As much as it pains me to say it, WordPress isn’t for everyone. We use the incredibly popular platform both here at HostingAdvice and for several personal sites and side projects, but many have written about the steep learning curve and security precautions that must be tackled to succeed with WordPress.
Whether you’re looking to build a new website, blog, sell your wares, or are just exploring your options, we’ve outlined more than a dozen alternatives for you to consider.
For Website Building (1 – 6)
If you’re looking for ultra-simple, drag-and-drop editing tools that show you exactly what your site will look like, WordPress probably isn’t for you. The platform’s visual editor comes close, but it doesn’t truly give users a what-you-see-is-what-you-get, or WYSIWYG, experience.
Our friends at InMotion Hosting, however, have recently created the first true website builder for WordPress. Check out BoldGrid, which recently announced wide-scale availability through Softaculous, an incredibly popular one-click installation tool included in most hosting plans.
Although website builders can make creating your online home a breeze, new site owners will need to be aware of which builders come with hosting and which require you to sign up separately with a provider — or which give you the choice.
One of our favorite all-in-one website builders, Wix appeals to both novice and experienced users. The builder boasts hundreds of impressive templates organized into specific categories, industries, and use cases. On the very slight possibility you can’t find exactly the look you want, Wix also provides blank wireframe layouts and even the option to start from scratch.
- No coding skills needed with drag-and-drop website builder
- 100s of templates with industry-specific designs
- Add features via the App Market
|Money Back Guarantee||14 days|
|Disk Space||500 MB - 20 GB|
|Website Builder Hosting Plans||www.wix.com/site-builder|
Our Expert's Wix Review
Website building is where Wix shines. The thousands of templates, the intuitive editor, the industry-leading designs that cater to a variety of specific fields and use cases — all these facets represent a platform that excels at facilitating easy web design for the non-tech-savvy user. Sign up with your Facebook account or email address and get started for free.
I'll admit, the Wix Editor may appear daunting when you first meet it, but get to know the interface. Once you familiarize yourself with the environment, you'll realize that what first comes across as overwhelming is actually empowering — the customization functionalities to be had are many, and they're awesome. There's no need for coding of any kind. Just drag and drop elements of your new site and BAM: What You See Is What You Get (i.e., Wix is a WYSIWYG website builder!).
You don't have to design your website from scratch with Wix, though blank templates are available. There are thousands of templates, each one categorized by design need and further classified into industry niches, and the site's look can be molded to match your brand or personality very easily. Layout and design options include parallax themes (where the viewer scrolls down the screen and one page rolls seamlessly into the next), custom sliders, multiple columns, mobile-specific and mobile-responsive displays, and tons of button and menu navigation tricks.
While Wix isn't our favorite host in terms of expert support or top-of-the-line hardware, it's an industry-leading platform for website building. It's popular for many reasons: the simple startup process, the ease of use, the array of customization options, and the WYSIWYG results, as examples. Its reputation precedes it, and we can totally see where the rave reviews are coming from.collapse info -
A go-to resource for sheer simplicity, Weebly is available with included hosting or is often found included with many shared hosting plans. Weebly offers site owners a well-rounded package by combining a fantastic builder with excellent themes and basic eCommerce functionality.
We appreciate that you can easily use your custom domain name, but more experienced customers might find themselves outgrowing such beginner-friendly options before too long. For example, seasoned SEO veterans will likely need third-party apps to effectively drive traffic.
- Direct access to the popular site builder offered by most shared hosts
- Fully hosted, drag-and-drop site-building and marketing platform
- Choose from 100s of customizable, professional-looking themes
|Money Back Guarantee||30 days|
|Disk Space||500 MB - Unlimited|
|Domain Name||FREE (w/ paid plans)|
|Website Builder Hosting Plans||www.weebly.com/site-builder|
Our Expert's Weebly Review
Weebly is in the elite clique of drag-and-drop website builders that includes WordPress and Wix.com. The platform is known for its feature-rich functionality that can be easily controlled by novices and seasoned site owners. Our favorite part is that many of the top-recommended site builder hosts have actually opted to offer the Weebly software as their "free website builder included" offering. Nevertheless, you can sign up for a Weebly account and have your site hosted directly through Weebly.com.
