As such, for professionals, web design software may refer to a coding platform that marks up code, allowing experts to preview their designs as they script them.
That said, modern web design software often circumvents these steps and provides a wholly visual interface, making web design more accessible than ever. It combines functional and visual design into one by allowing users to edit the appearance of their website via their chosen web browser.
Some programs even provide everything you need to build a website to your specifications, populate it with content, and host it on the web.
This includes building forms, hosting images, and accessing content delivery networks to benefit from fast loading speeds.
Such software is available open-source or as SaaS with a monthly subscription fee.
For a more holistic take, we’ve included both traditional web design software and modern, easy-to-use website builders in this list.
How to Find the Best Web Design Software for Your Project?
The right web design software will depend on your specific needs, so be sure to consider the following factors as you weigh up your decision:
Ease of use: Some web design software requires coding knowledge and/or an understanding of web design best practices. Some also have more intuitive interfaces than others, i.e., drag-and-drop editors tend to be easier to navigate than side-bar or section editors.
Customizability: How many themes are available? How easy are they to customize? Can users access the CSS backend to make more advanced edits? How much flexibility is there over your website’s layout? Etc.
Budget: Some platforms offer free plans, but most lock their more sophisticated features behind a premium pricing plan(s). Be sure to check these first before signing the dotted line.
Functionality: Are plugins and extensions available? Does the platform provide a CMS, blog, online store, contact forms, etc.?
With these considerations in mind, let’s delve into our favorite web design software of 2021:
Best Design Software for Website Creation
Are you new to web design but dream of launching a gorgeous-looking website? Let’s take a look at some of the best website creation software tools out there:
Wix has carved a name out for itself as one of the most intuitive website builders in the industry. With an array of affordable pricing plans, there’s something for everyone.
You can choose from one of over 500 pre-designed, customizable templates and modify the theme to your liking using Wix’s intuitive drag-and-drop editor. You can add and edit images, create video backgrounds and animations, customize forms, add social buttons, and much more.
You can create a simple store and add a basic blogging engine. On top of that, you’ll benefit from Wix’s SEO wizard. This provides helpful advice for optimizing web pages for maximum organic reach.
Wix also has an app market where you can download and use other valuable widgets and third-party integrations.
Lastly, Wix has recently introduced Wix Turbo, which optimizes the performance of Wix sites substantially for an even quick user experience.
It’s effortless to use; no coding is required.
Affordable pricing plans with a free program are available.
There are over 500 templates to choose from
Wix websites boast fast loading times
Wix’s SEO Wizard provides helpful advice for optimizing your website for SEO
Limited customizability is available as you can’t access your website’s code.
Wix isn’t the best option if you’re running a blog or online store, as functionality is limited for both
You can’t switch themes without losing your content.
Wix comes with a freemium version and a range of paid-for website plans, including:
Combo: $18 a month
Unlimited: $23 a month
Pro: $28 a month
VIP: $47 a month
Their Business and eCommerce plans include:
Business Basic: $28 a month
Business Unlimited: $33 a month
Business VIP: $56 a month
Enterprise: $500 a month
To view the complete list of features available with each plan, click here.
Webflow strikes a great compromise between traditional web design practices and modern website builders.
It provides an entirely visual and intuitive interface where you can drag and drop website elements without tinkering with the code. However, Webflow provides web design options and uses vocabulary that pros might be more familiar with. For example, you can adjust padding, borders, shadows, margins, alignment, and positioning to a pixel-perfect degree.
Webflow allows you to add an online store and CMS to your website. The solution translates your web design into clean code that can be exported and edited anytime, making it easier for designers to collaborate with developers. It can even be used as a fully-fledged professional web design tool for freelancers and agencies alike. In contrast, for non-professional web designers, the platform can be used as a generic website builder.
You benefit from high levels of customizability with full access to your website’s code.
Webflow mimics popular design software like Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, which creates a smoother transition for designers familiar with these tools.
Webflow enables easy collaboration between designers and developers.
Professionals can use Webflow to develop websites for their clients.
You’ll get access to an intuitive drag-and-drop editor.
Webflow comes with a steep learning curve, especially if you don’t have any coding knowledge or experience with traditional design software.
You can’t launch a live website with Webflow’s free plan.
Webflow falls within a middling price range compared to other web design software.
Webflow comes with a free plan – where no credit card’s required. From there, Webflow splits its pricing plans into two categories: site plans and account plans.
Webflow’s Site Plans include:
Basic: $12 a year
CMS: $16 a year
Business: $36 a year
Enterprise: You’ll have to contact Webflow directly for more info
The pricing plans for Webflow’s Individual Account plans include:
Lite: $16 a year
Pro: $35 a year
Webflow also offers other pricing packages, but we don’t have time to list them all here. For more info, check out their pricing page.
