The Best Website Builder In Australia [We Built 100+Websites To Find Out]

Build a gorgeous website fast.

4.9
(44)

(44 votes, average: 4.9 out of 5)

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Steven McConnell
24 min read

May 20, 2018

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Reading Time: 24 minutes

You’re an Australian professional, small business owner or blogger – and you need to build your own website – but you don’t know which website builder to choose. Should you opt for the convenience of all-in-one site builders like Squarespace or Wix, or the unconstrained freedom of WordPress?

I have personally built, or overseen the building of, more than 100 websites over the past 15 years.

This means I know what I’m talking about when it comes to choosing the best website builder in Australia.

Below are my top 3 picks. If you’re interested in my selection method, who I am, as well as some uncomfortable truths about best website builder reviews, scroll to the bottom of the article.

The Best Website Builders In Australia Are:

  1. Squarespace – best for people with minimal design skills.
  2. WordPress (and WPEngine) – best for entrepreneurs.
  3. Webflow – best for web design agencies.
  4. Wix – best for small businesses.
  5. Duda – best for emerging designers.

1. Squarespace

Best for people with minimal design skills.

Squarespace is a beautiful website builder. Its user interface is a masterclass in UX/UI design, and the websites you can create with it are breathtakingly gorgeous.

  • It’s the perfect website builder for someone who has non-existent or beginner-level design skills.

Squarespace must have hired every top designer and UI expert in the world and locked them in a room until they produced a site builder that’s friendly, intuitive, yet capable of producing websites that, well, don’t look like they were made using a website builder.

And they did.

  • As a bonus, they bolted on every world-class business tool that you’ll ever need to run an online store.

You can take bookings, sell products, optimise your SEO and measure your success easily and without a huge learning curve – all from one central back end.

Pros.

First, I love the themes that you get with Squarespace. You get a lot of them, and almost all of them are beautiful.

Bold typography, contemporary aesthetic, lots of white space and beautiful photography are the cornerstones of each Squarespace template.

This is rare.

While most website builders promise you “500+ templates and themes”, you quickly realise that 80% of them look like they were made for accounting firms.

In 1997.

  • No offence to accounting firms, but you folks are notorious for having websites that are overdue for a revamp.

Not so with Squarespace. Admittedly, about 10% of the templates are pretty ordinary, but the other 90% are bang on point.

When you log in, click on “New Page” to see dozens of pre-built starting pages included with your template. This makes it fast and easy to create striking new layouts for your brand with text, images, galleries and more.

If you want to make further customisations to your template, Squarespace’s library of pre-built sections is also the best in the business.

You get access to a catalogue of over 100 sections that are tailored to your template’s look and feel. Just grab and place using the drag and drop editor.

Thumbs Up!

If you don’t like the default colours, Squarespace doesn’t leave you stranded. Instead of forcing you to choose random colours which may or may not work with one another, it gives you the ability to choose from a selection of pre-built palettes that were created by professional designers.

When it comes to adding images to your website, I love the ability to grab images directly from Unsplash (for free) and to edit them on the fly using the built-in image editor.

No need to download the image, open it in Photoshop, edit, save, and upload.

A huge time saver.

  • On the e-commerce side, Squarespace offers the ability to sell physical, and service-based offerings, optimise your SEO and dial in specifics like class times, free trials and recurring payments.

Cool extensions like waitlists, the ability to create member areas, reserve restaurant seats, print on demand and capture product reviews round out the e-commerce suite very nicely.

No issues there.

By the way, I also found Squarespace to be the best website builder for responsiveness. It automatically converts your design into a mobile version (with a live view available), and I was not able to trip it up even once.

(In case you’re curious, Wix was second best, but I did manage to confuse it once).

Squarespace walks you through getting started with your website, and there are a lot of tutorials available as you go.

Cons.

Squarespace provides a free logo maker, but it’s good without being excellent.

Although it’s easy to use, the logos it produces follow the very familiar (and overdone) hipster design language.

If you don’t want your brand to end up looking like every Australian coffee shop, barber, T-shirt manufacturer and eco-friendly soap brand out there, stay away.

