In this guide to the best website builders for photographers, we'll help you narrow down exactly what you should be looking for. Whether you want simply a place to show off your portfolio, or you want to start selling your prints and services, there's a website builder that will suit your needs.
The idea of building a website from scratch can feel incredibly daunting - especially if you're not particularly computer savvy. But fear not, website building sites make it incredibly easy and often operate a 'drag and drop system so you can start adding content blocks to your site. If you've ever eyed up another photographer's site and thought how beautiful it is, chances are they've started off with a simple template and expanded on it to make it their own. You no longer have to worry about knowing how to code as these website builders do that all behind the scenes for you.
Lots of these website-building platforms offer a free trial so you can have a play on different sites before deciding which one is best for you. Creating a website gives your images a more permanent home and is a great way of coming across as a professional. Using social media is a great tool for sharing imagery when you're starting out but building a website will allow you to have more control over your brand.
• Read more: Best cloud storage for photos
In this guide, we've rounded up the best website builders for photographers to help you get the most out of your images. But first, let's look at some of the criteria for choosing your website builder.
How to choose the best website builder for photographers
We've discussed this a little already, but it's worth thinking about the purpose of your photography site. Is it purely for showcasing your images, or do you have commercial needs for it? This will dictate the kind of site you want and therefore the best website builder for your needs. Everyone is different, which is why we've included ten great website builders in this guide.
You also need to think about your storage needs. If you're only uploading a few images then a slimmed-down plan will probably be fine, but if you're going to be uploading a load of high-resolution files, then you'll need to make sure your website plan offers enough storage to cope with this. Some services will also offer ways to protect your work, like watermarks or password protection, so if security is important to you then definitely consider using one of these.
Also, think about your domain name. Having a custom domain name like yourname.com is generally much better professional than having something like yourname.squarespace.com, and will give a much better impression to your potential clients. But it also costs more, so it's worth thinking about your budget,
On this note, it's always worth determining how much you're willing to spend before you start seriously looking for a website builder. While there are free website builders out there, most will require you to invest a little cash for hosting and maintaining your website (which is fair enough). Many offer flexible pricing plans so you can determine the level that's right for you, so if money's tight, do shop around to see which one is most suitable.
Whatever your photography website needs to be, here you'll find everything you need to make an informed decision on which is the best website builder for you.
Best website builders for photographers in 2021
In terms of offering sheer bang for your buck, Format is definitely one of the best website builders for photographers. While it's a little pricey, starting at $12 per month (billed annually – if billed monthly, the price begins at $16.99 per month), you definitely get a wide range of services for your money.
The website builder is simple and easy to use – and there are also built-in videos that pop up to help you on most pages when you're first exploring the site. Format will ask you a few questions so that it can recommend which designs will work best for your needs and then you can begin exploring how to build your photography website. One of the best aspects of Format is the fact that you can have a 14 day free trial. This means you have plenty of time to ensure the service has everything you need for your photography website.
There are plenty of page designs to choose from, such as contact pages, gallery pages and more. However, you can also build your own page designs from scratch as well, allowing for the ultimate customizability. A new feature for 2021, is that Format can also now host your videos too with the Pro Plus option, which also gets you help building your site (from $18 a month).
If you're interested in giving Format a whirl, Digital Camera World is offering an exclusive code to help you save 15% off any annual plan with DCW15
The Zenfolio site states its the number one website builder, as voted by professional photographers. And the deeper we delve into its offerings, we're struggling to find evidence to the contrary. One of the biggest pulls for Zenfolio is its clearly well considered toolset, which looks to really help photography businesses grow. Its features focus not only on the user, but their clients too – something other website builders on the market might not.
In a sea of professional online photography portfolios, Zenfolio offers a variety of templates, which can be easily modified to suit your brand and help you stand out. Photo galleries are quick and easy to upload, with password protection available depending on how and who you want to share them with. There's an in-built payment system to make selling your prints a cinch, unlimited storage for all those RAW files, image protection and image security guaranteed.
In addition to all that, Zenfolio automatically adjusts image sizes to suit a device, features auto-dim effects and image optimization to make browsing photo collections the best experience it can be. Price plans start at as little as just $5 a month, making this quality website builder an absolute steal.
• See full Zenfolio review
Squarespace is one of the most popular website builders around - but it's especially good for image-driven photography websites. Once you've chosen your desired template you can start filling it in and building on it to make it more unique. Using a 'block' system you can add sections of text, image, galleries or quotes either from a template or you can create your own. There are templates for anything from contact sheets and price lists to reviews and portfolios which help to put a site together quickly.
Unfortunately, there is no free tier with Squarespace so if you're just looking to make a website for fun there are better options out there. However, if you are looking to create a website to take your business to the next level, Squarespace offers a user-friendly design interface, competitive pricing and the ability to add an e-commerce section to your site. Squarespace also offers students 50% off their first full year when they sign up with an educational email address.
Squarespace's strength is also perhaps is weakness in that sites can start to look quite similar if you're not careful. You can sign up for a two-week free trial so if you start building a website and decide it's not the platform for you, you can change your mind without spending a penny.
While not aimed specifically at photographers, we couldn't not Wix in a list of the best website builders. One of the most popular website creators around, Wix offers photographers an easy way in to creating an online home.
Wix's services have been built with the novice in mind, providing everything you need to get started in a simple and accessible way. There's library of over 500 templates to choose from, 30 of which have been designed for photographers. A simple-to-use drag-and-drop editor enables easy placement of text and images on a page, and in just two clicks, you can access the image upload manager to upload, review, edit and manage photos as you see fit.
