The best open source website builders in 2024

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Open source website builders

Open-source website builders

Visitors land on websites for a variety of reasons. In most cases though they are there to find out more information about a business, make a purchase or obtain contact details. Of course there are also websites that are less commercial and their purpose is often to build communities, provide videos or blogs. For B2B marketing, a professional website serves as a way to connect with clients and to show that it’s a legitimate and trustworthy business.

The significance of a well executed website to help with the growth of a business cannot be overstated. A well-structured and designed website is a valuable asset. A case in point: experienced a 35% increase in revenue simply by tweaking their homepage, as reported by Entrepreneur.

Gone are the days when website creation was limited to designers and programmers with the expertise to write complex code. Today, even individuals with basic computer skills can develop professional websites using user-friendly website builders. This shift has led web designers and developers to explore the latest website builder software, recognizing it as a useful tool.

In essence, a website builder is not just a convenience but a crucial tool. Without it, the time consuming process of coding each page and testing across multiple browsers for responsive to work across screen sizes becomes a technical challenge. For non-technical individuals, a website builder offers a more accessible and efficient solution. For experienced developers a website builder software can speed up the process considerably.

What is website builder software? 

Here are some of the essential elements of website builder software.

Website builders are like a virtual toolkit, equipped with tools, plugins, templates, and a framework that allows for the construction of websites without needing to spend time on manual code writing and editing.

With website builder software, you can effortlessly:

  • Craft new landing pages for websites
  • Tweak website menus and add pages
  • Play around with themes, templates, fonts, text, and images
  • Integrate external plugins to add in necessary extra functionality
  • Drop in posts, contact forms, videos, and blogs onto a website

The goal is to provide a platform and tools for those who aren’t fluent in programming speak. It empowers non-programmers to create their own websites without being overwhelmed by the intricacies of website programming or backend processes.

This software is tailored for the more creative people who want to build and maintain a website without having to pay for webmasters or expensive web designers. Other creative services such as photographers or interior designers may also want to build their own sites. In a nutshell, Website builder software is a very good option for non developers to be able to build their own online presence.

Some features that open source website builders offer the user

  1. Templates: Think of templates as ready-made blueprints for a web page. Templates in particular help with responsive layouts. These are designed to adapt seamlessly to changes in browser width so that a web page may fit perfectly to both desktop and mobile versions of a site. Responsive templates ensure web pages can be viewed and navigated easily. Responsive templates also adjust layouts, fonts and images for instance to screen size.
  2. Plugins: Plugins are the power-ups of a website builder. These nifty add-ons when used correctly can add a large range of functionality to the website. These could be anything from contact forms, to tools to create an online store, to SEO controls and higher security for the website. Of course plugins need to be selected with caution. Not only can plugins conflict with each other causing damage but they might also be published by bad actors resulting in malware infecting the website. When adding plugins it is a good idea to use ones that the industry recommends.
  3. Image Upload: It’s easy to upload images and icons in various formats like PNG, JPEG, SVG, and more. And it is as easy to swap out default template images and change backgrounds with page builders.
  4. Themes and colours: Themes lay the foundation for a website. Website builders come with a range of built-in themes, offering variations in layouts, colours, columns, design elements, and typography. Choose a theme that aligns with the websites requirements. Be cautious when deciding on one as a poorly coded theme can slow down a site and affect SEO scores and harm user experience.
  5. Content management: Information about products, product features, services such as support, pricing and customer feedback. In particular, text should help visitors make the decision to buy the product or service.  Good quality content not only improves the visitors’ experience but also plays a role in search engine optimization. It is important to add text that is easy to read and follow and encourages visitors to follow a call to action such making contact or purchasing a product or service.
  6. Social links: In the era of social media dominance, website builders make it easy to integrate social media links or buttons into the site. Placing these strategically – in headers, footers, or sidebars – not only boosts customer engagement but also enhances the sites visibility in search engines.
  7. Contact forms: Contact forms encourage conversations with existing or future customers. Contact forms are not only useful to gather information of a possible new client but may also give invaluable feed-back on products and services. Some website builder templates might lack built-in contact forms, but contact form plugins are readily available at reasonable fees.
  8. Embedded Vvideos: Website builder software will also assist with embedding videos without harming the download speed. Videos are great tools to reach customers with. However, one thing they shouldn’t do is to slow down a website. Using third-party video streaming services that work with website builders will create good viewing experiences. 
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Access to a software’s code

