Looking to get your small business online? This article will help you decide exactly which website builder is right for you.
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 right 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 with the help of our in-depth research and user testing, which you can read about here.
We’ll explain why we think the best website builders for small business owners are:
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
Looking to build an ecommerce store?
Try our 5 best ecommerce software if you know you want to build an ecommerce website and sell products. This guide will deal specifically with the best builders to get you selling online.
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 five of the best small business website builders:
- Wix – the best for creative freedom
- Weebly – huge library of apps
- Squarespace – number one for website design
- 1&1 – excellent for scalability
- GoDaddy – simplest to set up
We’ve conducted research on all of them (and more) to get a scientific, birds-eye view of the market. Check out our table to compare their key features:
Whichever one you choose you’re in good hands because all five website builders let you create a high-caliber website for your small business without messing around with code or spending lots of money.
Remember, which one is right 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 best small business website builder for you 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 five 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, an ‘about’ page – 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 small business website 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.
Generous creative freedom and website customization
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 looking to build brand awareness online and want to keep things simple, Wix is definitely the builder for you. Wix’s drag and drop functionality means you don’t need any technical or design skills to build a professional and eye-catching small business website.
|#1||Its drag and drop builder offers excellent creative control without having to know code||You can’t change templates once a site goes live. Redesigns have to be from the ground up|
|#2||In our website builder user testing Wix was the builder people were most likely to recommend||Although a plus for many, the amount of customization available can feel overwhelming early on|
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, 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.
A neat recent addition to Wix has been its ADI builder — standing for artificial design intelligence. Wix ADI asks you questions about your website and generates a website based on your answers. A fully-fledged business site could be just a short questionnaire away!
And, for the more tech-savvy among you, there is Wix Code, which allows you integrate custom code into your Wix site. It’s entirely optional, but great to see Wix catering to the full skills spectrum.
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.
Huge number of apps to enhance your website’s functionality
Weebly is best for when you’re looking for the simplest route to getting your small business online, and don’t need a fancy site bursting with features – it’s a great tool for getting your online business off the ground.
It’s also very easy to make changes to images and copy and you could genuinely build a decent-looking store on Weebly between breakfast and lunch. 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.
|#1||Weebly has an enormous number of apps. What your site can and can’t do is effectively up to you||You can’t restore websites yourself. If you change your mind on a deleted site you will need help from the Weebly team|
|#2||Superb search engine optimization functionality (SEO), giving your site the best chance possible of top search results||The apps are great, but you need a premium plan to access most of them. Make sure it’s worth the investment|
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 small business 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.
The downside to Weebly’s simplicity is that the theme and template options are somewhat limited. Weebly has over 40 templates; Wix has over 500. You’ll definitely get more variety with Wix, and even 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.
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.
Outstanding website templates and images
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.
Squarespace is a drag and drop specialist in its own right. 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.
|#1||The template designs are stunning. Squarespace sites look professional and stylish – not a bad vibe at all||Squarespace has a limited number of pricing plans, which can restrict your website’s scalability as your business grows|
|#2||Social media integration is superb. You’ll want to get the world out about your business, and a seamless social media presence makes that a lot easier||Not as easy to use as some of the alternatives. If you’re comfortable with tech you’ll be fine, but if you’re not Wix, Weebly, or GoDaddy would serve you better|
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). Quick view allows users 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.
Other helpful pages:
Squarespace Review – for a detailed review of Squarespace
Squarespace Pricing Review – for an in-depth breakdown of Squarespace’s pricing plans
Squarespace Offer Code – to get 10% off any Squarespace plan with our exclusive discount
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.
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. Changes to your site 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.
Loads of great tools to help your website grow
This builder is aimed at those in the professional services industry such as lawyers, accountants, and consultants. 1&1 IONOS isn’t the most attractive builder in the world, but it’s a great option for getting functional small business websites live fast.
If you’re looking to get online with minimal fuss and care more about functionality than appearances, 1&1 IONOS’s builder is a quality option. It’s built for business use with lots of scalable tools. This means it’s great for growing small businesses, offering useful tools like accounting assistance, and local business listings. As your business grows, the site can too – it’s more than just a website builder.
The template selection is extensive. There are hundreds of customizable designs covering a variety of industries, meaning your small business website can get off the ground quickly. If you’re feeling adventurous the option to customize templates using HTML is there, but it’s certainly not obligatory.
Ecommerce functionality on 1&1 IONOS is strong, which is no small thing for small businesses. Integrated ecommerce functionality and business widgets make setting up shop online simple.
