2017 Reviews

Best Website Builders - 2017 Reviews

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Expert Interviews
"We can do the most with them, since they’ve been around for a long time. WordPress is used for 60-70% of the published web, and it’s open-source, which means there are multiple plugins available. A lot of people have added to the capabilities of this platform, and it’s all available for others to use. There are also robust CMS communities in place for support, whether it’s WordPress, Drupal or Joomla. A CMS-based website can be easy to get up-and-running for anyone with a bit of web development experience, but the challenge is that there are so many plug-ins. It can be a challenge to find the right one, and make sure that it’s the best choice. You don’t really need to worry about malicious plug-ins, but it’s important to find the ones which will actually do the right job."
Jill Starett
Design Strategist, Fresh Tilled Soil
"If someone is looking for a scalable, easy-to-use and secure CMS, WordPress is the best bet. Drupal comes second, in our opinion, but it’s used for different purposes. It’s more of a framework on which to build a custom and unique solution, whereas WordPress is more of an out-of-the-box CMS. There are other platforms, such as Craft, which is good, but doesn’t have as strong of a community. The reason we’ve chosen WordPress is the support of the community and the premium plugins which are available, as well as the ease of use for clients and junior developers.'
Ab Emam
Managing Director, WDG
"Drupal is an open-source CMS, one of the two most widely-known ones, along with WordPress. Drupal’s strength from the outset has been its ability to be customized and extended. It’s a powerful platform, and it can do just about anything. It’s very feature-rich in terms of its ability to model content, in terms of editorial capabilities, and in terms of its abilities to accommodate customized workflows and permissions governance. For some, the downside to this is that, with all of these capabilities, there’s a fair amount of complexity as well. Drupal has always had the reputation of having a steep learning curve. I personally feel that it’s a great choice for many industries, as well as different enterprises."
Brian Skowron
President, Lullabot
"The considerations are how much the customer is willing to spend and why. Squarespace is customizable, but, if getting every pixel exactly right is the priority, versus having a reliable, user-friendly site which looks good, it’s not the right choice. Users should look at their budget, and setup their priorities.It’s really about budget and priorities. If your budget is $10k or under, it’s probably a good idea to at least look at Squarespace. Conversely, if the person has a large budget and they want the site to look and behave perfectly, and they’re okay with ongoing maintenance, they should explore WordPress or Drupal. These sites won’t look good if they’re done for under $15,000. Even in that case, there will be ongoing maintenance costs and risks."
Jared Gold
Founder, Brevity
"The ideal person would be a small-to-medium business. WordPress is budget-friendly, as opposed to a larger enterprise CMS platform. Startup businesses or startup web apps which have to save a little on cost can also leverage the platform, instead of going fully-custom. They can have an initial proof-of-concept, and then build something custom.... If the site is heavy on customizations, WordPress may not be the best choice. Still, we’ve done some heavy customizations on it. I would typically say it’s a matter of speed and performance, but this can be managed with a team of good developers who can optimize the speed when working with a lot of data."
Paul Scott
Founder, GoingClear Interactive
"A lot of organizational decisions start with the budget and then decide how to spend it. I would recommend stepping back start with planning. What does the business really look like, survey the landscape, survey the competition, do an overall assessment of where things stand, and also do some technical discovery. We can look at the software a business is currently using to manage their website. We can look at the software that you’ve integrated in your website. We can actually start to get a much clearer picture and answer a lot of questions that maybe the client hasn’t thought about, or we haven’t fully understood."
Marty Vernon
Co-Founder, EDUCO
"A paid platform today must have a heavily maintained and supported resource center, and a good service model for marketers, technologists, or developers to provide access to staff for troubleshooting or recommending workarounds to non-traditional requests. One of the most interesting things about open source options in lieu of paid platforms is that even though there’s usually not real-time customer support, solutions to development problems are essentially “crowdsourced” by a community of developers who share and collaborate. You’re not subject to product development cycles; there’s constant innovation and collaboration."
Lori Dunkin
Director of Operations, FINE
"A CMS is not for everyone. As these content management systems have gotten more complicated, expensive, and cumbersome to manage and build, even in the industry, we’ve seen a bit of a retro-trend toward going back to simplistic websites for specific things. A good example would be a microsite. Often, you need a microsite for a very specific campaign, initiative, feature, or event that does not need to be updated very often. If that’s the case, it’s actually a lot easier just to build a static site, at least for a developer, than to deal with the overhead that comes with a content management platform. Sometimes, we just try to get back to keeping it simple and building static sites."
Brent Lightner
Founder, Taoti Creative
"WordPress has come a long way in its 13 years. Its potential audience and kind of user is vast at this point. Single users, sole proprietors, small businesses, medium-size businesses, e-commerce, there are a lot of use cases. I don’t think there’s a particular best user case. WordPress can be used for all sorts of projects... The biggest things that we come back to for WordPress are the community and the amount of people using and contributing to it, whether that’s the core platform, or plugins, e-commerce and extensions. The number of things you can find out there, either free or paid, there are some amazing tools."
