When looking for a website design program, you first need to determine whether you want to use a self-service software or a full-service design agency. Consider what basic functions you need your software or service to perform, in addition to which features you may need as your business website grows.
One of the most important elements of a website design service or software is its usability. Web design services can professionally assist you in creating a website that suits all of your business's needs, and most of them do this by assigning a dedicated account manager to each client. If they turn over the website monitoring to you, they should ensure that you effectively understand how to use the software and content management system (CMS).
Web design software should be easy to use, whether you want to update your current website or build a new website from scratch. The best website builders have demos and setup wizards that show you how to make a website quickly and effectively. Most of the web builders we analyzed have a variety of website templates and design tools. Web templates should be highly customizable and responsive to desktop, tablet and mobile devices. Drag-and-drop capabilities make it easy to shift elements such as images or widgets. HTML or CSS editors are also helpful inclusions, because this means the software serves experienced web designers as well as novices.
Hosting Besides offering web design solutions, the best website builders also host your site. Most programs offer free custom domain hosting for at least the first year of your subscription. While this feature is touted as free, you typically have to pay for setup fees or to register your domain privately. Each website creation application comes with a basic hosting plan that is essential to giving your site a professional domain. However, if unlimited storage and subdomains is your priority, take a look at our web hosting comparison. These hosts have a few more options of builders, with an emphasis on WordPress.
Storage Storage is an important feature to consider, especially if you have video- or image-heavy webpages. The services we evaluated each include a fairly large number of webpages, but if you have a large e-commerce store, consider plans that allow for a higher number of products or pages. If you intend to create more than one site, be sure to find a website solution that allows this. Finally, a custom domain and the ability to add several custom email addresses is important for branding and presenting a professional image.
Marketing and Analytics An awesome website won't raise awareness of your organization or boost your sales if no one knows about it. Every website design service or software should give you the ability to enhance your website's SEO and view its performance metrics.
Many website design services offer digital marketing and SEO as part of their core operations. Most web builders allow you to include marketing features like metatags, but businesses that need comprehensive marketing efforts will benefit the most from full-service website design companies.
Whether you partner with a design service or use DIY software, your website builder should give you access to website analytics. These analytics show you how your website is performing and where you can improve.
When we evaluated each application's analytical tools, we noticed that all of the software employed Google Analytics, but many programs offer proprietary analytic tools that track different data points. The best web design software not only tracks industry-standard data points, like the number of visitors and page views, but also provides data like bounce rates, referring pages, behavior and mobile data points.
Responsive Web Design and Mobile Optimization
Since roughly half of website traffic comes from mobile devices, it is important for your business website to accommodate those users. Many search engine algorithms even penalize websites that are not responsive to mobile devices. The best professional website creators offer responsive web designs that automatically modify your website to adapt to the device type it is being viewed on (desktop, tablet or smartphone).
If you currently manage a desktop-only site, we recommend you take advantage of a mobile website builder to convert your site to mobile, or at least create a mobile version of your site that can reach a wider online audience. Improving your web design to fit the current demand can result in higher conversion rates.
E-commerce Capabilities and Additional Services
Online shopping is on the rise, making e-commerce design a valuable feature to look for in a website builder. Even if you do not currently want to sell any products online, it is important to find a service that can scale with your business (in case you want to sell online in the future, for example). Some platforms limit the number of items you can sell, so if this is a core element of your business, it's an important feature to analyze.
Many website design agencies provide additional services like content creation, branding and website monitoring. If these are services you want to take advantage of, be sure to find an agency that can accommodate you.