  • For best results, I recommend that you avoid free logo builders altogether and invest a few hundred dollars on a logo through 99designs or Canva.

Squarespace does not offer phone support (although extensive manuals, tutorials and guided tours are available).

Thumbs Down!

On the e-commerce front, I was hoping that Squarespace would offer the ability to photograph your products, remove backgrounds and upload them straight to your product listings. Alas, no.

Of all the website builders I’ve reviewed, only Weebly offers this feature. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much its only good feature, which is why it earned my “Worst Website Builder In Australia” award (see below).

Analytics in Squarespace could also be better.

They provide insights into your conversion rates, but there’s no way to see attribution and no ability to create custom goals.

For that, you’ll need to run Google Analytics on your Squarespace site. My prediction is that you’ll eventually do all your analysis from GA, which will make the native analytics redundant.

Overall.

Squarespace is the best website builder in Australia because it excels at creating gorgeous front ends and powerful commerce shops without overwhelming you.

It’s the Apple of website builders.

  • Intuitive and inviting, its user interface is genuinely a delight to use. I found myself wanting to explore and dig into its features.

Squarespace shines as a blogging platform, a personal branding platform and as a small business platform. It’s a hat-trick that no other website builder manages to achieve.

As such, it’s ideal for people who want an elegant website, but:

  • are not tech-savvy
  • are not designers

If you have zero design experience, it gives you a huge head start in the form of great templates and pre-made sections.

Expert Tip.

In fact, I recommend that you resist the urge to tinker with Squarespace designs. Unless you have a few years of design experience under your belt, it’s likely that your edits will detract from, rather than add to, the designs that Squarespace provides you with.

That said, if you do have some design chops, Squarespace gives you a substantial amount of freedom to explore your creative side.

  • beauty of the front end – 9/10
  • steepness of the learning curve – 9/10
  • technical features (SEO, CSS, integrations) – 9/10
  • value for money – 9/10

Pricing.

Squarespace pricing starts at $16/month ($144 per year) and tops out at $54/month ($480/year). The free trial last 14 days, but ongoing free plans are not available.

2. WordPress + WPEngine

Best website builder for world-class entrepreneurs.

If you have dreams of building a world-class business, you need to build your website on WordPress.

And if you run WordPress, I recommend WPEngine as your web host – because it’s built specifically for it.

Yes, you can get cheaper web hosting for as little as $5/month somewhere like CrazyDomains, but this brings disadvantages that I’ll discuss shortly.

  • Don’t listen to naysayers who say that WordPress is difficult to use. First, they’re not entrepreneurs. Second, they’re stuck in the past.

Let me explain.

As an entrepreneur, you’re expected to incessantly learn, expand and grow. If you baulk at the idea of spending a few days learning the ropes of WordPress, you’re in for a real shock when the real challenges of entrepreneurship begin.

Get used to staring challenges in the face.

That said, people who criticise WordPress had a valid point a few years ago.

It was clunky and required a decent amount of coding knowledge.

Important!

Ever since a massive upgrade in the form of Guttenberg drag and drop editor in 2018, WordPress has become easier to use than some all-in-one website builders in this review.

Now in its 4th iteration, Guttenberg provides a gob-smacking amount of design control. It makes it easy for anyone to create rich, flexible content layouts with its block-based UI.

Pros.

WordPress scales better than any other website builder. This is the #1 reason why it powers almost 40% of the Internet as of 2022.

In a study that analysed the top 1 million websites in the world, WordPress was used almost 60X more often than Squarespace:

Source: W3Techs.com

Scalability is the reason for its popularity.

When you start a business, you MUST plan for scalability.

In other words, you must ensure that your web platform grows in sync with your business, and never runs into a dead end.

Expert Tip.

A dead-end would be a situation where your business has outgrown the platform’s capacity to cater to its needs, and you have to rebuild your digital infrastructure from scratch (most likely on WordPress).

These rebuilds are expensive and time-consuming because they force you to rebuild your internal processes and retrain your staff.

They also come at the worst possible time, when your business is experiencing rapid growth, and the last thing you need is an IT distraction.

  • WordPress is friendly and convenient when you’re small, but will expand in functionality as you get large.

