Website design software

Web design on the screen

A website is critical for every business. Gone are the days of needing to know how to code. Today, there is a huge range of website design software that make it easy to build, manage and maintain a professional-looking website.

From simple apps that remove the requirement for any web coding knowledge or design expertise, to advanced software that require the skills and support of a developer skills, we will help you find a tool that suits your business and skill set.

When evaluating web design software, it's vital that you think about your needs both now and in the future. It's also important to choose software that is capable of creating 'responsive' websites that work well mobile devices.

Thankfully, you can find web design platforms with thousands of design templates which adapt automatically to different screen sizes.

The result is a pro website that works across all platforms.


Simple website design software

Simple web design software enables you to create a website in minutes. On-line web builders use templates or visual builders that use blocks. They enable everyone to create attractive sites without needing how to write the complex HTML code that sits behind web pages.

There are two main types of simple web design software:

  • Template-based website builders - These use pre-designed and pre-coded website templates to which you can add your own content. Template-based web design software often forces you to stick to a fairly rigid design but can be a good way to create a reliable website with little or no technical knowledge.
  • Visual composers (also known as 'What you see is what you get' editors) - Visual composers are website design software that makes editing web pages just like editing other documents. You can drag and drop blocks to build up your website pages. Modern WYSIWYG editors are incredibly powerful and swap HTML code for an approachable user interface with which most people will be instantly familiar.

So, which is better? It depends. Building a website using a template is fast and efficient. The templates are designed to work well and can be set up in seconds. The downside is that templates may limit your creativity, and you could end up with a website that looks like all the rest. One huge benefit is that many website builders enable you to buy a domain name and they provide the hosting and ongoing support you need to manage your website in one monthly cost.

Visual composers are becoming more common and can be found in web platforms such as Wordpress. Examples include Visual Composer, Beaver Builder, and SeedProd. They're surprisingly flexible and because you don't have to mess with the underlying code, you can be sure of pages that work properly. Visual composers give you greater opportunity to custom build your site, but you’ll need to consider the user experience while building them.

Both template-based and visual composers are web-based, which means you do all web page editing directly within a web browser. This means there's no need to spend extra on web hosting or work out how to upload your site; packages usually include everything you need.

Website builders start from as little as £4.50 a month. Popular tools include Wix, Squarespace, Shopify and Pixpa.

Most web hosting companies also offer their own site builder tools. Search online and you can find several free web design tools that you can use to build and develop your website, including Wordpress.

Five popular web design packages

Here are five popular and effective web builder packages. These all offer you the chance to build a site for free. While there are limitations on templates and control, you can create a website and test it before subscribing.

Wix – best start-up website builder

Wix is an all-in-one solution for SMEs. You can access a library of thousands of templates that you can edit and adjust to suite your business. Hosting, maintenance and even an email address are all included in the single monthly payment. There are limitations on how much you can adapt each template, but it’s a superb-starter package.

Squarespace – Stylish web builder

Squarespace is the best got bloggers and businesses with style. Squarespace uses a simple visual builder and template library to enable you to create attractive and appealing sites quickly. Squarespace sites are great for lifestyle businesses and those with access to strong images.

GoDaddy – Cheap and cheerful

GoDaddy is one of the world’s biggest web platforms, and offers customers the opportunity to build and host a site for less than £50 – including an all-important SSL certificate. Like Squarespace and Wix, customers can select designs from a library of templates. The more you spend, the greater the functionality you can access and integrations (with social media platforms) you can add.

Shopify – Ideal for ecommerce

Ecommerce sites are complicated for several reasons, but Shopify makes it as simple as possible. Through Shopify you can build your own shop, store, or service page and include payment buttons as standard. It’s an ideal solution for start-ups and SMEs that need to process payments through their sites. If you are not confident about your design or development skills, you can always bring in expert help with your Shopify development.

IONOS – Built for growth

IONOS is a website builder that enables you to scale as you grow. Entry-level packages include access to templates and images, as well as hosting and an SSL. As your business grows you can bolt-on additional services, including cloud services. It’s a great solution for fast-growing businesses that want to scale without the initial expense.

Web design software for experts

Websites built from templates or created using visual composers are suitable for start-ups and most small businesses. As you grow, you may want to build a bespoke website. This can enable you to add the functionality you want, or your customers need. As well as control of functionality, you have complete design freedom.

Website coders will need experience in one (or more) programming languages, including HTML, CSS, or JavaScript. Each developer will have a preference, so it’s important you work with a developer (or team of developers) that can create a site that works for you.

Popular website design software they may use includes Wordpress, Adobe Dreamweaver, and Bluefish.

Most business will use an external designer and developer to create the site, with in-house resource used to manage and maintain it. Even experienced web developers can run into tricky technical issues, so if you’re building a bespoke site always ensure you have adequate technical support in place to keep it online and updated.

It’s particularly important that updates to software and plugins are performed regularly to keep your website secure.

Other ways to create your website

Your choice of web design and hosting software will largely depend on the web design expertise within your business. If you want to design a site from scratch on your own, a template builder such as Wix, is ideal. If you have some technical support, visual builders enable you to build a site with a stronger visual identity.

Building a bespoke website is a specialist skill and in many cases is best done by an external web design agency working with your in-house team. Together, they can create a custom-designed site from scratch, with a hosting, management, and maintenance plan in place.

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