If you're just getting started or simply dabbling with the idea of creating your own website from scratch, Weebly does offer a free plan; however, this is not conducive to professional site building as it includes ads and a Weebly.com subdomain. Alternatively, premium plan subscribers get a free custom domain and an ad-free website that they can customize with themes and an intuitive drag-and-drop editor. If you're looking to display and sell products, you have the option to showcase 10, 25, or an unlimited number of items, depending on your chosen plan. Weebly does charge a 3% transaction fee, but that requirement goes away when you upgrade to the Pro or Business plans.
Let the record show, we highly recommend the Weebly software. It's easy to get started and the drag-and-drop editor is about as beginner-friendly as it gets. Those who are on a time crunch and budget-minded, however, might consider using a Weebly-enabled hosting provider instead. Either way, Weebly is an excellent choice for getting a beautiful web presence up and running.collapse info -
3. WebsiteBuilder by iPage
A popular hosting service among beginners, iPage has invested heavily in providing their customers with a seamless, user-friendly site building tool. The name might not be the most creative, but WebsiteBuilder offers hundreds of responsive templates that will work on any device. Signing up with a host, such as iPage, opens up a ton of new options and features — from around-the-clock support to unlimited storage space and free domains, just to name a few.
- Choice of Weebly or WebsiteBuilder by iPage
- #1 Pick for WYSIWYG site building with FREE domain
- 100s of professionally designed, customizable themes
|Money Back Guarantee||30 days|
|Disk Space||100 GB - Unlimited|
|Domain Name||FREE (1 year)|
|Website Builder Hosting Plans||www.ipage.com/site-builder|
Our Expert's iPage Review
Do you want your website built today? If you answered "yes," you should look no further than iPage. In fact, it's possible for you to be online before you even finish reading this article. Thanks to iPage's user-friendly interface, instant provisioning, and free domain name, you can have a live, attractive website in mere minutes.
For those that have been around the Web for a while, you may remember when it took a day to get your server online; thankfully those days are gone. Your site is live the second you complete your order with iPage. A domain name is also included, so the ordeal of purchasing a domain name, setting name servers, and waiting for them to propagate is also extinct. Once that's completed, you are taken to the incredibly user-friendly interface, where you can begin your site creation process.
Powered by their own proprietary builder, iPage's WebsiteBuilder makes it easy to have a professional-looking site created in minutes. It all starts with your choice of template — with hundreds of options available. From there, you can customize color schemes, fonts, and sizes, and add your own pictures and videos. Adding forms for comments, RSVPs, or business contacts is just as simple. Before you know it, you have an attractive, functional website.
From the ease of use to the speed at which you are able to get a site live, iPage leaves us with little doubt as to why we've ranked them #1 on our list of web hosts with site builder functionality. An already incredible value, their 30-day money-back guarantee means that you can feel at ease knowing that iPage stands behind its product, and they're confident that you will be happy with their service.collapse info -
4. MyWebsite by 1&1
Premium web hosting company 1&1 might offer the best site builder you haven’t heard of. We appreciate when hosts spend the time to develop their own tools that cater to their customers’ specific needs. MyWebsite comes with all the essentials for creating your site, including a free domain, email address, and unlimited space.
- No coding skills necessary with 1&1 MyWebsite
- Free domain name included, or transfer your existing site
- Quickly build a site equipped for online sales with PayPal
|Money Back Guarantee||30 days|
|Disk Space||50 GB|
|Domain Name||FREE for life!|
|Website Builder Hosting Plans||www.1and1.com/site-builder|
Our Expert's 1&1 Review
If you're in need of a one-stop shop for building and hosting a website, you should be pleased to hear that 1&1 offers their own custom website building tools for desktop and mobile. In addition to a free domain and email address, and unlimited webspace and database storage, 1&1's MyWebsite option includes all the essentials for starting a site from scratch.
MyWebsite: 1&1's Free Website Builder
With 1&1's MyWebsite packages, you can quickly and easily create a custom website, without any coding or programming knowledge. Best of all, 1&1 MyWebsite packages each come with a free 30-day trial period, so you can be certain that this easy-to-use solution is the right one for you.