If you’re looking to sell goods or services online via an online store, or you’re a business that will use its website as a business tool, this is the website builder for you.

To make your WordPress website look world-class, you need to find the right templates. Even though it comes with built-in templates out of the box, I recommend ThemeForest by Envato Market.

For between $30 and 90 you’ll find templates that no website builder will ever match.

You also get best-in-class SEO tools, marketing tools, and ecommerce tools.

WPEngine is just that. An engine that will power your WordPress website, day and night, keep it running fast, secure and backed up.

Cons.

It’s time to invoke the Apple vs Android analogy again.

WordPress, the Android of the site builder world, gives you ultimate flexibility, but this comes at a cost. Plugins can break, hosting can have issues, security risks can emerge.

When you go with an all-in-one vendor like Squarespace, you get everything from one vendor. The builder, the hosting, the templates and the widgets are in one spot.

  • If something goes wrong, you have one throat to choke.

And the support team is actually trained on the product, so they have the power to fix the issue at the core, rather than sending you on “their plugin broke our theme” types of wild goose chases.

  • This doesn’t happen very often, but it can happen. For context, as a current owner of 8 WordPress websites, I deal with this issue about twice per year.

That said, in 90% of cases, I solve the problem by submitting a support ticket to a relevant provider, goinging to bed, and seeing it resolved the next day.

My last gripe with WordPress relates specifically to WPEngine – because they don’t provide domain names and email hosting. You’ll need to go somewhere like Namecheap for that.

Overall.

WordPress that’s powered by WPEngine is best for ambitious, gritty entrepreneurs with big visions.

If this is you, don’t bother messing around with Squarespace or online shop builders like BigCommerce or Shopify.

Those are just training wheels that you’ll end up jettisoning in 12 months’ time as your business grows, anyway.

  • beauty of the front end – 10/10
  • steepness of the learning curve – 7/10
  • technical features (SEO, CSS, integrations) – 10/10
  • value for money – 9/10

3. Webflow

Best for agencies and experienced designers who don’t code.

One of the coolest things about Webflow is that it allows you to design your website from scratch, and be constrained only by your imagination – without forcing you to learn to code.

You’re able to change padding, border radius, margins, and line height to your heart’s content.

But more importantly, you’re able to enter a professional workflow, reusing styles, elements and styles globally via dynamic content, as well as controlling micro-details of your website, such as wrappers and hero content.

Pros.

One of the coolest things about Webflow is that it allows you to design your website from scratch, and be constrained only by your imagination – without forcing you to learn to code.

You can change padding, border radius, margins, and line height to your heart’s content.

But more importantly, you’re able to enter a professional workflow, reusing styles, elements and styles globally via dynamic content, as well as controlling micro-details of your website, such as wrappers and hero content.

Important!

In that vein, Webflow is optimised for collaboration with other team members or clients. You can share your website project and invite them to provide feedback or even edit the content.

In a refreshing move, Webflow won’t force you to add any plugins or extensions. Everything is available from the interface.

This does make the interface quite complex, but as an antidote, Webflow offers a very comprehensive University that includes videos, courses, articles and a private forum.

Cons.

Webflow’s interface is pretty dense. It’s definitely something that will take you a few weeks to master.

Think Photoshop and Final Cut Pro.

It’s not the type of environment that is immediately intuitive, nor a huge pleasure to use.

  • Webflow claims to be a lot easier to use than WordPress, but I’m not convinced.

I’m also not a big fan of Webflow’s templates. You get a selection of free ones, but almost all of them are very ordinary.

Thumbs Down!

You do get premium templates that cost between USD$30 and USD$150, but most of them are pretty rubbish, too.

Given that Webflow’s target clients are professional designers and agencies, I suspect these templates almost never get used, and most websites are built from scratch.

Overall.

If you’re a design professional who wants to be unconstrained by the limitations of typical site builders, but you don’t code and don’t want to mess around with separate domains and web hosting, Webflow is a powerful option.

Webflow will also be a fit for an amateur who wants an extra layer of control to do a decent bit of tinkering on the back end.

