If you’re in any business today, having a website is essential. Sure, you can pay someone to create it for you, but if you want to save some cash and have full freedom over how it comes out, you may want to have a look at what website builder would suit you best and do it yourself.
Most of us (unless we’re in the IT space) don’t have coding skills, nor do we have the time to learn. Website builders (sometimes called website builder software) are typically drag-and-drop type things, which work perfectly for those of us who are not designers.
Ready to get stuck into building a website for your small business?
Is a Website Builder For You?
Website builders are super tools, and are really great for:
- Small businesses
- Small e-commerce stores
- Those with a lower budget
- Creating a perfectly adequate site in a rush
Why Use a Website Builder Over a Web Designer?
Hiring a web designer would almost certainly result in a high-quality website. But – why pay upwards of $1000 when for a few dollars a month you can create and customize your site exactly as you like it, and you don’t have to go through a middleman when things need to be changed or updated?
If you have no idea where to start, it’s as simple as choosing a template and playing around with positioning and various items. Logos, text blocks, slideshows, you name it – you’ll be able to select, insert, move things around and make it your own.
A drag-and-drop website builder is:
Of course, if you want something rather complicated, super specific or very specialized, then going with a website designer may work better for you. But it may even be worth trying out a do-it-yourself website builder first – many have a free plan you can take for a test drive, so it won’t cost you anything but time.
Best Website Builder for Small Business
There are many site builders out there, and finding the one that is right for you will require some research. Some website builders are free; others are paid. Customization options will differ for each. Some have better e-commerce tools than others.
It really depends on you and your business as to which website builder you choose to work with. Don’t be intimidated by all the options though. Website building is super easy and fun once you get the hang of it, and you’ll really enjoy being able to set your site out exactly as you want it.
Let’s have a look at some of the best website builder software out there right now. These options are great for anything from blogs and creative portfolios to business websites.
WordPress is probably the most well-known and versatile of the options. It’s free to begin but offers plenty of upgraded options, depending on what exactly you will be using it for.
- Blogger – $3 per month (billed yearly) gets you a .blog domain name, additional storage space, and email support
- Personal – $5 per month (billed yearly) allows you to choose a custom domain name, and access to live-chat customer support
- Premium – $8 per month (billed yearly) gives you access to advanced building and design tools, lots of storage space and the option to monetize your site using ads
WordPress isn’t one of the most popular website building tools for nothing – with a user-friendly interface and a stash of pre-made templates, it’s perfect for just about any kind of website you can imagine.
The one thing to bear in mind is that although WordPress is quite easy to customize, it isn’t simply a drag-and-drop builder. If you would like the DnD functionality, you can install a plugin for this purpose.
WordPress can get slightly confusing in one aspect – deciding between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Although WordPress.org is the more complete package of the two, it would be worth reading up on the differences before deciding. Check out this article for a more in-depth explanation of the differences between the two. *link*
- Incredibly flexible
- A wide variety of plugins available
- Large database of templates
- Easily customizable
- Most third-party tools are able to integrate with WordPress
- Slightly more complicated than drag-and-drop
- Can be some confusion between “.org” and “.com”
Bear in mind, if you go with the free plan your domain name will have a little extra in it – it will look something like this: www.mywebsite.wordpress.com.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, search engines don’t like it and won’t pick your site up in searches, which makes one of the paid options a much better bet for a business website, as it is hosted by WordPress directly.
If you do some Googling, you’ll likely find mixed reviews about Weebly as an effective website builder. However, it is one of the simplest, most accessible builders out there and users can expect to find everything they need to build a fully functional website.
Weebly is a great site builder for beginners and advanced users alike. The do-it-yourself, drag-and-drop function makes it really easy to create something eye-catching and easy to use. If you’re slightly more advanced as a web developer, you also have the option to do a bit of coding, so Weebly really caters for every level of creator.
