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.
We understand that making a website from scratch can be a little daunting. Unless you’re prepared to spend thousands of pounds on web developers and web designers, there’s no point in trying – right? Wrong!
An Introduction to Website Builders
With website builders, making your website from scratch is quick and easy. You can create slick, professional and functional websites without learning how to code. In fact, you don’t need to understand coding at all! .
Compared to traditional content management systems (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal, website builders are very user-friendly and require no technical knowledge. Most website building tools are free to use, and websites can be built via a simple drag-and-drop function. If you're still a little unclear about the differences between websites builders and traditional CMS', check out our video below.
Read on to discover how you can use website builders to create your website in 3 simple steps.
|Making a Website: Step-by-step Guide|
|1. Choosing Your Website Builder|
|2. Choosing a Domain & Email Address|
|3. Customising Your Website|
How to Make a Website: Step-by-step Guide
Making a website does not have to be a long and difficult process. Website builders are designed to make your life as easy as possible, so you can concentrate on the things that really matter, like running your business or writing your blog posts!
We've broken down the process into 3 simple steps and have hopefully given you enough information to get going straight away.
Step 1: Choose your website builder.
Step 2: Choose your domain and email address
Step 3: Customise your website
Seems simple? That's because it is!
Step 1: Choose Your Website Builder
Choosing the correct website builder for you is an important step. While some are great for ecommerce, others work better for blogs. Get his step right and take the stress out of your website creation.
We realise that there are so many website builder options out there, it can be a bit confusing. Our advice would be to go for the simplest website builder that suits your needs. There will always be the option to buy additional upgrades later down the line.
Below, we’ve created a handy comparison chart to help you sift through the numerous options available. Some questions that are worthwhile considering before you choose your website building tool include:
- What will my website primarily be used for?
- How many template options do I need?
- Do I need my website to be mobile responsive?
- What help and support will I need?
- How much am I willing to spend on the software?
- Is there a free trial?
- What add-ons and upgrades are available?
Which Website Builder is Best for You?
|Best For||Pricing From||Support||Star Rating|
|Wix||All-round||Free version||Email, Phone|
|Squarespace||Stunning Templates||£9.40/month||24/7 Live Chat, Email|
|Weebly||Ease of Use||Free version||Live Chat, Phone|
|Shopify||Ecommerce||£23/month||24/7 Phone, Live Chat, Email|
|Bigcommerce||Ecommerce||£23/month||24/7 Phone, Live Chat, Email|
|1&1||Choice of Templates||£6.99/month||Live Chat, Phone, Email|
|Sitebuilder.com||Keeping it Simple||Free version||24/7 Phone, Forum|
|Site123||Speedy Set-up||Free version||24/7 Live Chat, Email|
Wix is one of the most popular website building tools to date, with over 100 million registered users. Their success has grown due to their effortlessly simple interface – it’s drag and drop at its very best! It is one of the most intuitive and user friendly website builders we’ve tested, and you really can have a website up and running in a matter of minutes if you use one of their professional looking templates.
We love: Last year, Wix introduced its new artificial intelligence website builder, Wix ADI. Answer a few of Wix ADI’s questions and it will build and populate a customised website template in a matter of minutes!
Squarespace is renowned for being a premium website builder. Its catalogue of themes may not be as large as some competitors, but they are all sleek, professional and seriously stunning. Consider Squarespace if you plan for your site to be photography-heavy, or if you’re a fan of beautiful design.
We love: Squarespace has recently updated its themes so that they are all now mobile responsive. No more worrying about how your site will look on different devices!
Weebly is a fantastic option if you’re hoping to get your website up and running as quickly as possible. It’s the easiest to use and the most intuitive of all the website builders we tested. Weebly currently have a good choice of templates, and their selection is expanding every month. They are slightly less innovative than their competitor, Wix, but are still a great choice for a user-friendly website builder.
We love: Weebly offers access to a seriously impressive app store. Users can choose from a number of apps in Weebly’s App Center that add extra functionality, like adding in a menu or an FAQ section.
