Using a website builder is quickly becoming the premier way to get online today. With a slew of features and an easy-to-use design interface, website builders can ensure you have a beautiful website without too much design knowledge.
That comes at the cost of speeds and uptime though. Unlike a traditional web host, website builders often share infrastructure with other companies or are run on subpar servers. Your site will look great, but the performance may not all be there.
In this guide to the best website builders and hosting combos, we’re aiming to get you the best of both worlds. These hosting platforms will grant you excellent speeds and uptime while still providing an easy-to-use tool for building your platform.
If you’re just starting out, though, the terms probably don’t mean much, so let’s start at the top with understanding what the difference between the two is.
Best Website Builders and Hosting Combos 2018
Website Builders vs Web Hosting: What’s the Difference?
If you’re new to the entire world of putting up your own website, the distinction between web hosting and a website builder can be quite difficult. The two are separate services, each a critical part of building any website. While some companies bundle them together, they still remain separate.
Let’s start with web hosting. Web hosting takes your website and stores it on a server, allowing anyone around the world to access it. It’s a home for your website. You handle all the data of your website and the web host will handle sending that data out to the users that want to access it.
A website builder, on the other hand, is in your court. This is the tool used to build a website. It can handle the design, overall layout, content and more of your site. While a builder can be anything from basic HTML to WordPress (check out some of our WordPress guides) we’re going to focus on easy-to-use WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors that allow you to build your website quickly.
In short, a website builder is the tool you use to construct your website and web hosting is the home where your website lives. The two need to coexist, which leads to some of the unnecessary confusion surrounding the them.
Whenever you purchase a subscription with a website builder, you’re buying web hosting as well. Unfortunately, that doesn’t go the other way. Just because you’re buying web hosting doesn’t mean you’re getting a website builder.
This guide is focused on companies that offer both, so don’t get too confused when you go to checkout. You’re looking to pick up a website builder plan, not a web hosting plan. The two similar terms are often mixed up, so just remember that it goes one way (being website builders including web hosting) but not the other.
Choosing a Website Builder and Hosting Combo
There are a few reasons to choose a website builder and hosting combo over a traditional builder such as Wix (read our Wix review). Dedicated web hosts who provide a builder often have their own data centers whereas standalone builders take advantage of cloud-hosting services like Amazon Web Services (AWS).
With dedicated server space, web hosting and builder combos usually come with far more resources, faster speeds and better uptime. This is the first place we looked when picking candidates for this list.
That said, there are a few dedicated builders that provide fast enough speeds to tango with the combo packages, so we didn’t completely count those out either.
Often times, a packages of hosting with a builder feels a bit bland as the builder functions as a tacked-on addition to the hosting service. We’ve seen this with 1&1 (read our 1&1 Website Builder review) and GoCentral (read our GoDaddy GoCentral review). The builders here feel like fully functional tools, not just a neat toy to fuss around with.
Last off, we looked at price. That isn’t to say every option on this list is cheap, because that’s not the case, but rather that no service is egregiously overpriced. The delta between iPage and SquareSpace (two providers we’ll mention in this guide) is quite large, but both make perfect sense at their respective price points.
Best Website Builder and Hosting Combo: HostGator
HostGator ranks as our best web hosting provider and for good reason. Speeds are zippy, ease of use is excellent and the support options are plentiful. On top of that, HostGator also provides a fairly competent website builder for free with any shared hosting plan.
The included builder is limited to six pages but still comes with hundreds of themes, SEO tools and pre-built sections. Upgrading to a more expensive website builder plan yields a larger page count as well as integration with Google Analytics and ecommerce tools.
HostGator’s Pro website builder plan is what we’d recommend as it gives you an unlimited number of pages, PayPal integration and revision history for under $20 per month.
Business plans add tools for ecommerce such as inventory management and payment processing, but it’s a bit much considering the near-$30 price tag.
Other Reasons We Like HostGator
HostGator is close to one of the best website builders, but doesn’t quite make the cut. Where the service really shines is in speeds and uptime. We observed a 45.3ms response in the U.S. during our HostGator review, a solid middle-ground number that shouldn’t add too much bulk when a user pulls your site up.
On top of that, HostGator boasts a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee. This is usually just a marketing ploy and there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t trust your web host’s uptime guarantee. However, HostGator actually follows through, compensating you a whole month for anytime below the threshold.
Make sure you sign up for HostGator and try it out yourself, though. It has a 45-day money-back guarantee so you can start building without risk of losing any cash.
- Fast & reliable
- cPanel built-in
- Page limit on lower end plans
iPage is our first choice when looking at the best cheap web hosting. You can get web hosting, six pages of the website builder and cPanel integration for only a couple bucks per month. With it, you get over 100 pre-made themes that are optimized for mobile browsing as well.
Every web hosting plan comes stock with six pages of the website builder as well as PayPal integration and pre-built sections. However, for only a few dollars more, the Professional plan makes far more sense. The page count is lifted and you get HD video support and integrated site statistics.
Much like HostGator, the Business plan at the top of the curve rounds out the feature list with ecommerce tools. Here it makes far more sense, though, costing under $20 per month for three years. A monthly plan will run up the price a few dollars but that’s still less than HostGator’s rate.
