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How do I choose the best web building tool?

I have received some recommendations on Wordpress, Wix, Weebly, etc. How do I determine which to use? They all seem to have roughly the same features.

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Others here have stated this, but I'll add some further insights from what I've learned over the past decade or so of learning to build websites on my own:

Website Builders like Weebly, Wix, SquareSpace, etc are the easiest for newbies to build something relatively basic without any real web skills needed. The downside is that you don't really own your website, and must pay the monthly fees charged by these platform providers to keep your site up. Also, particularly with Wix, the SEO elements are pretty bad, so you may have trouble getting your site to appear in Google results for competitive keywords (specifically, poor URL structure).

For ecommerce, BigCommerce falls in this vein as well.

So, onto CMS (Content Management Systems): For these, I consider WordPress and Joomla to be the major considerations. These are essentially open-source platforms that you can easily deploy on most hosting platforms with a single-click install.

WordPress is far more popular, largely due to its utility as a blogging platform. Since so many people use it, there are a lot of developers who have created plugins for it that range in cost from Free to several hundred dollars. The main problem I find with WordPress, is that the community seems to build plugins/widgets/themes with little regard for consistency in terms of a standardized MVC structure. This leads to plugins that do not communicate well with each other (if at all), and a kind of 'put it anywhere' approach to how plugins are implemented into the Admin User Interface. It also means that developers tend to make up their own way to implement customizations - to the extent that going into someone else's WordPress setup can be rather confusing to figure out where they put everything. Still, I find WordPress is particularly well suited for websites that are information focused with an emphasis on SEO needs (with little customized functionality).

Joomla is a little less popular, though still with a sizable development community and thousands of extensions, and I personally find it much easier to use. With the latest Joomla 3, many of the SEO problems that existed in previous Joomla versions have been resolved, and there is a lot more consistency in terms of how Joomla manages the various elements that make up a site. I prefer Joomla for most projects because I find it to be more scaleable when multiple extensions are implemented, and custom extensions (when built properly) are much easier to manage because of the standardized MVC structure.

I also find Joomla's the Admin UI to be easier to manage than WP: Whereas WordPress differentiates between "Posts" and "Pages", Joomla has just Articles: and I find the Widgets Management in WP to be far more confusing than Joomla's Modules Management.

Some of this just comes down to preference, but having built hundreds of websites with each platform, I find Joomla to be a much better solution for growing or advanced websites.

Thanks Matt. Great summary and really helpful! I will check out Joomla too.


WordPress would be my recommendation but WordPress from WordPress.org, not WordPress.com. The main advantage is portability. With many of the website builders you are pretty much stuck with them. Should you ever wish to move your site you can't. (There are a few exceptions).

The second reason I would recommend WordPress is that the cost is less. WordPress itself is free as are thousands of professionally made, fully responsive, retina ready templates. Virtually all hosting companies offer WordPress as a one click install that takes seconds. You can find good hosting for less than half of what sites like Wix and Weebly charge.

WordPress currently is the tool used by over 25% of all web sites including many major companies. There are thousands of plugins that enable you to do pretty much anything you wish. You can make your site as sophisticated as you want and incorporate some really flashy effects should you chose to do that.

Another thing I consider a plus for WordPress is the extensive amount of help available. There are tons of tutorials on you tube that show you step by step how to create your site. There are also forums on WordPress.org covering WordPress itself and to provide help for most free themes.

Thanks for the recommendation and the reasons for recommending it. The tutorials sound great. Will definitely take a look. Thanks again.

Anonymous User

Hi Sara

As many have said Wix & Weebly are Web Builders whilst WordPress, Joomla, etc. are content management software (CMS).

Let's get over the jargon first and clarify the difference:

Web Builders are proprietary software which are hosted solutions and only work on the hosting server of the suppliers. This means you do not own the copyrights nor do you own the website files and code. You may ask “So What?”. The “so what” comes into it when you decide sometime down the road that you are not happy with your web service and want to change your hosting provider. You simply cannot because you don't own the code or copyrights so you have start from scratch. With CMS you can just pack your bag and go somewhere else.