Shopify is one of the leading ecommerce website builders, currently used by nearly 600,000 online shops. If you want to take the hassle out of building your ecommerce site, consider a simple, user-friendly website tool like Shopify. There are hundreds of mobile-responsive store themes to choose from. Each will ensure your store looks great no matter where your customers are browsing from. It even offers reasonably priced subscription plans, too.
We love: Shopify takes great pride into its themes and templates. It pays skilled designers to create its themes so you can rest assured each will look slick and professional.
BigCommerce’s website building tool has the capability to deal with a huge range of online businesses. It is built with the end-user in mind, and so has a range of features that ecommerce businesses will appreciate from the offset. Manage returns, accept payments and even integrate with eBay on BigCommerce.
We love: Bigcommerce does NOT take a transaction fee for using its services, unlike some other ecommerce sites. This way you can enjoy the growth of your business without handing over more and more of your hard-earned cash!
1&1 IONOS is great for sourcing sector-specific business templates from which to build your website. From construction and real estate to restaurants and tourism, both B2B and B2C businesses will find 1&1’s templates helpful and professional. There is no free version of 1&1’s services, but they do offer a 30-day money back guarantee if you’re not happy.
SiteBuilder.com is one of the simplest website builder tools on the market. It has a thousands of templates, all of which are free. In terms of their design, Sitebuilder.com’s templates are a little behind that of their competition, but are easily customisable via their drag and drop function. Choose Sitebuilder.com for a fuss-free website builder
Site123 goes one step further than the drag and drop style website builders and provides ready-made websites ready for you to populate with your content. It is marketed as the easiest and simplest tool on the market, although note that the customisation capabilities on Site123 are less sophisticated than Wix or Weebly.
Step 2: Choose a Domain & Email Address
Choosing a domain and an email address should go hand-in-hand with selecting your website builder outlined above. Having a professional domain and email address is an easy way to reassure customers that your business is secure and legitimate. Read on to discover how.
How to Register a Domain Name
A domain name is the URL that you type into the address bar at the top of any website browser, e.g. expertmarket.co.uk. A domain name is an important aspect of your website’s branding, so make sure you choose wisely! When deciding on your domain name, you have two options:
Option 1: Be given a domain name via your website builder
All website builders give you a ready-made “domain” when you first setup your website with them. This service is free, but the drawback is that you do not truly own your own domain. Website builder sites like Wix, Weebly and Bigcommerce only provide you with a sub-domain for free. In practice, this means that your domain will contain your website builder’s branding, e.g. expertmarket.wix.com
A sub-domain is not a practical solution in the long-term. It is damaging to your business’ brand and can be seen as unprofessional. Also, you will never be able to transfer this sub-domain to other website builders, as you do not fully own the domain name.
This is why we would always recommend option 2.
Option 2: Buy a domain via a domain registrar service
Head to a domain registrar site to browse and buy a domain name that suits your business. Popular domain registrar sites include:
Costs to buy a domain name can vary from £50 to thousands of pounds, depending on the popularity of the domain you are buying. This is an initial upfront cost that you only pay once. On top of this, there is an annual fee that you must pay to the domain registrar to ensure you can keep the rights to your domain. This fee ranges from £10-£15 per year.
Option 3: Buy a domain via your website builder
Some (but not all) website builders offer the ability to buy a custom domain name. You will need to sign up to, or already be paying for, their paid plan. This is a great way to ensure your business has a custom, tailored domain name with relatively little hassle. With Wix and Weebly, you get the first year of your domain for free. Thereafter, you will pay an annual fee as advertised on their website.
Check out the table below to see our recommended options for sourcing your domain.
|Option 1: Free Website Builder||Free|
Requires no setup
Unable to transfer to different website builders
|Option 2: Buy from Domain Registrar||Tailored to your business|
Can be used across all website builders
|Initial upfront fee can be high|
Slightly complicated to sync with website builder
|Option 3: Buy from Website Builder||Tailored to your business|
Easy setup with your website builder provider
First year often provided for free
|Higher annual costs than a domain registrar|
Not all website builders offer this option
Common Domain Name Mistakes
Follow the guidance below and avoid falling victim to some of the most common domain name pitfalls.
- Don’t make your domain name too lengthy.
