The 7 Best Website Builders and Ecommerce Platforms 2021

Best website builder UK

By Dan Barraclough | Updated: 15 February 2021

Your business needs an ecommerce platform or a website builder – but which one?


With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, you’ll need to set up a website if you want to communicate with your audience. Depending on your business, you’ll need either a website builder or ecommerce platform.

Ecommerce platforms are used specifically for building online stores, with tools designed to help you take payments and sell products online. Website builders are for creating non-ecommerce websites such as business sites, portfolios, and blogs.

To help you decide which specific platform is right for you, we thoroughly tested each ecommerce platform ourselves, first-hand. We also invited everyday users to try them out in order to give each a ‘Customer Score’, which indicates how positive the user experience was.

We critically evaluated each platform in the most important areas such as sales features, design functions, value for money, customer support, and more, scoring each platform out of five in those categories. We then used those findings to produce an overall rating for each platform, as well as giving us detailed insight into each one.

We’ll first review the UK’s best ecommerce platforms, followed by the best website builders.


The 4 best ecommerce platforms

From our independent testing, we know that the best ecommerce platforms are BigCommerce, Wix Ecommerce, Squarespace Ecommerce, and Shopify.

Ecommerce platform

Starting price (billed annually)Best for

Overall rating /5

BigCommerce

£22/monthBest for scaling your business

4.3

Wix Ecommerce

£13/monthBest for user-friendliness

4.3

Shopify

£22/monthBest sales-specific features

4.2

Squarespace Ecommerce

£20/monthBest for designing your brand image

4.1


BigCommerce

Would suit your business if you want to scale to new heights

Sales features /5

Design tools /5Value for money /5Help and support /5

Customer score /5

4.4

3.64.03.2

3.0

BigCommerce is big on built-in features. It has everything you need to grow your business already available at no extra cost – unlike the other platforms, which rely on third-party apps.

We found BigCommerce’s multi-channel selling particularly impressive – enabling you to sell via social media and grow your audience with ease – and loved its SEO features, which can help your online store to appear high up on relevant search engine results pages. 

What’s more, unlike Shopify, there is no transaction fee to worry about, which can help you save enormously in the long run.

While it’s the least user-friendly platform we tested (scoring 3.3/5), BigCommerce is brilliant at helping you to manage your entire business processes, not just sell products.

Pros:

  • Excellent SEO features, including onsite prompts and hints when adding products
  • Widest choice of in-built features of any platform on the market
  • Multi-channel integration across social media
  • Far longer free trial period than Shopify

X Cons:

  • Interface could be more user-friendly
  • The only platform without a mobile app to help you build on the go
  • Relatively restrictive design control

BigCommerce pricing

BigCommerce offers a generous 15-day free trial period, and three core price plans in USD, which we’ve converted to GBP:

Plan

Cost (billed annually)Best for

What you’ll get

Standard£22/monthStarting a small or medium-sized online store

Sell an unlimited number of products

Multichannel selling

Coupon creation

Reporting tools

Plus£59/monthGrowing your online store

Abandoned cart recovery emails

Customer loyalty programmes

Store credit card payment details

Pro£220/monthScaling your business to new heights

Filter products through size and colour variants

Dedicated SSL security

Google reviews

Big ambitions for your business? BigCommerce might be right for you Try BigCommerce Free

Wix Ecommerce

Would suit your business if you want a user-friendly platform

Sales features /5

Design tools /5Value for money /5Help and support /5

Customer score /5

4.3

3.54.24.8

4.5

Wix Ecommerce is your best bet if you want total control over how your storefront looks. 

While it only supports multi-channel selling through Instagram as an in-built feature, it does offer lots of creative freedom and brilliant customer support.

However, you can install the app ECWID (£0-£99/month), which unlocks your Wix store to a range of sales features including selling via Facebook and Pinterest that can rival BigCommerce or Shopify.

We also liked the SEO Wizard tool, which makes it really easy to improve your store’s ranking on Google’s results pages.

