Every business, no matter how small, needs a web presence. Whether you just need a one-pager or are starting an e-commerce empire, there’s an option here for you.
If you have a small business, you know it needs to have an online presence. The days of being able to succeed without some kind of website or online store are far behind us.
Fortunately, making your mark online has never been easier thanks to many companies offering easy-to-use website builders. That means you no longer need to hire a dedicated designer to construct your website. Many of these sites appreciate that you might not have expert knowledge, offering simple drag-and-drop interfaces and intuitive methods that help your website rank highly on search engines.
With so many services out there, how do you know what’s best for your business? Read on, and we explain what to look for when buying a website builder and everything you need to know about the best ones for you.
Why do you need a website builder?
You wouldn’t own a business located out of sight, or that had no apparent contact details. Neither should you deprive your online presence. While many companies can benefit from Facebook or Instagram pages, nothing can beat the simplicity of a traditional website found via Google, Bing, and other search engines. Google is still the first port of call for many consumers trying to find a business, product, or service, making a dedicated website worthwhile. It’s also useful to be able to utilize SEO (Search Engine Optimization) practices so you’re high on the search results.
Many website builders are relatively inexpensive, so it’s a no-brainer decision, whether you want to sell online or you simply want to make sure people know you exist.
What to look for when buying a website builder
Like any service, you need to know what to look for when purchasing a website builder. Many options are out there, but some will be impractical for your needs. Don’t waste time or money simply because you didn’t know what you were looking for. Crucially, consider what your budget is and stick to it. Marketing can be expensive, and that’s also the case with website builders.
Consider which features you need. Do you need e-commerce functionality so you can sell products directly from your site? If not, don’t bother paying extra for such tools. Similarly, your business might simply require a website to offer updates or to showcase your work, such as if you’re a creative business with a portfolio to highlight. That’s where a blogging platform might be a superior option compared to more comprehensive website building services. Whatever you’re looking for, we’ve broken down the best options.
Very simple to use • Websites look unique • Free option
Not the cheapest premium plans
Wix is so simple that anyone can figure it out. Just don’t expect the best features for free.
WixThis website builder is one of the most straightforward options out there. It even offers a limited free plan.
$13 per month
$17 per month
$22 per month
$39 per month
If you can use a computer, you can use Wix. That’s how simple it is to create a website using the service. The site offers hundreds of different templates to get you started, but you can also choose to drag and drop different elements, ensuring your website looks unique. That’s a significant strength for a website builder as you want your business to have its own identity. When it comes to adding content, it takes just seconds, so you won’t have to worry about training your staff to make updates.
The free plan offers unlimited pages, but you’ll see Wix-branded ads. For a small business, you need to invest in at least the Combo plan, which offers 2GB bandwidth and 3GB storage with no ads. Those who want to sell products through their website will need a dedicated ecommerce package, and that’s where things get more pricey. Still, if you’re starting small, Wix has you covered and will easily grow with your firm. It’s easy to switch between plans when you need to. It’s great for helping you decipher SEO magic too, so you can rank more highly on search engines.
Simple to use • Unlimited storage and bandwidth • Cheaper than competitors
No free plan • Templates aren’t as varied as Wix
Squarespace may lack a free plan, but it offers excellent value for its business customers, with a simple to use interface.
SquarespaceThis well-known name is popular for a reason, thanks to providing unlimited storage at a great price.
$16 per month
$26 per month
$30 per month
$46 per month
Squarespace is almost as simple to use as Wix. It offers fewer templates, and a few of its menus are hidden away, but it’s still ideal for novice website builders. Best of all, all its plans offer unlimited storage and bandwidth, so you don’t have to worry about running out. There’s no free plan option, but for a business, you should expect to pay anyhow to avoid ads. You’ll also need to pay extra for an online store, but it still works out as a better value than many of Squarespace’s competitors.
We prefer Wix’s simple interface as it produces better results, but Squarespace is unbeatable if you need unlimited space. It’ll save your business a fortune if you know you need to store large files, such as if you’re running a portfolio site. Squarespace also uses great image optimization algorithms to improve the experience further.
Part of ‘full’ web hosting • Can create a website very quickly • Very cheap
Limited templates • Price goes up after two years
HostGator is a great option if you’re not sure if you want to use templates or hand things over to a dedicated website designer. It’s cheap for the first two years, too.
HostGatorThis web hosting company also offers useful templates that will get your website started within seconds.
