Jun 14, 2013
Fortunately for web designers, their skills are still in high demand now and years in the future, even with web builders that advertise anyone without development or design experience can design their own website. So, why are site builders not putting web designers out of commission, and, in many ways increasing business for them? Although website builders provide a very professional site for businesses, the designs are templates - basic and unbranded.
In fact, web builders are an excellent tool for designers, especially for those who lack development experience. And, no, it's not "cheating" to use a template to build a website. Your client does not have the skills to customize for their brand like you do. And if you have some SEO experience, all the better. While many site building tools include some SEO customization, there's a lot there that still needs to be added for best results.
So, if you are a web designer with little to no coding skills, you may want to strongly consider checking out the following website builders. The list below includes a variety of web builders for a variety of needs, at a variety of costs, and with varying degrees of customization. Different clients may require different features, so you may find that you use several of these, depending on your clients. However, some of the following do have designer account options with which you can create multiple websites and domains for your clients all underneath your account.
While WebStartToday.com is one of the easiest and most basic web designer tools in this list, it comes with many features with which not even the more expensive web builders can compete. For instance, WebStartToday has one of the largest template libraries with 1,000s of highly customizable designs. Even better, their templates are organized well so that you won't spend hours looking for the right design for your client. In fact, they advertise that you can set up a website in only minutes. Every template also comes with a variety of stunning color themes, and their image editing tool is more than capable of handling intermediate editing. And, as always necessary when setting up a site for a client, their templates come with a CMS so that your clients can make basic changes on their own, calling on you only when they get stumped.
The pricing for this web builder tool is quite affordable at $9.99/mo (or discounted at $99/yr if paid in a lump sum), and this comes with a unique domain name and free hosting. If you don't want to pay the fee until after your client views the site first, then you can simply set up the free version using a domain of businessname.webstarttoday.com for up to a year. You can switch at any point during this free version to the paid version. Here's a few more reasons why WebStartToday is a great option:
- Page content is industry-specific and editable
- Templates and content available for 72 industry verticals
- SEO and Google Analytics support
- Google Apps
- Interactive options including maps and videos
- Absolutely unlimited storage for data!
- 24/7 support system
Breezi.com was made specifically for creatives with no development experience, and at only $9/mo, this web builder is quite a steal. Taking a look at all of the design features, you can see just how perfectly it fits designers, as it would probably leave business owners without design experience a bit at a loss. With Breezi, it does take more time to launch a website than with other web builders, but you get some amazingly fun tools for creating a highly unique website.
For instance, let's say that you set up your layout and have entered the content and apps and such. Then your client comes back and says they just don't feel like the style fits their brand. No problem! Simply try a different skin - no need to start over from scratch - your layout and content remain intact while you scroll through and try on different skins. Or maybe you need to change up some of the CSS but you know absolutely nothing about code - Breezi allows for visual editing of CSS content. The complete control of your content along with incredible tools such as the image editor and tons of apps make Breezi quite a robust web builder. Here's more:
- FTP and DropBox syncing
- Designs are responsive/adaptive for mobile compatibility
- Store templates also available
- Domain hosting
- CMS for clients to easily maintain
- Easy layout builder
- Unlimited storage and bandwidth
With IMCreator.com, you can choose from a regular account or a designer version. Both allow for easy drag and drop customization of HTML templates, but the designer version comes with more options, such as a CMS and the ability to upload your own template. You can also submit designs and receive an income whenever they are used.
While there are not a huge amount of templates from which to choose, all are extremely stunning, highly professional, and fairly original since they were created by individual designers. Plus they are all very easy to edit completely for your client's brand. You can also choose to use the stock photos included in the templates or upload your own. Image galleries include slideshow options, and other awesome, editable features included are contact forms and video players. Check out more of what you get with IMCreator:
- Use IMCreator domain and hosting or your existing one
- Templates organized by industry including restaurants, musicians, models, etc.
- Google indexed
- Custom email address
- Compatible with PCs, Macs, mobile, tablets, and most browsers
Start on SquareSpace.com with the most common pages of a website - home, about, blog, gallery, store - and add or subtract from there. If your client needs a full website and e-commerce combo, SquareSpace provides quite the robust web builder and features for such a task. For instance, their store management system provides great tools to make it easy for your client to keep up with items such as inventory and printing packing slips. You can even choose to remain the main admin and add your client and others as additional contributors. While the templates are search engine optimized, you may need to do a bit more customization in this area for your client, but SquareSpace allows you complete control.
