When I first decided to learn to code, I had no idea where to start. I was an art enthusiast with a dream: to create a digital art gallery that could showcase artists from around the world. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I was determined to make it happen.

I started with the basics: HTML and CSS. I spent countless hours on online platforms like Codecademy and freeCodeCamp, going through tutorials and exercises. I remember the thrill of seeing my first “Hello, World!” displayed on the screen. It was a small step, but it was the beginning of my journey.

As I became more comfortable with HTML and CSS, I started exploring JavaScript. This was a whole new world for me. I was no longer just styling and structuring web pages; I was making them interactive. It was challenging, but also incredibly exciting.

Then came the time to start working on my art gallery website. I knew it wouldn’t be a simple task. I wanted to create a dynamic gallery, where artists could upload their work, and visitors could browse, search, and even purchase art.

I started with the layout, using HTML and CSS to create a clean and aesthetically pleasing design. I wanted the art to be the focus, so I kept the design minimalistic.

Next, I tackled the gallery functionality. I used JavaScript to create a dynamic grid of artwork. Each piece of art was an object with properties like title, artist, and price. I learned how to use APIs and databases to store and retrieve this information.

The most challenging part was implementing the search functionality. I wanted users to be able to search for art based on different criteria, like artist name or art style. This required a deeper understanding of JavaScript and databases. There were times when I felt overwhelmed, but I kept going, constantly learning and improving my code.

Finally, I added a feature for artists to upload their work. This was a complex task that involved understanding file uploads, server-side scripting, and database management. It was a steep learning curve, but with every problem I solved, I became a better coder.

Looking back, learning to code from scratch was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. But it was also one of the most rewarding. Not only did I create a complex art gallery website, but I also gained a valuable skill set and a new passion for coding.

Today, my digital art gallery is live, showcasing beautiful artwork from talented artists worldwide. It’s a testament to what you can achieve with determination, hard work, and a love for learning.

Just kidding! That’s all BS…

The truth is, every year or two there are better, newer website solutions. That broken gallery I made 2 decades ago in html and css has long bit the dust. Must of my WordPress sites are barely functional and losing traffic. That’s because, the competition is always using the best, and you should be too!

How to choose a website builder

Here’s the skinny: website builders or creators allow you to make what you want, in a visual medium or drag and drop format you can actually see. This allows regular people without coding skills to set up a site they like, without using a web designer as a fancy and expensive mouse.

BUT a lot of pagebuilders are also slow and buggy, which will slow down your site. It’s a balance. But on a budget, for a small project, a good pagebuilder makes sense.

*Especially if* it will also boost sales and conversion, which is crucial for a fledgling small business. As an example, I’m not great at selling stuff online. So I’ve experimented with custom, “fun” and creative sites that I feel fit my brand, and very simple, standard sites that are built for digital marketing.

I’ve uses elementor or WP bakery page builders inside of WordPress; and I’ve use clickfunnels or thrive themes or even optinmonster for popups: because they have templates and even sales copy I can just use, without trying to get fancy. These solutions give me better results (more optins=more business) so they are worth it to me, even though I don’t have total creative control.

But now things are changing again in a big way, thanks to new AI content generation and even full, instant AI websites, so I’m including a few surprises in this list:

Best General Website Builders

The world of tech is always on the move, and the tools we use to carve out our little corners of the internet are no exception. Fast forward to 2023, and there’s a whole host of website builders and creators at your disposal to help you make your mark online. These handy tools are designed to meet a range of needs, whether you’re looking to whip up a straightforward landing page or a full-blown e-commerce site. Let’s dive into some of the top picks across different categories.

  1. Wix: Known for its ease of use and flexibility, Wix remains a top choice for many. It offers a drag-and-drop interface and a wide range of templates.
  2. Weebly: Weebly is praised for its user-friendly interface and robust eCommerce platform, making it a popular choice for online stores.
  3. Squarespace: Squarespace is renowned for its sleek, professional templates that are perfect for creatives and small businesses.
  4. GoDaddy: GoDaddy’s website builder is a great option for service providers, with features tailored to online booking and appointments.
  • Personally, I don’t recommend any of these because they can be hard to move or transfer later.

WordPress Page Builders

  1. Elementor: Elementor is a powerful WordPress page builder that offers a live editing experience and a vast library of pre-designed templates.
  2. Beaver Builder: Beaver Builder is a flexible drag and drop page builder that works on the front end of your WordPress website.
  3. Divi: Divi, by Elegant Themes, is a popular choice due to its advanced visual builder technology.
  4. Thrive Architect: Thrive Architect is designed with a focus on conversion, making it ideal for business and eCommerce websites.
  5. OptimizePress: OptimizePress is a WordPress plugin that allows you to create sales pages, landing pages, and membership portals. It’s a great tool for businesses that want to create high-converting landing pages and sales funnels in WordPress.
  6. WPBakery: WPBakery Page Builder (formerly known as Visual Composer) is one of the most popular drag-and-drop page builders for WordPress. It offers both front-end and back-end editing, allowing you to design your site in real-time while also having the option to switch to the back-end for more detailed work. It comes with over 50 premium content elements and 200+ unique addons, making it a versatile tool for building your website.
  • of these, Divi is pretty great, but right now OptimizePress is my favorite, they just got a major update and I think it’s the easiest and best wordpress page builder.