  • Webflow is best-suited for agencies that sell websites for a living – lots of them. It really stands out for this purpose, and only Duda is able to challenge it in this niche.

It does have a learning curve, so it’s not for people who want a website fast. If you’re a doctor, a lawyer or a small business owner who needs a one-page website fast, Webflow is definitely for you.

  • beauty of the front end – 8/10
  • steepness of the learning curve – 6/10
  • technical features (SEO, CSS, integrations) – 10/10
  • value for money – 8/10

Pricing.

Webflow pricing starts at $15/month.

4. Wix

Best for small businesses with an online store.

Wix is the Swiss Army knife for busy small business owners. It contains business tools that will help you run your mom-and-pop business, massage salon, yoga studio, photography gig, consultancy or coaching practice.

Apart from giving you the ability to build, host and maintain an excellent website, it will help you run your business with built-in:

  • CRM
  • email tools
  • marketing tools

Pros.

Wix’s “build a website for me” ADI is unbelievable.

It asked me a few questions and within two minutes spat out a website that I was about 80% happy with.

Getting the other 20% right was not an issue because the UI is beautifully intuitive and pleasant to use.

Thumbs Up!

Wix’s interface is a live simulation of your website’s front end. This feature alone will save you hours in development time because you won’t need to publish and refresh the page every time you make a change that you want to see live.

Wix’ other strength is its ability to help you sell your physical products, services, content or courses.

But it’s more than just an online shop that allows you to sell stuff. It’s an e-commerce engine that gives you the ability to design outstanding customer journeys.

For example, in the context of services, it gives you the ability to sell a 3-month plan that includes a range of consulting services and gated content, costs $100/month, includes a 7-day free trial and allows cancellation by the user.

If you have multiple staff, you can tie this to specific people and get users to book appointments in their individual calendars.

This is truly ground-breaking.

You also get:

  • basic and advanced SEO features, including the ability to publish sitemaps and edit robots.txt
  • ability to automate important emails (e.g., the abandoned cart)
  • library of over 900 templates, most of which are very good.

The built-in logo maker is pretty decent without being outstanding. At $29 for a logo that takes 5 minutes to make, it’s probably enough for the early stages of your business.

You also get 250+ extensions that allow you to expand Wix’s functionality.

Some of the basic ones, like opt-in forms and appointment schedulers, are free, while others, like e-commerce features and podcast streams, require payment.

  • move elements to the exact pixel
  • change colours and fonts of every single element

Phone support is available to paid users. You’re able to get help from a real human being in case you get stuck.

Cons.

Because Wix aims to be a full-service web builder, it must walk a very fine line between capability and ease of use. In doing so, it does tilt slightly on the side of capability.

While the designers have clearly done a lot of work to create a UI that does not swamp you with dozens of options at the same time, you will find yourself in situations where you have a lot to deal with.

This abundance of features is great, but it’s also quite easy to get lost in them.

You may find yourself exploring, trying different things, but making little progress.

Expert Tip.

If you’ve never used Wix before, and are planning to build a small business website on it, give yourself 2-4 days to get your head around all the features and settings.

It’s not something that you’ll be able to use to its full potential right out of the box.

Templates are great, but there’s still something “website-builder-esque” about them. I can’t quite put a finger on it, but websites that are built using builders have a certain rigid feel. Wix almost escapes it, but not quite.

Overall.

Wix is not a website builder. It’s an all-in-one digital tool that wants to be your CRM, your website, web host, CRM and payment processor.

It also includes very business-oriented tools like live chat, inventory management and advanced SEO.

Most importantly, it’s capable of scaling with your brand or business. It’s not as scalable as WordPress, but it’s pretty damn close.

  • Wix sits in an uncomfortable middle ground where it’s neither as simple as SquareSpace nor as powerful as WordPress.

If you’re in that position, and you don’t mind putting in another couple of days to learn a new platform, you could consider WordPress.

Design-wise, Wix’s templates are good without being excellent. The ADU builder, however, is bloody brilliant I wouldn’t even bother with templates.

  • beauty of the front end – 8/10
  • steepness of the learning curve – 8/10
  • technical features (SEO, CSS, integrations) – 8/10
  • value for money – 8/10

Pricing.

