Building a business website is now easier than ever, and we’re here to help you out every step of the way.
When it comes to building your website, there are two methods we recommend: using a website builder like Wix or a content management system (CMS) like WordPress.org. The former is a dream for tech beginners, whilst the latter requires a little more hands-on management.
They’re both excellent options, but their setups are slightly different. Using our 10+ years of website-building experience, we’ll take you through the key steps of each to get your business online in no time. And if you’re not quite sure which to choose, we’ll cover that, too!
This guide will focus on the DIY website building route, but if you are interested in hiring a web designer, we’d highly recommend using this web design service comparison tool built by our trusted partners at Expert Market. It’s 100% free for Website Builder Expert readers to use, and you can view tailored pricing information with zero obligation.
Once you’ve built your business website – whether you use a website builder or WordPress – check out our 13-step guide on How to Grow Your Business Online.
Before you start building your website, there are a few things you need to decide on. You might be excited to dive straight in and begin, but taking a moment to do some serious planning will save you a lot of trouble further down the line! Peter Erlandsson, founder of allguitarstuff.com, highlights the benefits of getting your ducks in a row before you get started:
‘As boring as the planning phase might be, it will serve you well in the future. A well planned site has consistent branding, a setup that makes it easy and seamless to grow and develop, and lots of content that is optimized for SEO (search engine optimization) with the right keywords in mind.’
Below, we’ve listed a few key elements to consider before you let your creative juices flow. Click on the plus icon next to each header to find out more.
Websites have the tools to accomplish a number of different goals, so knowing what you want yours to do is the best way to avoid confusion and provide a smooth customer experience. After all, no one wants to go to a Chinese restaurant expecting to eat Italian food – only to be served sushi!
It’s the same with websites. Your customers will have certain expectations, and it’s your website’s job to meet them. Whether you want to use it as a platform to sell goods, or simply provide information about your business, knowing this in advance will make it much easier to build a website that works for you and your customers.
Figuring out your target audience early on in the game can be particularly helpful when it comes to making important design decisions later on. The demographic you’re aiming for can have an impact on the images and copy you use, and it might even influence smaller details like your font and color scheme, too.
Cost is also an important factor when deciding whether to use a website builder or WordPress to build your site. Builders tend to be more expensive, but they have a set price – beginning from as little as $12 per month – that makes it simple to track your outgoings. Although WordPress might seem cheaper on the surface, there are more costs to consider (such as hosting), so you could end up spending more in the long run.
Website builders and WordPress both offer monthly plans, making it easier to spread the cost. However, they also allow you to pay annually. In the short term, this is more expensive, but committing to a full year means you’re more likely to receive a discounted rate, bringing the total amount you pay down.
Having a clear budget will stop you from accidentally overspending, and give you a better idea of what you can afford before you get started.
Doing thorough competitor research, then, can give you a good idea of what you should and shouldn’t be including in your business website. You don’t have to limit your investigations only to websites in the same industry as you, either. Take a look at some of your personal favorites, and ask yourself what it is about them that you like. Is there anything you can incorporate into your own site to make your business stand out from the rest?
Catherine Cooke, founder and CEO of Upskillwise.com, had this to say about the importance of checking out the market before you get started:
“When building a business website, it’s important to look at what your competitors are doing. You want to stand out against your competition, but you also want to align yourself with industry standards. Find three or four elements of their web design that you can mimic, and find another three or four elements where you think you can do something completely different. This will tell users who visit your website what kind of service or product you offer and help you stand out and stick in their memory long after they’ve clicked away.”
Building a website isn’t just a case of putting the platform together, and then chucking the content on at the end. Instead, you’ll often find yourself having to add various elements as you go.
Having this to hand before you start will make the process much smoother. Otherwise, you’ll have to stop and start, prolonging the building time and delaying your website launch.
Advice From the Expert
“In the post-Covid world, having a digital presence for your business is arguably more important than having a physical presence, at least in the case of some industries. And one of the simplest ways to have an online presence is by building a website. It is inexpensive yet so effective.”
Once you’ve ticked all the items off our pre-building checklist, it’s time for your next big decision: a website builder or WordPress?
Before you can make your choice, it’s important to understand the fundamental differences between the two. Although both result in a beautiful website at the end, the way you get there – and the skills required – are different.
