Ahh, WordPress — it’s probably the first name that comes to mind if you’re thinking of building a site. It’s popular, it’s free, and it’s helped millions of users showcase their brand or personality.
While WordPress can be wonderful, it also can be tricky. Once you install the free software, you have to actually build your site, which doesn’t come easy to those who lack programming skills.
Fortunately, there are a number of WordPress themes and plugins that will make building your new site simple as can be — even if you’re a first-timer. Let’s take a look at the very best of these “website builder” options, along with other considerations you should have along the way:
1. Set Up WordPress Hosting
Before we dive into themes and plugins, keep in mind that you can’t build a WordPress site — or any website — without first setting up web hosting. Web hosting costs just a few bucks per month, and the best hosts will let you download and install WordPress in one click. Some even have WordPress pre-installed for you.
We’ve tested all the popular web hosts, rating them on everything from cost to support to eCommerce features, and we highly recommend these three as the best hosts for WordPress:
- WordPress pre-installed with NGINX and PHP 7
- FREE SSL certificate and unlimited bandwidth
- Optional automatic plugin, theme, and core updates
- Features a FREE drag-and-drop WP page editor
- Premium themes and plugin subscriptions
- Get started on InMotion now.
- Recommended by WordPress Core since 2005
- FREE SSD storage and SSL certificate
- FREE domain registration and email
- Automatic installation and updates
- 63% discount exclusively for HostingAdvice shoppers
- Get started on Bluehost now.
- FREE Cloudflare CDN and 1-click installs for WordPress
- Turbo Server, SSD speed boost, and optimized caching
- A2-optimized WP plugins for performance and security
- SSL certificates, PayPal integration, and 24/7 support
- FREE HackScan and KernelCare
- Get started on A2 Hosting now.
Once you’ve set up a web hosting account and successfully installed WordPress, you’re ready to start designing. In the next section, we’ll cover the top theme and plugin options for building your WordPress site.
2. Choose a Theme or Plugin
As those who are familiar with WordPress can tell you, there are two easy ways to build a WordPress site yourself without having to write code: themes and plugins.
Themes are simply pre-made templates that you can manipulate to make a site look and function as you wish, while plugins are a common form of software that you can install on your WordPress backend to get a certain type of functionality — in this case, site-building functionality.
Below are the top themes and plugins we recommend as easy WordPress website builders:
Free Site-Building Themes (5)
The following themes are not only beautiful and intuitive, but they also feature easy customization tools for users of all skill levels. In addition to drag-and-drop editing, you’ll also get responsive (mobile-friendly) designs and tons of customization options — all for free.
1. Sydney ($0)
Sydney allows site owners access to all Google fonts, with full control over layout, coloring, and navigation options. Professionals can upload logos, header images, and full-screen slider content to create eye-catching, responsive designs.
2. Astrid ($0)
Astrid features a sleek, seamless layout that allows site visitors to scroll through the facets of your business with ease. The template is dynamic and designing is intuitive. You’ll get color options, the ability to add a full-width header image, options for blogging, and custom widget support.
3. Llorix One Lite ($0)
An all-star in the 1-page design arena, Llorix One Lite is ideal for professional-looking landing pages and basic personal site building needs. It includes a full-width template, a responsive blog section with threaded comment capabilities, and an array of color theme options to choose from.
4. Pixova Lite ($0)
For clean lines and a modern feel, Pixova Lite offers a variety of content options to make your site look like it was designed by the pros. Included features are custom slider, animations, 2-column and full-width layout, responsiveness, and custom menus and headers.
5. Moesia ($0)
Featuring cool animations, 11 predefined site elements, and two blog page layouts, Moesia makes building professional sites a breeze. This theme comes with an attentive support team, regular updates, and support for all the popular web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, IE9+, & Opera).
Paid Site-Building Themes (5)
WordPress themes are great, because even a non-techy can have a professional-looking website — complete with beautiful photo sliders, eye-catching buttons, and custom sidebars or menus — without touching a line of code. However, you can’t expect to get everything you want for free.
If you’re willing to commit around $50 to your site building endeavor, you can get the same drag-and-drop functionality, with more customization options, dynamic design options that may be limited in the free version, and all-around advanced features for premium-quality site building.