Dreamweaver is part of the Creative Cloud, which also includes Photoshop and InDesign. Adobe Dreamweaver has one of the longest-standing histories in web design.
The tool allows you to code your website and offers a mixture of visual and HTML editing. Although this makes the learning curve more manageable for most users, it still doesn’t present the same ease of use as a modern website builder.
Despite the added complexity, software like Dreamweaver enables you to bring your ideal website to life – both in terms of aesthetics and functionality.
You can build fully responsive websites and customize their appearance on mobile, tablets, and other devices.
Lastly, for more advanced users, Dreamweaver also provides multi-monitor support for Windows.
Adobe Dreamweaver ties in seamlessly with other tools in the Creative Cloud
It’s ideal for developers with coding knowledge.
You’ll benefit from complete customizability and control over your web design and responsiveness.
Adobe Dreamweaver supports HTML5.
If you don’t know how to code, Adobe Dreamweaver presents a steep learning curve.
Adobe Dreamweaver isn’t very affordable. In addition to the software, you’ll still need to secure your own web hosting and domain name before your website can go live.
Adobe Dreamweaver is part of the creative suite, but you can also purchase a standalone subscription. This will set you back $20.99 a month. For a more detailed breakdown of their pricing plans, click here.
WordPress.org is an open-source CMS powering over 40% of the web. One of the best things about WordPress is its extreme flexibility. You can build almost any website imaginable – from blogs and marketplaces to small business websites and membership sites. You have complete control over the complexity of your website.
Wordpress.org is suitable for users of all levels, from beginners to advanced designers and coders. You’ll benefit from WordPress’s vast array of themes, plugins, and customization options.
You’ll need to register a domain name and secure web hosting for a modest annual fee before you can go live. WordPress actually recommends Bluehost, one of the largest hosting companies in the world, to get started.
WordPress.org is free!
There are thousands of themes, plugins, and widgets to choose from
You have complete control over the functionality and aesthetic of your website.
There’s an active community with plenty of self-help guides and documentation available online.
WordPress.org boasts powerful blogging features and SEO functionality.
At least with older versions of WordPress, the design editor comes with a steeper learning curve.
With any open-source software, you need to find your own hosting, which can seem daunting at first if you’re new to website creation.
WordPress.org itself is free! Hosting plans start at less than $5 per month.
Squarespace is another intuitive website builder with affordable pricing plans and tons of professionally designed themes to choose from.
It’s a fully hosted solution with many features built-in, including a powerful image editor.
Squarespace is best suited to entrepreneurs and freelancers working in creative fields looking to publish beautiful portfolios, galleries, and/or other visual content.
That said, it isn’t as intuitive as Wix. For example, you can only edit web page sections- it isn’t a full drag-and-drop editor. However, the customization options for individual elements are more extensive – so it’s swings and roundabouts!
You can easily add an online store and blog to your website. On top of that, there are plenty of third-party apps you can download and use to extend your website’s functionality.
There’s a mobile app available, which is great for website owners on the go!
You’ll benefit from a feature-rich blogging engine with multi-author functionality.
There are over 100 beautiful website templates to choose from
Squarespace’s website editor isn’t as easy to use as some of its competitors – it certainly comes with a slight learning curve.
Changes to your website immediately go live, making it hard to make more substantial edits.
You can only structure one sub-navigation level for your site.
Page speeds for Squarespace templates are sometimes lower than what is desirable.
There isn’t a free plan available.
Squarespace offers several pricing plans, including:
Personal: $12 a month
Business: $18 a month
Basic: $26 a month
Advanced: $40 a month
If you’d like more info, check out Squarespace’s pricing page.
Alongside Wix, Weebly is arguably one of the easiest to use website builders on the market. Its simple drag-and-drop interface enables beginners to launch a website within minutes without writing a single line of code.
You can create an online store using existing responsive templates or start from scratch – the choice is yours.
You can also install widgets for extra functionality. On top of that, Weebly comes with built-in SEO and analytics.
Weebly is incredibly intuitive, but that comes at a cost – it isn’t as feature-rich or powerful as other website builders.
Weebly is very beginner-friendly
Weebly’s pre-designed templates are professional-looking
Weebly is a budget-friendly option
eCommerce functionality is available
Weebly isn’t as powerful or customizable as other website builders
Weebly lacks some features
Weebly offers a free plan for basic use as well as three paid-for plans.
Personal: $6.00 a month
Professional: $12.00 a month
Performance: $26.00 a month
Click here for a full breakdown of the features associated with each pricing package.
Figma is a feature-loaded design tool that accomplishes similar things to Sketch or Adobe XD. You can use Figma to quickly mockup, edit, and design website ideas.
In addition, Figma takes a collaborative cloud-based approach so that multiple team members can design simultaneously and provide each other with constant feedback. Needless to say, this makes effective collaboration much more manageable.