$2.75 to $5.95 per month
$4.95 to $9.95 per month
$5.95 to $9.95 per month
$19.95 to $24.95 per month
$29.95 to $49.95 per month
$118.99 to $148.98 per month
HostGator is speedy — very speedy. You can easily set up a website in under an hour without any hassle. That website won’t look as stylish as something from Wix or Squarespace, but if you’re not too fussed about having a unique look, it does the job. HostGator is also part of a regular web hosting package, so you can easily delegate responsibility to a dedicated designer if you choose to pursue that route.
It’s also cheap. The starter package works out to under $4 per month if you take the two-year plan while still providing you with unlimited storage and bandwidth. Even the e-commerce plan is under $10 at first, so this could be an ideal service if you’re just starting out and experimenting with your website. Just don’t be surprised if your site lacks the style that something via Wix or Squarespace would provide.
One of the cheapest options • Lots of features • Hundreds of templates
Limited customization • Not all the templates are great
Weebly is cheaper than most but still packs in plenty of features even if its templates aren’t the most stylish.
WeeblyThis simple website creation service keeps costs down for your small business.
$6 per month
$12 per month
$25 per month
If you’re on a tight budget, Weebly is the best option for your business. It has a free plan offering 500MB storage, providing you don’t mind using a domain name with Weebly branding, but even the premium plans don’t cost much. You’ll need to spend a little more to get unlimited storage and e-commerce functionality, so, ideally, this is the website builder for your placeholder-style website.
Whatever you choose, there are SEO features and plenty of templates to choose from. The templates aren’t quite as stylish as what you see through Wix or Squarespace, but with the service working out cheaper, it’s an ideal place for quickly putting together a simple site. It even divides up themes according to your business needs.
Powerful online store tools • Perfect for those selling online
Expensive • Tricky to use
Shopify powers some of the biggest online stores, and it can do the same for your business, providing you figure out its complicated interface.
ShopifyAlmost too powerful in scope, Shopify is the ideal resource for those launching a significant online selling presence, but it takes some mastering.
$29 per month
$79 per month
$299 per month
That comes at a price, with Shopify working out to be quite expensive compared to other ecommerce options, but it’s worth it if you plan on selling a lot through your website. It also takes a bit of mastering with some intricate web design going on, so this won’t be something you’ll complete in a day. (But there are plenty of online courses to get you started.) Still, if you’re serious about online selling, you can’t go wrong here.
Speedy website building • Low costs • Flexible options
Need a site in a hurry? GoDaddy is the website builder for you. Its results aren’t the prettiest, but you can create something in the space of a lunch break.
GoDaddyA famous name in web hosting over the years, GoDaddy is straightforward and effective, even if it’s not the prettiest.
$10 per month
$15 per month
$20 per month
$25 per month
GoDaddy is often the first place many people go for website hosting, and for good reason. It’s dependable and well-priced. Same deal when it comes to GoDaddy’s website builder functionality. It starts out reasonably cheap with a basic plan only costing $10 per month for all the essential features one needs to launch a website. You can always opt to start with a free plan, just to see how the setup works for you. It’s only when it comes to e-commerce functionality where you’ll have to pay more and, ultimately, there are better options out there.
Whatever plan you go with, templates and designs within the GoDaddy website builder are a little basic. They’re just fine, but they’re far from eye-catching. This is the kind of interface that’s best if you wish to point people in the right direction towards your business, rather than if you want to showcase some sort of creative or artistic enterprise. You can’t beat it for speed, though. It really will take you hardly any time to design something here. You can also use it for domain registration as well as web hosting, which is convenient when you don’t want to juggle multiple accounts.
Huge amount of customization options • Cheap • Built for blogging
Very complicated without coding knowledge • Limited for non-blogs • Not entirely secure
WordPress is an excellent option if you simply want to blog about your business and keep your customers up to date on developments.
WordPressSimply want to be friendly with your customers? WordPress is an easy blogging solution, but it can get complicated.
$4 per month
$8 per month
$25 per month
$45 per month
Wordpress has been around for long enough that it powers over 36% of the web. That’s both a good and bad thing. It’s simple enough to set up a blog, but delve deeper and it can get overwhelming. Ideally, it works best for those who have some coding knowledge already so they can make tweaks to existing templates and plugins. Once you master it, WordPress can do almost anything you want it to thanks to a vast repository of plugins and themes, but you need to be willing to work at it.
If you just want to blog so you can inform your customers about all the latest news for your business, or you want somewhere to showcase your photography or other creative skills, WordPress gets a bit simpler to grasp thanks to the almost never-ending supply of themes. It’s cheap too, with some basic features available for free or other services costing a few bucks more.