What is a website builder?

Website builder written with black marker
(Image credit: Shutterstock/TierneyMJ)

The best website builder is exactly what it sounds like - an online or an offline app that helps you build a top-tier website. In the past, building websites involved quite a bit of coding, choosing the best web hosting provider, then constructing something complex like an ecommerce portal. 

Creating a professional and engaging website is essential in today's digital marketing industry, and website builders have emerged as powerful tools to accomplish this task with ease. But what exactly is a website builder? 

It allows you to create a responsive and beautiful website in a couple of minutes without any prior need for coding skills. I know right now you might be wondering how this can be possible. 

This guide will be discussing what a website builder is, its types, uses, and how it works. Make sure you don’t skip any section of this article as this will help you understand and also know how you can use it to build your site in a couple of minutes.  

What is a website builder? 

An idea of what a website builder is is a great start to learning more about a website builder. A website builder is a tool designed to allow you to set up, create, and design a website without any need for coding skills or experience. 

This tool is designed to allow you to design a responsive website without the need for a developer or designer. It's a convenient way for anyone who wants to set up a website without investing much money. 

With its drag-and-drop interface specially developed for easy customization and use. Unlike in the old days when it was required to have a lot of coding experience to build a website, it is easier now to set up your website and run it without any coding experience. Sounds interesting right? You can easily create a website in the comfort of your home while sipping your coffee.

Why use a website builder?

There are dozens of reasons why you need and should use a website builder. In this section, we will be unveiling five reasons why you should use a website builder as a freelancer, small business owner, etc.

1. Cost-effective: using a website builder can save you a couple of bucks. You don’t have to pay a huge amount of money to a website developer to build your website. Website builders are budget-friendly as they come with various affordable plans for you to choose from, thereby saving you money in the process. Using a website builder eliminates the need for a developer or a designer, and the most interesting part is that most website builders offer free web hosting services, and free domain names for example, GoDaddy, Wix, Hostingner, etc.

2. Easy to use: Nothing is more complicated or confusing than wanting to build a website that requires technical know-how when you do not know coding. A website builder makes it easier and less complicated to build your website without any technical know-how. You can simply choose from a list of professionally designed templates to start your website design journey. Its drag-and-drop interface makes designing easier for anyone to create a website.

3. Low maintenance: You don't have to worry about how to maintain your website because your website builder makes it easier to maintain your website regularly. As important as website maintenance is, your website builder understands this and handles the maintenance task for you. This ensures that your website is secured, this way it can allow you to focus more on building and growing your online presence. A website builder helps to cut you off from any maintenance hassle.

4. Customization: One feature I love about website builders is their customization power. Website builders offer a wide range of themes, templates, colors, fonts, and layouts to choose from which enables you to create a stunning website that reflects your brand. This customization feature differs from each website builder, making it possible that you won't create a website that looks just like everyone else. This is a unique feature. Many builders also allow you to add extra features to your website like forms, subscribe buttons, galleries, blogs, etc. Most also come with some plugins for easy customization of your site.

5. Support and resources: This is one important reason why you need to choose a website builder to build your site. The majority of website builders, if not all, provide their customers with enough support and resources they need to assist them with whatever issue they might have or any complaint. Most of them have their contact details provided like emails, phone number, etc. while some have knowledge bases, documentation, and forums where you can find guides, tutorials, and tips to help you sort out whatever issues you might have and also give you tips on how you can create a more responsive site. You should make use of these resources.

Also, website builders are way cheaper than hiring a web developer and there's a flurry of free website builder providers and cheap website builder deals out there.

WordPress CMS on a laptop, tablet and phone

(Image credit: WordPress)

Types of website builders

There are many types of website builders and in this section, we will be looking at them individually.

- Drag and drop website builder
- Content management systems (CMS)
- Website builder
- AI (Artificial Intelligence) powered website builder or Smart website builder.
- ecommerce website builder
- Mobile website builder
- Template-based website builders

Let's look at their meaning.

1. Drag and drop website builders: drag and drop website builders are a type of website builder that enables you to create a website by providing you with several templates to choose from, which will let you edit and customize those templates you choose to your preference. This type of builder is known to be user-friendly. They make it easier to customize your site the way you want, it's affordable, although there are some limitations on the extent you can customize your site. Examples of these types of websites include Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, etc.

2. Customer management system website builders: one of the most popular examples of a CMS is WordPress. This website builder is designed to make it easy to create, manage, organize, and publish your website. CMS (Content management system) website builder offers a combination of website creation tools. Their backend interface enables you to create, organize, and manage your website content. 