Website builders are pretty easy to use, mostly because they don’t require much, if any, coding knowledge. They’re ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions, offering a range of templates and covering all of the tricky tech bits, like hosting and security, for you. However, they do have their drawbacks.
|Website Builder Pros||Website Builder Cons|
| • User-Friendly Platforms |
Built with beginners in mind, they often feature an easy-to-use drag-and-drop builder and built-in tutorials.
• No Coding Required
You don’t need to be a qualified tech genius to get up and running, with most builders offering a wide range of attractive premade templates.
• Free Plans or Free Trials
All builders at least have a free trial, with some even offering a free plan – so you can get started without spending a dime.
• Good Customer Support
Website builders usually come with a support team to help you out if you get a bit stuck during (and after) the setup process.
• Quick Setup
Website builders are often quick ways of getting at least a basic website up and running.
| • Restricted Creativity |
The templates on offer limit your creative control and make it more difficult to create a truly unique website.
• Can Be Expensive
Costs can rack up depending on the type of website you’re building. The more advanced you want to get, the more you’re going to have to pay.
• Could Outgrow Your Site
Because of limited creativity and steep costs, there’s a chance you might outgrow your website builder site quicker than you’d like.
• Swapping Platforms Can Be Complicated
If you want to swap to another builder at any point, chances are you’ll need to rebuild your site basically from scratch.
WordPress is an open-source platform, which means you’ll need to use code to create your business website. However, the creative possibilities are endless. It’s more of a ‘DIY’ fix that provides a framework for you to build a totally personalized website.
|WordPress Pros||WordPress Cons|
| • Limitless Customization |
You’ll get total control in terms of creativity, and can customize your website to uniquely suit your business.
• 50,000+ Plugins
You can access a huge number of plugins to extend and enhance your website’s functionality.
• Complete Control
You’re the one making every decision! From your hosting provider to the font you use, it’s all up to you.
• No Third-Party Ads
Unlike with some website builders, you won’t have any third-party ads cluttering up your pages.
• Popular and Reliable Software
Used by millions across the world, it’s an option that won’t let you down.
| • Not for Tech Beginners |
You will need an element of coding know-how to personalize your WordPress site and make it truly unique.
• Deceptive Pricing
Although it looks free, you’ll still have to pay for your hosting, security, domain name, and plugins, which will drive the overall cost up.
• No Dedicated Customer Support
Unlike with website builders, you’ll be on your own here!
• You’re Fully Accountable
You’ll need to stay on top of your security, backups, and updates. You’ll also be the one fixing any bugs or errors that crop up.
Both platforms will help you build a business website to be proud of, but the one you choose comes down to your own personal preference, and the level of technical skill you have.
If you’re not sure whether you have the technical prowess to tackle WordPress, we recommend taking both methods of building a website out for a spin to see which you prefer. Plus, you can always switch to the other platform later on if you decide that your first choice wasn’t quite right.
How to Build a Business Website with a Website Builder
1. Get a domain name
2. Create an email address
3. Choose a business website builder
4. Pick a template
5. Add content
6. Integrate apps
7. Optimize your site for search engines
8. Publish, monitor, and update
Step 1: Get a Domain Name
- What a domain name is
- How to choose a good one
- How much they cost
A domain name is your website’s unique address. It’s often the first thing that potential customers will see, so it’ll play a very important part in forming their first impressions.
Because of this, it’s a good idea for businesses to have domain names that are the same as, or similar to, their company name. For example, our domain name is websitebuilderexpert.com.
When choosing your domain name, make sure you do your research to check that there aren’t any similar ones floating around. You also want it to be fairly short and easy to spell. We’d recommend avoiding abbreviations or unnecessary hyphens, too. This will reduce the risk of errors and make it easier for customers to spell your domain name!
You’ll need to pay an initial cost to register your domain, and then pay a yearly fee to keep it registered going forwards. Doing this will secure your domain name and make sure that nobody else can take it.
A domain name typically costs around $10 to $12 per year. You can usually get your domain directly through your website builder, or via a separate domain registrar. Popular domain name providers include Domain.com and NameCheap.
Most website builders (such as Wix) include a free domain name for the first year. For any subsequent years, you can pay for your domain name directly through your builder.