Tying into that, one of the major selling points of 1&1 IONOS is that it works in multiple languages. Simply turn on the multi-language function. This is an essential plus for international business, and increasingly important to succeeding online in general.
|#1||Lots of integrated features to give your business site that professional edge.||Far from the most attractive website builder around. Templates are clear and usable, but the likes of Squarespace offer much more stylish possibilities.|
|#2||Extremely competitive pricing. The Business plan is just $1 a month for the first year (though fair warning, it goes up to $8 thereafter).||If you’re not building with business in mind there’s not much 1&1 IONOS can offer that can’t be improved on elsewhere.|
A business is nothing without its customers, and 1&1 IONOS understands this. It has taken great pains to integrate communication tools into its builder. The email marketing manager helps you stay in touch with your most devoted customers, while the social media and blogging functionality is ready and waiting for your engaging, shareable content.
1&1 IONOS Wesbite Builder Review
Its search engine optimization (SEO) tools are also strong. SEO is how you get your site to rank well for relevant enquiries on search engines like Google and Bing. Every page you make has its SEO settings box, and not only do they support the optimization of your site, they help you understand why it’s so important.
Pricing is a big draw for 1&1 IONOS at the moment. Its Business plan is just $1 a month for the first year (with domain registration and custom email thrown in). Not only is that remarkably cheap, it speaks to 1&1 IONOS’s confidence in its product.
1&1 IONOS covers all the bases for small business. It’s best suited to the professional services industry, which includes lawyers, accountants, or consultants – especially smaller businesses looking to scale. Also, few builders can match the out-of-the-box usability of 1&1 IONOS. For a reliable, organized online presence for your business it’s well worth considering.
Fastest to build a simple website
GoDaddy is excellent for getting a small business website live fast. The builder is easy to use and simply presented, and what it lacks in style it makes up for with convenience. It’s the fastest product for building a website, so it’s very convenient for those short on time.
|#1||Superb if you want to get a fully-functional business website live fast.||Customization options are limited compared to the likes of Wix and Squarespace.|
|#2||Offers advanced ecommerce functionality, allowing you to add up to 5,000 products and customize shipping options right in the builder.||Not the best fit for more artistic industries. GoDaddy is a pretty straight edged builder.|
Its template selection is excellent, and if you switch between them the site automatically reformats. This is a super useful feature, something that really sets GoDaddy apart from a builder like Wix.
The drag and drop builder is structured and easy to use, though lacking the sheen of more stylish builders. If you’re that fussed about customization, GoDaddy’s artificial design intelligence (ADI) can generate an entire site after you’ve answered a few question.
GoDaddy has recently stepped up its ecommerce features and management tools. You can add up to 5,000 products to your inventory, and shipping methods are built in. There are plenty of payment options (credit cards and PayPal included, of course).
GoDaddy Website Builder Review
There’s an all-in-one benefit to GoDaddy. You can take care of domain registration, web hosting, and website building all in one place.
Getting online with GoDaddy is effortless, but it’s somewhat limiting compared to builders like Wix and Squarespace. For getting your small business online quickly and easily, however, there’s few better platforms available.
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.
It might also be worth taking our short 4-question quiz to get recommendations tailored to exactly what you want for your website.
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.
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 best small business 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.
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.
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 customers?
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 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 small business website 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 five 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.
Other helpful pages:
Where to Find Professional Images for Your Website – for our definitive guide on sourcing images for your website.
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 out exciting features and help organize your time.
Building a website for your small business is very important.
It makes your company look credible, lets you communicate with customers 24/7 and lets you showcase products and services to a wider audience.
In the past, you might have worried that building a website would be too expensive (you’re a small business, where’s the money coming from?) or too difficult (you’re not a computer expert, how are you supposed to build a website from scratch?).
Thankfully, the best website builders are so good that getting your small business online is affordable and easy-to-do.
We’ve looked at five of the best website builders for small business:
- Wix – generous creative freedom
- Weebly – the largest number of apps
- Squarespace – number one for stunning images
- 1&1 – the best for scalability
- GoDaddy – quick and easy site setup
Each of our 5 recommended small business website builders means entrepreneurs like you can get online without spending heaps of money hiring professional developers and designers.
Whichever builder you choose, you’ll be able to create a functional and eye-catching website that establishes your small business online, without any technical know-how.
Which specific builder is right for your small business will depend on the type of business you run and what you hope to achieve through your website.
If you know the main function of your small business website will be to sell products then we recommend using an ecommerce specialist like BigCommerce or Shopify. While Wix, Squarespace and Weebly all offer ecommerce platforms, Shopify and BigCommerce have the tools to take your store to the next level.
Make use of the free trials on offer to find the perfect website builder for your small business. Once you’ve chosen a website builder for your small business, we recommend you read the guide below as your next step.
How to build a business website has step-by-step information on the nuts and bolts of building your business website.
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 Wix as their editor is extremely quick to get to grips with.
While this is true, you might find another website builder, such as Weebly, 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!
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