The following are our favorite premium WordPress theme options for site building:
1. Avada ($59)
Our favorite of the premium WordPress website builders, Avada comes with an incredible amount of template layouts, header options, color choices, and additional integrations. Whether you want to blog, sell, or display photos, Avada is the #1 pick in premium WordPress themes.
2. X ($64)
With X, you also get nearly two dozen extensions, including MailChimp integration, Envira photo gallery, and Olark chat. Plus, X users get to take advantage of the extremely popular UberMenu, so your site has a navigation menu that matches the look you want.
3. Enfold ($59)
Enfold is great for an easy start in WordPress site building. Its creators offer different versions for bloggers, business folks, resume posters, and for various industry-specific niches. The drag-and-drop editor and narrated video tutorials warrant its reputation for mega-fast 2-minute setup.
4. BeTheme ($59)
BeTheme is actually a beastly package of over 210 fantastic pre-made site templates, so you’re sure to find the design that matches your style. It’s fully customizable and easy to use — starting with the 1-click installation, all the way down to the custom font uploader.
5. Massive Dynamic ($59)
Massive Dynamic features a live website builder that allows you to customize colors, layouts, and shortcodes and preview how it will look on your site easily. Design the perfect header to meet your objectives — whether you want visitors to pick up the phone or check out your portfolio — using the customizable menu designs.
“Page Builder” Plugins (3)
Finally, the options below are plugins, which you install from your WordPress dashboard. To help you perfect your layout and content, plugins work with your WordPress theme — making dragging and dropping and manipulating elements of your site’s design that much easier.
1. Beaver Builder
Beaver Builder is certainly one of the most popular page builder plugins for WordPress out there. There’s no need to bother with HTML or custom styling, because Beaver Builder allows you to visually edit elements of your site right on the frontend. If you are slightly tech savvy, you’ll be happy to hear that you can add your own CSS classes and IDs, plus widgets and shortcodes.
2. Live Composer
The page builder of choice for over 30,000 site owners, Live Composer is an extremely easy-to-use drag-and-drop frontend editor. You can edit your content in real-time, so you can have a ready-to-convert landing page or a blog boasting your recent travels up on the Web in minutes.
MotoPress is a drag-and-drop frontend builder that’s compatible with nearly any WordPress theme. It features over 30 content elements, with the option to gain additional customization options with MotoPress add-ons. The end result is a completely mobile-responsive website.
These free WordPress website builder plugins also come with the option to upgrade to a premium license for around $50 to $100. Buying a license gives you access to expert support and more customization features than non-licensed versions.
3. Non-WordPress Website Builders
Ask yourself this: Why does your site have to be built with WordPress?
If you don’t have a highly technical answer to that question, your site probably doesn’t need to use WordPress at all. While WordPress is a nice and popular platform, there are plenty of website builder options that will give your site the same look and functionality as a WordPress-based site.
Next up are hosts that offer a super-easy combo package: hosting with a free website builder. For just a few dollars a month, these hosts will give you the excellent web hosting you deserve, plus free drag-and-drop website builders and tons of free templates to make your own:
- No coding skills needed with drag-and-drop builder
- 100s of templates with niche-specific designs
- Add features via the App Market and Wix Events
- Easily create ecommerce functionality easily
- Great way to build small sites on a budget
- Get started on Wix now.
- Choice of Weebly or WebsiteBuilder by iPage
- Mobile-optimized options and easy-to-use setup wizards
- 100s of professionally designed, customizable themes
- FREE online store, shopping cart, and blogging platform
- Get +75% off your first month
- Get started on iPage now.
- Integration with Fotolia and Flickr image databases
- Pre-built and customizable content with GridBlocks
- Responsive themes with tablet and mobile editing views
- Generates clean, efficient, and compliant HTML
- SEO, gallery, and forms plugins
- Get started on BoldGrid now.
The beauty of these combo deals is that you get a free drag-and-drop editor to create beautiful, responsive designs and all you have to do is pay for the hosting — typically $3 to $10 per month.
Ready to Start Building Your Site?
WordPress is the foundation of some of the Web’s most popular sites — and yours could be next. While the increasingly popular platform can be tricky for non-techies, now that you’re equipped with the best options for hosting and building your WordPress site, there’s no reason not to get started today.
Let me know in the comments below how you do — I’d love to hear your success story!