Keep in mind: WordPress is a content management system, and you can just get any theme and it’ll work great. Each theme has a style – and sometimes some different options – for how your pages and posts look. But that’s basically it, pages and posts. The new WordPress by itself has been shifting towards pagebuilding for some time, and now has these “block” type of content so you can pretty much build the pages you want straight into WordPress. But it’s a big buggy.

These pagebuilding tools are not themes, (usually) which means, you can use them to just put one important page on your site, or build your main menu items (about, order, contact, etc) – make those main pages look great with a pagebuilder, and then use any blog theme that kind of matches, with the same colors, fonts and logo.

Sales Funnel Website Builders

A Sales Funnel builder is basically a landing page builder that keeps track of several steps; so you can have people sign up to an optin or a tripwire offer, then get taken to a matching checkout, upsell, book a consultation or anything else. You could just set this up yourself and link the pages, but a good pagebuilder probably includes a lot of extra features that make it more useful. I mostly use pagebuilders, or optin popup plugins like optinmonster, for email list collection landing pages; but I might also use them for a course launch or sales page, because you want a great looking conversion optimized sales page and not just a regular, lacklustre wordpress theme page (although – lots of wordpress themes come pre-built with some well designed home landing pages too).

  1. ClickFunnels: ClickFunnels is a popular tool for creating high-converting sales funnels. It offers a range of pre-built sales funnels, and it’s particularly well-suited to entrepreneurs and small businesses that want to sell products and services online. With ClickFunnels, you can create landing pages, set up email responders, manage your sales process, and even host webinars.
  2. Kartra: Kartra is an all-in-one platform that includes a website and landing page builder, email marketing, automation, a sales funnel builder, and more. It’s known for its comprehensive feature set that allows you to manage nearly every aspect of your online business in one place.
  3. Leadpages: Leadpages is a popular tool for creating high-converting landing pages and sales funnels. It offers a range of templates and allows for easy integration with email marketing services. It’s a great choice for businesses that want to generate leads and convert them into customers.
  4. Unbounce: Unbounce is a platform that focuses on improving your marketing conversion rates. It offers a drag-and-drop builder that lets you create and test high-converting landing pages, popups, and sticky bars. Unbounce is particularly popular for its A/B testing features, which allow you to test different versions of your pages to see which performs better.
  5. ConvertKit: ConvertKit is an email marketing platform designed specifically for creators like bloggers, authors, and marketers. It allows you to create and send out email broadcasts, organize your subscribers, and automate your email marketing with sequences and funnels. ConvertKit also offers landing page templates, making it a comprehensive tool for managing your online presence.
  6. MailerLite: MailerLite is another excellent email marketing tool that’s known for its simplicity and ease of use. It offers a range of features, including email automation, landing pages, and a drag-and-drop email editor. MailerLite is a great choice for small businesses or anyone new to email marketing, as it offers a free plan for up to 1,000 subscribers.

I use Mailerlite for emails, after switching from Mailchimp because when your list is always above 100K it can get too expensive. But most email services these days also have some kind of page builder, so I can create optin landing pages straight into my mailerlite, and it’s cleaner than using some pagebuilder theme or plugin and connecting it with my email provider.

AI Website Builders

This is a new thing, and I’ve seen a lot of tools pop up where you basically say what you need, the niche of business and style or colors you want, and it just puts it all together for you. It’s early days still, but why not let the robots do the hard work of setting up a simple site that you can customize later?

  1. Wix ADI: Wix’s Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) offers an AI-driven design process, creating personalized websites based on user responses to a few simple questions.
  2. 10Web: 10Web offers an AI website builder specifically designed for WordPress, allowing users to recreate websites by simply entering their URL.
  3. Duda: Duda provides an AI-driven platform that streamlines website building and offers personalized experiences for visitors.
  4. Jimdo: Jimdo uses AI to create fully personalized websites in just three minutes, making it one of the fastest website builders available.

These are just a few of tools available for building websites in 2023. The best choice will depend on your specific needs, budget, and technical expertise. Whether you’re a small business owner, a blogger, or an eCommerce entrepreneur, there’s a website builder out there that’s perfect for you. It’s always a good idea to try a few different options to see which one you find the most intuitive and powerful for your needs.