Second reason is Web Builders are limited in functionality and you can only use functionality that your proprietary software allows. These include simple functions such as Photo Gallery, Payment Gateway, Sliders, Font, Social Media connections, Subscription services such as Newsletters, Blogs, etc. CMS such as WordPress, Joomla, etc. offer 1000s of themes and plug-ins so you will never be in a dead-end.

Finally, Web Builders are notoriously difficult for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), which is after-all critical for small businesses. You can have the best looking website but if people cannot find you in search engines, your fab looking website will be a very lonely place with zero revenue! Check it for yourself and I wager you will not find a single website made with a Web Builder software in the first page of any search term except the most obscure! Many high performing websites are based on WordPress, Joomla, etc.

Now you are thinking what is CMS? Well it is exactly what it says. CMS (Content Management Software) uses standard web technology such as PHP and HTML to create a website. All CMSs use Theme (WordPress) or Templates (Joomla & Drupal), so you start with a basic design which you can then customise to your liking and add functionality using Plug-ins.

Themes or Templates are made for specific CMS so visit places like http://themeforest.net where you can see thousands of them. You can purchase these which gives you the “Right-to-Use” and also provide you with online support.

Plug-ins add functionality that may not be included in your original Theme or Template for example Photo Gallery, Payment Gateway, Subscription modules, Social Media feeds, etc.

Now all this sounds really simple and you may be thinking “How do people like us web designers make any money?”. If all you have to do is go to Themeforest or other website and buy a theme for a few $s, why do you need a web specialists? Well because it is not that simple! To create a really professional looking website with full functionality and customisation, you need experience in PHP, CSS and HTML coding as well as the specific CMS you are intending to use. Of course you can learn all of these but in most cases people need to get into earning money ASAP. Additionally learning to manage these software has a huge learning curve and whilst you are learning you do not have a website hence you are not earning.

Finally be aware that all CMS software and their respective themes & plug-ins require regular upgrades which includes enhancement and security updates. This is not quite as simple as updating your Windows OS or Apple iOS. It requires understanding of how PHP works, how to back up files, how to protect your customisation (they can disappear if you do not upgrade correctly).

Now many people will tell you “It is a walk in the park”, but generally those are people with high technical knowledge and years of experience. So unless you are prepared to spend time and invest hours of trawling the Internet and reading mountains of articles, help forums, etc., I suggest you come to professionals who do this every day. You will be surprised how cost effective it can be and you will save time and your sanity. I have to be cheeky and ask you to check our website cognisant-hosting.com and see how little we charge for WordPress/Joomla customisation and Managed Hosting service which includes updates, etc.. (Sorry about the plug but give me break we all need to make a living!).

PS. The website is made in WordPress but we can also make websites in pure HTML5 and Joomla.

This is awesome information. As I look into this more, I will definitely let you know if I need help. Really appreciate the helpful overview.


As others have said, technically, there are website builders and CMS's, but I take more of a business approach to the problem. What you choose to use depends on what the site needs to do for your business (requirements), how quickly you need to get up and running, how much web expertise you have or are willing to acquire, and your budget.

There are many benefits to using a hosted website builder rather than using something like Wordpress, which has a bit of a learning curve. If you're not able to learn how to use it, you'll end up paying people to help you to update and maintain it. This is especially important for a startup business, because you'll want to update it as your business evolves. Even if they set it up initially, you still need to learn how to modify it unless you can afford to keep paying someone. This is more or less easy, depending on your skills. Often, my clients don't want to get into it that deep, because they're too busy focusing on running their core businesses.

As for which tool you should use, here's a post about it on Manta which has received more than 12,000 views. The comments may yield helpful insights as well. http://community.manta.com/t5/Marketing/How-Do-You-Choose-Between-Wix-Weebly-Jimdo-WordPress-and/m-p/164/highlight/true#!#M4

Very helpful. Thanks Robbin. Good points on making sure I better understand my needs and time commitment.


Wix and Weebly are not CMS they are site builders (like others said). Stay away from those.

Other CMS to consider are Joomla (great and I prefer it over WP for many reasons), and Drupal is another competitor.

My suggestion is to ask 3 different web developers and see what they recommend for your TYPE OF WEBSITE and WHY. These answers will depend on their expertise and experience with the platform suggested and how much development and security you will need for your site.

