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Website builders offer a DIY solution for crafting your online identity, perfect for individuals, entrepreneurs and small businesses eager to leap into the digital realm without the need for a developer – at least, for the most part. Yet, in a sea of options, finding the perfect website builder can be daunting, especially for beginners.

So, how do you sift through the abundance of choices to find the ideal fit for your unique needs? Uncover the answer as we guide you through essential considerations, delve into key features, and analyse the pros and cons of the top five website development platforms in 2024.

Born from a decade of professional web development at our digital agency, our insights stem from hands-on experience with these platforms across diverse client projects. So, continue reading to discover the best tools for your project.

Understanding the basics

Before we dive into the details, let’s get familiar with the term “website development platform.” Essentially, it’s the tool, also known as a website builder, that forms the foundation of your online presence. It enables you to create and publish your website on the internet, offering various features depending on the provider. Most platforms provide storage for photos and videos, options for a custom domain, hosting capabilities, prebuilt themes and more.

Website development platforms also come in different types. There are open-source systems like WordPress, known for flexibility and customisation, and proprietary solutions like Wix and Shopify, which focus on ease of use and integrated features.

Multi-Screen Coding at Scoot Office

What’s the difference between a website builder and a CMS?

A website builder is generally an inclusive package that often offers web hosting, a domain name and a site editor, although this isn’t always the case.

On the other hand, a CMS, or content management system, is designed to assist you in handling blog posts, images, videos and other content published on a website. In many cases, site builders include a CMS, while a CMS may also integrate a site editor, such as WordPress.

How to find the best website builder for your needs

Selecting the ideal website builder isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavour.

Instead, it’s about striking the right balance between cost and features to meet your specific needs. Before embarking on this potentially time-consuming and sometimes costly journey, it’s crucial to establish clear requirements.

Here are key areas to consider as you start searching for the perfect website builder:

1. Project complexity:

Start by assessing the scale of your project – is it a crisp few pages or a sprawling, feature-rich landscape?

What about your content strategy – will it involve a simple blog, multimedia elements or intricate ecommerce functionalities? Platforms like WordPress are versatile, accommodating various content types, while Shopify excels in handling complex product catalogues and transactional requirements.

2. Scalability:

Try to envision the future – will your website evolve, or is it a static presence?

Scalability isn’t just about handling increased traffic; it’s about the ability to integrate new features and adapt to evolving business needs. For example, check if the website builder integrates seamlessly with other tools or services you plan to use, such as email marketing platforms or ecommerce solutions.

3. Performance requirements:

Ensuring optimal performance not only enhances the user experience but also contributes to the overall success and sustainability of your online presence. Prioritise fast loading, strong security and responsive design for device adaptability.

Look for features like image compression and code optimisation – consider a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for global content delivery and ensure efficient database performance for dynamic content.

4. Web developers expertise:

Assess your technical know-how and that of your team. Your choice of platform should align with the skillset of your development team or yourself if you’re taking a DIY approach.

With their drag and drop interface, Wix and Squarespace are ideal for beginners, whilst WordPress offers a balance between user-friendly features and customisation for those with intermediate skills.

If you have a dedicated development team, platforms like Shopify can provide extensive customisation options but require a higher level of technical expertise.


Your top five options

Best free website builder for beginners: WordPress

Let’s get things clear – when we mention WordPress, we’re referring to the open-source free content management system (CMS) from, not the similarly named site builder at This popular CMS doubles as one of the best free website builders. At Scoot, we often use WordPress as a CMS for our clients due to its outstanding capabilities and unparalleled flexibility and freedom.

Choosing WordPress means opting for the standalone CMS, and it’s important to secure web hosting separately. With over 8,000 free WordPress themes and numerous paid options, you have a plethora of design choices. While the platform’s site builder is user-friendly, it covers the basics, leaving ample room for customisation through an extensive library of plugins, many of which are free.

Ideal Users: WordPress, though not as straightforward as all-in-one website builders, is perfect for those with some tech know-how seeking a tailored website with the flexibility to choose their web hosting. Whether it’s an informational site or an online store, WordPress caters to users looking for customisation.

Pricing: WordPress itself is free, but you’ll need to cover hosting costs separately. Additionally, any premium plugins or themes you opt for will come with their own fees.


  • A collection of pre-made WordPress themes.
  • Access to over 60,000 free WordPress plugins.
  • Seamless creation of multilingual websites.
  • Robust SEO tools for enhanced visibility.