Wix is a bit more expensive than Squarespace, with plans starting at $18/month or $168/year.

A free plan is available, but it will limit your website to having a Wix subdomain. Oh, and you’ll get Wix ads popping up on your site.

5. Duda

Best for emerging designers.

Aimed at professional designers who have been in the web building game for about 5 years, Duda provides a robust set of client management tools, great templates and a sophisticated e-commerce capability.

It can be used by small business owners and people who want a simple portfolio site, but if you fall into that camp, you’re much better served by the simplicity of Squarespace.

  • This is a business tool that’s designed for folks who sell website design and development for a living.

Instead of competing directly with WordPress, Squarespace and Wix, Duda describes itself as a B2B website builder and focuses on the needs of web building agencies and freelancers.

Pros

Duda’s Quick-to-access global design functionality allows you to set a consistent style across all of your website’s elements and pages.

If you’re confident with design, you can work at the level of elements. If you’re not, Dudo will let you work at the level of sections.

If you’re a coder, switch to Developer Mode to edit any element JavaScript, HTML or CSS.

The design of the sections is very good. You can preview them directly in the builder, and this saves you a copious amount of time in saving and refreshing.

Adding content is a matter of dropping widgets onto Duda’s page. The builder has hundreds of widgets to choose from, allowing you to choose design elements and functionality for your site.

As a business tool, Duda allows you to white-label its platform by adding your own logos to its every touchpoint and set your own prices for web hosting, site management and design services.

  • You can run your entire web design agency from one centralised dashboard and have an immense amount of control over your revenue.

This is a huge time saver.

For example, if a client stops paying for their website, you can set up an automation that takes their website offline and sends them email reminders until they pay again.

Additionally, it gives your clients the option to provide targeted feedback directly within the app.

No more lengthy emails that start with “In regards to that blue button on the about page, about halfway down…”. Your client can provide notes about the offending button directly in the interface.

Thumbs Up!

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the templates. Mostly hits with a few misses.

You get advanced responsiveness controls. While Dudo will do its best to convert your design into a mobile-friendly layout, it doesn’t always get it right. For those situations, it gives you the ability to manually specify page breakpoints to ensure your design vision is consistent across all devices.

Support is available via live chat from inside the builder.

Native integrations with Square, Stripe, PayPal and Afterpay take care of payment processing.

Oh, did I mention that a free logo maker is also included as a widget, and it’s surprisingly good?

Cons

Duda’s interface is a bit on the convoluted side.

It won’t pose a huge challenge to someone who has built websites in the past, but a novice should expect to spend time familiarising themselves with the features.

Some options are quite obscure and may require you to raise technical support.

For example, I couldn’t figure out how to change the background of a header from a gradient to a solid colour.

Overall.

For a relatively unknown website builder, Duda is actually very good. It’s best suited to a digital native with moderate design skills or for a freelance web designer who builds good, inexpensive websites for clients.

It has some quirks, but they’re not of the deal-breaker variety. For a relatively unknown brand, it definitely punches well above its weight. The company does seem to be on a growth trajectory, raising $50 million in a Series D round back in 2021.

Expect to spend some time poking around its features, and maybe even have to submit a support ticket or two, before you finish your website.

  • beauty of the front end – 7/10
  • steepness of the learning curve – 8/10
  • technical features (SEO, CSS, integrations) – 9/10
  • value for money – 9/10

Pricing.

For $14/month on an annual plan or $19/month on a monthly plan, you get a single website.

Duda becomes even more good value for money if you need to run multiple websites; their Agency pack includes 4 websites and costs $59/month on a monthly, or $44/month on an annual, basis.

The Worst Website Builder In Australia: Weebly (Square)

Terrible all around.

When you sign up, you get a decision tree – a business website or a personal website.

The latter option is very simple, and has decent templates. They’re not remarkable, just OK. Very 2014.

One of the key features of Weebly is its eCommerce platform, which makes it easy to set up an online store. It’s powered by Square, the company that acquired them a few years ago.

Important!

Square has nothing to do with Squarespace. Square is a payments company that owns Weebly.

