Building a website for your small business is daunting – we know from first-hand experience.
You’re already working hard and don’t want the added stress of running a website online.
You might think you’re not good enough with computers and building a website would take too long and cost too much.
Good news! Having a website is a great way of promoting your small business and reaching more customers and, thanks to drag and drop website builders, you can build one in the same time it takes to cook a good Thanksgiving dinner.
If you’re worried you don’t have the time or skill to build a small business website, you’re in the right place. Our recommended platforms make getting your small business set up online seem easy.
So how do you choose the right website builder for your small business? Every company is different, right?
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution – which builder is best for you will depend on what you hope to achieve through your small business website.
You might just want to set up a website for your small business to connect with more customers, or you might have an event you want to promote. Whatever your needs, we’ll point out the right website builder for you.
We’ll explain why we think the best website builders for small business owners are:
If you’re looking to sell products online, you’ll want a dedicated ecommerce platform like Shopify or BigCommerce.
By the end of this guide you will:
- Understand why it’s so important your small business has a website
- Be clear on what features and functions your small business website needs
- Be ready to choose the right website builder to get your small business online
Click on the following links to read the specific sections:
Why Your Small Business Needs A Website
As more of your customers use the internet, it’s more important for your businesses to have an online presence.
As a business, even a small one, you’ve got to go where your customers are right?
Your competitors are most likely online (if they’re not, building a website gives you a great chance to stand out), so having a presence online is crucial if you are going to compete.
Running a business without a website would be like trying to keep up in an F1 race driving a horse and cart. Your competitors will have built a shiny new website and be zooming ahead of you!
A business website means your company can be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Customers can engage with your brand long after you’ve shut up shop and gone home.
You can provide useful contact information, such as:
- Phone number, store address and email address
- Opening times (if you have a brick-and-mortar store)
- Information about new products or stock changes
- Event times
By keeping your customers up-to-date and allowing them to engage with your business on their time, not yours, you’re keeping them happy. A happy customer = a happy balance book!
It’s not enough to create any old business website, it has to look professional. Customers will punish a poor business website by voting with their feet (and mouse cursors) and refusing to shop with you.
Think of your website as a résumé for your small business: a stunning site will convince customers that you are a credible company and one they should spend their money with.
How Website Builders Can Help Your Small Business
You’re probably thinking:
“But I’m awful with computers, if I try and build a website it will look like trash!”
“I’m too busy running my small business, I don’t have the time!”
Don’t worry, website builders make getting online painless because they’re so easy to use.
Website builders are like having a full-time business partner and technical team rolled into one.
The two big benefits are: saving time and saving money.
Forget weeks, with a website builder you can be up and running in a matter of hours. They’re super easy and intuitive to use – just point your mouse and click at the styling, templates and features you want to add to your site.
Hiring a website designer or developer to build your website is a lengthy (not to mention expensive) process and can involve months of back-and-forth discussions before you actually have a product you’re happy with. This is because there will always be differences in how you see your website to what the designer and developer actually deliver.
If you’re looking to get set up quickly and cheaply, website builders let you focus your time on the more important (and fun) parts of your online business website, like creating stunning visuals and unique branding.
We’re guessing these are the reasons why you want to launch a website in the first place?
With more and more shoppers browsing on mobile, it’s so important to make sure your site works well on a mobile device. When you’re building your site, the best website builders allow you to toggle between mobile and desktop view to see what your site looks like on each device.
This means you can spot any problems with how your site looks on mobile and make any changes needed.
Even building a custom-made website yourself on the cheap will set you back $1000s and any changes or updates are only going to cost you more, because that’s when you’ll need to hire a designer or a coder – and designers and coders don’t come cheap.
Costs can spiral out of control because the longer it takes for you to agree on a finished product with your designer or developer, the more of their (expensive) time you are using.
Website Builders let you change copy and images and add new pages – all for a fraction of the cost.
As well as saving money, you might want to make a bit too?
The easy-to-use marketing tools on website builders mean that your business will also be able to make money by acquiring new customers through channels like social media and SEO (search engine optimization – where your site ranks on Google for relevant products. The higher you rank, the more traffic your site gets and, hopefully, the more sales).