Short and sweet is key for any good domain name. You don’t want potential customers or clients to be put off by having to type an overly wordy domain name.
- Avoid numbers.
You want users to know how to spell your domain intuitively. Numbers can pose a problem as users do not know whether to use the written or number format.
- Choose an appropriate Top Level Domain (TLD).
A TLD is the format in which you register your domain, e.g. .com, .co.uk or .org. There are hundreds of different TLDs, but some are more appropriate for a particular brand than others. In general, the more familiar TLDs, like .co.uk, are always a safe bet.
- Don’t neglect the importance of SEO.
While it may seem like a great idea to invent a domain name that noone has ever heard of or even seen before, in practice this may hinder your website's growth. If your business is small and relatively unestablished, you will want a domain that represents things that users are searching for.
- Pursue your ideal domain name.
Found a perfect domain name that somebody else has already registered? There is no harm in getting in touch to express your interest in purchasing the domain from them. It might not happen overnight, but a little human contact can go a long way!
How to Set Up a Business Email Address
Once you have chosen and registered your perfect domain name, the next thing to do is set up a professional email address.
Consider these two email addresses:
- firstname.surname@ gmail.com
- firstname.surname@ expertmarket.com
Without doubt, the second looks more professional than the first. We would always recommend setting up a specific business email address that matches your domain. It’s quick, easy and cheap when you use Google’s G Suite software.
From £3.30 per user per month you can enjoy a business email via Gmail, as well as a host of other business features.
Step 3: Customise and Build Your Website
You’ve chosen the website builder that will allow you to make a perfect website, you have a domain and email address, and now you’re nearly ready to go!
The beauty of all the website builder tools we have reviewed above is that they are so simple and easy to use. Even a total technophobe can have a simple but professional-looking website up and running in under an hour.
Each of the website builders we recommend have their own interface, but all are reassuringly user-friendly. Here’s what to expect when you embark on your website building journey.
Website Builder FAQs
Which website builder is best for a business?
This is a hard one to answer as it very much depends on the type of business.
- For ecommerce sites, we recommend Shopify.
- For restaurants/photography, we recommend Squarespace.
- For general business try Wix or Weebly.
Take a look at our 5 best website builder recommendations for more detail.
What about WordPress?
There’s a reason we haven’t covered WordPress.org in our reviews and recommendations. Put simply, WordPress.org is not a website builder, but rather a CMS (content management system).
WordPress.org is an extremely powerful platform that is used to create some of the world’s biggest websites (think Forbes, LinkedIn etc.), but it is much more complicated to setup and manage than a website builder. WordPress.org is an open sourced platform which means you will need to know how to write code to use it properly. Also, WordPress.org websites are self-hosted which adds another layer of complication – you will need to setup a the hosting and manage the server yourself.
For larger websites, WordPress.org is a fantastic tool. It is fully customisable with an incredible range of plugins and themes. However if you need a simpler, more manageable way of creating your website, we would always recommend a website builder.
Which website builder is best for SEO?
In the past, website builders had received criticism for having poor SEO capabilities. However research has shown that these criticisms are largely unfounded. Website builders across the board have taken great steps to improve their SEO features and functionalities.
In short, Website builders are no better or worse than other content management systems (like WordPress) for SEO. To succeed in SEO there is, sadly, no quick fix! Concentrating on your on-page and off-page optimisation is a much better option than worrying about which website builder Google prefers.
Note that if using Weebly, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan in order for your site to be indexed by Google. On their free plan, none of your pages will show up in Google searches.
Can I build a website for free?
Absolutely. Many of the website builders we tested offer a free plan. You will be limited to the domain address provided by the website builder (ending in .wix.com for example), and will only be able to use the free templates and tools, but it is definitely possible.
However, as with most things in life, you do get what you pay for! If your website is to be the backbone of your business, we strongly recommend investigating the paid plans on offer. Depending on the package, you will also enjoy greater bandwidth, professional email and domain, greater support and a whole host of other features that will improve your site’s performance.
Do I need to hire an experienced developer?
No. The beauty of website builders is that no coding experience is required at all! Most use a simple drag and drop functionality that takes minutes to master.