When you sign up, you have to choose whether you’re building an e-commerce website or a personal website.

Pros.

I like that Weebly e-commerce option only allows you to work on the level of sections. It doesn’t let you move things around at the element level, which is a good thing.

You end up with a somewhat stiff-looking website, but you’re not able to break anything.

  • All of the expected technical features are present.

You can integrate Google analytics, add custom header scripts and checkout tracking scripts, create 301 redirects and edit page URLs, titles and descriptions, alt text for images.

Checkout is done, predictably, by Square, and you get charged 2.2% on top of every transaction for the honour. Afterpay and PayPal are integrated into the platform; you just need to provide logins to activate them.

You can create automated shipping calculations that are based on the address that you’ll be shipping from.

Thumbs Up!

Weebly is the only website builder here to offer native integration with 99Designs, and this gives you the option to have your website built professionally, with prices starting at about $450.

You get the ability to insert pre-built sections into your pages, and these cover a good amount of use cases:

  • contact forms
  • testimonials
  • pricing tables
  • newsletter signups
  • ticket sales for events
  • Instagram feeds
  • PDFs for displaying restaurant menus

I like the ability to toggle between a desktop and mobile version of your website.

The always-on-tap tutorials live in the bottom right corner and are very helpful at putting instructions at your fingertips in visual form, instead of you having to flick across to page in the knowledgebase.

Cons.

If you choose the option to build an e-commerce store, you don’t get access to templates.

This is dumb. You’re left to your own design skills. The thing is, if I’m going to sit here and design, I’d rather use a platform that gives me more flexibility.

You also don’t get the ability to create a blog and publish posts.

Thumbs Down!

This is a massive scalability problem, as it paints people into a corner. Sure, you’re only selling via an online shop now. But what will happen in 1 year’s time, when you start blogging?

Decent site traffic analytics is available for paid plans. It’s a bit redundant because it doesn’t offer goals and insights into costs per conversion, so you’ll need to use GA anyway.

On the personal website side of things, the situation is more dreary. The templates are pretty crap and selection is limited, so you’ll be tempted to customise them. Once you do, using the somewhat clunky UI, you’re bound to create a fruit salad.

When using the personal side of the Weebly builder, you’re not able to grab images directly from free libraries like Unsplash.

  • Help is available in the form of a knowledge base, but it’s not very inviting.

The UI isn’t intuitive, either. I found myself getting stuck on the personal website side, and dealing with popups.

Finally, there’s no ability to preview your website until you’ve paid for the plan. I think I know why.

Overall.

Weebly is in an awkward place. In its pure e-commerce mode, it’s not as scalable or flexible as Shopify. In its pure CMS/personal website mode, it’s very similar, but not as pretty as, Squarespace.

The frictionless integration with 99Designs is cool, but again, if you’re in a position where you want to spend $500+ to set up your website, you’re probably in a position to consider more advanced platforms.

  • Compared with cars, Weebly reminds me of Subarus and Peugeots.

While decent, these cars struggle with sales because they’re stuck in no man’s land. Not as reliable as Toyotas, not as refined as BMWs and not as cheap as Hyundais, they lack a distinct identity.

Important!

The e-commerce side is Square’s attempt to get more customers into its payment processor, and it smells like one. The personal website side is way behind the times. Uninspiring and dull.

Apps are available from within the platform, some are free, but a lot of them seem to be rated quite low. For example, here’s a screenshot of a form that costs $8/month, but gets 3/5 stars. Are you inspired to build your brand on this?

There’s something “stuck in 2015”, dreary and “the rats have abandoned ship” about every aspect of Weebly.

  • beauty of the front end – 4/10
  • steepness of the learning curve – 5/10
  • technical features (SEO, CSS, integrations) – 6/10
  • value for money – 4/10

Website Builders To Avoid.

These four products are very far from being the best website builders in Australia.

They’re decent products, but you’re much better off choosing one of the options above, depending on your need.

BlueHost+Wordpress

As I mentioned elsewhere, the only reason Bluehost gets recommended is because of its generous referral commissions.