These marketing techniques are A LOT cheaper than traditional advertising like newspaper ads.
How To Choose A Small Business Website Builder
Before you dive in and start building your website, it’s important to figure out what is important to your small business.
Website builders are perfect for artists, coffee shop owners, ecommerce site owners, photographers, writers, art dealers, restaurants, wedding planners, gardeners, electricians, plumbers – the list is endless.
But a plumber, for example, will have very different needs to a wedding photographer.
One needs an online order booking form, while the other needs to add and upload top-quality images.
Ask yourself: who are your customers? Are you looking to advertise your brand? Or do you need to take bookings online?
Grab a bit of paper and write down what goals you want to achieve (take bookings online, for example), what features you’d like your website to include (a blog page or an ‘About Us’ section) and who your target audience is.
Here are five factors we’ve put together. They’re not everything, but they’re a good starting point for deciding what your small business website needs to prioritize (and what website builder might be best for you):
1.Ease of use
All of our top-rated builders for small business websites are very user-friendly and can help you get online even if you don’t have a technical bone in your body.
Sounds good right?
They also all offer free trials, so you can experiment and play around to find out which builder you find the easiest to use, without having to spend any of your own money.
Think of it as trying on lots of different clothes before you decide on the right outfit for a party.
Wix and Weebly both offer free basic plans, but if you’re serious about building an eye-catching small business website we advise you to sign up to a paid plan to access apps and features that will help your store stand out.
When testing each website builder, ask yourself:
- Can you add pictures and templates easily, without messing up your site’s layout?
- Do you find it easy to make changes such as updating contact information and adding new products?
- Is the website builder able to provide the features you need? For example, if you’re a restaurant and you want to take online bookings, can you add a booking form to your site?
- Are the color schemes and templates suitable for your business? An accountancy firm, for example, will need different color schemes and templates to a local ice cream seller.
We can point you in the direction of our top-rated website builders, but we can’t absolutely say which one is the best for you because a lot of it comes down to personal preference. That’s why we encourage you to test each of our recommended website builders out and see if it works for your small business.
The easier you find the the builder to use, the more time you have to play around with your site’s color scheme and branding, write product descriptions and source top-quality images – all things that will make your store stand out!
2.Social media integration
Social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter can be a great way to get eyeballs on your small business website.
Is social media an important way you plan to generate sales or interact with customerWis?
If the answer’s yes, then you’ll want a website builder that focuses on social media integration (the better the integration, the easier it will be more you to promote your business on social media, without taking up hours of your time).
You can integrate your Wix site, for example, for free with Instagram, Facebook and Twitter; you can also add a Facebook like popup button to your site. All of our recommended builders come with varying levels of social media integration so take advantage of the free trials to play around and work out which one caters best for your social media needs.
Check whether your chosen website builder will let you:
- Add icons that link out to your social media pages.
- Pull in content from your social media accounts – such as a ‘tweet of the day’ – onto your site.
- Post content from your site straight onto your social platforms
Email marketing is the lifeblood of many small businesses.
It’s a fantastic way to connect on a really personal level with your customers and if you rely on sending emails (even a small number), or are looking to get a personal business email address and start sending emails, then you’ll want a website builder that allows you to manage your mailbox.
If you’ve already built a big email list, or aim to acquire lots of new email subscribers quickly, check which tools each website builder offers through the app store to help you scale your email marketing. Squarespace offers integration with MailChimp – a great email tool we’ve used before that’s designed on the same drag and drop principles as website builders.
You can build striking email campaigns without having to know coding languages like HTML (Hypertext Markup Language – used to add font styles, like italics and bold, and add links to text)and in no time at all be sending professional emails to your customers.
This can be a great way to drum up interest in your small business (maybe you’ve got an in-store event you want to remind people about), add credibility to your company and keep in touch with loyal customers.
By using email marketing, you’re adding another string to your site’s bow.
