Homepage Builder: the 5 Best Providers in 2021 in Comparison + Guide

Do you need your own website and are you looking for inexpensive alternatives to professional web design? A website builder can be the solution. Read here what it is suitable for and which functions it offers. You can also find out what the 5 well-known suppliers’ kits are labeled with and what they cost.

The website builder: the 4 most important questions

Would you like to create a homepage and have no experience in this area? Then a website kit can offer the right solution. These are the most important facts on this topic:

  • What is a website builder?
    With a web-based website builder you can create your own homepage without any prior knowledge. The hosting and the (sub) domain are included in the offers.
  • How does a website builder work?
    You select a template, adapt it individually and fill it with your own content. You don’t need to install any software for this, because everything is done online in the browser.
  • What does a website builder cost?
    Most providers have several tariffs in their program, with the monthly costs between 5 and 150 $. There are also free offers with limited functionality.
  • Which providers are there? 
    The quality of the website construction kits is constantly developing and with it the number of providers. The best-known representatives in include Jimdo , Wix and 1 & 1 Ionos .

The advantages: For whom is a website builder worthwhile?

What are the advantages of creating your website with a website builder? The main advantages are:

  • No special knowledge required : 
    You do not need to be able to program or have web design experience. Anyone with basic PC knowledge can quickly familiarize themselves with the operation of the construction kits.
  • Some offers free of charge : 
    Some providers have permanently free versions in their program. Despite their comparatively small range of functions, these are well suited for leisure clubs or private websites.
  • No high initial investments:
    There are no expenses for web design, which could otherwise amount to several thousand dollars. With some tariffs, the running costs are not higher than with other web hosting offers.
  • Lots of design templates : 
    You benefit from a large selection of templates, most of which are pre-sorted by industry. Individual adjustments are possible.
  • Keep your homepage up to date : 
    You can update content yourself, add functions or change the design. You don’t have to hire a service provider for this.
  • Hosting included : 
    You don’t have to worry about web hosting. This is included in all construction kits.
  • Security thanks to regular updates : 
    the providers also take care of updates. You do not need to concern yourself with this topic.

The range of functions and the quality of these offers are constantly evolving so that they meet the needs of more and more users. However, a website builder is primarily suitable for the following users:

  • Small businesses and self-employed people who focus on the information function of the website
  • Founders who have to get by on a limited budget
  • Simple online shops with a manageable product range
  • Associations that are mainly active in the leisure or voluntary sector
  • Private individuals who want to present their hobby or a personal concern

Comparison: The 5 most important providers for the website builder

Even if website builders work in the same way, there are differences. The table presents important services of the 5 best-known providers. Note that there are several tariffs in each case, and not all of them offer the same range of functions.

 Jimdo logoJimdoWix logoWix1 & 1 Ionosweebly logoWeebly
Storage space (for the website, excluding e-mail inboxes)500 MB to unlimited500 MB – 20 GBunlimited500 MB to unlimited
Navigation
levels (max.)
323unlimited
Own domainYesYesYesYes
Email address1 – 10available through G Suite1 – 10available through G Suite
Design templatesabout 160about 520about 450approx. 120
Responsive design (sometimes not for all templates)YesYesYesYes
Online shopyes, with a
wide range of functions
yes, also for a large assortmentyes, with a
wide range of functions
yes, but tailored to the US market
Blog functionYesYesYesYes
Additional
functions
good e.g. B. Multilingualism, forumgood e.g. B. Sending newsletters, password protectiongood e.g. B. Multilingualism, blog importgood e.g. B. Forum, polls
Choice of web appsgood choiceextensive
web app store
large selection, also from third-party providersextensive
web app store
SEOWellWellWellWell
statisticsin connection with external toolsin connection with external toolsin connection with external toolsData from visitors from the EU area are not recorded
Backup functionNoYesYesYes
User
friendliness
intuitive to useintuitive to useintuitive to useintuitive to use
SupportFAQ and mailFAQ, phone, mailFAQ, chat, 24/7 telephone hotlineForum, telephone, mail, (in English)

Website construction kit: important properties and functions

As an explanation of the table, you will find out below what the individual performance features mean and what you need to pay particular attention to. It also matters what you want to create the homepage for.

Storage space

Your website consists of files that are stored on the provider’s server. How much storage space is available for this depends on the tariff. If you choose a free plan for your website builder, you can only use 500 MB in most cases. This is sufficient for many simple purposes.

In the case of paid offers, the storage space is in the GB range, which is sufficient for normal websites. Sometimes it is even available indefinitely. If you want to include a lot of memory-intensive content such as videos or high-resolution photos, calculate your memory requirements beforehand to be on the safe side.

