8 Tips for Selecting a Website Builder

Velly Angelova
by Velly Angelova 21 Oct, 2013

Running a well-crafted and professional website plays tremendous role when building your trustworthy image and brand identity in the digital world. With the prominent evolution of website building solutions during the past years, an increasing number of entrepreneurs and start-up owners are entrusting this cost efficient DIY approach to help their businesses succeed over the Web. In the range of packages and sets of functionalities that website builders offer, choosing the one that best correspond your needs is a tricky matter. 

This article compiles a list of eight important criteria to help you take the right choice when creating your professional showcase:

1. Pricing

Since professional result is the ultimate goal, pricing is not to be treated as the most crucial factor when picking a site builder. Still, a great part of entrepreneurs and small business owners choosing to use the help of those DIY online tools, are most probably tight on budget and not eager to invest a fortune.

Most website builders are based on a Freemium model offering a quality free base with the option to upgrade to an advanced premium version.  (Image: examples of website builders, including Puzl.com, UCoz.com, Webs.com and Weebly.com.)

Important factors to be considered in terms of pricing: 

- Is it free? Without hidden cost?
- Are there any trial periods or do they require credit cards to join? 
- If not, how affordable the premium packages are compared to competitors?  
- Can you design professional webpages using only the free version?
- Is the payment fulfilled on a monthly/yearly basis?

Do not forget the golden rule to purchasing services online, most software companies offer coupons and discounts to the ones who are adventurous enough to search the Internet for those bargains... So always make that necessary search before pressing the "confirm purchase" button. 

2. Simplicity of interface

If you are a non-tech savvy user lacking internet experience, it is essential that the tool you choose is highly intuitive and user-friendly. Since it's extremely straightforward in use, the so called "Drag and Drop" technology is believed to be a benchmark of simplicity. Thanks to this technology, users can simply drag the desired element (called widget) and drop it onto their pages. Each widget can be easily edited, moved and resized with a complete liberty of positioning.

Important issues in this direction:
- Ease of use
- Are they suitable for beginners/ advanced users?
- Are you able to retain control over your website at all times?
- In-editor help provided

Some good examples of such builders that are based on a "Drag and Drop" are ImCreator and Puzl.

3. Design and customization

Building an outstanding website that is appealing to the eye is really important in today's highly competitive online environment. Website builders have stepped on a whole new level providing amazing professional themes tailored to cover the specific requirements of their clients. Wix and Go Daddy offer amazing galleries of templates according to the business category.

Main standpoints that matter in terms of design and customization:

- The variety of templates and palette of colors available
- Are there only preselected templates or can build your website from scratch?
- The design choices for personalization
- The liberty of movement, resizing and editing

4. Technology choices and widgets

Widgets are one of the most significant aspects in the process of the website customization. What makes a website builder really proficient is the abundance of widget choices and functionalities they are capable to provide.

When choosing a website builder, keep an eye for a vast array of helpful widgets to help you better personalize your site and make it as unique as your business:

- Text and image
- HTML widget
- Video and sound
- Slideshows
- Photo galleries
- Google maps
- Links and buttons
- Google Analytics
- Social media widgets

The more widgets proposed by the tool, the higher flexibility of creation you will have. 

5. SEO friendly configuration

Being easily found on the Web amongst hundreds of websites is a must when it comes to fully benefiting the value of internet.  In fact search engines are now extremely picky in terms of content and are constantly changing the rules of ranking. That's why the best thing you can do in order to deliver high visibility for your webpages is to choose a website builder proposing this kind of professional assistance. Some of them such as Moonfruit and UCoz offer various SEO tools to help you boost your site ranking in all search engines.

Essential criteria related to the SEO service of your website are:

- Does your builder give you options to fully optimize your site? 
- Do you get any assistance on the SEO issues? (SEO guide, tutorials, help materials)
- Can you easily edit title tags, meta tags etc.? 
- How long does it take for your newly created website to appear in the search engine results?

6. Social media integration

Social media plays a massive role in the expansion of your online presence. Acknowledged as the biggest revolution since television, social media networks offer unlimited opportunities and resources for brands to engage with consumers like never before. That means only one thing - when creating your business website; you need to make sure that it is completely social media integrated. Before choosing the right site editor, simply review the following questions:

- Can you publish articles from your website and directly share them on social media?
- Can you effectively promote your news and professional articles on all the major social media networks?
- Can you integrate Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media on your pages? 
- Can you add "Like" buttons to your site? 

7. Mobile optimization

The tech revolution has shed light to the era of smartphones and tablets transferring huge amounts of data all over the Web. That has inevitably led to the necessity to make sure your website editor allows you to easily go mobile.

8. Customer support and in-editor help

Especially when you're a non-techie, the timely and quality customer support is something that you really need to arm your website with. Make also sure that you are not missing a decent amount of online help guidelines and video tutorials provided for your ease.

Issues that really matter in the scope of customer service are as follows: 
- Is it provided on a 24/7 basis? 
- Professional attitude of customer support agents
- Speed and accuracy
- Competency and expert advices
- Reliability

Due to the severe competition in field of website building, a lot of the platforms nowadays provide their members with a free customer support including: Telephone and email support, messenger, forums, live chat.

In reality, it is impossible for the experts to recommend the perfect website builder. A lot of comparisons have been trying to reach a basic conclusion on that topic but the truth is that besides the common features, each tool has its own specialties and beneficial traits along with its drawbacks.

Your choice generally depends on your own vision of a website functionality corresponding to the specific needs of your business. This list is by no means "all-inclusive". Feel free to enrich it with your insights and provide some extra added value to the article by sharing your own experience using Web builders.

Velly Angelova is an Internet blogger and freelance writer passionate about marketing, entrepreneurship and start-ups. She is also keen on SEO, a social media addict, crazy about nature, art and photography