Wix offers all the functions a photographer might want, but if you want your website to operate more than just a bog standard online portfolio, with ecommerce functionality and unlimited storage for example, you'll have to pay more. And if that's the case, one of the other more dedicated photography services on this list might be better suited. Wix's design options are also slightly limited, for example, there's no option to change templates at a later date (unless you want to start from scratch).
Labelled as the 'home for photographers', website builder SmugMug has been developed from the ground up to specifically accommodate the needs of photographers.
At a very base level, SmugMug provides a quick and easy way to showcase and sell your images online. But what sets the platform apart from other website builders is its photography-focussed features. This includes unlimited photo uploads, backed up by cloud storage, ecommerce optimisation, the ability to sync a photo library with Lightroom, add custom watermarks to fully protect your work and an in-built printing service so visitors can order images directly from the website. SmugMug also supports connection with users own domain names.
Unlike some of the other options on this list, there's no free version of SmugMug available, however there is the option to trial the software for 14 days to see if it suits. If you decide in that time that SmugMug is the website builder for you, there's four different price plans, which meet a range of skill level and needs, to choose from.
Another popular name in the website building world, Weebly is a powerful editor that offers a wide range of features. Weebly's free version is adequate if you are simply looking to quickly get your images online, but it limits space to 500MB and imposes (usually unwanted) ads on your site. If you need and want more from your website, its premium plans offer unlimited storage, custom domain connections and access to many other hugely useful tools to help fully customise your web design
One of Weebly's biggest draws for photographers, in particular, is the above mentioned unlimited storage. There's also its impressive Weebly App Center, which offers incredible scope to drive your site's functionality. However this is only available to premium access subscribers, which doesn't come cheap.
Like Wix, Weebly operates as a simple drag & drop builder and takes just two clicks to add a gallery and start uploading images, so it's a good option those new to creating their very own corner of the internet. However it's worth noting Weebly's auto-optimise function when uploading, which can result in a slight loss in image quality.
If you already have a Creative Cloud subscription and you don't want to spend any more on a website, Adobe Portfolio might be the web builder for you. If you take out the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan (for around £10 / $10) or the Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps plan (for around £50 / $50), then you'll get free access to Adobe Portfolio.
The website builder itself is easy to use but it isn't the most customizable. You can select from a number of stylish templates and choose exactly how many images/videos you want on your page but you are unable to change where on the page they appear. Furthermore, if you wanted any overlapping text, colored textboxes or more creative design features, it's very hard to achieve with such stringent parameters.
That being said, if you are simply looking for a website that you can use as a portfolio it is very easy to use and you can quickly upload a lot of content. You can also import images directly from Lightroom and add them to photo grids. There is no option to add a store on the website so if you have any plans to sell prints or services, a different web-building site would be better.
The clue is in the name: Photoshelter is a dedicated website builder for photographers. It doesn't have the scope of many of the other website builders on this list when it comes to templates, offering just nine in total, but each of those offer the functionality a photographer might want. Highly customisable, you can add your logo, fonts and colour palette, and you can access everything on the go with a dedicated mobile app too.
Photoshelter offers an integrated shopping cart, with transaction fees of 8-10 percent. It also boasts over 100 features developed specifically for professional photographers, including sophisticated image protection and file back ups. However you'll have to pay for the privilege. There are three different pricing plans to choose from, with only the pro version (which will cost you at least $45 a month) offering unlimited storage. Cheaper pricing options also limits the monthly bandwidth allotment for client downloads too, with the basic subscription offering just 5GB.
There's no doubt about it, Photoshelter has a lot to offer, you just need to be prepared slightly more for it than some of the other dedicated photography website builders on the market.
Aimed at creatives specialising in all manner of disciplines, including the art of image taking and editing, Pixpa is another great website builder for photographers. Like many of others on this list, it offers integrated e-commerce, blogging and client proofing tools, with not a line of code in sight.
A simple to use, drag and drop website builder, Pixpa offers a competitive combination of features and affordability, which should appeal to both newcomers and professional photographers alike. Pixpa's 'Start' plan offers an impressive number of features in return for just $6 a month, however storage is limited to 200 images. For an extra $3 a month, it's 'Grow' package gives you access to everything, including connection to a domain name and the ability to sell up to 10 products, so it seems like a bit of a no-brainer to go with the latter.
If you're looking for a highly affordable option to set up a simple but professional-looking site, you'd be hard pushed to find a better website builder than Pixpa.
The GoDaddy website builder homepage likens using the platform to being as 'simple as updating your Facebook page'. Best known for its web hosting services, GoDaddy's beginner-friendly website builder incorporates Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) to help make the process of creating your own website easier than ever before.
The technology takes information provided by the user to create a customised site quickly, making it perfect for beginners. This and the option to integrate ecommerce functionality makes GoDaddy a great choice for anyone who wants an online presence immediately.
In terms of templates, there's thousands to choose from, many of which would be well suited to a photography portfolio. However, GoDaddy is somewhat lacking in specific photography features, which means limited storage for your photos and nothing in the way of image protection. GoDaddy is also quite rigid in its design options, which makes having any kind of creative freedom quite limiting. Plus, if you decide at any point you want to switch templates, like Wix, it means starting from scratch.
But GoDaddy's lack of certain features and functionality is reflected in the price. There are four cost options to choose from, all of which are significantly cheaper than many other website builders on this list. GoDaddy is a good website builder for photographers who are on a bit of a budget but want to get online quickly and without any fuss.