4.Images and templates
Website builders come with a host of free and paid stock photos and templates to make your site look sharp and stylish. But different sites have different image needs, so even though our top three website builders’ templates and images cover almost every industry, it’s worth checking first that the templates and images they offer meet the specific needs of your business.
For example, if you’re an accountancy firm, you’re going to need templates that imply competency and come with professional images like workers in suits or office blocks, right?
If your business relies heavily on visuals (you might be a photographer or a fancy restaurant), then you might lean towards a builder that provides the most beautiful and polished images, such as Squarespace.
The better you can make your business website look, the more customers will reward you with brand engagement and dollars in the till.
5.Help & Support
When you’re launching your small business website, any support you get can make a real difference.
All of our recommended builders offer excellent support over email, phone, and online chat, so you’re never left on your own when trying to get your website off the ground.
In our experience Wix’s Help Center provides the most in-depth collection of tutorials and videos to help answer all your questions; Weebly’s guides and information is still very useful, but not quite as conclusive as Wix’s or Squarespace’s support.
The less time you spend working out how to add a feature or change a styling element, the more time you have to focus on how you are going to make your site unique and attract visitors.
This is where a website builder’s customer support can be invaluable.
First-class customer support can be like having a tour guide on a holiday in a busy city: they can show you the right way to go, point our exciting features and help organize your time.
The 3 Best Small Business Website Builders
There are hundreds of website builders you could use, but a lot of them aren’t worth your time or money.
We’ve tested and reviewed three of the best small business website builders:
- Wix – the best all round website builder
- Weebly – the easiest to use
- Squarespace – number one for high-end design focus
Whichever one you choose you’re in good hands because all three let you build a high-caliber website for your small business without messing around with code or spending lots of money.
Remember, which one is best for you depends on factors like the type of business you run, your own personal experience using the builder and the features and functions you want your site to have.
Finding the right builder for your small business might involve trial-and-error. Some offer a greater selection of templates, for instance, while others have a greater variety of apps to help you add all the bells and whistles to your site.
Our top three are all versatile builders that give you great freedom to create a unique and eye-catching site for your business. You can:
- Update and edit your website without any tech know-how.
- Add beautiful and professional templates.
- Fill your site with top-quality content (product descriptions, blog posts, FAQs – the works.
- Add contact information like an email address and a phone number.
- Build swish product pages that help your customers find the products they want.
- Sell your products securely by protecting your sales process with encryption.
- Grow your customer base with email and social media marketing.
The different builders have different prices, which can escalate as your site grows. Whether it’s worth paying extra to upgrade to premium or VIP plans will depend on the scale of your business and how quickly you grow online.
Wix is our top website builder for small businesses because it’s powerful, simple to use and offers great all-round flexibility when creating your site.
You can create a website for your small business in hours and get online really quickly and smoothly.
If you’re just looking to get more brand awareness by having an online presence, and want to keep things nice and simple, Wix is definitely the builder for you. Wix’s drag and drop functionality mean you don’t need any technical or design skills to build a professional and eye-catching small business website.
So don’t worry if coding languages like HTML sound like an alien language to you. You won’t need to understand it to build a beautiful website using Wix.
You might be worried that because Wix is so simple to pick up and use that all sites built on it look the same.
And you want to build a small business website that’s unique, don’t you?
The good news is you get great freedom with Wix to build a small business website with real personality, as Wix provides more than 500 professionally designed templates for you to work from, covering anything from makeup artists to vintage cars.
Just because Wix is simple to use doesn’t mean it offers simple functionality to online business owners. With Wix you can:
- Add contact forms and online booking forms for appointments (great if you’re a small trader or require bookings like a dentist).
- Create and send invoices and track payments – with all this in one place, managing your finances is easy.
- Add customized quizzes, surveys and contact forms that let you find out what your customers think.
- Insert video backgrounds (without touching code) to jazz up your site and give it that WOW factor.
If you’re ready to start creating your small business website, get started with Wix on the button below.
We also like Wix because it provides fantastic customer support. When you’re starting out building a website for your small business, any help you get can make a real difference (we know from our own experience building small business websites).
