What is a Website Builder?

A Website Builder Helps Define Your Presence Online

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One of the most important tools a business leader can have in today’s landscape, a website builder ensures you can stand out online, connect with your target audience, and spread brand awareness. Essentially, these tools provide everything a non-developer needs to design a small business website for ecommerce, blogging, and various other use cases.

With a website builder, you don’t need to know all about coding to build your own website. Instead, you can customize template designs using drag-and-drop functionality, and access new features at the click of a button. Some website builders even come with web hosting, SEO, and marketing tools, so you can access more of the features you need in the same place.

Here’s your complete guide to website builders.

What is a website builder? Website builder definition

A website builder is a collection of software tools designed to help companies or individuals design an online presence. If you don’t know anything about web design, the best website builder will still allow you to create the website you need with minimal effort.

There are various different kinds of website builder online. Tools like Wix, Squarespace and Webflow are completely no-code solutions, allowing beginners to gain access to online store functionality, fonts, and different designs with no prior knowledge. Solutions like WordPress can give you a little more freedom to tap into code if you choose.

Most website builders will come with “extensibility” functions, which essentially means you can add apps and add-ons to your website design using plugins and pre-built tools. What’s more, all website builders generally have a complete content management system, where you can create pages and upload content, like product pages, and blogs.

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How does a Website builder Work?

The majority of today’s site builders are “online website builders”. These are tools connected to the internet which allow you to design a new website without knowing anything about HTML or CSS. The technology works by converting the drag-and-drop commands you make within the system into code, which can then be translated into a professional website.

Most website builders offer various templates and themes suitable for different websites. For instance, Squarespace is ideal for creating portfolio style websites, while WordPress can create a wide range of different styles of blog and professional site. Wix and similar tools are often useful for creating ecommerce websites when you want to sell online.

Once you select a template within your website builder, you can customize the appearance of those website templates, and various features, such as the layout and size of the images, the functionality and the page, and what users can do on each part of your website. Most professional website builders will allow you to optimize your pages for the search engines, add user-friendly forms, and even implement your own shopping features.

Although website builders generally come with most of the functionality you need already included, you may have to seek out some accompanying capabilities separately. If your website builder doesn’t come with web hosting services built-in, you’ll need to access those separately so you can take your site online. Similarly, you may need to purchase your own domain name if a custom domain isn’t included as part of your package.

A custom domain allows you to name your own website whatever you want, and you can usually access these from a hosting provider like GoDaddy. A good website builder may include a free domain, but this may only be available for a limited time.

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What are the Features of a Website Builder?

The exactly functionality of your website builder will depend on which tool you choose. Free website builders which rely on “open source” technology, like Web.com and WordPress require you to purchase your hosting plan separately, but they give you a lot of functionality to build a comprehensive website online and offline.

Alternatively, a website builder you’ll pay monthly for, like Wix or Squarespace, will give small business owners most of the simple tools they need to build their site in one package, without the need to seek out hosting elsewhere.

Some of the most common website builder features for small business owners include:

  • Drag and drop functionality: Rather than asking you to work with code, most website builders will allow you to drag and drop the components of a web page into the design you’d like, as though you were assembling a collage. This means you can move text, photos, videos, and other components around a website freely. Each site builder will have different options when it comes to customization.
  • Storage: Bandwidth or storage on a website builder allows you to upload videos and pictures easily. With Wix, for instance, you can access a gallery of images in your account, making it easy to add and edit photos and videos on different pages, and even remove them if necessary. Storage options will vary from one service to the next.
  • Domains and hosting: When building a website, you’ll need certain components other than a design. A website host and domain name are a common requirement. The domain name is the URL used to navigate to your site. Some website builders offer all three services already. If you already own a domain name but want to use a different site builder, you’ll need to migrate your new domain to the new platform.
  • Integrations and add-ons: Third-party applications, integrations, and add-ons are common. You may want to integrate things like social media feeds or email marketing tools into your site or lead capture forms and landing pages. These features make it easier to keep all of your data points connected, so you can learn more about your audience.
  • Business email: Most websites will come with an option to create an email address which includes your domain name as the extension. Some companies charge extra for this feature, while others will give you a couple of emails for free, and then require you to pay more for each additional email.
  • SEO and marketing: SEO tools are the features you can use to improve your chances of ranking well on the search engines. With SEO functionality, you can change meta tags on your pages, update your tags on each page, and take other important steps to stand out online. Some solutions also come with marketing features built in, like included email marketing so you can reach your target audience.
  • Analytics and insights: Good website builders will usually make it easy to improve your chances of long-term growth for your site. Analytics, reports, and insights give you plenty of useful information about your website, and how you can improve your chances of converting customers in the future. These tools are particularly important if you’re using your website builder to design an online store.
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What are Some Examples of Website Builders?