There are three pricing options and a 14-day free trial. And all versions come with a free custom domain. For $8/mo you get 20 pages, 500GB bandwidth, and only 2 GB storage. However, for both the $16/mo and $24/mo packages, you get unlimited pages, bandwidth, and storage plus much more. Other awesome features include
- Incredibly stunning editable templates
- Ability to use preset designs or customize your layout, colors, and fonts
- Easy drag and drop editing
- Awesome image editing tool
- Blog posts come with auto-publish options
- All templates are optimized for mobile viewing
- Analytics are built in to every template
- 24/7 support
Site2You.com boasts the ability to create a website in only minutes and comes with a 7 day trial. After the trial, you can choose from several packages. The monthly packages come with different webmaster assistance allowance. This webmaster assistance is basically free help in customizing and adding features beyond what their web builder tool is capable of doing, which gives designers the ability to really take a website above and beyond without any need to learn code. For $24.95/mo you get 10 hours of webmaster assistance. For $49.94/mo, you get 3 hour/month webmaster assistance.
Another amazing option available with Site2You is that they allow you to download your source files, no strings attached, with the purchase of one of the Turnkeys packages. Both Turnkeys packages are yearly subscriptions and come with $15/hr webmaster assistance. The Turnkeys 2.0 package requires you to purchase hosting on your own, but as with the monthly packages, the Turnkeys Facebook package comes with free hosting with Site2You. More incredible features include
- Ready-to-use website content
- Templates with various forms, maps, SEO keywords, and much more
- Use of webmaster to match color scheme to your logo colors
- Store designs with PayPal button and shopping cart feature
- Excellent 24/5 support
- Use licensed stock photos or your own
- Additional services available for further customization
The appeal of Jimdo.com is how much you get for the cost. The business/store option is $240/yr and creatives option is $90/yr. But both paid versions come with 1,000s of incredible features. And there's more good news - Jimdo does have a free version that includes a 5 item store with the ability to accept PayPal or credit cards, widgets, varied designs, photo gallery, blog, and much more.
The paid versions come with a newsletter system, meta tags, email accounts with forwarding, domains, lots of payment options, and much more. Creating multimedia sites is very easy with Jimdo's amazing tools and easy-to-edit layouts. And the speed is very fast, especially for the paid versions. While the content is not optimized for search engine, the layout of the templates are tweaked for search engines, including in the free version. Here are just a few more reasons why you may want to check out Jimdo:
- Store and website both work for mobile
- Flash and HTML photo galleries
- Use stock photos or your own
- Add text with photos
- Contact forms, reservation request forms, guestbook
- Social media tools
- Many customization features - widgets, blog, images, RSS feed, Flash
- Customizable layouts
WebsiteBuilderPro.com comes with lots of pricing options, making it easy for designers to choose one that works best for their clients. Prices start at $4.99 and go up to $25.99/mo and include varying amounts of bandwidth and number of sites. So, if you plan on using WebsiteBuilderPro to create several websites for several clients, you may want to go with the Plus version (10 websites) or Max version (unlimited websites). And amazingly, all price versions come with an unlimited number of pages, which means you can add pages whenever you want.
To create a website, you simply choose from one of their many templates, add pages, and add content. The templates come with the ability to be customized completely. Like most website builders, there is no need to pay until you decide to launch your design. Other great features include Google Adsense, free hosting, store, no ads, and much more:
- Choose from stock images or use your own
- Upload videos easily
- Click to edit any part of the page
- Product catalog and shopping cart
- Mobile optimized
- Add members and creative private pages
- Forums, chatrooms, contact forms
Choose between the completely free version or the white labeled designer version with Weebly.com. In fact, the designer version is extremely affordable at only $7.95/mo and the ability to design multiple sites with CMS. There are only 100s of designs from which to choose, but all are highly professional and very customizable. Like most web builders, you simply drag and drop content into place. Plus, you get free domain hosting that Weebly monitors 24/7.
If your client is a blogger, they may really enjoy Weebly's easy drag and drop blogging. Or if your client also needs a store, e-commerce solutions are also available. Let's say you are on the go but need to make some quick changes to your client's site. Simply make edits on your iPhone. Weebly also comes with the option of using their website statistics tracking system or also adding Google Analytics for further data tracking. More amazing features include
- Photo galleries with slideshows
- Video and audio players
- Easy form builder
- Excellent image editor
- Full HTML/CSS control
- Templates are mobile optimized
- Ecommerce features
- SEO with additional settings available
If you are unsure which of these web builders is right for you and your clients, remember that all come with, at the least, the ability to design a website for free. While all of these site builders listed above are excellent options for web designers, you may need certain features one of these have that the other don't. So take a look, try them out, and choose which one you are most comfortable with. Then see just how easy it is to become a successful web designer without the need to learn any coding at all!
Tara Hornor has a degree in English and has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, web and graphic design, and desktop publishing. She is a Senior Editor for Creative Content Experts, a company that specializes in guest blogging and building backlinks. In addition to her writing career, Tara also enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. Connect with @TaraHornor on Twitter.