Their drag-and-drop site editor features tons of high-quality, customizable templates. Your site will automatically be optimized for smartphones and tablets, and 1&1 offers hundreds of web apps to integrate with your site, such as Google Maps, Facebook, and other social media platforms.
Excellent Options for Online Marketing & Online Retail
Whether you're looking to sell online or just market your blog, 1&1 has you covered. Their more popular MyWebsite packages come equipped with features to help you build and grow your brand and/or online marketplace.
SEO Assistant & SiteAnalytics
1&1 offers $50-worth of PPC credits to be used with Bing and Yahoo!, and their SEO Assistant to boost positioning in search engine rankings. They'll also help you build a professional-looking Facebook page and eNewsletter to inspire a following and build customer loyalty. Then, you can track your site's success with 1&1 SiteAnalytics.
Start Selling Online
MyWebsite Premium users can build their own online store equipped to offer up to 1,000 products, with numerous payment and delivery options. 1&1 also gives the opportunity to cross-sell with other online retail portals, such as Amazon and eBay, and they include a free SSL certificate as well.
The Final Word on 1&1 as a Website Builder
1&1 not only offers over 140 Click-and-Build Apps within their App Center, but they feature packages exclusive to customers shopping for website builders. They make it easy to get online and start blogging or start selling quickly, with no coding skill required. If you're seeking easy entry into the website building world, 1&1 MyWebsite has you covered.collapse info -
5. Google Sites
Recently rebuilt around customer feedback, Google has re-entered the website building fray with an impressive option for the more daring site owner. Although the Google Sites builder is new, the platform integrates with all the familiar Google apps you’re used to using. Who’s to argue with deploying Google Analytics to track site performance?
The biggest glaring hole in Google Sites is templates: users only have six options, and they all look ridiculously similar. The platform gives users flexibility to customize their look, but beginners will have to look to third-party theme developers for inspiration or more design choices.
Squarespace offers some of the site building industry’s most stunning templates — but they come at a steep price. We love the refined look of Squarespace, but budget-minded users will find many similar tools on other builders for much less.
Customers who stick with Squarespace, however, will enjoy unlimited bandwidth and storage, SSL certificates, and a free domain name. Photographers, in particular, will appreciate image importing and processing tools, as well as the included CDN for speedy site delivery.
For Blogging or Publishing Content (7 – 9)
Simply having something to say is a major reason to get online and create a personal website. Whether you want to share your adventures with your buddies or wax poetic on some philosophical issue, WordPress and other platforms help writers commit their prose to pixels.
Created by Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams, Medium is a relatively new publishing platform that gives writers a clutter-free space to create and share thoughts beyond Twitter’s 140-character limit. The editor is distilled just to the user’s words, making it drop-dead simple to share your thoughts with the world.
Bloggers aren’t bogged down by themes or plugins because they simply don’t exist. Amateurs and professionals alike turn to Medium for content that matters, whether you write a deeply personal essay or examine the intricacies of some worldwide issue. Writers looking for a portfolio or any other functionality won’t find it here.
An open-source codebase is about all that Ghost and WordPress share. The platform will appeal to pure writers with a simple experience and bridges the gap with more tech-minded users by basing its interface on Markdown, a lightweight formatting language that can be converted to HTML without the use of formatting buttons.
Funded by a Kickstarter project, Ghost includes an intuitive dashboard and ultra-simple content management portal. The program offers more features than Medium without the headaches and distractions of WordPress. Users might still miss some of the flexibility and features of a full-fledged site builder or content management system, but we love how Ghost merges the needs of both writers and designers.
Interestingly, Blogger is Google’s second entry on this list. While Google Sites is more geared for the total novice seeking a well-rounded site, Blogger is strictly a blogging tool. Blogger is still an immensely popular somewhat legacy product, but Google’s renewed attention to the Sites platform has fueled plenty of speculation about what the tech giant plans to do with two roughly similar offerings.
For a deeper evaluation, we compared Blogger and WordPress on six key points, including security, eCommerce tools, and themes. Spoiler alert: we like WordPress more, and even give users step-by-step instructions on how to transfer Blogger sites to WordPress.
