Top 5 Portfolio Website Builders in 2021

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Do you want to skip the read and get right to our pick? The best portfolio website builder for most people is Squarespace.


Introduction:

In place of physical galleries, how can portfolio website builders help creatives and photographers?

Due to COVID-19, photographers, artists, and agency creatives are barred from showcasing their work to clients on a face-to-face basis. Also, restrictions to ensure social distancing and public safety have kept many galleries and museums closed for over a year now.

As a result, this has prompted many creatives to move to the online scene, enjoying the unforeseen advantage of enabling them to reach out to markets they would not have been able to penetrate under ordinary circumstances. Best of all, you can even use a photography website for free.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the top five portfolio website builders which have been aiding the creative community.


What are Portfolio Website Builders?

Portfolio website builders are, to be frank, not too different from more conventional site builders. They're most well-known for being photography website builders. This is because they have features that are particularly appreciated by those in the creative fields.

Nevertheless, with some website builder photography may not be their main focus, as you will learn later. However, their design-centric attributes make endear them to photography website creators.

To illustrate, a photography website builder has the ability to create online galleries often with lightbox capability, multimedia showcases, online previews, and ecommerce tools for accepting commissions, gig scheduling, and the capability to sell downloadable materials.


Is a Free Photography Website Builder Advisable?

If you subscribe to a website builder photography's paid plan, you can access many features. Yet there are also photography websites free of any charge or commitment.

However, you might need to think twice before using a free website builder to showcase your portfolio. In addition to being riddled with ads, storage restrictions would prevent you from achieving that stunning portfolio.


Our List of The Best Portfolio Website Builders

This year, we have noted that there are five portfolio website builders that have become great favourites with the international creative community and photography website creators. These are:

  1. Squarespace: elegant and minimalistic designs
  2. Format: a portfolio expert
  3. Pixpa: not only for photographers
  4. Smugmug: for photographers
  5. Weebly: the easiest to use

How to Choose the Best Portfolio Website Builders?

Below, we discuss in detail each of our handpicked list of the 5 best portfolio website builders and photography website builders. How did we come up with this list? We scrutinised each platform using the following criteria:

  • Ease of Use – We place a premium on how user-friendly a platform is. How easy is the photography website builder to use? What learning curve is to be expected from a beginner?
  • Features – What tools can one expect from photography website creator? Is there a wide range of themes and templates offered? Is it easy to customise your web pages? What are its SEO and eCommerce tools?
  • Support and Resources –Getting help promptly adds value for money to any photography website creator?
  • Pricing –A website builder photography enthusiasts can enjoy needs to have flexible pricing plans and great value for money. Having a free trial and money-back guarantee is definitely a plus.

How Do These Portfolio Website Builders Stack Up Against Each Other In Detail?

Here are our 5 top portfolio website builders up close and personal.

Squarespace

squarespace-home
squarespace-home

Offering a stable platform that allows for maximum creativity and a polished appearance, Squarespace is a photography website creator that calls to mind the pamphlets or brochures from an event like the Venice Biennale or a visitor’s catalogue to the Louvre or the MoMA in New York. F

For this website builder photography is not the primary niche. However, the ecommerce-centric builder has garnered a reputation for helping artists create a stunning online portfolio with the ability to sell and ship prints and commissioned art or digital downloads of multimedia files.

What to expect with Squarespace:

Off the bat, Squarespace is not the easiest platform to use. While the builder feature is touted as intuitive, it does take time to figure out. But when you do, however, you have in your hands a builder that can create a stunning audiovisual portfolio you can proudly show off to anyone.

You can expect the following features from Squarespace as a photography website creator:

  • Intuitive site builder
  • Provisions for the sale of digital downloads
  • Extensive templates gallery organised by industry
  • Provision for service-driven businesses

A caveat, however – Squarespace ranks among the pricier site builder options as its range is between $12 and $40 monthly and doesn’t offer a free edition.

squarespace-pricing
squarespace-pricing

Pros:

  • Exquisite selection of templates for artistic use;
  • Ecommerce functionality enables users to sell both works and services (commissions);
  • Easily swap templates for a custom look;
  • Users have access to the source files

Cons:

  • Definitely not for artists on a tight budget;
  • The builder isn’t very intuitive;
  • No preview function;
  • Layouts aren’t very flexible.

>> Try Squarespace For Free <<


Format

format-home
format-home

This photography website creator's expertise lies in portfolios. Created with artists and designers in mind, Format photography website builder enables users to create a stunning, attention-grabbing portfolio.

With this website builder photography buffs are also spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing fonts and layouts, and its entry-level subscription plan allows users to create up to fifteen pages, display up to 100 images, and put three items up for sale.

What to expect with Format:

How can Format help your business as a photography website creator?

  • Basic Plan: ability to create fifteen pages, display up to 100 images, and put three items up for sale
  • Pro plan: ability to create an unlimited number of pages, store up to 1,000 images, and sell up to 20 products

With Format photography website builder, you can create an interactive site with a strong aesthetic in next to no time. Format boasts of responsive templates and spoils its users for choice when it comes to fonts and layouts. Unfortunately, the platform’s Achilles’ heel is that options for creating interactive forms are limited, and using a pre-built template can get hairy if you want to customise the look by rearranging pre-set elements.

