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Web design software: the 13 best tools to build great websites fast

Web design software can help you build a next-level website—but with so many different options, it’s hard to know where to start or which features to prioritize. 

Last updated

7 Jun 2022
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We’ve created a list of the best web design software out there to help you identify which tools align with your site's vision and will produce a design that delights your users.

Supercharge your web design software with Hotjar

Hotjar integrates with popular web design tools for valuable product experience insights

13 excellent design tools to create user-centric sites

Design software streamlines the process of creating and managing a successful site. But how do businesses find the right tools to build a site that helps them achieve their unique business and user goals? This list covers the best tools for each phase of web design to help guide your decision-making process and master customer delight

We’ll look at: 

  1. Research tools 

  2. Prototyping and wireframe tools 

  3. Website creation and design tools 

  4. Testing tools 

3 excellent tools for research

Choose a great research tool to understand your customers' problems and pain points so you can design your site around their needs.

1. Google Trends 

Google Trends is an easy-to-use tool that gives you a high-level understanding of search trends—helping you understand what your target users are looking for so you can design your website to meet their specific needs and search intents. 

The data Google Trends provides about keyword trends and search volume tells you what information users are searching for and what matters most to them.

You can also use Google Trends to search in specific locations, so you can cater to user needs regardless of where they are. 

#Screenshot of Google Trends 
Source: Google Trends
Screenshot of Google Trends Source: Google Trends

Pros  

  • Helpful comparison charts 

  • Easy to hop between keywords to explore related terms

  • Displays trends across different regions

  • Displays product and category seasonality

Cons 

  • Doesn’t show the exact search volume, but a range 

  • Only 5 keywords allowed in their comparison charts

  • Related keywords are somewhat limited

Price: Free

2. Hotjar 

Hotjar provides website and product teams, UX designers, marketers, digital researchers, and more with direct, valuable information about how users engage with their website to facilitate a better online experience.

Observe tools like Session Recordings and Heatmaps show you how users are behaving and where they’re getting stuck. Hotjar’s Ask tools, such as Surveys and Feedback widgets, let you collect insights from users ‘in the wild’ as they’re browsing your site or test site. 

First, gather direct user feedback to understand your users’ wants and needs, and what’s blocking them in your current design so you can quickly spot issues. Then, put user feedback into action to make high-impact design decisions for improved UX and conversion rate optimization.

#Hotjar's non-intrusive Feedback widget allows users to give their opinions of your product while they're using it.
Hotjar's non-intrusive Feedback widget allows users to give their opinions of your product while they're using it.

Pros 

  • A flexible tool that can be used throughout the web design process, for user research, pre-launch testing, and general website monitoring

  • Survey users for an in-depth account of their experience

  • Recordings and heatmaps that help you optimize CTA placement and maximize conversions

  • Optimize site navigation by observing how users click, scroll, and u-turn 

Cons 

Price 

  • Observe product: free with options to upgrade

    • Plus at $47/month

    • Business at $63/month

  • Ask product: free with options to upgrade

    • Plus at $59/month

    • Business at $79/month

3. SEMrush 

This SEO competitor analysis tool locates potential competitors, keywords, and popular marketing strategies to help you discover what’s out there, whether there are any gaps where you could better serve users, and make sure they can find your site.

SEMrush lets you monitor business growth and enhance advertisement campaigns, so you can understand who you’re reaching and what design and messaging are most effective

They also offer over 50 online visibility tools, products, and add-ons, and integrate seamlessly with Google.

#Screenshot of Google Trends 
Source: Google Trends
Screenshot of Google Trends Source: Google Trends

Pros 

  • Great visuals for keyword position tracking 

  • Intuitive page grader feature

  • Creates simplified reports 

Cons  

  • Keywords position tracking can be expensive

  • Keyword data can be slow to update 

  • Significant learning curve 

Price 

  • Starts free with upgrades available:

    • Pro at $119.95/month

    • Guru at $229.95/month

    • Business at $449.95/month 

3 excellent prototyping tools

Use prototyping tools to communicate your layout ideas, planned design, and desired user flows to key stakeholders. Then, use their feedback to improve your web design and UX.