- Free – Basic functions, a small amount of storage space and a .weebly.com domain name
- Connect – $5 per month (billed annually) will give you a free domain, but also only basic features
- Pro – $12 per month (billed annually) is the perfect middle-ground option; custom domain name, unlimited storage, up to 100 members and up to 25 products for e-commerce sites
- Business – $25 per month (billed annually) works well for e-commerce stores and offers inventory management, product reviews, and coupons
- Performance – $38 per month (billed annually) is the top-tier option – aimed at e-commerce stores specifically, and includes extra e-commerce tools
While it’s awesome to have so much choice to fit your business needs, most small businesses will do just fine with Weebly Pro. If you offer a membership program or aim to sell many products online, one of the higher paying options may work better for you.
- Very user-friendly
- Ability to code if you want to
- Plenty of templates available
- Great support center
- Handles large websites with ease
- Responsive and adapts well to mobile
- Good e-commerce capabilities
- Drag-and-drop editor can be limiting
All in all, if you want an easy to use, mostly more than adequate website creator, Weebly is a superb option.
Here we have the last in the W trio of popular, user-friendly website builders. Wix offers two options for getting started – you can take full control and create your own site, or Wix Artificial Design Intelligence can design a website for you.
If you choose to design your own, you can make use of one of over 500 website templates to get you on the way. If you’re a coder, Wix Cose offers advanced design options.
- Connect Domain – $4.50 per month, 1GB bandwidth, 500MB storage space, and connect your own domain
- Combo – $8.50 per month, 2GB bandwidth, 3GB storage space, free domain for a year and no Wix ads
- Unlimited – $12.50 per month, unlimited bandwidth, 10GB storage, $75 ad vouchers, site boost and visitor analytics apps included
- VIP – $24.50 per month, 20GB storage, all features of Unlimited plan plus a professional logo, social media logo files, and VIP customer support.
The business and e-commerce options ($17 – $35 per month) allow for online payments and are commission free.
- Caters for everyone, from complete beginners to coding professionals
- Easy to use
- Extremely flexible
- Allows for text animation
- Variety of plans to choose from
- Good e-commerce plans
- Mobile friendly
- Variety of templates available
- Many third-party apps are Wix integrated
- 24/7 customer support
- Once you’ve published your site, you can’t go back and change the template
- Slightly more pricey than the others
Wix is quite on par with WordPress and Weebly, and comes recommended for websites of 30 pages or less.
Squarespace is ideal for creatives looking for a site with plenty of visual appeal.
This website builder is not as easy to use as others, but if you want something very high-quality, it is worth spending a bit of time learning how to get around the initial struggles.
- Personal – $12 per month (billed annually), unlimited bandwidth and storage, free custom domain
- Business – $18 per month (billed annually), unlimited bandwidth and storage, fully integrated e-commerce with a 3% transaction fee
- Basic Online Store – $26 per month (billed annually), all features from Business Plan, no transaction fees, 24/7 support, inventory, label printing, and many more business features
- Advanced Online Store – $40 per month (billed annually), all features from Basic Online Store, subscriptions, gift cards, and more
You can choose to go for the free trial at first until you’ve made a firm decision to stick with Squarespace for the long haul. You can also pay monthly, but the fee will increase slightly.
- Very high-quality templates
- Fully customizable
- Live chat customer support
- Superior e-commerce features
- Good choice of plugins
- Not the most user-friendly
- Slightly more pricey than others
- Not suitable for larger websites
- No store for third-party apps
- No back-up! You will be responsible for backing up your site content yourself
If you’re looking for a site builder that’s elegant, sleek, and creative, you won’t go wrong with Squarespace. It will require a little time to learn, but if you get it right, you won’t be disappointed with the results.
Online Store Builders – E-commerce Sites
E-commerce websites can be a little trickier than your average blog site, but there are platforms out there that cater specifically for these kinds of sites. These focus far more on e-commerce features than other website builders do, which makes them superb options to use to create an online store.
BigCommerce, as its name suggests, is an e-commerce online store website builder. It is an easy, user-friendly designer allowing for responsive and visually appealing design.