  • Limited customisation without coding.
  • Learning curve compared to drag-and-drop builders.
  • Ongoing responsibility for WordPress and plugin updates, along with regular website backups.
  • A lack of bespoke visuals with off-the-shelf themes.

At Scoot, our dedicated team of professional web designers and developers excels at crafting bespoke WordPress websites, tailored to your exact specifications.
While utilising the WordPress CMS, we steer clear of generic themes and off-the-shelf designs to ensure that your new site places your organisation at the forefront of every decision.

Best free website builder for small business owners: Wix

Wix stands out as one of the most versatile free website builders, catering to a diverse audience with its extensive range of features. While the free plan allows you to create a website, bear in mind that you’ll be on a subdomain with Wix displaying ads. The entry-level plan has some limitations, but you’ll find a lot of free apps to enhance your site’s functionality.

On the higher-tier plans, Wix doesn’t disappoint – you gain access to essential SEO and analytics tools, an events calendar and a logo maker. For those diving into ecommerce, additional features come into play, albeit at a slightly higher price point.

Ideal Users: Wix is an excellent choice for new small business owners, particularly those venturing into the realm of online stores. Despite the seemingly higher costs of ecommerce plans, Wix remains competitive in the market.


  • Wix’s free version includes a Wix-branded subdomain, with an option to connect your domain for £7.50 per month.
  • The Core plan, starting at £14 per month, not only provides essential features but also includes a basic ecommerce features and site analytics.
  • For those delving into online stores, the standard ecommerce plan kicks off at £20 per month.


  • Over 800 templates to choose from.
  • Supports over 180 languages.
  • Extremely beginner-friendly.
  • Offers a free version, allowing users to test the service.
  • Features the remarkably intuitive Editor X interface.
  • Abundance of widgets and templates tailored to specific businesses.
  • Strong mobile website building tools.
  • Rich web store features, including the ability to sell digital downloads.
  • Excellent uptime and customer service support.
  • Innovative AI-powered site design tools.


  • Once you build your website, you can’t switch templates if you change your mind.
  • Beneficial ecommerce capabilities are limited to the most premium plans.
  • The wide range of options may confuse beginners.
  • Third-party apps provide more advanced analytics.

Best free website builder for ecommerce websites: Shopify

Shopify stands out as a premier ecommerce website builder tool, designed specifically for businesses focused on online selling. All paid plans come equipped with built-in shopping carts and robust marketing features to facilitate online sales. While there are only nine free ecommerce templates available, those willing to invest in premium options have access to dozens, albeit at an average cost of £73 each.

Although the editor doesn’t follow a traditional drag and drop editor format, it utilises point-and-click navigation, adding a slight learning curve. However, the intuitive interface becomes second nature after spending some time with the tools.

Ideal Users: Shopify is tailored for serious ecommerce small businesses, specifically those dedicated to building online stores rather than basic websites. It serves as an ideal solution for brick-and-mortar businesses seeking to expand their reach by venturing into online sales.


  • The Basic plan is priced at £25 per month, offering essential ecommerce features.
  • Shopify can be upgraded for £65 per month, while the Advanced Shopify plan, at £344 per month, provides advanced functionalities.
  • A more budget-friendly option is the Shopify Starter plan at £5 per month, allowing you to add a buy button on any website.


  • Robust suite of sales features, perfect for scaling your business.
  • Extensive app store for additional functionalities.
  • Intuitive drag-and-drop interface.
  • In-store point-of-sale (POS) capabilities.


  • Reliance on third-party apps for some functionalities.
  • Limited customisability compared to some other platforms.
  • Moving your website away from Shopify can be challenging.
  • Higher price point for advanced plans.

Best free website builder for creatives: Squarespace

Squarespace earns its reputation as one of the premier website builders, offering a treasure trove of features tailored for creatives. This versatile platform allows you to craft online stores, blogs, portfolios, a small business website and even membership sites.

While the editor is user-friendly, mastering the location of menus and features might take a bit of time, given its unique blend of drag-and-drop and point-and-click functionalities.

Squarespace shines in its template designs in particular, which are all meticulously crafted by professional designers. Especially noteworthy is the mobile responsiveness of these templates, eliminating the need for a separate design for mobile devices.

Ideal Users: Squarespace stands out as the go-to website builder for creatives, attracting photographers, designers and other artists. Its appeal extends to those seeking an online store, especially with unique features like limited availability labels.