How do open source website builders fit into this picture

Open source gives users access to a software’s code. This principle involves collaboration which also tends to encourage a more community-driven development environment.

Open source is transparent, allowing users to comprehend the program’s functions thoroughly. Significant about this is the fact that any interested party may contribute code. Community involvement is actively encouraged and contributions are welcomed. However, for most users, the paramount feature is the ability to utilise, distribute, review and modify the software.

WordPress CMS is a good example of open source software. Using open source software offers numerous advantages, including heightened security, cost savings, increased flexibility, and accelerated innovation.
For those involved in web design, opting for open source software offers several benefits. Primarily, it proves to be cost-effective, especially when compared to premium page builders that can strain budgets. Additionally, the supportive and engaged community surrounding open source platforms adds significant value. This community readily offers assistance to fellow users, often at no cost, providing an invaluable resource for professional web designers and developers.

Benefits of building websites using an open source website builder

  1. Eliminating manual code: This is quicker to use and less likely to lead to coding mistakes that are costly to find. Coding happens automatically in the backend while users see direct changes on their website page.
  2. Build a website with faster speed: Good quality open source website builders enable fast production processes. Built in features such as drag and drop or copy and paste make it possible to design and develop websites at a fraction of the time.
  3. Professional designs: it is often said that websites are starting to look the same. This is not due to website builders but more to the fact that website builders allow just about anybody to develop a website. Websites built using website builders may be as well built as any sites made without an open source website builder. Or as bad! It really depends on the operator.
  4. Easily indexed by search engines: Most website builders have functionalities that assist search engines to search websites easily. Provided that web designers make use of these tools in the correct way these functionalities will help pages rank over time.
  5. Mobile optimisation: A majority of website visitors access sites via their mobile phones. Regrettably this is still not understood by web designers who half heartedly check responsiveness of pages. Having a mobile-optimised website is essential to capture all visitors’ attention. Page builders can assist with this task.
  6. Real-time update: Users prefer a responsive and dynamic website that updates its content at regular intervals. With the website builder software, owners of the website are able to update content anytime as required. It is not necessary to employ a website designer or wait for webmasters to update a website.
  7. Reduced cost: Web design fees are often based on time used to complete a website. Designers who use website builders can develop a website in far quicker time than coding all pages individually. This is not only beneficial to allow clients to have a website completed in quick time but also leads to cost savings.
  8. Capitalise on the best business practices: The pre-existing templates on website builders are designed by professional website builders. Best business practices and current trends are incorporated while designing them. This makes it easy for web designers to easily stay on trend.
  9. Make site updates from anywhere: Website builders are useful when changes need to be made especially those that are urgently required. These changes may be made from wherever the designer is. Even while on vacation!
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Here is a list of 5 best open source website builders

Website builders are useful when changes need to be made especially those that are urgently required. These changes may be made from wherever the designer is. Even while on vacation!

Here is a list of 5 best open source website builders

This list is fully open to discussion. Perhaps only WordPress could be considered the undisputed leader having a market share of 43% of the current active websites. 

1 WordPress: The leader of open-source website builders

The leader in the open source website builders environment is WordPress. It is by far the market leader with a staggering 64% share and an overall share, that is not only within the website builder industry, of 43% of all active websites. This can be attributed to its first in market position having recently celebrated its 20 year anniversary, its user-friendly interface, vast array of themes and plugins, and extensive community support. Adding to the popularity is it’s free to use price tag! 