1. Figma 

Figma is a highly versatile prototyping tool that helps you turn static design files into an interactive user experience.

It’s an all-in-one platform that lets you move between a design file and live prototype. Your design edits will appear instantly in prototype form, ready to be shared and viewed online. 

#Use Figma to create prototypes for logos, websites, and web apps based on your business and user needs. 
Source: Figma
Use Figma to create prototypes for logos, websites, and web apps based on your business and user needs.  Source: Figma

Pros 

  • Intuitive to use—simply connect UI elements and choose interactions and animations

  • Advanced transitions with Smart Animate

  • Interactive, multi-layered overlays

  • Animated GIF elements can represent motion designs, video elements, and subtle animations

  • Promotes collaboration with prototype comments that carry over into design files—so nothing gets lost

Cons 

  • Long loading times

  • Lack of tutorials 

  • Needs more streamlined options for exporting to PDF

Price 

  • Starts free with options to upgrade: 

    • Professional at $12 per editor/month

    • Organization at $45 per editor/month

2. Adobe XD 

Adobe XD is a prototyping tool that helps teams create wireframes and screen designs. Use it to craft and explore the best layout that will help you achieve your business goals and satisfy user needs.

This software is part of a complete suite of tools that helps in every stage of the web design process, so you can use Adobe to design your entire site. 

Adobe XD’s seamless collaboration features really stand out: easily send prototypes to clients or team members and quickly gather their feedback so you can move forward in the web design process faster. 

Pros 

  • Cloud sharing

  • Prototype testing features to optimize transitions

  • Makes management of multiple artboards easy 

  • Users can easily apply a range of basic animation and transition effects

  • Integrates well with the rest of Adobe Creative Suite 

Cons  

  • Difficult to collaborate with multiple users in real-time 

  • Needs more plug-in and reusable coding options 

Price 

  • Starts at $9.99/month

  • Upgrade to All Apps at $54.99/month 

3. Sketch

Sketch is a design tool for prototyping and wireframe design that simplifies the process of creating high-fidelity mockups. 

Their software has an intuitive interface and comes with a wide variety of extensions and plugins—so you can integrate Sketch straight into your existing workflow.

Sketch is also very accessible, so designers of all expertise levels can create beautiful, comprehensive designs quickly.

#Screenshot of Sketch website prototyping tools 
Source: Sketch
Screenshot of Sketch website prototyping tools Source: Sketch

Pros  

  • Excellent for rapid prototyping

  • Integrates with client-ready presentation tools

  • Supports over 1,000 plugins 

  • Compatible with an external library 

  • Cloud-based storage 

  • Auto-saves your work

Cons 

  • Not ideal for more complex design 

  • Little support for movement or animation 

  • Only available for Mac 

Price  

  • Starts at $9 per editor/month with options to upgrade

5 excellent web design and creation tools

Try these web design and creation tools to simplify the process of bringing your site idea to life—and avoid making common mistakes to create a product that delights customers. 

1. Wix

Wix is an affordable, easy-to-use web design software that lets users create all kinds of websites, from ecommerce stores to agency websites. 

Their platform has powerful design tools and customization options, with 500+ adaptable templates to choose from. Other features include animations, image editing, social media buttons, and more. 

Wix also has tons of built-in integrations, so you can connect with all your favorite apps like Mailchimp, Zapier, Typeform, and Airtable.

With Wix Analytics Behavior Reports, you can even discover how each of your web pages is performing by reviewing metrics like page views, bounce rates, site searches, and conversion rates.

