There are dozens of site builders out there to choose from, but they’re not all right for you and your future website. You’re looking for an easy solution that makes sites that are pretty to look at. And isn’t expensive. And doesn’t waste your time.
You’re looking for that fast, cheap, and good trifecta. But can you really get all three?
Well, thanks to my extensive testing, I’ve uncovered the best of the best site builders. I’m an on-again off-again web designer myself, and even I can’t help but be impressed by a lot of what these apps and companies have achieved.
I think you’ll be impressed, too, and likely find one that works for you.
Short on Time? These are the Best Drag-and-Drop Website Builders in 2021:
- Wix – Has 500 free templates, the most flexible drag-and-drop builder ever, and over 300 apps to customize your site’s look and functionality
- Squarespace – Has gorgeous designs, e-commerce and blogging features, and is quite easy to use
- GoDaddy – Is the new-ish kid on the block, with a dead simple editor, as well as e-commerce and marketing features
What We Look For in the Best Drag-and-Drop Website Builders
With so many site builders out there, here’s a short list of the criteria I used to narrow down my options:
- General ease of use – Every site builder on this list is, if not immediately easy to use, at least easy to learn. The whole point is not to make web design your next career move.
- Good-looking templates and themes – Do I need to explain this? No I don’t, because you’re smart, good looking, and have a fantastic personality.
- Customization – No matter how good a template looks, if it doesn’t reflect your branding, that’s going to cause problems down the road. Every site builder here lets you (at the very least) swap out the colors, imagery, and typography of your site so you can maintain a consistent visual presence online.
- Add-ons and apps, e-commerce and blogging – A site builder that lets you just put some pages up is good enough…for a middle-school project. A site builder that lets you run a whole business online by extending your site’s basic functionality is better.
Wix is first on the list, and frankly has been first on pretty much all of our site builder lists for a long time. That’s because Wix is very hard to compete with in terms of features, functionality, and sheer bang for your buck (or other currency of choice.)
It’s affordable, it has an absolute smorgasbord of templates and features, and it’s got a community of enthusiastic users to match. Plus there are lots of extra apps, like the Wix Logo Maker, a whole lot of marketing tools, and more.
- Extremely flexible site builder – This is one of the only site builders that has “true” drag-and-drop design functionality. That is, you can drag your text and buttons to any position on the page you want. Literally. You can build the exact design you want.
- Over 500 templates – That’s right, over 500 templates designed for every conceivable purpose, and industry. And if you really want to, you can even choose a blank template to design your site from scratch.
- Exceptional app store, e-commerce, and blogging – With over 300 apps to choose from, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be able to add the exact features you want, whether that’s pricing tables, maps, fancy image galleries, or even bookings.The blog system is somewhat simple, but still perfectly serviceable for a good old company blog.
- Robust e-commerce app – Wix Stores is technically… well… an app. But that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful, and fully featured with inventory management, tax and shipping calculation, and pretty much everything else you’d need for a small-to-medium sized online store.
- Wix SEO Wiz – One of Wix’s side services is an SEO tool that literally uses machine learning to do most of your SEO work for you. It’s free, too. Hard to argue with that.
Want more info? Check out our expert review on Wix.
|Free Plan||Yes, with limitations and Wix branding|
|Customer Support||Phone, Email / Ticket System|
|Starting Price of Paid Plan||$8.50|
Now here’s where I offer my personal opinion: I like Squarespace best. If I wasn’t obsessed with managing my own server and building my own sites from scratch to feel like a Real NerdTM, Squarespace is where I’d go.
But Squarespace is more expensive than just about every other site builder on this list. So if budget is your top priority, that’s something to keep in mind.
- A great-looking online store – Squarespace’s commitment to beautiful design extends to its full suite of online store features. As long as you have even a few decent photos of your product, whatever you sell is going to look high-end.Plus you get inventory management, tax and shipping fee calculation, selling via social media, and PayPal/Stripe/Square integrations. The practical stuff is all there.
- Solid blogging features – The blog system has all the features you’d expect, with categories, tags, multiple authors, post scheduling, and more. What I really like is that you edit your blog posts the same way you edit the rest of your site: in the site builder. As you write, you’re actually seeing exactly how your post will look when you publish it.
- Third-party integrations – Squarespace doesn’t have an “app store” as such, but it is integrated with a whole bunch of third party platforms by default. You can easily add Google Maps, an OpenTable restaurant booking form, Google AMP, Google Ads, Google Analytics, Dropbox image sync, and even Flickr. (Remember Flickr?)
- Marketing, SEO, and scheduling tools – Squarespace has a built-in email marketing platform, SEO features, social sharing buttons, and even an analytics tool of its own. Everything’s right there in the same dashboard as the site builder, so you can market your content with minimal effort.
|Templates||Over 60 preset designs|
|Customer Support||Email / Ticket System, Live Chat, Community Forum|
|Starting Price of Paid Plan||$12.00|
Remember those old GoDaddy ads? Well, get your race cars and Danica Patrick fans ready, ‘cause this domain-name giant is back! While GoDaddy’s site builder used to be the one everyone loved to hate, it recently revamped its offer to the point where it deserves a spot in this article.