WordPress’s block type architecture allows users to create websites of virtually any type, from simple blogs to complex e-commerce platforms. Its extensive plugin ecosystem provides an abundance of add-ons for enhancing functionality, from social media integration to payment gateways. It suits small to large sites. Well known organisations such as NASA and The White House run their websites on WordPress.

WordPress’s drag and drop interface makes building websites fairly easy, even for those with limited coding knowledge. Its visual editing tools allow for easy customisation of page layouts and content placement.

WordPress offers unparalleled support for its users due to its global community. Online forums, a recently established learning platform, extensive documentation, WordCamps for knowledge sharing and WordPress meet-ups and readily available plugins ensure that users can easily troubleshoot issues and find solutions.

Developer ecosystem
An active community of developers

2 Drupal: Open source website builder for enterprise websites

Drupal stands out as a solid and scalable open source website builder, suitable for large organisations as well as educational institutions.  Its component-based structure and extensive API support assists developers with creating highly customised websites. The API makes integration with third-party services and tools easy.

Drupal prioritises security and supports the set up with regular patching of vulnerabilities. It has a very secure user authentication system and the content management permissions to safeguard sensitive data and maintain site integrity are sophisticated.

.An active community of developers aids its continuous improvement and innovation efforts. Regular updates, bug fixes, and new features ensure that Drupal remains relevant in the web development environment.

3 Joomla: Suitable for complex websites

Joomla excels in helping web developers build complex websites, from e-commerce platforms and social networks to business portals and content management systems. The excellent framework and user friendly interface make it a versatile tool for developers and non technical users alike.

With over 8,000 extensions, Joomla offers a huge selection of add-ons to add to website functionality. From social media integration to payment gateways, there’s an extension for virtually any need.

Joomla has an easy to use interface. Developers can personalise their dashboards. Page layouts may be customised. Developers may even create their own extensions.

Joomla has a thriving community of developers who contribute to its ongoing development and provide support to users. Joomla provides regular updates. This helps with fixing bugs. New features ensure that Joomla remains up to date and secure.

How to install a WordPress theme
A free website builder for skilled developers

4 Symfony: For complex web applications

Symfony is a free website builder for skilled developers seeking a tool with which to create well constructed and scalable web applications. The structure is similar to working with building blocks.

The modular design allows developers to use only what they need, avoiding unnecessary code and boosting performance. A vast library of reusable components speeds up development and reduces unnecessary code.

The advanced routing system simplifies URL management and supports complex application architectures. Tools for managing dependencies automate the use of third-party libraries.

Symfony’s testing tools provide a strong foundation for unit, integration, and functional testing. This ensures that developed applications are of high quality and reliability

5 GrapesJS: Page builder for javaScript developers

The website builder is lightweight, making it ideal for developing websites. The JavaScript approach allows for easy integration with existing libraries and frameworks. Developers are able to create unique and interactive user interfaces.

GrapesJS’s component-based structure allows developers to create reusable and modular elements, simplifying code maintenance and improving workflow speed.

GrapesJS provides granular styling options for fine-tuning the look and feel of web pages. Developers can target specific elements and apply CSS rules with precision.

GrapesJS has an Intuitive API and Developer Tools, which are like special tools for computer developers. Developers can create and manage websites. GrapesJS allows developers to build websites in a way that feels natural and easy to understand.

Top open source website builders to create your own website
Web designers love open source

Are open source website builders a solution for web designers?

While some web developers and designers may have strong reservations about website builders, blaming them for the perceived sameness in website designs, it’s important to recognize their contribution to user experiences. The standardised layouts used by website builders provide a familiar structure, enabling visitors to navigate websites with ease. Additionally, these tools help new designers create stable and responsive websites, minimising issues such as broken links and inconsistent page layouts across devices.

Useful review of the best open source website builders in 2024 with a description of open source and page builders. Learn more here 💥