Navigation levels

The maximum number of navigation levels indicates how many submenus you can theoretically create from the start page. In the interests of user-friendliness, it is generally advisable not to use more than 3 navigation levels. Otherwise the homepage will quickly become confusing.

However, certain purposes can also require a greater level of hierarchy. This can be the case if the website is to convey technical content with an extensive hierarchical structure.

Own domain

The domain is the web address through which your site can be reached. A distinction is made between own domains and subdomains. The latter contain the name of the provider whose website builder you are using. This is not a problem in the private sector, but it does not look professional on commercial sites. A separate domain would be www.companyname.com , whereas www.companyname.jimdo.com is a subdomain of the main domain www.jimdo.com .

A separate domain is included in the package with some paid tariffs, e.g.  at 1 & 1 Ionos. With other kits, including Jimdo and Wix , you can book this option and pay extra for it. Sometimes there are special prices for the first year. The offers also differ with the available endings such as .de, .com or .net.

Email address

Many fee-based tariffs allow you to set up one or more e-mail accounts. In this way, you can acquire email addresses that match your own domain, also for your employees in the format [email protected] Sometimes addresses are also included in the tariff at no additional cost. These email addresses with their own domain appear more serious in everyday business than freemail addresses such as [email protected] or company [email protected]

Free plans usually do not include the ability to set up email accounts linked to the website. A website with its own domain is often an additional requirement at Jimdo .

Design templates

The design templates are a great advantage when working with a website builder. These are usually sorted by industry so that you can find your way around the large selection more quickly. You use the template as a basis for your own adjustments. Change colors and fonts and insert your own images and text.

The individual offers differ in the number and quality of the templates. Once you have decided to change the template, you cannot always change the template.

Responsive design

With a responsive design, it is not necessary to create different versions of a homepage for different end devices. This is because this is automatically displayed in the optimal format on a desktop computer as well as on various mobile devices. This is important for user-friendliness and ranking on Google.

Even if all of the providers presented here allow pages in responsive design, not every template is suitable for this. Therefore, pay attention to this when choosing the design template.

Read the following article to get a clear idea on how important design is for SEO:

Design Follows Function: Websites Between SEO and User Experience

Online shop

Basically, a website builder also allows you to set up an online shop. Many tariffs contain a corresponding function. This should meet the legal requirements, including the correct identification of the VAT, the reference to the terms and conditions and the cancellation policy as well as the order button.

In addition, the offers also differ in terms of their functions. These include:

  • Number of possible articles
  • Product groups
  • Zoom option for product images
  • Payment options (invoice, PayPal, direct debit, etc.)
  • Volume discounts
  • Voucher function
  • Product reviews

Blog function

Many providers allow you to integrate a blog into your website with a website builder. You can use this to provide your visitors with the latest information, which often has a positive effect on search engine ranking.

As far as the blog function in a website builder is concerned, there are qualitative differences. Pay attention to the following functions:

  • Comment function, possibly via Facebook
  • Day function
  • Scheduling of posts
  • Contributions can be changed
  • Access for multiple authors

Additional functions

In most cases, a website builder contains certain additional functions that you can use if necessary. Depending on the provider and tariff, websites can be created that offer visitors individual options and a high level of comfort.

This does not mean the web apps explained in the next section, but functions that are integrated as standard. Examples are:

  • Multilingualism
  • Newsletter function
  • Targeting (target group-specific content)
  • Hidden Pages
  • password protection
  • Social media links
  • HTML editor for experts

Web apps

You can select web apps from an existing range and add them to your homepage. Not only can the providers themselves be the authors of these widgets, but also third parties. If you have a web app store, you benefit from a very large and constantly growing selection. Perhaps you will find special functions that fit your website exactly.

Many of the programs are available as freeware, others are chargeable. Examples of web apps are:

  • Photo gallery
  • Live chats
  • Customer ratings
  • Call-to-action buttons
  • Driving directions
  • Menus for restaurants
  • Online reservations

Tutorial: Build a website on WIX for beginners 2021

SEO ( search engine optimization )

Many factors influence the ranking of your website on Google. Some of these are directly influenced by the functionality of the website builder you are using. This includes:

  • Editable URLs, page titles and descriptions for all subpages
  • Possibility of assigning HTML tags (h1 to h6) to headings
  • Alternative texts for images
  • SSL encryption
  • Responsive design
  • Indexing settings

The extent to which these requirements are met depends on the tariff for most providers. There are for example, at Jimdo and 1 & 1 Ionos, also additional functions that support the user with advice when implementing SEO requirements.