Read Full Wix Review

Pros:

  • Lots of creative control to help you build your brand
  • Add product videos to help improve the customer experience
  • Easy to use

X Cons:

  • The sheer amount of creative freedom can hinder ecommerce best practices
  • Only supports multi-channel selling via Instagram as an in-built feature
  • Could be easier to sync physical inventory with your new Wix store

Wix Ecommerce pricing

Wix offers a 14-day free trial on its premium plans, with three ecommerce-specific plans to choose from:

Plan

Cost (billed annually)Best for

What you’ll get

Business Basic£13/monthSmall businesses looking to sell online

Accept online payments

Unlimited bandwidth

20GB storage

Free domain for one year

Upload up to 5 hours of video

Site Booster app

Visitor Analytics app

£75 Google Ads voucher

Sales analytics and reports

Business Unlimited£16/monthGrowing businesses

35GB storage

Upload up to 10 hours of video

Professional logo

Pro ecommerce features such as automated tax sales

Business VIP£22/monthMedium to large businesses

50GB storage

Unlimited video hours

Priority response on the Wix Answers page

VIP support

Wix Ecommerce makes it really easy to build a successful brand online Try Wix Ecommerce Free

Shopify

Would suit your business if you want excellent sales-specific features

Sales features /5

Design tools /5Value for money /5Help and support /5

Customer score /5

4.7

3.83.83.8

4.6

Shopify places no real restrictions on how to build your inventory system – you can upload single or multiple products, receive daily revenue reports, and use its online invoice generator to make your payment collection days much easier.

It also offers superb multi-channel integration, letting you sell through Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, eBay, and other social platforms (which is more than Wix Ecommerce can offer).

However, it’s the only platform to enforce its own transaction fee (2.2% +20p on the ‘Basic’ plan) unless you use Shopify Payments. Shopify also relies on third party apps for much of its functionality, which can see your monthly costs add up quickly.

Pros:

  • Excellent multi-channel integration
  • Provides the best sales-specific features of any platform we tested
  • Features are more customisable than on BigCommerce

X Cons:

  • Transaction fees imposed if you don’t use Shopify’s payment gateway
  • Less creative freedom than Wix Ecommerce
  • You’ll need to reformat your entire website if you switch templates after going live

Shopify pricing

Shopify offers a 14-day free trial period plus three core price plans, which we’ve converted from USD to GBP:

Plan

Cost (billed annually)Best for

What you’ll get

Basic Shopify£22/monthStarting a small online store

Sell an unlimited number of products

24/7 support

2.2% + 20p credit card rates

Sell in 133 currencies

Shopify£58/monthGrowing your business

Gift cards

Abandoned cart recovery emails

Five staff accounts

1.9% + 20p credit card rates

Advanced Shopify£219/monthLarge online stores

Third party calculated shipping rates

15 staff accounts

Sell in five languages

1.6% + 20p credit card rates

Shopify is one of the most comprehensive ecommerce platforms around Try Shopify Free

Squarespace Ecommerce

Would suit your business if you want a stunning online store

Sales features /5

Design tools /5Value for money /5Help and support /5

Customer score /5

4.0

4.44.93.3

4.1

Squarespace Ecommerce has the best design features of any platform we tested.

Its impressive marketing features can really help build your brand, too. It supports multi-channel selling, the ability to create and brand your Instagram story posts, and built-in social media live feeds on your website – something that costs extra on the other platforms.

Space for improvement? Sure. Squarespace Ecommerce will struggle to keep pace with Shopify or BigCommerce if you want to scale your business (for example, it only supports two payment processors compared to Shopify’s 100+ options), and it’s more tricky to use than Wix Ecommerce.

Pros:

  • Excellent marketing features including multi-channel integration
  • Best-designed templates of any platform
  • Excellent value for money

X Cons:

  • More difficult to use than Wix Ecommerce or Shopify
  • Supports the fewest number of payment processors (only PayPal and Stripe)

Squarespace pricing

Squarespace offers a 14-day free trial period and has two ecommerce-specific price plans to choose from:

PlanCost (billed annually)Best forWhat you’ll get
Basic Commerce£20/monthSMBs looking to sell online

Point of Sale app to help you sell in person

Sell on Instagram

Limited availability labels

0% transaction fees

Advanced Commerce£30/monthMedium-sized ecommerce businesses

Abandoned cart recovery

Sell subscriptions

Advanced shipping features (including a real-time cost calculator)

Squarespace can help you design a store that really stands out from the competition Try Squarespace Free

The 3 best website builders

We’ve tried and tested many website builders in our time, so we know exactly what makes a strong platform. From our independent research, we know that the best website builders are Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly.

Website builderStarting price (billed annually)Free plan/trial?Best forOverall rating /5
Wix£3/monthFree planBest overall website builder4.5
Squarespace£10/month14-day free trialBest templates4.5
Weebly£4/monthFree planBest value for money3.5

Wix

Would suit your business if you want a website built quickly

With over 154 million users in 190 different countries, Wix enables you to build a professional-looking website within a matter of hours, offering 510+ templates and intuitive drag-and-drop design tools. 

Better yet, Wix ADI (artificial design intelligence) can generate a brand new website for you in minutes, after you’ve answered a few questions about the type of site you want.

On the downside, Wix doesn’t allow you to switch templates once you publish your website, which can be quite restrictive.