There are help buttons EVERYWHERE on the Wix site, so if you’re having trouble building a specific section of your site you can click on the button and find a specific answer to your question. This is great because it takes away a lot of the frustration when setting up your online business and lets you work through any roadblocks yourself.
It’s like having a satnav in the car guiding you through time-wasting traffic and potholes.
Wix’s Help Center lets you search any questions you might have and find an answer, provides video tutorials that walk you through any tricky problems and lets you dial customer support lines to speak to a real advisor.
The Wix app store now has over 200 apps and services, covering anything from SEO tips that help your site get found online to email tools that expand your user base. Recent additions we like include Wix Video, which lets you add video with a customized logo to your platform, and an update to Wix SEO Wiz that lets you index your site on Google so that relevant searchers (potential customers) will find your site.
Wix does have a free version but if you’re serious about building a successful online business it’s definitely worth upgrading to a paid plan to take advantage of the premium features.
This will allow you to create your own custom domain name (fredtrainers.com, for example) and get rid of the Wix logo on your homepage. You’ll also get access to apps, tools and features that help you build a small business website that stands out from the crowd.
While Wix’s variety of templates is great, you can’t apply a different template once you’ve picked one. This can be frustrating as to change templates you’ll have to re-insert all your content again. So make sure you choose the right template first time round!
While we’d recommend a pure ecommerce store builder like Shopify if you’re looking to sell products on your business website, Wix does have fully-fledged ecommerce tools that are worth exploring if you’re already a Wix fan and are looking to develop your ecommerce offering.
Squarespace may not be quite as straightforward to use as Wix (the ultimate drag and drop builder), or an ecommerce specialist (Shopify and BigCommerce), but their beautifully designed templates and phenomenal image quality make it a really unique offering.
If your business relies heavily on visuals like portfolios and product images (you might be a photographer or an artist, for example), you’ll want to seriously consider using Squarespace to build your small business website.
With Squarespace’s images, customers can zoom in on products and check the details close up (perfect if you’re advertising a product like trainers) and use quick view to read the product’s information and add it to their cart. This is great because you’re making it as simple as possible for a customer to buy.
Squarespace’s templates are polished and their clean lines give off a really professional vibe.
More than any other builder, you can make your small business website look like it’s been professionally designed without having to muck around with ANY code yourself. Layout features like Cover Pages – single scrolling pages – can really make your small business website stand out from the crowd.
You can install multiple templates onto a single website and work on several designs simultaneously.
We’re guessing your small business website needs more than just images?
Squarespace also offers excellent facilities to create a blog to support your website (a brilliant way to add personality to your business and fill your site with truly unique content) and comes with some really top-drawer features:
- Mobile-responsive templates – content will resize automatically so your site will look great no matter what device your customer is using.
- Great variety of styling options – with Squarespace you’re able to really stamp your mark on your website by easily customizing your design, from the fonts and colors right down to the sidebar width and background images. It’s also very simple to switch your cover page templates when you feel your site needs a refresh.
- Great site control – you can add features like an announcement bar (great if you’ve got a new product, for example) and a mobile information bar, which streamlines your site for visitors on a mobile and displays a shortcut menu with key information like contact details and opening hours.
- Connect socially – you can integrate your Squarespace site with a raft of social media platforms and even pull in content from certain platforms straight onto your page.
You can start building your small business website on Squarespace by hitting the orange button.
However, Squarespace isn’t as intuitive as Wix and can feel restrictive – it’s just not as customizable and takes longer to get up to speed with. Making changes to your site will take longer and while they’re super stylish Squarespace’s templates are more limited than our other recommended builders. If you’re not a designer, Squarespace’s style editor can be a difficult tool to get to grips with.
If you’re just looking to turn heads with your small business website, though, Squarespace is definitely worth a shot.
Like Wix, Weebly prides itself on being one of the easiest website builders to use. It’s very easy to make changes to images and copy and you could genuinely build a decent-looking store on Weebly between breakfast and lunch.
If you’re looking for the simplest route to getting your small business online, and don’t need a fancy site bursting with features, Weebly is a great tool for getting your online business off the ground. To add content to your site, all you need to do is drag and drop the feature or styling you want to where you want it to appear.