Max Elman
Founder, Razorfrog Web Design
"If you’re looking for flexibility around marketing, Magento offers the ability to do whatever you want. Shopify struggles in some of those ways. If you’re a company that is ranking highly in search results on Google or Bing, Shopify has a very specific way of doing their URL structure. The product and category structure are done in a very specific way (due to Shopify’s database and technology stack) and you cannot modify that URL structure. If you are preparing to migrate to Shopify from another platform and you’re not prepared to do 301 redirects, then you don’t want to move to Shopify."
Mike Cristancho
Senior Project Manager, Gauge Interactive
"Start with the reason for building the site, who will be using the site from an admin and visitor perspective, what the site will be doing, such as selling products, providing information, or publishing something. Really ask the core questions about the who, the what, and the how. Where is this going to be hosted? Who’s going to maintain it? How is going to be maintained? Get the answers to these questions before determining which CMS to use."
Garrett Goldman
Managing Partner, State Creative
"People should really think about what they’re trying to say, what kind of message they want to put across. Also, make sure you think outside the box. While it’s good to have a nice website, what makes it stand out is that it’s different. At the same time, don’t be different for the sake of being different. Make sure you have the insight and research to validate the direction you’re going as opposed to looking like everybody else. It’s really about taking those calculated risks and those chances to make your site stand out."
Dominick Terry
Digital Creative Director, Borenstein Group
"One of the areas that is still a little weak is this whole idea of a content syndication. There’s still a big push where the content editors build webpages, and they want to control the layout, pages, etc. They get measured by the number of visitors to the website and all that stuff. I’m not saying that’s not important; however, we’re trying to push an idea of a web service content syndication. So, how you use these CMS’s to do that, so your content gets syndicated worldwide. It doesn’t necessarily have to be measured by how many people hit your website. It should be measured by the number of impressions."
Ken Fang
President, Mobomo
"If the goal of the company is to take over in-house website maintenance, then ExpressionEngine is probably not the best choice unless they have a tech-savvy team that can do the work. It’s a little more hands-on than WordPress as far as updating. On the other hand, I will say that the security in ExpressionEngine is a lot tighter. WordPress sites get hacked a lot, often through the third-party add-ons. Because they’re so popular, and because WordPress is so ubiquitous, hackers sort of start to see patterns they can exploit."
Chris Simental
Co-Founder, Ripe Media
"From a security standpoint, just baseline, every company should have some kind of update schedule built into their process. Of course, Squarespace does that on their own. We recommend to every company that they purchase an SSL certificate to install on their host server for their domain, to ensure their site is secure. Even if they’re not transacting on the site, from an e-commerce standpoint, it’s good to have something like that setup. Not only does it help security, but it also helps SEO now. Beyond that, specifics on security really depend on the organization and what kind of information they’re trying to protect."
Jason O'Mara
Founder, Roja Interactive
"The biggest feature on WordPress that is impressive, but can also be a detriment too, is how easily WordPress can be updated. You can go in and click a couple buttons, and then you’re on the latest version. It’s quick and easy to update, but you can also break the site pretty easily, especially if there are conflicts, the theme isn’t built properly, or you have a lot of plugins. Updates can cause problems sometimes. It’s a pretty cool feature that’s unique to WordPress in a lot of ways, but it can also break sites."
Brian Dainis
CEO, Curotec
"Anytime you’re using a WYSIWYG editor, like Wix offers, your site is not going to have the cleanest code. So, it’s probably a short-term solution for most of our clients, to get something up and running and then transition from later... I’d say that Wix is simpler than Squarespace. It’s very quick and easy to get something up and running. You can create a site and customize it for yourself in a few minutes, and get something live on the internet. Squarespace is also simple and approachable, but there’s a little more power and complexity versus Wix."
Scott Weisman
Co-Founder, LaunchPad Lab
"I think 30% of all websites are WordPress based. That’s why I love it. It is the most popular CMS by far, and it’s open-source. To me, that is a perfect recipe for innovation to occur and be shared with others. When a company has needs that go outside of what WordPress offers when you install it and set it up, we find ourselves more and more being able to offer solutions to client needs at less cost because of how open the community is with sharing information and available functionalities."
Hans Skillrud
Founder, StickOutSocial
"Shopify and BigCommerce are built differently, but they are both cloud-based SaaS services. In all cases, you are limited in what you can do to change the workflow of how a standard e-commerce website works – the process from the homepage to the checkout page. You are limited in how you can modify the core functions of the system. You can use apps, and you can do some sort of customization, but you are limited."
Denis Dyli
Founder, Pivofy
"When we look at something that’s more on the SaaS side, like Shopify or BigCommerce, we often make decisions between the two based on the available applications. The differentiation is in a bit of the app market, and there are certain pieces of their system that one focuses on more than the other. So, there are some nuances there. I think we recommend one a bit more than the other, but I think they both have their place."
Adam Morris
CEO, Restage