When choosing your domain name, make sure you also think about your top-level domain (TLD), too. This is the bit at the end of your address, for example, .com or .org. Different TLDs have different prices, with the most common ones usually costing the most. When your business gets a bit bigger, it’s worth purchasing as many TLDs associated with your domain name as possible, so that other businesses can’t buy them and divert customers away from your website.
- What is a Domain Name? – Take a look at our thorough guide to domain names. You’ll find everything you need to know right here!
- 5 Best Domain Name Registrars – We’ll take a look at some of the best domain name registrars on the market, so you’ll know where to go to pick yours out.
- How Much Does a Domain Name Cost – Get clued up on the ins and outs of domain name pricing so you can factor this in when setting your budget.
Step 2: Create an Email Address
- Why you need a business email address
- How to get one
- How much it will cost
To make your business look more professional and established, you’ll need a custom email address. For example, email@example.com instantly looks more credible than firstname.lastname@example.org.
The most common way to format business email addresses is to include the business’s domain name.
For example, our email address is email@example.com.
Getting a custom business email address is quick, cheap, and fairly easy. We recommend using G Suite, which is powered by Google.
It’s basically Gmail for businesses, except you have a personalized email address. You get the user-friendly interface, reliability, and security of Gmail, with prices starting at $6 per month for each business email address.
G Suite is fully integrated with some of our recommended website builders. If you choose to use one of these website builders, it’ll be easy for you to set up your own personalized business email addresses – you won’t even need to sign up to G Suite separately. For example, Wix allows you to create a business email address by purchasing a subscription to G Suite Mailbox from your dashboard.
Step 3: Choose a Website Builder
- Our top three website builders
- The features they offer
- Who they’re best for
Now, on to one of the most important steps: choosing your website builder!
It’s important to mention at this point that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to choosing the right business website builder. Different businesses will have vastly different needs – a trendy new restaurant, for example, will require something totally different from a small law firm.
That said, having tested over 50 website builders, we can confidently say that Wix is our top choice for building a business website, with Squarespace and Weebly also offering great options. You can’t go far wrong if you pick any one of these platforms, but you can check out our best website builders for small business ranking to see even more options.
Below, we’ll give you a quick rundown of each of our top website builders, so you can judge the one that’s best for you.
Best Overall Website Builder
Learning how to use Wix is really simple. That’s probably why Wix is the builder that users were most likely to recommend following our user testing. It comes with over 800 professionally designed templates covering a huge array of industries – including food service, which is partly why Wix also earns the title of best restaurant website builder.
Wix at a glance:
- Pricing: Free plan available, paid plans start at $14/month (billed annually)
- Design: Extensive collection of over 800 templates, covering pretty much every industry you can think of
- Features: Massive app market with over 260+ apps for adding niche functionality to your site
- Support: Includes phone, email, forum, and help center
Who is Wix best for?
- Users that need a lot of design help and guidance. Wix offers pre-populated template designs, so you can easily swap in your own business images and content instead of starting from scratch. Alternatively, you can use Wix ADI – this is an artificial intelligence design software that simply asks you what you like, then takes your ideas and builds a custom website design for you.
- Users that need more flexible tools for a specialty business website. If you need apps – for example, an online booking/reservation app or a restaurant/order takeout app – Wix is a safe bet. Its app market is one of the most extensive in the industry.
Beautiful Designs, and Ideal for Scaling Your Business
Squarespace is like the Apple of business website builders. It can help you create visually stunning, minimalist business websites that capture your visitors’ attention. Learning how to use Squarespace isn’t quite as straightforward as it is with Wix, but its award-winning templates are worth the slightly steeper learning curve.
Squarespace at a glance:
- Monthly Plans: Paid plans start at $12/month (billed annually). There’s no free plan, but you can take a 14-day free trial
- Template Designs: Squarespace takes a ‘quality over quantity’ approach to template design, offering a curated selection of 60 templates across key industries
- Features: No app market, but good quality inbuilt features (although less choice than with Wix)
- Support: Includes 24/7 email, live chat, and help center
Who is Squarespace best for?
- Users who want to create a visually stunning website for businesses in more creative industries, such as photography or design. You can see some examples here.