As you would expect from an e-commerce website, they offer a multitude of features catering specifically for online stores. While they don’t have nearly as many templates as others, they offer things like integration with PayPal and other gateways, integration with various email marketing services, selective shipping rates, and a product review feature.
- Standard – $29.95 per month, offering a host of great e-commerce features and up to $50k online sales per year
- Plus – $79.95 per month, some extra features and up to $150k online sales per year
- Pro – $249.95 per month, includes product filtering, Google customer reviews, and up to $400k online sales per year
- Enterprise – Call to request pricing info, full-feature e-commerce store, ability to set custom limit for sales per year
All plans are subject to a discount when paid annually instead of monthly, and come with unlimited bandwidth, storage, and products.
- Most built-in features of the e-commerce website builders
- Social media integration, allowing you to sell on various platforms
- Superior SEO functions
- User-friendly website design features
- Can be difficult for beginners
- Not mobile friendly!
Shopify is one of the most well-known online store creators and known as one of the easiest to use. It has a fantastic inventory system, which makes it simple to manage your online store with as little hassle as possible.
With a wide range of templates for your use, you can create an online store to your liking, whether you have the technical know-how or are new to website building.
- Shopify Lite – $9 per month, the most basic plan, sell products on social media or on an existing website
- Basic Shopify – $29 per month, sell unlimited products at a 2% transaction fee
- Shopify – $79 per month, unlimited products at a 1% transaction fee, plus the ability to give gift cards and get professional reports on your store
- Advanced Shopify – $299 per month, sell unlimited products at a 0.5% transaction fee, third-party shipping rates, advanced report builder
- Shopify Plus – contact Shopify to find out about this, their most advanced plan
If you want to try before you buy, you can use Shopify free for 14 days, no credit card required.
- Best known on the market
- Sell across multiple platforms, including Amazon, eBay, and social media platforms
- Advanced inventory system for easy management
- Easy to use
- The only online store platform to charge transaction fees
- Storefront creation can be slightly complicated switching between the editor and the dashboard
With advanced features, user-friendly interface, and quality support, Shopify is a fantastic option if you’re starting an online store.
Volusion is an online store creator for physical products only – if you sell digital products, this is not the one for you.
This cloud-based e-commerce platform has all the basic features one would need to create their own online store, and has a few other features unique to their platform. Design can be a bit of a mission, but their selling tools are top notch.
Their biggest draw (beating Shopify and BogCommerce) is their on-dashboard integration with Amazon Marketplace and eBay (from Business plan onwards). They also have built-in SEO, and you can purchase add-ons directly from the dashboard.
Volusion also charges no transaction fees, which means whatever you make is yours to keep!
- Personal – $29 per month, up to 100 products and $50k online sales per year
- Professional – $79 per month, up to 5000 products and $100k online sales per year
- Business – $299 per month, unlimited products and up to $500k online sales per year, Amazon and eBay integration, customer loyalty plans, advanced report building
- Prime – completely customized plan, VIP support, unlimited sales. Contact Volusion if you are interested in this plan.
You can try Volusion free for 14 days, and if you choose to go ahead with a paid plan, prices are discounted when paid for annually instead of monthly.
- No transaction fees
- Fairly easy to use
- Competitive pricing
- Good analytics tools
- Variety of payment methods
- Physical products only – no digital products
- Limited integration features
- No blogging features
Volusion has two versions – V1 and V2. V2 is newer, simpler, and aimed at getting sellers making sales quickly and with as little setup as possible. Which you choose is up to you!
Other Website Builders
If you haven’t found what you’re looking for in the list above, you may want to check out some of these options too:
Most of the website builders mentioned above offer web hosting as part of their paid or premium plans.
If you would prefer an external host, there are some good options available for small businesses.
While website designers may be necessary for complicated websites, there is no reason you can’t build your own through one of these website builders. Simply choose the best one for your needs, and get designing!
You’ll come out on top, with a website that looks the part, fulfills all functions you need as a small business, and is easy to tweak if you need to. What’s not to love?
Get started today and let us know in the comments which website builder you like the most!