Format’s subscription plans are very reasonably priced: from just $12 a month.

format-pricing
format-pricing

Pros:

  • Highly intuitive web templates;
  • Proprietary on-boarding process and tutorials;
  • Basic but effective functionality for blogs and ecommerce

Cons:

  • Rigidly laid-out templates with no provision for the rearrangement of elements;
  • No free plan offered;
  • Limited options for building online forms and custom pages

>> Try Format For Free <<


Pixpa:

pixpa-home
pixpa-home

This creatively versatile photography website builder is seen as a great tool for graphic designers, visual artists, as well as photographers, offering a platform that caters to a whole spectrum of creative types and not just photographers. The layouts may be built on rigid lines, but Pixpa offers some of the most visually stunning templates in the industry.

What to expect with Pixpa:

With Pixpa, you get these features:

  • Search engine optimisation (SEO) via IPTC metadata for images;
  • Image editing suite;
  • Image compression control
  • Templates for guest galleries

While Pixpa’s layouts tend to be on the rigid side, its user interface (UI) is actually incredibly easy to use once you get used to it. Like Squarespace, it takes time to learn how to use this photography website creator, but it’s an amazing tool once you get the hang of it.

Pixpa doesn’t have a free version, but you can try the platform out for fifteen days, then opt to pay $7 monthly for their Start subscription plan.

pixpa-pricing
pixpa-pricing

Pros:

  • Highly-intuitive web templates;
  • Proprietary on-boarding process and tutorials;
  • Basic but effective functionality for blogs and ecommerce

Cons:

  • Rigidly laid-out templates with no provision for the rearrangement of elements;
  • No free plan offered;
  • Limited options for building online forms and custom pages

>> Try Pixpa For Free <<


Smugmug

smugmug-home
smugmug-home

If you are looking for a website builder photography professionals will embrace, Smugmug is it. It is one of the best photography website builders out there. Having acquired gallery app Flickr in 2018, it serves as a way for both amateur and professional shutterbugs to put their work out into the world through interactive display options to assist clients.

What to expect with Smugmug:

If you used Flickr back in the day, you will find Smugmug a delightful platform to use as it has retained many of the features that made that now-defunct gallery site a joy to use.

The platform's standout features include:

  • Photography-specific site and gallery builder;
  • Extensive third-party app integrations, including Adobe Lightroom;
  • Unlimited multimedia storage;
  • Ecommerce tools specific to photography and other creative disciplines

Smugmug’s basic plan will set you back a reasonable $7 monthly; however, this doesn’t have provisions for eCommerce. For that, you need to spring $27 a month as it is part of the more advanced Portfolio plan.

smugmug-full-pricing
smugmug-full-pricing

Pros:

  • Specifically created for photographers;
  • Extensive array of photography-specific apps;
  • Enables users to sell their work online;
  • Unlimited storage

Cons:

  • No blogging function
  • Can be challenging to use
  • No free plan offered
  • Layouts have limited flexibility

>> Try SmugMug For Free <<


Weebly: the easiest to use

weebly-home
weebly-home

Weebly is one of the world’s favourite basic site builders, so you may be curious as to why it’s listed here. Again, for this website builder photography and portfolio are not its primary niche. While it can't be described as a photography website builder, the platform actually has features that enable users to create galleries in which to showcase their work. This is quite advantageous for artists who are just testing the waters of the digital scene.

What to expect with Weebly:

Weebly is one of the easiest website builder photography professionals can use, with its drag-and-drop interface and easily accessible menus. Built-in customisation tools allow you to swap out templates and revamp your site’s aesthetic. Likewise, it also interfaces with several third-party digital design apps to create a custom look in keeping with the aesthetic of your work.

Moreover, Weebly has the following:

  • Intuitive site editor;
  • CMS suite for blogging
  • Built-in SEO tool suite
  • 500MB storage allowance

Subscription plans are priced between $5 to 38 monthly. Unfortunately, if you want to get the most out of the platform with the full extent of the features it touts, you will need to opt for the higher subscription tiers.

weebly-pricing
weebly-pricing
weebly-ecommerce-pricing
weebly-ecommerce-pricing

Pros:

  • Easy to use site builder;
  • Provisions for blogging are built-in;
  • Sites are optimised for both SEO and mobile viewing

Cons:

  • Limited number of pre-set templates
  • Very basic in terms of gallery/showcase options
  • You will need to pay for most of the features

>> Try Weebly For Free <<


Conclusion and Recommendations:

All things considered, Squarespace comes away as the platform of choice for the creative industry, given how it integrates a strong sense of aesthetics with a top-notch eCommerce suite that suits artists to a T.

>> Try Squarespace For Free <<

Smugmug comes in a close second. However, we would consider this a niche product that is specific to the photography sector. Otherwise, Pixpa and Format are also excellent choices. Weebly, however, would work best for students who are finding their feet (and their voice); while Format works best on those who need to build a site in a hurry and don’t mind sticking to a rigid layout.

If none of the above brands suit you, consider for your photography website WordPress. Also checkout the free website builder photography like Portoliobox.


FAQ:

Which platform offers the most in terms of third-party integrations?

That would be a toss-up between Squarespace and Smugmug. The former offers a diverse 3,000 integrations through its Squarespace Extensions online marketplace, while the latter presents a veritable treasure trove of photography-specific applications to work with.

Is there a platform that will let me blog alongside my gallery?

You can opt between Squarespace and Weebly as both platforms offer a CMS editing feature that lets you add a blog to your site.


That's all for now:

If you've read all the way through this best portfolio website builders guide, we are thankful and hope you can now answer the question for what is an eCommerce platform! We have a large collection of articles, guides, and comparison reviews of eCommerce solutions, web hosting providers, website builders, and more! Feel free to check them out;

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