This is great. Had no idea there was a difference - website builders vs. CMS. Thanks for the information!


Tip: Whatever you decide to use, maintain complete control from hosting to content.

The WordPress ecosystem is too massive for most solopreneurs to master with the time at hand. And it changes constantly.

Commercials constantly tout that to build a business, you need a website. But they fail to mention one thing–it takes much more than a site to become the independent owner of a profitable online business.

It takes a process, one that guides you every step of the way.

There are dozens of services that will help you build a website. But what good is a site without traffic?

You need a roadmap and powerful tools that guide you through the steps of building an online business, driving traffic and monetizing your hard work.

This dynamic duo,...builds your site and guides you to do what you need to build a thriving online business.


To our success, online!


Agreed Wordpress is a mindfield to keep up with and master if this is not your area. If you aren't going to engage a professional web designer to do all the core work, then something more turnkey, locked down, secure and ready to go in 5-10 minutes of setting up your profile would be the way to go. Most turn key web building systems are similar, but do lock you into their ecosystem and you can't move to something else easily without re-building again.
Work backwards from what you want to achieve. If maximum leads / sales / enquiries from search engines is what you want, look for web builders which have similar sites to what you want in their portfolio and ones specifically built for SEO - ideally giving you the tools and learning guides to achieve great things.

If it all gets too much, find a brilliant web designer who walks the talk in where you plan to head.


Full disclaimer: my response is in the context of a vendor of an integrated Rapid Development Platform with tools for versioning, security, permissions and a robust CMS with WP like functions at the simplest level and beyond Joomla at the most complex combined with professional development and support in partnership with a client's DIY capacity. Been doing this for 21 years, seen and done just about everything, and 20-30% of new business annually if from saving failed websites, WP specifically.
Problem: WordPress, Joomla and DruPal are all open source software dependent on a "community" for support and code updates; there's no direct responsibility by anybody which can leave you or your contractor with functional problems that persist for just minutes to weeks.
Problem: Just as WP is the widest used CMS, it's also the #1 source of security breach hacks and website failures from multi-vendor, as others have mentioned their posts. Once again, there is generally nobody responsible for vetting CMS modules and plug-ins IN COMBINATION WITH EACH OTHER and in the compounding environment of changing CMS versions and/or underlying foundation software.. This phenomenon also multiplies with the the complexity of website with modules for sales, inventory, document management, customer relations, accounting and such like.
A thought about web builders: Despite limitations, Web.com, Weebly, Wix can be good places to self-educate on content creation, curation and modeling "looks like this, flows like this" which will give you more confidence when dealing with your hired developers and/or save money in prototyping and modeling stages. Always keep versions of your content off-line for use in your final website, if different.
A thought about SEO dependency for traffic: If you are going to choose a web builder or CMS based on hitting the top Google listings and drive traffic, as a small business you are probably going to be disappointed. In your niche, somebody is buying those slots or have content pros composing their pages. There are more, better and cheaper traffic driving methods. If you don't know them, learn them.
A caution: No matter what you choose to contain and publish your web site content, be DIY involved at some level, even if it's just updating the About Us page. NEVER, EVER let your contracted expert be only one in control of your passwords and permissions as an administrator. Be at least equivalent in access to all sections of your website for DIY options and changing contractors.

Lot's of great point. Hadn't really thought about the security and passwords. Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed response!


you have to ask yourself this question:

How much TIME do you want to spend Managing and Maintain a website?

So this depends, if you want really easy setup and LOW maintenance, then this will limit your Customization of your site

Remember, when you Customize, you are adding more maintenance and design input into your website

Wordpress would be more customization but lots more maintenance

SquareSpace would be the opposite

But here are some new kids on the block:

Pagecloud.com, aims to revolutionize website building with great experience for NON-technical people

So is TheGrid.io

and GoSpaces

also check out Launchrock.com for Landing or Sales pages

Great suggestions. Thanks LE. Hadn't heard of some of those companies. Will check them out.


There are a lot of good answers here, so I won't go into more detail. I just noticed that your profile pic shows you with a camera and an umbrella in the background.

Assuming you are a photographer, you want a system that will highlight your photography. Knowing many photographers and watching them go through this process, here is what I'd suggest (in this order):

then WordPress

Good luck!

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