  • Squarespace websites start at £12 per month for personal use and £17 per month for business use.
  • Online store plans begin at £23 per month and £35 per month, offering a comprehensive and user-friendly interface to manage products, inventory, orders, coupon discounts and more.


  • Excellent built-in features and user experience.
  • Secure and robust platform.
  • Abundance of professionally designed, mobile-responsive templates.
  • Ideal for showcasing creative portfolios.
  • Boasts an ecommerce plan with a user-friendly interface for managing products and inventory.
  • Blogging tool with scheduling capabilities.
  • Free SSL certificate.
  • Unlimited storage and monthly data transfers with all plans.


  • Customisation is more limited compared to some other platforms.
  • Limited integrations with third-party services.
  • Lack of autosave for pages and posts.
  • No 24/7 live chat support available.

Best free all-in-one website builder: GoDaddy

Creating a professional website with GoDaddy’s website builder is a breeze, requiring zero technical skills. The process begins by answering a few questions about your site’s purpose, leading to a prebuilt site ready for customisation.

Alternatively, you can choose a template and effortlessly add your content using the intuitive drag-and-drop editor. While GoDaddy may not offer as many design options as some competitors, its templates are known for their clean and professional appearance.

As an all-in-one solution encompassing domain registration, web hosting and site building, GoDaddy provides features geared towards marketing and SEO.

Ideal Users: GoDaddy’s all-in-one platform for domain registration, web hosting and site building makes it suitable for users with relatively straightforward website requirements, such as informational sites, portfolios or small business websites.


  • Basic plan: £6.99 per month
  • Standard plan: £8.99 per month
  • ecommerce plan: £12.99 per month
    • (All plans are billed annually)


  • Fastest route to building a website, ideal for beginners.
  • Ability to switch templates at any time.
  • Simple and easy tool for creating professional-looking websites.
  • Integrated photo library with professional images from Getty Photography.
  • Unlimited storage and monthly data transfers.
  • Over 100 templates to choose from.
  • Excellent uptime and customer service.
  • Offers a free tier.


  • Primarily suitable for basic websites.
  • Limited set of features with fewer design options compared to some competitors.
  • Limited blogging tools.
  • ecommerce not available with all tiers.

Making the right choice

Selecting the ideal website development platform is not just a technical decision; it’s a strategic move that shapes your digital path.

This is why it is important to align your choice with your business’s unique needs and future plans for growth.

When to involve a digital agency

Creating your online presence is thrilling, but when the complexities outgrow DIY solutions, it’s time for expert assistance.

This is precisely when involving a professional digital agency like Scoot becomes a strategic decision for your success.

Signs you need professional assistance

  • Stalled progress:
    • When your project hits a roadblock, you can’t move forward or implement desired features, it might be time to seek expert guidance. A digital agency can assess your situation, identify bottlenecks and provide effective solutions to propel your project forward.
  • Customisation beyond DIY>
    • If your vision demands a level of customisation that goes beyond the capabilities of standard website builders, a digital agency can bring in the expertise to create a tailored solution. This is particularly crucial for businesses looking to stand out with unique designs, functionalities and integrations.
  • Ecommerce challenges:
    • You’ve launched your online store, but managing transactions and keeping track of inventory is becoming overwhelming. You’re losing sales due to a less-than-seamless process. A digital agency specialising in Ecommerce solutions, such as our expertise with Shopify, can step in to streamline your processes, ensuring a hassle-free shopping experience for your customers.
  • Performance optimisation:
    • If your website is frustratingly slow and visitors are clicking away, this can impact your user experience and search engine rankings. In this case, you may benefit from expert solutions such as code optimisation to improve your site’s performance.
  • Strategic growth plans:
    • Your business is growing, and your website is set to become a central hub. But if you’re unsure about how to navigate this growth online, collaborating with a digital agency can help you plan for scalability and adapt your website to meet the changing needs of your business.

Why Scoot is your perfect partner

At Scoot, our decade-long expertise in professional web development allows us to guide you through the website-building process and beyond.

With experts in development, design, marketing and project management, we bring a comprehensive skill set to the table. That makes sure your project is not just about creating a visually appealing site that looks nice, but about strategically aligning every element with the overarching goals of your business.

Ready for a website that leaves a lasting impression?

If you’re considering taking your online presence to the next level, now is the time to act.

Book a free consultation with our experts, and let’s work together to enhance your digital impact.

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