Other Reasons We Like iPage
What we like most about iPage is the price. It’s low enough that anyone can jump in and build a site. While the six-page limitation is something to consider, most sites can get by with the restriction as pages can be built out as long as you need them.
iPage is quite fast as well. During our iPage review, we noted a 43ms response time in the states and 145.9ms abroad. The U.S. side of things is lower than average, but the international response comes in 45ms faster than another cheap provider, GreenGeeks (read our GreenGeeks review).
With that, you still get some extra goodies in the form of SiteLock security for your website and $200 in ad credits spread across Google and Bing. Make sure to try out iPage yourself with a 30-day money back guarantee.
- Page limit on cheap plans
Weebly doesn’t offer web hosting on its own, just as an inclusion with the builder. However, the builder itself is too good not to include in this list. You have a host of mobile-optimized themes at your fingertips that are some of the best looking in the website builder space.
You’re going to spend more over a cheap website builder like iPage, but the all-in approach pays off in features. Even lower-end plans come with SSL security, password protection and video-background support. Weebly even includes a library of stock photos and video so you don’t need to venture too far to find something that works with your site.
The $25 business plan at the top of the line includes some ecommerce features like inventory management and support for digital goods. For a few products, the system works well, but we’d recommend a dedicated ecommerce builder such as Shopify for anything more intensive.
Other Reasons We Like Weebly
Our biggest draw to Weebly is its ease of use. The interface provides a true drag-and-drop experience with a side toolbar holding all of the building blocks. Every change you make is an interaction directly with the webpage, making this an ideal builder for newbies.
Should you have any questions, Weebly has some of the better support we’ve seen from any website builder. It supports live chat, email and phone support (most website builders only support email) and comes with a community forum.
- Robust builder
- Excellent support
- No separate hosting
Much like iPage, Hostinger is an extremely inexpensive and easy-to-use web host with a fairly powerful builder. All plans come stock with the builder with no restrictions on page limits or features. No matter what price you’re paying, you’ll get the full Hostinger experience.
There are three plans available, but only the top two make much sense. The lowest plan, coined “single web hosting,” doesn’t offer much, with only single domain support and 10GB of disk space. At only $1 more per month, premium hosting brings with it unlimited storage on SSD drives and a free domain.
That’s really the sweet spot for Hostinger. At nearly double the price, business hosting brings twice the number of resources and a free SSL certificate, but without any ecommerce features in sight, this plan doesn’t trade blows well with the top end of other providers.
Other Reasons We Like Hostinger
Hostinger is so accessible and that’s why we wanted to include it on this list. It doesn’t use cPanel, but rather has its own native interface for controlling your website that lays out only the essential features.
In the builder itself, there is quite a bit to like as well. Hostinger has a slew of designer themes to choose from when building your site. While they don’t hit the mark set by Weebly, they’re far from bad. Each theme is mobile optimized and written with clean code so SEO shouldn’t be a problem.
That said, Hostinger isn’t the most feature-rich provider. We recommend it for anyone who wants to put up a site quickly and isn’t interested in learning about what goes into making it function. You can read our Hostinger review to learn more or try it out yourself with a 30-day money back guarantee.
- Easy to use
- Not many features
- No cPanel
Like Weebly, SquareSpace is another website builder that doesn’t offer hosting separate from its designer. It’s difficult, however, to find another website builder on the market that has such a firm grasp of modern website design and the practical tools needed to achieve it.
That comes at quite a cost, though. SquareSpace is among the more expensive options in the website builder space. The $12 personal plan will get you online, but the $18 business plan will help you when you get there. Features like promotional pop-ups, premium blocks and ecommerce integration are included among the bunch.
Dedicated ecommerce outlets, however, will fare far better with an online store. These plans get quite expensive, reaching up into the $30-plus range. However, you gain access to premium features like user signup and gift cards that few other website builders can contend with.
Other Reasons We Like SquareSpace
Creatives are best suited with SquareSpace, and we’ve found that few other website builders are capable of showcasing work quite like SquareSpace is. The sprawling layouts are something that’s been emulated many times over, but getting the design directly from the source pays off with a more organic feeling website.
It’s not just glitz and glamour, though. SquareSpace is a closed system, but one that’s packed with features. Progressive image loading, Dropbox syncing and Amazon Associate integration are among the offerings found in the feature index. While an app center is always a welcome addition, it’s not hard to forget about one with how much SquareSpace offers.
There is far more to this service so make sure you check out our SquareSpace review to learn all of the details. For a more hands-on approach, you can try out the builder yourself for free for 14 days.
- Excellent theme selection
- Easy to use
- Closed system
There are pros and cons to going with a website builder over web hosting with a CMS like WordPress. The combo between the two, however, provides the best of both worlds, with easy-to-use site creation tools and great speeds and uptime as well.
Make sure to read up on our website builder reviews to find a match if nothing fits your needs here. Alternatively, you can check out our web hosting reviews if you want a more in-depth approach to building your website.
What’s your favorite hosting and builder combo? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.