Any reviewer who is half-honest will not recommend it, especially in the Australian market, as the platform doesn’t offer .com.au domain names.

WordPress.com

This option is the worst of all worlds. You get to deal with the relative complexity of WordPress, but you don’t get the benefits of freedom that a self-hosted WordPress website offers.

BigCommerce

Also standing at an awkward cross-road, BigCommerce is complicated, powerful, bloated, and not very user-friendly.

If you’re very serious about selling online and are really hell-bent on NOT building your online store on WordPress and WooCommerce as per my recommendation, go with Shopify instead.

It does everything that BigCommerce does and more, but is further ahead on the user experience front. It also has a much larger pool of available integrations.

GoDaddy.com

You can use GoDaddy’s website builder in 30 minutes. I’m not kidding. It is by far the simplest website builder to use.

If you’re just after a billboard on the internet, a one-page website or your own review of the best website builders in Australia, then this website builder is for you.

It’s definitely not my go-to for larger websites, ecommerce websites or anything that will require integration.

Why I’ve Never Liked Website Builders.

Confession time. I’ve been building websites for over 15 years. During this time I’ve personally built or overseen the development of, over 100 websites.

I’ve never liked using website builders for this purpose.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’ve tried to like them. I’ve tested them. Heck, I’ve even tried to build my own websites, client websites and business websites using them. Yet, I’ve never become a fan.

Two reasons:

  • They restrict you too much in terms of functionality.
  • The websites you end up with never look quite right. They look both cookie-cutter and a little amateurish at the same time.

Hence why I’ve always stuck with WordPress. I’ve always viewed it as the best website builder for me, and for 95% of Australians.

It does take more time to master in the short term, but in my view, playing the long game is the key to success in business, and in life.

  • That said, website builders have been innovating like mad in recent years.

They’ve improved their drag-and-drop editors, rolled out advanced SEO features, and added gorgeous templates. Some of them shifted their focus on enterprise clients, adding white-labelling functionality, centralised management and the ability to offer custom pricing.

Because my job requires me to be on the cutting edge, I decided to road-test the most popular website builders on the Australian market again, in 2022.

My dilamma was:

  • Have website builders finally evolved enough to knock WordPress off its perch as the best website builder in Australia?
  • Or are they still overpriced, overhyped show ponies that make lofty promises, but leave you with an ugly and dysfunctional website that you’ll be upgrading to WordPress in 12 months’ time anyway?

The Uncomfortable Truth About Website Builder Reviews.

I love writing about stuff that I know something about. This is easy for me because I have a lot of experience with web development.

That being said, website builder reviewers are a corrupt bunch because – let’s face it – we get incentivised to provide these reviews.

  • Most often, the builder platform that offers the most seductive commissions gets the #1 spot, rather than a platform that genuinely deserves to be there.

This is how BlueHost, for example, became the #1 web hosting service worldwide.

They’re one of the better web hosting services out there, but certainly not the best. Yet, no one can resist the juicy $65 commission – the highest in the niche!

How I Tested The Website Builders For 2022.

I signed up for a paid plan with each site builder and used it to build a full new website.

During the website creation process, I carefully considered each builder platform against the criteria below.

Every site that I built included:

  • Home page with a header
  • Product page
  • Blog post
  • Contact page with a contact form
  • Online store

As a digital native with a tonne of web development experience, I did not read any guides or watch any tutorials prior to building each site. But, when I did get stuck, I’d check the knowledgebase.

What I Looked For In Website Builders.

These days, they’re very close. In fact, a lot of them are near carbon copies of one another. For a website builder to compete, it needs to score highly across these primary dimensions:

  • beauty of the front end
  • steepness of the learning curve
  • technical features (SEO, CSS, integrations)
  • value for money

Let me expand on each.

1. Beauty Of The Front End.

How pretty are the templates? How many templates are available – and how many of them are actually good-looking? How good are the colour palettes?

Those are the questions that are on my mind.

Beyond that, I want to know – what is the overall vibe that I get from the result? Do things look too rigid and upright? Do I get cookie-cutter vibes?

If the website builder doesn’t pass the scrutiny of these questions, I don’t even bother assessing it further. Australian users expect good-looking websites in 2022. Ugly, crappy stuff won’t cut it.

