebly.
For the purpose of this article, we’re going to be focusing only on online website builders.
How Online Website Builders Work
Website builders are designed to be generally easy to use. So any one can use drag-and-drop (WYSIWYG) tools to create a website in minutes. Just the same way you drag and drop icons on your computer screen, a novice can drag and drop website elements to create the perfect website for their business.
Online website builders work in the following ways;
- Choose a website template that best fits your business. All website builders come with a template library. There’s one for every type of business. Choose the one that is the closest fit for your business.
- Each website template comes with its own built-in content and elements. Clicking on any element will open up an editor to make changes. You can also rearrange these elements by dragging and dropping them anywhere on the page.
- Add new widgets or elements to enhance your website look. Elements you can add include images, contact forms, blogs, videos, social sharing buttons, and so on.
- You can also change the website colours to match your preferred colour theme
- Once you’re happy with the edits you’ve made to your chosen template, click the publish button, and your website will go live.
So, what features should a website builder have? Follow me as I expose top 11 features to look for in the best website builders.
Top Features Of A Good Website Builder
1. Easy-To-Use Interface
The main reason website builders were created is to help people without coding knowledge to build a website. For this reason, an easy-to-use interface is perhaps the most important thing to look for in a website builder. A great user interface should be simple and clean, making it easy for users to pick options and add website elements.
Some website builders like Jimdo and GetResponse have AI-capabilities, and you can build a decent looking website simply by answering a few questions from the AI-engine and letting it generate a fitting website for your business.
2. SEO Tools
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the tweaks and settings that allow your website to be found on search engines by potential customers. A good website builder have good SEO tools built-in to help improve your website’s search engine rankings.
Having good search engine rankings can improve traffic to your website, thereby increasing sales – which is what every business wants. Good SEO tools on your website builder will help your website have organic search traffic from Google and other search engines, thereby reducing your reliance on paid traffic.
Good SEO can drive up to 1000% more traffic to your website than organic social media. In my opinion, SEO tools is one of the top features to look for in a website builder.
3. High Quality Themes And Templates
Trying to build a website can be difficult if you don’t have an idea what you want your website to look like. So, to make it easy to get started, the top website builders incorporate lots of themes and templates for several use cases. Like in the Weebly image above, whether what you want to build is an online store, business, portfolio or personal website, you’re sure to find a theme or template that perfectly suits your need.
If you’re building an online store for instance, Shopify has lots of online store templates to create the perfect store for your brand.
Having a variety of templates to choose from will increase your chances of being able to find a template that resonates with your unique brand and style preferences. So you should look for website builders that offer responsive and high-quality templates to simplify the process of building your website.
4. Large Apps And Plugins Library
Plugins are the little pieces of software that adds extra functionality to your website. Some website builders like Weebly call it Apps.
Whether plugins or Apps, whichever website builder you choose to build your website on, should offer you plenty opportunities to increase what you can do on your website, by using plugins. Example, plugins help to add live chat, social sharing, contact form, booking calendar, photo gallery, etc to your website.
The best website builders have lots of plugins and apps that can enable you do much more with your website, than you might be able to do without them.
5. Design And Customization Tools
Design and customization tools are tools that allow you to customize your website look and feel. These might include themes that allow you change the colors, tools that let you add social media buttons, tools that allow you to add your customer testimonials, and more.
The image above is Wix’s customization tools. The benefit of customization tools is that they allow you to have more control over how your website looks without you having to go in and actually write more HTML code. Being able to customize your website also allows you to make your website more unique and helps it to stand out from your competitors. This can be highly beneficial for your business. Consider this one of the top features to look out for when choosing a website builder.
6. Blogging Tools
Blogging is essential for SEO and for sending organic traffic to your website, as up to 77% of internet users read blogs. Therefore to take advantage of blogging, you need a website builder with good blogging tools.
A good blogging tool will allow you to easily add new blog posts in a way that is clean and well organized. If your website builder does not have a good blogging tool, then adding blog posts can be very difficult.
Statistics show that there are almost 32 million bloggers in the US alone. There must be a good reason this number of people take to blogging. Take advantage of this source of website traffic by signing up with a website builder known to have good blogging tools, like Ucraft or Weebly.
7. Security Features
Good website builders offer Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates at a bare minimum, for both free and paid plans. With an SSL certificate, your website is Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). When a website has this level of security, it gives you peace of mind, knowing that sensitive information shared (transmitted) through your website will not get into the wrong hands. Every information, including sensitive customer data is encrypted.
Especially if you’re building an e-commerce store, where customer sensitive financial information will be transmitted through your website. Customers want to know that information they input on your website is not exposed to hackers and other security breaches.
Many website builders also offer plugins for advanced security features such as data backup plugins. The more security features, the better.
8. Reports And Analytics
Reports and analytics helps you know how every webpage on your website is performing. You will have an idea of how much traffic is coming to your website, which page is attracting more traffic, which pages need to be improved – and so on.
This feature basically tells you what is working and what is not, and any website builder that doesn’t offer this feature puts you at a significant disadvantage.
With some top website builders, integrations with third party data analytics tools like Google Analytics is available and is an added advantage. So this is one of the top features to look for in a website builder.
9. Custom Domain Names
When signing up with a website builder, one of the features to look for is a custom domain name. Website builders with free plans will usually get you started on a domain name that is linked to their own domain. Weebly, Jimdo and Shopify does it.
For instance, if you’re getting started for free on Weebly, you might be assigned a website name like SmartBaker.Weebly.Com – which is not a custom domain name, and is not exactly what you want.
The custom domain name you’re interested in is SmartBaker.Com – which does not include ‘Weebly’ in the url.
You should always make sure that the website builder you are planning to use allows for custom domain names. Otherwise, you could get stuck with a domain name that you don’t want!
10. Social Media Integration
An important feature to look for in a website builder today is the ability to integrate social media into your website. Being able to integrate your website with your social media handles makes it easy for your followers and potential clients to connect with your brand both on and off your website.
Social media integration also makes marketing your website significantly easier.
11. Ecommerce Capabilities
If you plan to sell anything on your website, then you need a website creator that has high-quality ecommerce capabilities. One of such website builders is Shopify.
With ecommerce solutions on your website, you will be able to easily list products for sale, adjust prices, display product images, have a method for accepting payments, have a method of accepting shipping information, and son on.
A website builder with great ecommerce solution makes it easy for customers to browse your ecommerce products, compare products and make purchases on your website. Some website builders are better at doing this than others. Aside Shopify, another website builder with such great ecommerce capability is Weebly.
Top Features To Look For In A Website Builder – The Wrap
If you’re considering the best website builders to use for your online business, then there are many different options, and the best website builder for you will depend on your use case. For instance, Pixpa is best if you’re into photography; Shopify is best for ecommerce, while Weebly is best for blogging.
I did not consider the cost of building your website using website builders because I think cost should be secondary. After you have found the features you’re looking for, then you can start considering cost.
To get the best possible outcome for your website building effort, it is important to choose the best website builder for your use case, and one that has enough high-quality features as mentioned in this article. If you find one that has many or all of the features outlined here, then you should seriously give it a thought.
If you’re using a website builder for the first time, a simple and user-friendly interface might be one of your biggest feature considerations. This is because it might take you a while to adjust to using a website builder, so the more user-friendly the interface, the faster you can accomplish your goals.
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