#Screenshot of Wix website editor
Source: Wix
Screenshot of Wix website editor Source: Wix

Pros

  • Multi-channel selling 

  • Wix editor shows you how your edits impact your storefront 

  • Built-in analytics

  • Closed source code that increases security 

  • Advanced ecommerce tools, including abandoned cart recovery

Cons 

  • Features are limited due to its closed source code structure 

Price  

  • Free, ad-sponsored plan 

  • Paid plans start at $14 per month 

2. WordPress 

WordPress is the most popular web design software on the market, largely because of its flexibility.

It’s an open-source platform, meaning you can alter your site’s code and connect an unlimited amount of tools. You can also add plugins like WooCommerce to bolster your site’s ecommerce capabilities

WordPress has thousands of free and paid website design themes to choose from, so you’ll be sure to find an option that aligns with your site concept. It's best for web developers who know how to code or bigger ecommerce operations looking to scale. 

#Screenshot of WordPress website editor 
Source: WordPress
Screenshot of WordPress website editor Source: WordPress

Pros

  • SEO friendly 

  • Highly scalable

  • Open source code 

  • Variety of integrations and plug-ins

  • Well-protected against security threats

  • Lets you create custom themes  

Cons 

  • Steep learning curve 

  • Uses a different design grid system than other common software 

  • Since it’s open-source, you’ll have to pay more for hosting, domain names, security, and potential developer fees 

  • Doesn’t come with built-in analytics 

3. Shopify 

Shopify is an ecommerce software that lets you build intuitive websites to sell physical or digital products online, with a platform that offers a range of web design themes that you can customize to meet branding requirements and user needs

Shopify caters both to beginners who don’t know how to code and experienced developers with access to CSS, HTML, and Liquid (Shopify’s templating language).

They also provide you with templates, a payment processor, and marketing tools, equipping you with everything you need to create a successful ecommerce site in one place.  

Shopify’s interface lets users set up and manage a variety of sales channels to reach their customers at every touchpoint, such as: 

  • Facebook: a tab on your Facebook page where users can buy products 

  • Buy buttons: embed ecommerce functionality into any website or blog

  • Instagram: make your Instagram posts shoppable

  • Wholesale: create a separate, password-protected storefront where you can sell products B2B (for Shopify Plus customers only)

#Sample Shopify product catalog template. Source: Shopify
Sample Shopify product catalog template. Source: Shopify

Pros

  • Shopify Payments has lower transaction fees than other payment processors

  • Fully-hosted

  • Hundreds of built-in features and apps 

  • Seventeen free ecommerce themes, or the option to build your own

  • Bundled, premium themes are responsive, giving users a better, more versatile experience 

  • 24/7 customer support

Cons 

  • If you don’t use Shopify Payments, you have to pay a small fee per transaction

  • Little choice of free web design themes compared to other platforms

  • Premium themes cost between $150-$350

  • Third-party apps necessary to add more sales channels like Amazon and Etsy

Price 

  • Free trial option

  • Plans start at:

    • Shopify Lite at $9/month

    • Basic Shopify at $29/month

    • Shopify at $79/month

    • Advanced Shopify at $299/month 

Pro tip: integrate Hotjar with your Shopify store to get actionable insights on how users navigate and interact with your ecommerce website. Use your discoveries to optimize, scale, and improve CTAs, product pages, and checkout for a better UX and improved conversion rate.

4. Squarespace 

Squarespace, known for being the leader of all things web design and even setting various web design trends, is a great tool for small online stores, especially those that sell digital products.

Their platform is feature-rich, easy to use, and offers 113 beautifully designed, mobile-optimized website templates. It’s also equipped with a drag-and-drop interface for easy editing and many built-in extensions and plugins to choose from. 

Squarespace also has its own built-in analytics feature, Squarespace Analytics, which gives you a broad overview of user behavior to help you make data-informed design decisions.

