| Updated: 10 June 2020
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the best way to communicate with your customers and clients is online. Whether you’re looking to sell your products or services over the web, show off your creative work, or simply get your company’s name and details out there – the first thing you need to do is set up a website. Fortunately, DIY website builders enable you to set up your own website quickly and easily – and they’re pretty inexpensive, too.
In these unusual times, we understand that time is money. That’s why we’ve done all the research for you – testing and comparing top website builders on price, ease of use, features, customer support, and more so you don’t have to. We’ve selected and reviewed our five favourite builders for businesses like yours – check out our quickfire comparison of those website builders here.
In the UK, nearly two million small and medium-sized businesses do not have a website – and it's estimated that each of these businesses lose an average of £173,769 in yearly revenue as a result. So, if creating a website for your small business can boost your profits by nearly £200,000 a year, the only question left to ask is… what are you waiting for?
Okay, perhaps there's another question – how do you set a website up? By far the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to create a website is using a website builder. These are simple platforms that enable you to easily put your website together without any coding knowledge or web expertise.
Which leads to our third question: which website builder should you use to launch your small business' website? To save you days of research, we've tested builders across the market – comparing prices, ease of use, features, template designs, and more – and selected our top five solutions for new ventures: Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Shopify, and BigCommerce.
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The 5 best website builders for small businesses
According to our research, the best website builders for small businesses are:
Read on to learn more about what makes these website builders ideal for small businesses…
Best all-round website builder
Wix is a wonderful small business website builder that offers over 300 design templates for users to choose from. With a simple interface and easy-to-grasp controls, Wix is used by small businesses and freelancers all over the world.
Offering 500+ templates for you to choose from, this platform is very flexible, also allowing you to make significant modifications and customisations to your template design – so you'll be free to show off your small business in whichever way feels best! Wix is highly visual, extremely user friendly and very popular. A great choice of web builder for new business owners!
This web builder is highly regarded as the ‘go-to’ web builder suitable for countless applications.
Best for total beginners
Weebly is one of the most cost-effective options out there in terms of the quality it delivers. Account sign-up and activation is almost instant, and you'll receive a free email address with your package. Its drag-and-drop functionality makes it ridiculously easy to use – which is especially important when you're new to online business – and it offers a range of pre-built features for you to exploit.
Despite a comparative lack of themes and template options, Weebly is still a really popular option because of how easy it is to get to grips with. One important thing to mention, though, is that Weebly is a completely hosted service – so your website has no choice but to sit on Weebly's own servers. This is a curse if you'd prefer to select your own server, but a blessing if you'd rather not have that hassle.
This web builder is best suited to those with no existing server or desire to obtain one.
Best for creatives
When it comes to design templates and themes, Squarespace may not offer as much variety as Wix and Weebly – it has around 50 templates to select from – but a key difference is that each and every one of Squarespace's designs are magnificently beautiful. In fact, they're some of the highest quality designs you’re ever likely to find.
So, if image is important to your small business, this is definitely one to investigate. With Squarespace, you'll receive a free domain name and privacy controls, as well as the opportunity to create your own blog and ecommerce options. Enabling you to upload lots and lots of images, if you're an artist or a photographer then this is the choice of web builder for you.
This web builder is best suited to photographers and artists alike.
Best for retail entrepreneurs
If you run a small ecommerce business, Shopify should be high on your list. In short, it provides a complete online shopping solution that'll enable you to configure your own digital store. Using Shopify, you can organise your products, develop your store front, track orders, accept card payments, and respond to customer queries with ease.
It’s like having a real-life shop – but on your computer screen! Shopify also allows third party vendors to integrate their services and products into the platform – making it the one-stop-shop for all of your small business' ecommerce needs.
This web builder is most suited to ecommerce websites that sell lots of different products.
Best for big growth ambitions
BigCommerce sits outside the top 5 most popular list of web builders – but it is still effective and widely used nonetheless. This platform provides absolutely everything you need to get going and to start progressing your business online. Unlike a lot of other website builders, this one does not provide the option to edit the infrastructure of your site. But you can still alter the design, content and merchandising options as you please. The platform also boasts a comprehensive set of e-commerce tools and a large app store to take advantage of.
This website builder is best suited to brand names that wish to grow quickly.
Other small business website builders
The list doesn’t stop with these five. There are many more web builders out there on the market for you to experiment with. This includes a number of advanced web building options that provide more design capabilities and increased functionality. One of these examples is WordPress – perhaps the most popular and widely used CMS (content management system) on the market today.