2. Steepness Of The Learning Curve.

How intuitive is the interface? Will I need to pour through manuals, or will I be able to work it out as I go? Is the interface enjoyable to use?

If I do need support, how good is it? Is it limited to text-based tutorials, or does it also include video walk-throughs? Is there an option to speak with a real human?

3. Technical Features.

How good is the SEO functionality like sitemaps? What about prompts that help you improve your page titles and descriptions? Can you do 301 redirects?

Can I add custom CSS, globally and at the level of individual elements? How easy is it to expand functionality using integrations, plugins and extensions?

4. Value For Money.

Value is relative, and is much more important than absolute cost. Most people build a website because they want to start a small business or augment their personal brand.

These are commercial endeavours, and need to be viewed holistically. There’s no point choosing a website builder that costs $5/month less if its lack of features increases development time by 3 months.

Another consideration is that of upfront vs ongoing costs. How much do you pay now and once, and how much do you pay monthly?

Website builders trick you into believing that prices are lower than they are by showing them in a weekly context. $32/week doesn’t seem like much, but when you get your monthly invoice for $128, you’ll certainly feel it.

The secondary features are:

  • maintenance
  • server location
  • speed
  • customer support (both human and knowledgebases)

Any website builder that’s not scoring at least 7.5 out of 10 on any of those metrics will die a very slow, painful death.

When comparing them, you’re really splitting hairs, and your decision comes down to tiny, tiny details that the platforms don’t have in common.

How A Person With No Design Skills Can Build A Beautiful Website.

There is a trick to making your website look great.

Statistically speaking, you probably don’t have design chops.

Even if you did, you’d still need to build at least 5-10 websites, and suffer through the agony of them looking like monsters, for you to figure out what works in web design, and what doesn’t.

My #1 piece of advice is: use templates, and make as few adjustments to them as possible.

In other words, let the professionals do the work.

Limit yourself to moving large sections only. Do not move individual elements within those sections, don’t change font sizes or image sizes.

Less.

Is.

More.

FAQ.

What’s the best template and hosting option for WordPress?

WordPress is a platform that you download for free. You install it on your web host and customise it to your exact needs using themes and plugins.

This means you’ll need:

  • domain name.
  • web hosting

If you’re in Australia I recommend Namecheap for the former and WPEngine for the latter. The best WordPress templates (by far) are on Envato.

Is WordPress a website builder?

Let me clear up some confusion first. When people mention WordPress, they refer to one of two entities – WordPress.com or WordPress.org. They’re wildly different from each other.

WordPress.com is a hosted platform with proprietary aspects, much like Squarespace and Wix. It’s great if you want a simple, free website hosted on the WordPress.com domain.

WordPress.org is an open-source platform you can download for free and install on your web host. Think of it like this:

  • Web hosting is a block of land. You can buy it (run your own physical web server) or rent it from a landowner (pay for web hosting on a remote web server, like WPEngine).
  • WordPress is the foundation of your home. It gives you a canvas that you can use to build anything you want.
  • A theme is a house you add on top of the foundation. It determines the look, as well as the UX of the property.
  • Plugins are specialised appliances that you add to your house, to improve its usefulness. Just as you can add an automatic garage door, a lawnmower and a security system to keep your house secure and convenient, you can add caching, anti-spam and backup plugins to achieve the same with your website.

Which website builders include SEO?

If you’re looking to build a website that will rank highly in search engine results, you need to choose a website builder that includes search engine optimization (SEO) features.

Not all website builders are created equal when it comes to SEO.

Some include basic features that will help your site rank higher, while others go the extra mile with comprehensive tools and resources.

To help you make the best decision for your website, we’ve tested them all and concluded that Squarespace is the best option for SEO.

What is a mobile-responsive site?

Responsiveness is the site’s ability to automatically adjust its layout so that it appears user-friendly on small screens of mobile devices.

If you think that the mobile version of your website isn’t important, think again. We’re already in a mobile-first world, and this trend will only accelerate.

As of 2022, over 50% of web traffic comes from mobile devices.

– Steven

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