This website's builder is very powerful and flexible. Examples of these types of website builders include WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. In this type of website builder you might end up paying for themes and plugins, unlike the drag-and-drop website builder, the CMS website builder is a good choice for someone who wants to create something unique and have a specific set of features. Compared to the drag-and-drop website builder, the CMS enables you to create a site of your preference with features you want to be added and fully customized, but the drag-and-drop website builder is limited to some extent when it comes to customization.

To create a website using CMS website builders, you need to have some knowledge of CMS, or you can decide to hire a professional.

3. AI (Artificial Intelligence) powered website builders or Smart builders: this type of website builder incorporates artificial intelligence to create a website. The big difference between AI-powered website builders and the above two previously mentioned ones is that the other two website builders mentioned above require you manually select a template to get started, but with an IA builder, all you need is to answer a few short questionnaires and BOOM! Your website is automatically generated. All you need to do is to input some basic, important information on the type of website you want to create, and how you want it to be before the magic begins. They streamline the experience by offering personalized recommendations. An example of this website builder is a bookmark.

4. ecommerce website builder: These types of builders are designed specifically for building online stores. They include features like product listing, shopping cart, payment gateway, etc. example of this type of website builder includes Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce.

5. Mobile website builder:These types of website builders are designed especially for smartphones. Due to the increase in the use of mobile devices to access the internet, this website builder is designed to help smartphone users create mobile responsive websites that can adapt well to any screen or smartphone. Examples of such website builders include Duda and Mobirise, etc.

6. Template-based website builders: this type of website builder provides a wide selection of predesigned templates to design from the list of templates on your screen. It comes with built-in features that allow you to easily customize your website.  Examples of such website builders include Jimdo, SITE123, and Webflow. 

code-free website and landing page builder

(Image credit: Pixabay)

How do website builders work?

A website builder works accordingly, following a pattern. First and foremost, depending on if you are using an online or offline website builder, you need to follow some steps.

Offline website builders need to be installed on your PC before you can start your design, whereas online website builders which are used as web applications need not be installed.

As said earlier, the first step to working with a website builder is to choose a template you think is best for your brand, this template serves as a foundation for your design. It defines the looks and feels of your website. 

The drag-and-drop editor helps to build your website by enabling the customization of elements on the pages with the layout. Customize the template, and personalize the site to reflect your brand identity. 

Play around with colors and fonts, until you find the best feel for your site. You can also add content like images, videos, logos, social media buttons, contact forms, text, etc. and finally, when you are done and set, click on the publish button for your site to go live.

10 things to look for in a website builder

1. Ease of use: Make sure the website builder you choose makes it easier to navigate and has user-friendly tools.

2. Template and design: Check the diverse design options it offers. Look for one that aligns with your website's purpose.

3. Price: This is the first thing you should check before choosing a website builder. When looking for a website builder, look into things like domain registration, and hosting, and then choose the most reasonably priced plan depending on your budget.

4. Features: Before choosing a website builder, you need to consider the features it offers and the features you need. These features might include powerful SEO tools, speed, and performance, Google Analytics, SSL certificate, etc.

5. Mobile responsiveness: This is very important as more internet users access the web via mobile devices.

6. Customization: You need to be sure you can easily customize any template into something stunning and exceptional. Make sure the website builder you choose provides an easy and less complicated way to edit, organize, and add pages to your website.

7. Scalability and growth: You need to choose a website builder that can accommodate your future needs and growth plans for your website as it evolves.

8. Third-party integration: you need to make sure that the website builder you choose has a third-party integration. This will enable you to concentrate on other essential things.

9. Social sharing: Social sharing functionality is very important for the promotion of your website. Visitors can easily share your web pages, products, blog posts, etc on their various social media networks with just a click.

10. Support: Access the quality of support providers offered by the website builder. Run away from the website builder without any support system set up.

Is a website builder right for your business? 

This still depends on business requirements. Using a website builder, for instance, has made it easier and faster to build a website that requires less effort and no technical knowledge.

If you think that your business preference, resources, and goals don’t match or align with what a website builder can offer, then it's advisable to hire a web developer.

Final thought

A website builder is what you need to get your business online in just a few minutes. You can choose from the plans offered to get started. With the above article, you can decide on which type of website builder is best to launch your online presence. 

Kenneth C. Nzeogu

Kenneth is a freelance tech writer who's been in the sector for three years. He loves writing about new technology, focusing on web hosting, streaming, cybersecurity, and how it can benefit people's lives.