While most people have heard of WordPress the CMS, less well known is WordPress's website builder tool. WordPress.com is a web builder that will allow anyone to create a fully functioning website. This caters for everyone, from the very beginners right up to the most experienced developers out there. There are plenty of themes and plugin choices to select from, with great online support channels to assist with any technical issues. Note that it is much less sophisticated than WordPress.org, the CMS, which is capable of building large and complex websites.
There are other options such as Jimdo and Sitebuilder.com too. The latter allows you to create your own site from 1000s of free templates and offers a simple drag-and-drop interface that is really intuitive and easy to use. Jimdo is a web hosting service that makes use of a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor so that users needn’t have any existing HTML or coding knowledge at all.
Expert verdict: Which website builder is right for your small business?
Ultimately, when it comes down to it, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. The type of web builder you select will depend largely on your own personal circumstances and the requirements of your business.
What are your business objectives? What are you hoping to achieve with the creation of a new website? Do you wish to secure more sales and increase your profit margin or do you simply wish to attract attention and spread your message? Perhaps you need to do both?
Answer these questions carefully and it should start to become clear which choice of web builder is best for you. The purpose of your site, along with your business ambitions, will finalise the decision most of the time.
However, it’s also really important to shop around. Many of these web building sites offer free memberships to begin with – so why not try them all out and experiment with each one? Web building is very much a case of trial and error, even for the most advanced professionals out there.
So go on, try building something, then break it, then learn from your mistakes! Whichever option you eventually decide on, rest in the knowledge that having a brand new or updated website can only have a positive effect on your company and your customers.
What is a Website Builder?
A website builder is a tool that allows you to create a fully functioning website without the use of manual code editing. This is the perfect web building solution for those with very little coding experience and a scarce understanding of web development. There are a number of easy-to-use programs available that will allow absolutely anyone to create a web presence, regardless of experience and proficiency.
This is the reason why a lot of small businesses have taken advantage of this technology in order to set up their own online pages. By doing so, they are able to advertise their products and services, offer regular content updates and provide ecommerce functions for their customers to exploit.
How can a website builder help my small business?
Every business in the world should have a website – there is just no escaping the necessity for online domination these days! The amount of people that use the internet to shop and obtain goods continues to grow as each year passes by. This has been influenced largely by the influx of mobile phones and tablet devices on our technological markets today. All of this means that ecommerce has become big business, whilst the high street shows signs of fading away.
So, we’ve identified the need for a website – now you must build one! This is where amateur web building tools come into play. Here are just some of the ways a small business website builder can help your business:
✔ Improve credibility and reputation
This is especially true if your competitors have a web presence and you do not. This will lead your potential customers to question why you do not have a website, which in turn may lead them to choose another service or goods provider. Having a web presence in place provides credibility and enhances your reputation as a professional business.
✔ Provide 24/7 access
Most physical shops close at some point during the day, usually in the evening time around 6pm. A website stays open all day, every day. It doesn’t matter if it is 1oclock in the morning or the afternoon, anyone is able to access your features online and see what you have to offer.
✔ Highlight marketing opportunities
The online world offers tons of marketing opportunities that are extremely cost-effective when compared to real-world marketing techniques. Television adverts and billboard messages are very expensive compared to YouTube videos and blog posts.
✔ Improve sales
Increased awareness, 24-hour availability and improved marketing opportunities will all lead to a higher number of sales and a healthier bottom line. At the end of the day that is what business is all about, isn’t it? If you don’t wish to make more money then why would you be in business?
With a small business website builder you can create a brand-new company website from scratch that is cheap, efficient and easy to build. Alternatively, if you already have a website in place, you can update it with a fresh new image. Most web builders these days offer a wealth of modern free templates and support networks to assist you along the way.
What do I need to know before I start building?
Don’t go rushing off just yet! Building a web presence is easy with a small business website builder – but only if you have a clear idea of what you want first! It’s always best to have a plan in place before beginning any new project and this will be no different. So before you begin, let’s take a look at the five things you should think about first:
- What is your site’s purpose?
- Who is your target audience?
- What is your theme, tone of voice and design idea?
- Have you mapped out your content?
- Which website builder should you use?
The first two questions are required before you even think about building a website. Frankly, if you do not know the answers to these questions beforehand, then it is probably best you wait until you do. Otherwise your site may fail catastrophically! Define what you site is for and who you are aiming it at before beginning anything. You should know this already, as the answers will be based around what you sell, offer or provide.
For example, if you are a retailer of cycle helmets then your site’s purpose is to inform, advise and sell cycle helmet products to cycle enthusiasts in your region. See – easy! After this you’ll need to establish a tone of voice, choose a colour scheme and plan out all of your website’s content. Getting this out of the way early will ensure the building process is quick and seamless. Lastly, it’s time to choose a suitable web builder for businesses. But which one?