As mentioned above, there are a host of different kinds of website builders available on the market today. Each option comes with its own pros and cons to consider, depending on the kind of functionality you might need. Some solutions are designed specifically for online store building and portfolios, while others are intended for blogging and thought leadership.

Some common options include:

Wix

Easily one of the better-known website builders on the market today, Wix makes it quick and simple to get started online, with everything you need to build and host a website already included in an affordable package. Wix offers drag-and-drop website design, access to a host of marketing and SEO tools, as well as a powerful range of solutions for ecommerce selling.

Webflow

Webflow is a convenient no-code website builder which helps you to design state-of-the-art sites with tons of customization options. Webflow is fantastic for when you want a truly unique website, without having to worry about dealing with code and programming. You can even collaborate with various other people on your design if you’re working on building a website as part of an agency service. There’s also support for memberships and ecommerce.

WordPress

By far the most popular website builders, WordPress is a completely open-source and flexible website designer. Although you’ll need a little more patience and a willingness to understand code to make the most out of WordPress, it’s very easy to use. The technology makes it simple to create more customized sites with a host of add-ons and integrations you can use to extend your site’s functionality. There are also tons of community experts to help you with building.

illustration of a cat climbing a ladder
illustration of a cat climbing a ladder

Do You Need a Website Builder?

If you’re hoping to get active online and you don’t want to spend months reading tutorials on how to manage code, then a website builder could be the perfect tool for you. There are plenty of options out there, from Weebly to WordPress, and they all come with a variety of features you can use and explore. Many will even allow you to build your own shopping cart where you can take PayPal and credit card payments from customers online.

Website builders allow you to create a DIY website with a drag-and-drop editor or similar simple features. While some come with more customer support and guidance than others, most feature simple design templates anyone can access and customize according to their needs.

Each website builder has its own unique features and functionality. For instance, with WordPress, you’ll need to access WordPress hosting separately, but you’ll have a huge selection of add-ons and integrations for your web builder.

If you don’t want to hire your own web developer or learn code yourself, a website builder is a great tool for getting your business online.

Pros 👍

  • You won’t need any coding or technical skills to get your website running
  • Website builders are generally low maintenance with no need for constant upkeep
  • There are tons of ways to customize your website with each builder
  • Most website builders come with analytics, or integrations with Google analytics so that you can master website optimization.
  • You’ll be able to get online quickly without a lot of development time.
  • You’ll have quick ways to capture leads through contact forms and marketing tools
  • You can customize and update your website regularly with absolute ease of use
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The Bottom Line on Website Builders

A website builder is one of the most important tools you’ll use as a business leader in today’s digital world. If you don’t have the budget to hire a developer of your own, and you don’t want to learn how to code your website from scratch, a website builder is a great tool.

With these software solutions, companies can set their online presence up quickly and effectively, keeping costs low and making sure they can stand out online. Many options even come with free plans and various demo options so you can experiment with the features before you invest.

Even if you do need to pay a monthly plan for a website builder, the monthly packages are generally far less expensive than hiring your own developer. If you’re looking for a way to get online fast without coding strategies to worry about, a website builder could be exactly what you need.

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