In Weebly’s editing mode, how you see your site is how it will appear live. This saves you time as you don’t have to keep switching from editing mode to preview mode.
Customizable, pre-designed layouts focused on particular industries mean it’s really easy to dive in and start building your website.
All this makes Weebly a great fit for small businesses that don’t need advanced functionality and are just looking to showcase products or services, like an interior designer, for example. Weebly is pretty strong on audio and video and the ability to add HD Video on the Pro Plan means you can add a real touch of glamour to your site.
Weebly has added more features recently, such as more advanced blogging functionality and integration with G Suite for Business, an email management tool, but it’s still pretty basic compared to Wix.
This is partly deliberate: Weebly is the easiest to use website builder and any new features make it more complicated.
The downside to Weebly’s simplicity is that tbhe theme and template options are somewhat limited. You’ll definitely get more variety with Wix and Squarespace.
Weebly does offer a free version, but you’ll only get 500mb of storage (how many images, videos and files your store can handle). 500mb may seem like a lot but you’ll eat it up very quickly if you need to host high-quality images or videos on your site.
To start creating your small business website on Weebly today, hit the button below.
Top Tip: To reduce the size of your images and free up more space, run the images through an optimizer like Optimizilla.
With Weebly’s free plan, you’ll also be tied to a Weebly.com subdomain (the name of your site that appears in a browser’s search bar, for example cooltrainers.weebly.com), so if you want to build a small business site with personality you’ll need to sign up to one of Weebly’s reasonable paid plans.
If you have a bit of knowledge of HTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets – used to format the layout of web pages, for example table sizes and text styles), or know someone that can help, Weebly gives you access to the code editor, meaning you can tinker and make changes that give your site a truly unique feel.
What If I Want To Build An Ecommerce Store?
Our top three website builders are the best options if you’re looking to quickly and painlessly get your business online.
If you plan on selling products through your small business website, you’ll want to consider an ecommerce website builder.
“But I’m just a small business, do I really need an ecommerce website builder?
If you’re shifting small volume, but the products are very visual – such as album covers or vintage posters – you might still want to stick with a website builder like Squarespace that will best show off your goods by providing high-quality images.
Wix, Weebly and Squarespace come with ecommerce tools, so it’s worth testing them out to see if they can cater to your ecommerce needs.
But if you know your small business website is going to focused on selling products, dedicated ecommerce builders like Shopify and BigCommerce are equipped with the functionality and tools to help you build a profitable and scalable online store.
From abandoned recovery carts and multiple payment options, to help working out taxes and managing inventories, Shopify and BigCommerce are one-stop shops for all your ecommerce needs.
They’re like the Swiss army knives of ecommerce website building.
We encourage you to check the features each builder offers on their sites and make use of the free trials to play around and work out which one you’re more comfortable with.
The guides below will point you in the right direction if you’re a small business owner looking to build an ecommerce store:
Conclusion: Our Recommendation
Which is the easiest small business website builder?
None of the website builders in this guide require any technical knowledge. But for a really simple website building experience, we recommend Weebly as their editor is extremely quick to get to grips with.
While this is true, you might find another website builder, such as Wix, suits you better. That’s why we recommend taking a couple of website builders for a test run before settling on a final choice.
Which is the cheapest small business website builder?
Squarespace is the only website builder in this guide that doesn’t offer a free plan. Both Wix and Weebly are free to use for as long as you want. They also have very reasonable premium plans that are worth considering if you want to take your site to the next level.
Which small business website builder has the best templates?
Squarespace is the number one for a design-focused website. Their templates are all stunning and professional.
For a website builder with a wider selection of beautiful templates, we recommend heading over to Wix.
Which small business website builder is best on mobile?
Wix has its own mobile editor which means you can tweak things on the mobile version of your site without changing anything on the desktop version.
All of Squarespace’s themes are mobile responsive so they look great on all devices, which is a big plus point.
How long will it take me to build my own small business website?
All of the website builders in this guide have extremely intuitive editors which means you can get to grips with their features in no time at all!
This means you could have your small business website set up in a matter of hours!