For Content Management (10 – 12)
Here’s where WordPress finally gets a home game. At its core, WordPress is truly a CMS, or content management system — it’s more than just a blog and definitely not a site builder. A CMS manages a wider range of content and more seamlessly integrate with plugins that add more features. We adore WordPress for everything, but we know that some other CMSs appeal to certain use cases.
Another open-source platform, Joomla is the second-most-used CMS, according to BuiltWith — although WordPress is tops by quite a large margin. Users can enjoy the same rich, community-driven development as WordPress with ample themes and plugins.
Depending on who you talk to and how you want to use Joomla, the CMS can be complex and tricky to navigate — or full of robust features that appeal to larger organizations. WordPress is probably more usable for the casual blogger or site owner.
Right behind Joomla in terms of popularity, Drupal is a power-packed CMS that can also be used as a framework to build your own CMS. As you might have guessed, Drupal is the most complex and challenging of the three major CMSs — but the super-sophisticated platform comes with potent security and performance that appeals to large companies and organizations dealing with sensitive information.
We constantly harp on the steep learning curve for WordPress, but inexperienced site owners would find a whole new level of challenges with Drupal. However, you can learn where Drupal outperforms Joomla and WordPress by reading our in-depth comparison of the three platforms.
Once you get past The Big Three, your options get quite slim. CMS Made Simple barely registers when it comes to CMS usage and market share, but the platform delivers a straightforward and uncomplicated space to create and run a website.
Although CMSMS offers a lightweight, flexible environment, users will have to learn and understand the nuances in how the interface functions compared with the more popular options. There are different best practices and a new templating language. At the end of the day, CMSMS is fine — WordPress is just better.
For eCommerce (13-15)
Out of the box, WordPress does not include any eCommerce tools. Responding to user suggestions for features to create and manage online stores, however, parent company Automattic acquired WooCommerce, the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugin behind more than 28% of all online stores.
Resonating with more established organizations and online storefronts, Magento offers solutions for order management, business intelligence, shipping, and monetizing social channels. Together, Magento’s products handle more than $50 billion in gross merchandise volume.
Magento has open-source roots in the company’s Community Edition, which scales up to enterprise and cloud versions featuring extra functionality and support. The program might be a little too complex for beginners, however, who could easily get bogged down in all the steps to customize and configure the platform.
Like Magento and WordPress, PrestaShop is a self-hosted platform — meaning users have to install the software on their hosting account. PrestaShop gives small businesses a good deal of functionality and flexibility without being as overwhelming as Magento. The low system requirements mean PrestaShop runs efficiently and won’t bog down your hosting hardware.
The free service comes with more than 2,000 professional themes, all of which are optimized for mobile devices. A streamlined dashboard provides easy access to more than 300 features, including email automation and SEO, and store owners can add plenty of free or paid modules.
Shopify is the most hands-off eCommerce solution. Business owners won’t need to sign up for a hosting plan, but they’ll find fewer customization options on Shopify than on other platforms. With a goal of making selling simple, Shopify offers users hundreds of templates, built-in shopping carts, and a full marketing suite.
- Includes a site builder with 100s of FREE and premium Shopify themes
- Fully hosted plans with unlimited bandwidth, storage, and products
- Easy-to-use Shopify Stripe Payments for processing transactions
|Money Back Guarantee||14-Day FREE Trial|
|Domain Name||FREE (MyShopify.com)|
|eCommerce Hosting Plans||www.shopify.com/store-builder|
Our Expert's Shopify Review
Tell Us What You Love or Don’t Love About WordPress
Now that you’ve seen all the other options, how does that change what you think about WordPress? Creating and running a website can be a very personal experience that everyone approaches differently. Although WordPress works for most, you might find more success and happiness with another platform more suited to your needs and comfort level.
If you’re sticking with WordPress, however, consider checking our list of top hosts for WordPress. Any worthwhile hosting company provides access and one-click installations of most of the options on this list, but some of our favorites go an extra step for WordPress — boosting performance, managing security updates, and providing dedicated support teams.