The following articles will help you master the art of SEO:

What is SEO: The Basics Guide to Search Engine Optimization [2021]

The ABCs of Search Engine Optimization: What You Should Know About SEO

Statistics

Statistics dashboards allow you to analyze the number of visitors to your website and their user behavior. You can find out how often the page was viewed, how long the visitors stayed on the page and where they came from. This will help you adapt the content accordingly.

It is also important that data protection regulations are observed, i.e. IP addresses are only transmitted anonymously. The statistics of the modules presented are based on external tools such as Google Analytics. However, it is also possible that other providers use their own methods.

Backup function

With a backup, you save the current version of your website on the provider’s server. In this way, you can restore the original page in the event of data loss, which can occur, for example, if a change attempt is unsuccessful .

Some website builders require you to perform the backup manually. Others allow automatic backups at regular intervals, some of which you can determine yourself.

Usability

In most cases, a website builder can be used without any special knowledge and after only a short training period. Operation is intuitive.

If you need support, some providers can also guide you through the design process by answering simple questions. You give which industry your company belongs to or which color scheme you prefer. Jimdo Dolphin follows this principle, although these tariffs are a bit more expensive than if you design your website completely yourself with Jimdo Creator.

Support

Whether you have a technical problem or questions about operation, various support options are available from all providers. In addition to the FAQ area on the provider’s website, this is the standard support via email. Telephone support and live chat characterize a particularly good service.

Support is usually available free of charge. Special services such as a 24/7 hotline are sometimes also subject to a charge or only included in more expensive tariffs. Note that you will not always receive support at Weebly .

1&1 Ionos Review: Pros and Cons by: HowtoEntrepreneur

Cost comparison: From free to around 100 dollars per month

All providers have several tariffs with different scope of services in their program. Normally, you can easily switch to a more expensive tariff. The reverse is not so easy, because you have to stick to the contract period. When deciding on a website builder, consider not only the basic fee, but also the cost of your own domain and e-mail addresses.

With a free kit, fewer services are available and your website usually contains advertising. A distinction must be made between the free or reduced test phases, after which you switch to a paid tariff.

 Jimdo logoJimdoWix logoWix1 & 1 Ionos logo1 & 1 Ionosweebly logoWeebly
Number of tariffs56th35
One-time setup
fee
NoNo0-15 €No
Monthly costs (if paid annually)0 – 39 €0 – 24.50 €7 – 25 €0 – 30 €
Costs for your own domain (partly depending on the tariff
)
1st year free, from 2nd year: 20 €1st year free, from 2nd year: 14.95 €free1st year free of charge,
from 2nd year: 18 € (discounts for longer contracts)
E-mail address costs12 € per year (60 € for 10 addresses)€ 60 per year1 post box free of chargeapprox. € 40 per year
Free basic rateYesYesNoYes
Free or discounted trial periodNoNoonly € 1 / month in the first 6 or 12 monthsNo

Tutorial: Build a website on Weebly for beginners

Disadvantages of the construction kits: when is a professional web agency worthwhile?

A website builder works for many, but not all purposes. In some situations it is sometimes worthwhile to hire professional web designers. They deal thoroughly with your concerns and bring knowledge and experience to the design. Because a website construction kit has the following disadvantages :

  • Functional and design restrictions
  • Less individual because design templates are used multiple times
  • Dependency on the provider, since no change is possible

Weigh up which variant of the web design suits you. When doing this, also consider where your company is likely to develop. A website builder is not the best solution in the following cases :

  • Website operators with high demands on functions, design and professionalism (e.g. large and B2B companies)
  • Online shops with an extensive range
  • Companies with growth potential for which a modular website will no longer be enough

Web designers either program their customers’ pages themselves or use a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress or Joomla. A CMS that is available as freeware can also be an alternative to the website builder for you. The possibilities are more extensive. However, you will need basic expertise in the field and more time to familiarize yourself with it.

Create the website with a construction kit: Here’s how!

Creating a website with a website builder is not difficult. The procedure is essentially the same for the various providers. This includes the following steps:

  1. Develop conceptual content
  2. Select the right provider and register for free
  3. Choose tariff
  4. Choose a template or have it suggested
  5. Customize your design online by choosing other colors and fonts
  6. Fill the website with content (text, images, videos)
  7. Possibly add additional functions and web apps
  8. Test website
  9. go online

Conclusion: website builder as a worthwhile alternative

With a website builder you can create your own website relatively quickly and without specialist knowledge. This method produces great results, even if it is not suitable for all businesses.

Both in terms of design and functions, the possibilities are constantly evolving. Clarify in advance which properties are particularly important to you. On this basis you select the provider and the tariff.

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