Just so you don’t think we’re a bunch of maniacal tyrants arbitrarily ranking whatever builders cross our path, we decided to break down our scoring system. So now the numbers are more than just numbers, they’re representations of actual meaning. Score! (Get it? Score?)
We divided each site into 5 Sections (Templates, Features, User Friendly, Pricing & Support), and scored each on a scale of 10, 1 being extremely poor and 10 being as good as humanly possible. The final score you see at the top of each review is the average of these 5 section scores.
Below is an in-depth explanation of each section and how it was scored.
Templates & Designs
We judged this section by how well any given user could find a template they want (Selection), set it up as they want (Customization), and add the features that they want (Multimedia).
Selection – How likely is any user – be it a freelance photographer, a farming business, an online lollipop shop – to find a template that will really work for them?
To determine this we asked questions like: Is there a varied range of different templates? How do the templates look, are they visually appealing? Fresh and new?
Customization – How much can you tweak and personalize the template you chose?
Multimedia – What kind of video, audio, photo slideshows etc. can you add onto your page? Do you have a choice of players or slideshows?
We wanted to give an impression of how comfortable your building experience will be from start to finish. Can you find everything you need from the homepage? How easy is it to customize your template and add your features? High marks in user friendliness mean that working with the interface comes largely intuitively and doesn’t require hours of learning.
We compiled a list of features that most users would like or need for their site. We marked this section on whether each given feature was available, and if so, how well done/how functional it is.
- Social Media – Are Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets easily integrated into your page. Can you add “Like” buttons to your site? Are there direct buttons to your Twitter page?
- Widgets – What kind of add-ons are available for your site (e.g.- Google Maps, Site Counters, Weather Updates…what have you), as well as whether the site allows you to freely use any external widgets.
- SEO – Does this builder allow you to fully optimize your site? Can you edit title tags, meta tags etc? Does the builder offer any SEO assistance for less optimization-saavy users?
- E-commerce/Online Store – Can you run a functional E-commerce site with the tools available? What kind of payment options are available for customers?
- Monetization – Can you add external advertising banners to your site to earn a profit? Can you use both Google AdSense and/or external banners?
- Visitor Statistics – Can you track user activity? How detailed is the tracking? Can you incorporate Google Analytics?
- Custom Domain/E-mail – Can you use your own custom domain? Can you have email addresses associated with that domain? How many emails are you allowed?
- Any Special Features – Many builders have unique features that can be essential components of a site. Anything that’s really top-notch gets bonus points here.
Is there a satisfactory range of pricing packages? Do all (or most) of the features come included in the packages, or do they come at an extra fee? Can you reasonably run a good site on the free package? Points were deducted if features that generally come for free or cheap elsewhere come at higher fees, or if costs aren’t detailed upfront (i.e. – hidden fees)
Support was measured on 3 main tiers: How accessible the support is (which we measured through the presence of Phone Support, Live Chat, Email Support, Forums, Help Articles, Video Tutorials, and a Blog), the quality of the support (Will your question be answered satisfactorily?) and the speed of finding an answer to your query.