And I mean it improved everything: the site builder, the templates, the marketing features… everything.
This site builder is aimed at beginners and people who want to build a quick website to go with their domain name purchase. That is, it works great for simple business sites, or as a placeholder while you build a more complex website for future use. In that sense, the GoDaddy Website Builder does its job perfectly.
Just don’t expect it to have all the advanced features you’ll find elsewhere – or a whole lot of website templates (though it does have some nice ones).
- A dead-simple site builder – The approach here is similar enough to Squarespace and others: drop some pre-designed content blocks onto your page and go. The only drawback is that these content blocks aren’t quite as customizable as you’ll find on other platforms.On the upside, using this site builder is quick and easy.
- Edit your site on mobile – The GoDaddy app allows you to update your site wherever you are. Most site builders have minimal or bad mobile experiences, so this is actually a real bonus.
- Built-in e-commerce tools – GoDaddy’s site builder has pretty decent online store features with all the trimmings. You can synchronize your GoDaddy store with Amazon, get text alerts for every sale you make, enable product reviews, and more. It’s not the most advanced e-commerce solution, but it’s not bad at all.
- Guided Tools for SEO and Marketing – Wondering where to start with your website? GoDaddy InsightTM can actually devise a plan of action for you, if you tell it what your business goals are. And its Search Engine Visibility tool can actually walk you through the steps of basic SEO.This is great stuff for beginners.
|Customer Support||24/7 Phone, 24/7 Live Chat|
|Starting Price of Paid Plan||$10.00|
SITE123’s philosophy is built right into its name. The entire goal is to get you up and running with a reasonably complete site in minutes. If you have your text and images ready to go, that goal is entirely possible.
If you don’t want to fuss with the design too much and just need to build a quick and easy site for your business, this is the builder for you. And if you want to add a simple blog or store, SITE123 can get that done.
The catch? Well, it’s a little light on features, and most of the really good stuff is reserved for the more expensive plans. Note:the free plan is not usable in the medium-to-long term.
- Extremely simple site building – This site builder, like many others, allows you to add pre-made blocks of content to your page, and focuses on quick and easy edits. It’s not very flexible and you don’t get total control over your design, but it’s fast.
- E-commerce and marketing features – You can build a simple store and process your payments through Stripe, PayPal, Square, Amazon Pay, and other services.
You can also send up to 10,000 marketing emails per month. You’ll need the Professional or Gold plan to do this, but it’s worth it if you plan to do a lot of business online.
- Simple but useful apps – The app market contains third-party tools for things like building forms, inserting pricing tables, enabling bookings, etc. But a lot of the most popular apps are for services like Google Analytics, Hotjar, Zendesk and Facebook Chat, and other third-party business tools.
- Multilingual sites – This is a feature you don’t see in every site builder. If you’re operating in multiple countries, or even just shipping products internationally, a multi-language site is a must.
|Customer Support||24/7 Live Chat|
|Starting Price of Paid Plan||$12.80|
Elementor is a different beast from everything else on this list for one simple reason: it’s not a standalone site builder. By that, I mean that it’s a WordPress plugin, and it needs a WordPress site to run on, either on a server you pay for, or on WordPress.com (more on that below).
Elementor allows you to use WordPress (a content management system primarily designed for blogging and publishing) like a full drag-and-drop site builder. It includes page templates, content blocks, and widgets. It’s got responsive design and incredible customization. It’s a big deal.
The only downside is that you have to pay for the really fancy features – on top of whatever you’re paying to host/run a WordPress site. Oh, and you’ll need to choose a WordPress theme that’s Elementor-compatible. (There are lots of these, and most are third party.)
- A smooth design experience – Basically, you just drag and drop pre-made widgets onto your page. These widgets can be simple blocks of text or images, but they can also be portfolios, galleries, menus, listings, maps, Facebook comments – you name it.
These widgets can all be customized to varying degrees to make sure they fit in your site’s layout and match your branding.
- WooCommerce integration – Elementor’s builder is designed to be compatible with WooCommerce (just about the biggest WordPress online store plugin), so you can have fancy site design and a working shop.
- Change the design of essential pages – Elementor allows you to customize the look of your blog archives, search results, and even the page people see if they accidentally run into a bad link (i.e. the 404 page).
- Hundreds of page templates – Elementor comes with 12 free templates, or “kits”, and 200 Pro templates. Yes, that’ll cost you a penny. On the upside, you can always create your own designs from scratch with the free version.
|Free Plan||Yes, with limited features|
|Templates||Hard to count, but more every day|
|Customer Support||Community Forum, Email / Ticket System (Paid)|
|Starting Price of Paid Plan||$0.00|
WordPress is the massive blogging engine that could, and did, take over a third of the Internet. Literally. While you can install WordPress on your own servers, it’s a lot easier to just head on over to WordPress.com (not WordPress.org) and start up a blog, online magazine, or small business site in about five minutes.
