Building a website for your small business is daunting we know from first-hand experience.
Youre already working hard and dont want the added stress of running a website online.
You might think youre 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 youre worried you dont have the time or skill to build a small business website, youre in the right place. Our recommended platforms make getting your small business set up online seem easy.
Theres 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, well point out the right website builder for you.
Well explain why we think Wix, Squarespace and Weebly are the best website builders for small business owners (if youre looking to sell products online, youll want a dedicated ecommerce platform like Shopify or BigCommerce).
By the end of this guide you will:
Why Your Small Business Needs A Website
As more of your customers use the internet, its more important for your businesses to have an online presence.
As a business, even a small one, youve got to go where your customers are right?
Your competitors are most likely online (if theyre 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 youve shut up shop and gone home.
You can provide useful contact information, such as:
By keeping your customers up-to-date and allowing them to engage with your business on their time, not yours, youre keeping them happy. A happy customer = a happy balance book!
Its 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 rsum 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
But Im awful with computers, if I try and build a website it will look like trash!
Im too busy running my small business, I dont have the time!
Dont worry, website builders make getting online painless because theyre 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. Theyre 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 youre 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 youre 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.
Were guessing these are the reasons why you want to launch a website in the first place?
With more and more shoppers browsing on mobile, its so important to make sure your site works well on a mobile device. When youre 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 thats when youll need to hire a designer or a coder and designers and coders dont 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.
Before you dive in and start building your website, its 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.
Grab a bit of paper and write down what goals you want to achieve (take bookings online, for example), what features youd like your website to include (a blog page or an About Us section) and who your target audience is.
Here are five factors weve put together. Theyre not everything, but theyre a good starting point for deciding what your small business website needs to prioritize (and what website builder might be best for you):
All of our top-rated builders for small business websites are very user-friendly and can help you get online even if you dont have a technical bone in your body.
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 youre 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:
We can point you in the direction of our top-rated website builders, but we cant absolutely say which one is the best for you because a lot of it comes down to personal preference. Thats 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 sites color scheme and branding, write product descriptions and source top-quality images all things that will make your store stand out!
Social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter can be a great way to get eyeballs on your small business website.
If the answers yes, then youll 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:
Email marketing is the lifeblood of many small businesses.
Its 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 youll want a website builder that allows you to manage your mailbox.
If youve 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 weve used before thats 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 youve 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, youre adding another string to your sites bow.
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, its worth checking first that the templates and images they offer meet the specific needs of your business.
For example, if youre an accountancy firm, youre 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.
When youre 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 youre never left on your own when trying to get your website off the ground.
In our experience Wixs Help Center provides the most in-depth collection of tutorials and videos to help answer all your questions; Weeblys guides and information is still very useful, but not quite as conclusive as Wixs or Squarespaces support.
This is where a website builders 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.
There are hundreds of website builders you could use, but a lot of them arent worth your time or money.
Weve tested and reviewed Wix, Weebly and Squarespace and and know that whichever one you choose youre 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:
The different builders have different prices, which can escalate as your site grows. Whether its 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 its 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 youre 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. Wixs drag and drop functionality mean you dont need any technical or design skills to build a professional and eye-catching small business website.
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 thats unique, dont 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 doesnt mean it offers simple functionality to online business owners. With Wix you can:
We also like Wix because it provides fantastic customer support. When youre 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 youre 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.
Its like having a satnav in the car guiding you through time-wasting traffic and potholes.
Wixs 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.
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. Youll also get access to apps, tools and features that help you build a small business website that stands out from the crowd.
While Wixs variety of templates is great, you cant apply a different template once youve picked one. This can be frustrating as to change templates youll have to re-insert all your content again. So make sure you choose the right template first time round!
While wed recommend a pure ecommerce store builder like Shopify if youre looking to sell products on your business website, Wix does have fully-fledged ecommerce tools that are worth exploring if youre 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), youll want to seriously consider using Squarespace to build your small business website.
With Squarespaces images, customers can zoom in on products and check the details close up (perfect if youre advertising a product like trainers) and use quick view to read the products information and add it to their cart. This is great because youre making it as simple as possible for a customer to buy.
Squarespaces 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 its 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.
Were 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:
However, Squarespace isnt as intuitive as Wix and can feel restrictive its just not as customizable and takes longer to get up to speed with. Making changes to your site will take longer and while theyre super stylish Squarespaces templates are more limited than our other recommended builders. If youre not a designer, Squarespaces style editor can be a difficult tool to get to grips with.
If youre 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. Its 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 youre looking for the simplest route to getting your small business online, and dont 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 Weeblys editing mode, how you see your site is how it will appear live. This saves you time as you dont have to keep switching from editing mode to preview mode.
Customizable, pre-designed layouts focused on particular industries mean its really easy to dive in and start building your website.
All this makes Weebly a great fit for small businesses that dont 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 its 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 Weeblys simplicity is that the theme and template options are somewhat limited. Youll definitely get more variety with Wix and Squarespace.
Weebly does offer a free version, but youll only get 500mb of storage (how many images, videos and files your store can handle). 500mb may seem like a lot but youll eat it up very quickly if you need to host high-quality images or videos on your site.
Top Tip: To reduce the size of your images and free up more space, run the images through an optimizer like Optimizilla.
With Weeblys free plan, youll also be tied to a Weebly.com subdomain (the name of your site that appears in a browsers search bar, for example cooltrainers.weebly.com), so if you want to build a small business site with personality youll need to sign up to one of Weeblys 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 youre looking to quickly and painlessly get your business online.
If you plan on selling products through your small business website, youll want to consider an ecommerce website builder.
But Im just a small business, do I really need an ecommerce website builder?
If youre 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 its worth testing them out to see if they can cater to your ecommerce needs.
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.
Theyre 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 youre more comfortable with.
The guides below will point you in the right direction if youre a small business owner looking to build an ecommerce store:
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 (youre a small business, wheres the money coming from?) or too difficult (youre not a computer expert, how are you supposed to build a website from scratch?). Thankfully, the best website builders are so good that getting online is affordable and easy-to-do. Weve looked at three of the best website builders for small business and how each platform means small business owners like you can get online without spending heaps of money hiring professional developers and designers. Whether you choose Wix, Squarespace or Weebly, youll 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 best 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 youve 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.