#Sample Squarespace design template
Source: Squarespace
Sample Squarespace design template Source: Squarespace

Pros

  • A library of stunning, responsive website templates

  • Marketing features, like built-in SEO tools, email marketing capabilities, and social media integrations

  • 24/7 customer support 

  • Comes with a range of ecommerce tools, like an online store builder and ecommerce-specific website templates

Cons 

  • Many templates aren’t fully customizable

  • The editor doesn’t auto-save your work 

Price 

  • Starts at $12/month (with limited contributors and 20 pages)

  • Business plan at $23/month

5. Weebly 

With its generous free plan, Weebly covers all the web design basics and provides step-by-step guidance on a range of design components, from UI elements to SEO, making it a great option for beginners.

Weebly also has an impressive app store, supports a range of third–party integrations, and has a number of ecommerce plans, so you can select the plan that best fits your user and business needs. 

#Screenshot of Weebly website editor. Source: Weebly
Screenshot of Weebly website editor. Source: Weebly

Pros

  • One of the few platforms that lets users sell for free

  • Supports online stores with both digital and physical goods and services 

  • Good value for your money 

  • Super helpful SEO guidance

Cons 

  • Designs are outdated compared to competitors and don’t offer modern options like Squarespace 

  • Customization is limited 

  • Poor mobile optimization 

  • Not the best option for growth and scalability

Price 

  • Free with options to upgrade: 

    • Personal at $5 (lets you use your own domain name) 

    • Professional at $12

    • Performance at $38

2 excellent website testing tools

Use testing tools to try out your site with users before launch, and continually optimize it once it’s live. Use the tools below to explore site performance, see where your website is best serving users, and uncover potential product page improvements.

1. Uptrends 

Uptrends is a great tool for testing web performance and monitoring uptime and downtime to make sure users can access your site and have a great experience as they browse.

It lets you easily monitor performance metrics, including speed, telling you which site elements load slowly or cause issues, and showing you which are performing well and attracting customer attention.

Uptrends measures your website element by element, so you can directly pinpoint which aspects of site performance are enriching or harming your UX.

#Screenshot of Uptrends’ visual dashboard 
Source: Uptrends
Screenshot of Uptrends’ visual dashboard Source: Uptrends

Pros

  • Accurate, detailed alerts

  • Provides helpful educational resources when loading pages

  • Worldwide checkpoints

Cons

  • No text message alerts for website downtime 

Price

  • Starts at $16.21/month

  • Options to upgrade:

    • Business at $22.61/month

    • Enterprise at $54.04/month

2. Google Mobile-Friendly Test  

Google Mobile-Friendly Test is a quick and easy SEO tool that tells you whether your website is responsive on cell phones, which is essential in reaching an audience of mobile-first users.

Pros

  • Quickly assess whether your website meets Google’s standard for mobile usability and compatibility

  • Provides feedback on the issues Google finds

  • Assesses any URL you provide 

Cons

  • Feedback can be overly technical for some users

  • Some devices and screen resolutions aren’t accounted for in the tool

  • Tool output sometimes not specific enough for web developers

Price: Free

How web design software improves customer-centric design

  • User-focused research and testing tools keep your design tailored to your user’s needs and remove blockers and friction

  • A great web design software gives you full control over the design process, so you can create a unique, interactive experience for users

  • The right tools help you create a professional website on a budget so you can build—and improve—your online presence quickly

  • Software simplifies the design process, empowering you to create a website without coding experience, so you can give users a consistent, responsive experience no matter what your expertise level is

Pro tip: with Hotjar Session Recordings, you can watch your users' every move as they navigate your site and interact with its individual design elements to make data-informed changes fast

#Hotjar Session Recordings are a great way to remotely research how people engage with your site as part of their customer journey.

Hotjar Session Recordings show you how users experience your page to improve low-performing touchpoints 

Use web design software to build a site your users love

Web design software helps teams create fully functional websites that look beautiful, work well, and solve their users’ problems.

Use our guide to help you choose the right web design tools for your specific customers to elevate their experience and keep them coming back time and time again.

Supercharge your web design software with Hotjar

Hotjar integrates with popular web design tools for valuable product experience insights

FAQs about web design software