WordPress is specifically designed to manage and publish large amounts of content over multiple years. But it can be made to do a lot more.
What’s the catch? Well, because it’s so powerful and oriented toward big content, you don’t get a simple drag-and-drop builder as such. You get something kind of like it, called the “block editor,” but WordPress doesn’t allow complete drag-and-drop design by default. That’s where plugins like Elementor come in handy.
- Potentially thousands of themes – While WordPress.com only has around 250 built-in themes you can use, their quality is pretty good, and most are fairly customizable.The real deal, though, is in the world of third-party themes. You have to be on the Business plan or higher to install them, but there are literally thousands of themes to choose from.
- The biggest add-on store ever – Again, you’ll need to be on the Business plan or higher to install plugins, but WordPress has the largest plugin ecosystem out there. You can use them to turn your blog into a listings site, a community forum, or even a social network.Then again, you might use a simpler plugin that just lets you build complex forms or optimize your images. Or, you know, install Elementor. It’s up to you.
- Built-in SEO and marketing tools – WordPress.com comes with plenty of tools to help you optimize your content for search engines and make your website otherwise findable online. There are social media tools, a free MailChimp integration for newsletters, and more.
- Store builder and easy monetization tools – While there are plenty of great e-commerce plugins for WordPress, WordPress.com actually includes a simple store builder of its own with the Business plan and higher. And even the free plan includes a button for accepting donations.
|Free Plan||Yes, with a small WordPress ad|
|Templates||250; you can install more on Business plan|
|Customer Support||Support Forum, Live Chat, Email|
|Starting Price of Paid Plan||$4.00|
Weebly is an old soul – and an older product – on the site builder market. But that’s not a bad thing: in fact, it means the company has had more time to refine its site building tools, creating a product that’s incredibly easy to use.
With high-quality template designs, a smooth user experience, and e-commerce tools galore, creating a site with Weebly is incredibly simple.
- Built-in online store tools – Weebly’s store builder is powered by none other than e-commerce giant Square. While Weebly’s tool doesn’t have all the same features as the regular Square solution, it’s still a great way to get your online business going.
- Extensive app center – Feel like your site isn’t doing enough on its own? Install one of Weebly’s 350+ apps to extend its functionality and features. Set up appointments, menus, complex forms, and more.Some of these apps are free and some are paid. Some are made by Weebly, and a whole lot more are from third parties. Chances are you can integrate your Weebly site with every major social network and productivity site out there.
- Fine-tune your SEO – While Weebly doesn’t have a super-fancy, machine-learning-based SEO wizard, you do get page-by-page control over every aspect of your SEO.
- Custom Fonts – Not every site builder has this feature, and I really love it. If you own the rights to use a particular font for your brand, you can just upload the font files to your site.
Want more info? Read our expert Weebly review.
|Free Plan||Yes, and it’s half decent|
|Customer Support||Community Forum, Email (on the paid plan), Ticket System (on the paid plan)|
|Starting Price of Paid Plan||$6.00|
Did you process all of that information? Skip some of it? No worries, here’s a simple table to help you make your decision:
|Ease of Use||Price Range||E-commerce||Notable For:|
|Wix||Mid-range||Mostly Cheap||Yes||Loads of templates and detailed site customization|
|Squarespace||Pretty Easy||Mid-range||Yes||Quality design and business focus|
|GoDaddy||Very Easy||Quite Cheap||Yes||Fast and easy design, integration with GoDaddy infrastructure|
|SITE123||Very Easy||Quite Cheap||Yes||Dead-simple to use, fast|
|Elementor||Mid-range||Mid-range||Only with WooCommerce||Turns WordPress into a site builder|
|WordPress||Mid-range to difficult||Mostly Expensive||Yes||Manages large amounts of content|
|Weebly||Very Easy||Quite Cheap||Yes||Easy to use, good e-commerce infrastructure|
Frankly, the site builder market has never been better. There are loads of options out there, and these days it’s easy (comparatively speaking) to start a blog, online business, web magazine, or just about anything else you can think of. It’s also never been cheaper.
As an off-and-on web designer myself, I hate to say it, but it’s true: cutting out the middleman takes a lot of the stress, time, and expense out of getting your business, hobby, or random idea online. But then again, once you start to make some money off your site you can always pass the job onto a pro.
Oh, and if the site builders listed above aren’t doing it for you, check out even more options on our in-depth site builder reviews. Chances are you’ll find exactly what you need.
Some site builders have designated areas where you’re “allowed” to put this content, and others (like Wix) let you do almost anything you want with the layout. The point is that drag-and-drop site builders are designed to let you build a website in a way that makes sense without having to have years of experience under your belt.
Whichever platform you choose, you’re probably looking for the best deal you can get. You can try most of the site builders on this list for free. However, we also have a coupon page loaded with deals that you should check out.
Just clear out the placeholder content, put in your own, and drag things around as you like. Push the limits of the site builder, and hit the undo button if things go wrong. Enjoy the journey.