A free plan is available.
Premium plans are more affordable than the Creative Suite.
Collaborative tools allow developers and designers to work together.
Figma is a feature-rich platform with robust capabilities for mocking up websites.
Figma only concerns itself with the design aspect; you’ll still need web developers to create and implement the necessary code using other software.
Figma has a ‘free forever’ plan available. They also have two paid-for plans:
Adobe is a slightly more complex UI and UX design tool. You can use Adobe XD to craft anything from apps to complete websites. Web developers and designers commonly use it to create and collaborate on different prototypes, wireframes, and mockups. It’s not user-friendly for beginners.
Adobe XD is a vector-based tool that can turn flat images into 3D pictures and create augmented virtual reality experiences. You also get access to features like repeat grids, support for plugins and extensions, prototyping design tools, animations, transition design, and more.
Adobe XD boasts a functional, well-presented interface
Prototyping is straightforward (for those with experience)- it doesn’t require additional plugins or services.
Collaboration/co-editing is available so you can share files for review and work together in real-time.
You can view prototypes on your phone and open files from other Adobe products.
Although XD comes with illustration tools; you can’t draw custom shapes
Although XD is constantly updating itself – although these provide users with great features, things are constantly changing, which can be annoying. Also, these updates sometimes come with bugs.
If you don’t already have a ‘Creative Cloud’ plan, you’ll have to pay a monthly cost to get full use of the features.
Adobe XD has a free seven-day trial and four different pricing plans, including:
XD Single App: $9.99 a month
Creative Cloud All Apps: $52.99 a month
XD for Teams: $22.99 a month
Creative Cloud All Apps for Teams: $79.99 a month
For the complete list of features available with each plan, click here.
With Sketch, web designers can create beautiful, functional mockups from an easy-to-use interface. As a result, it’s one of the most popular design tools on the market. In the 2010’s it won a design award from Apple, and since then, the software has really taken off.
Sketch comes with a wide variety of plugins, integrations, and tools suitable for prototyping and collaboration. However, these aren’t as advanced as UI and UX features.
Sketch includes features like:
Font rendering that’s close to how it would be on mobile/web
iOS design testing
Artboards and pages
…to name a few!
Sketch is relatively straightforward and can be used by beginners. Thanks to its clean interface, everything’s easy to navigate. If you do run into trouble, there are plenty of helpful user guides and a solid community you can turn to.
Sketch is easy to learn and use
Sketch’s interface is simple to navigate.
There’s a wide range of plugins (all user-created) that can help streamline your creative processes.
Integrations with other design software are available.
Sketch provides users with several shortcuts, but these aren’t always obvious.
Collaboration functions aren’t as advanced as other design software.
Although the plugins are great, they seem to be compulsory. Without them, you’ll lack many vital features. This can be a drain on your computer and can cause problems when Sketch updates.
Sketch comes with a 30-day free trial and two main pricing plans:
Standard: $9.99 a month (for individuals and teams)
Business: Price available on request (For organizations with advanced needs)
For a full breakdown of the features associated with each plan, check out Sketch’s website.
Framer is a diverse tool that web designers and developers can use to design almost anything and create production-ready code.
Although Framer expects some coding knowledge, it does have several tools that allow you to create animated effects without coding. However, to use Framer to its full capacity, you’ll require some coding skills. As such, Framer may not be suitable for complete beginners.
You can also use Framer to build UI components that function exactly how you want them to. You can use existing code libraries, UI kits, or packages to do this.
Lastly, you’ll also benefit from some great features. For instance: cursor chat, a rapid code editor, components for gradients, Spotify components (so you can embed songs and playlists in projects) – to name a few!
You get a lot of creative freedom
Framer is available on multiple platforms, and any device running a web browser
There are a range of different integrations available, including Sketch, Figma, iOS, macOS, Photoshop, and more
It’s great for prototyping
Some users have complained about buggy updates
To take full advantage of Framer, you’ll need some coding know-how
It lacks some sought after features like text style, which comes with competitors like Sketch
Framer offers three pricing plans:
Pro: $22 per editor, per month
Enterprise: custom pricing
For a more detailed breakdown of the prices included in each package, check out Framer’s pricing page.
Are You Ready to Start Using The Best Web Design Software for Your Project?
Whether you’re a novice, or a professional web designer, or a coder, there’s a beautifully diverse range of web design software out there to choose from.
Lacking skills and experience? No problem. Want to build a prototype rather than a fully-fledged website? We hear you. There’s an option to meet every budget, project, and skill level.
In summary: here are some recommendations for specific user scenarios:
Easiest Web Design Software for complete beginners: Wix or Weebly
Click one of the buttons and let us know your opinion.
At Findstack.com, our research is meant to offer general software recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.