Pros:

  • Huge choice of templates to help you design the website you want
  • Best website builder for help and support
  • Wix ADI can build a website for you within minutes

X Cons:

  • Cannot switch templates after publishing your website
  • Adding apps can increase your monthly costs

Wix pricing

Wix has four plans that are designed for building non-ecommerce websites, starting from just £3 per month.

Wix also has a free plan, but it comes with Wix adverts on every page, plus a ‘.wix.com’ subdomain, which can make your site look unprofessional. For that reason, we’d recommend the premium plans for building your business website:

PlanCost (billed annually)Best for

What you’ll get

Connect Domain£3/monthVery basic websites

1GB bandwidth

500MB storage

Connect your own domain name

Combo£6/monthPersonal use

2GB bandwidth

3GB storage

Remove Wix ads

Free domain for one year

£75 Google Ads voucher

Unlimited (most popular)£8.50/monthEntrepreneurs and Freelancers

Unlimited bandwidth

10GB storage

Site Booster app (worth £45)

Visitor Analytics app (worth £45)

VIP£18/monthSmall to medium businesses

20GB storage

Professional logo designed for you (worth £38)

VIP support

Wix is the best overall website builder on the market Try Wix Today

Squarespace

Would suit your business if you want a beautiful website

The best website builder for design, using Squarespace is the closest you’ll get to professional web designer quality. It offers the best-designed templates on the market, and powerful design tools.

Due to this creative complexity, Squarespace is harder to use than Wix. If you struggle with tech or have little interest in spending hours – or days – designing your website, then you should try Wix or Weebly instead.

That said, you’ll end up with a beautiful website if you stick it out with Squarespace.

Pros:

  • Best-designed templates of any website builder
  • Offers lots of creative control through powerful design tools
  • Mobile app to help you get creative on the go

X Cons:

  • Steeper learning curve than on Wix
  • No auto-save feature while editing your website

Squarepsace pricing

Squarepace offers a 14=day free trial, and has two website builder plans to choose from:

PlanCost (billed annually)Best forWhat you’ll get
Personal£10/monthPersonal use

Free custom domain

Unlimited bandwidth and storage

24/7 customer support

Business£15/monthSmall businesses

Professional Google account

Up to £75 Google Ads credit

Sell unlimited number of products

Sell gift cards

3% transaction fee

Squarespace has the best design tools to help your website shine online Try Squarespace Today

Weebly

Would suit your business if you want value for money

Weebly is another popular drag-and-drop website builder, meaning you can place elements wherever you like on each page. 

It offers affordable price plans and plenty of apps to help you grow your business, as well as strong SEO features to help your website appear higher up on the search engine results pages, making Weebly great value for money.

It can’t match Wix for creative freedom, and it doesn’t have an ADI option. Also, Weebly’s templates are less impressive than those offered by Squarespace, but it’s a good option for small business owners who don’t have much technical skill.

Read full Weebly review

Pros:

  • Really useful SEO guides and tips
  • Large app market to help you bolster your site
  • Best value for money website builder

X Cons:

Weebly pricing

Weebly has three website builder plans to choose from. Like Wix, it has a free plan, but that comes with Weebly adverts on each page, which can make your site look amateurish. We recommend signing up to one of these price plans:

PlanCost (billed annually)Best forWhat you’ll get
Connect£4/monthPersonal sites

Free SSL security

500MB storage

Connect a custom domain

Chat and email support

Pro£9/monthGroups and organisations

Unlimited storage

Remove Weebly ads

Site search bar

Accept payments

Phone support

£75 Google Ads credit

Business£18/monthSmall businesses and stores

Coupon codes

Shipping cost calculator

Automatic tax calculator

Pop-up notifications

Weebly offers superb value for money and can help your business grow online Try Weebly Today

Expert verdict

Built on the findings from our independent research, we’ve selected and reviewed the best website builders and ecommerce platforms in the UK. You already know which one is best for your business, but here’s a recap…

The best ecommerce platforms are BigCommerce and Wix Ecommerce, both scoring 4.3/5 overall in our testing. BigCommerce is best suited to fast-growing businesses, providing all the built-in tools you need to scale, while charging zero transaction fees (unlike Shopify). Wix Ecommerce is the more user-friendly platform, making it easy to build a small, brand-focussed online store.

The best website builder is Wix, ideal for creating professional-looking websites with consummate ease, closely followed by Squarespace and its beautiful templates. Though not as simple to use as Wix, Squarespace has the best design tools of any website builder we tested, helping your website stand out from the crowd.

Dan Barraclough

Dan’s a Senior Writer at Expert Market, specialising in digital marketing, web design, and photocopiers, amongst other topics.

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