The Evolution of Website Builders

September 4, 2023

Website builders are exactly what they sound like.

Website builder software is a computer application or online platform that allows individuals or businesses to create and design websites without the need for extensive coding or technical skills. 

It provides a user-friendly interface with drag-and-drop functionality, pre-designed templates, and various customization options, enabling users to construct web pages and arrange elements (such as text, images, videos, and widgets) visually.

Currently, there are 1.13 billion websites that exist on the internet. 

A staggering 82% of those are inactive, but that is still a substantial amount of active sites. Approximately 23 million websites were made using website builders.

To say that website builder software has changed the digital landscape is an understatement. 

Who is using website builders?

Website builder technology has helped not only entrepreneurs and small businesses but large enterprises that have opted for cost efficient, drag-and-drop builders to establish and expand their digital presence.


The graph above shows the breakdown of reviews on G2’s Website Builder category by business segment. 

Not surprisingly, the majority of reviewers are from small and medium-sized businesses, a powerful segment of the economy. Small and medium-sized businesses contribute 44% of the US’s GDP, 71% of which had a digital presence in 2021, up from 50% in 2018. 36% of all small and medium-sized businesses generate all of their sales online, a large portion of which are powered by website builders.

History of website builder technology

When we think of website builders today, we think of no-code, drag-and-drop applications. 

However, the first website builders required a fair amount of programming, mainly HTML. Some of these builders had what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) interfaces, which allowed users to view the website’s appearance on the front end as they coded the pages. 

All of this was extremely innovative for its time, but they required a lot of manual coding and their features were fairly basic. Fast forward to the mid-2000s and the emergence of no-code and low-code website builders. 

During this time, the internet was becoming more accessible. There was an increasing number of people who wanted to create their own websites for their businesses and blogs, driving the demand for user-friendly website builders that required little to no coding. 

Since then, web builders have become increasingly intuitive and customizable. Website builder providers began offering more themes and templates and focused on responsiveness, allowing users to design their websites for different types of devices. They also introduced plug-ins and apps, further enabling customization.


Even in recent years, website builder providers have been improving their offerings. 

The graph above shows the average score for metrics that measure various aspects of user experience based on G2 reviewers of website builder software. From 2018 to 2023, the average scores for all of these metrics trend upward as website builders get even easier to use.

AI-powered websites on the rise

So much of the website creation and design process has already been simplified by website builders, but what happens when we introduce AI to the equation? 

A few years ago, website builders began incorporating AI-powered features, such as personalized design recommendations, content generation, and automated layout and responsive design. Now, they’re stepping forward, to what feels like should be light years away, into the era of completely AI-generated websites. 

Entire websites, including layout, content, images and video, responsive design, sign in and sign up, etc., can be generated within minutes by simply describing your website’s intent to an AI bot.

This raises excitement, but it also raises questions. 

Will this functionality alienate more advanced users who want autonomy over web design? 

The AI conundrum

Beginner users welcome the user-friendly platforms and automation that AI web builders offer, but advanced users fear that these same features will limit their creativity.

AI builders may have limitations with design customizations and not be able to offer advanced users precise control over aspects of their sites. As these solutions continue to develop, they will need to find a healthy balance of customization and automation in order to appeal to a wider audience.

Another concern with websites built by AI is the potential for spam websites to rank high on search engines. AI models, that are excellent at writing copy that is optimized for search engines, are making it easier and cheaper to create websites with spam content.

Although AI is significantly changing the website builder landscape for the better, let’s keep in mind the drawbacks. Do the benefits outweigh the concerns?

Only time will tell.

Learn how to create beautiful web user interfaces to allow your users to interact with your website. 

Edited by Sinchana Mistry

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The Evolution of Website Builders Website builders are now accessible to non-technical users. Learn about how this evolution changed the digital landscape.
Priya Patel Priya is a Senior Research Analyst at G2 focusing on content management and design software. Priya leverages her background in market research to build subject matter expertise in the software space. Before moving back to Chicago in 2018, Priya lived in New Zealand for several years, where she studied at the University of Auckland and worked in consulting. In her free time, Priya enjoys being creative, whether it’s painting, cooking, or dancing.