In recent years, the retail market is transitioning to a digital medium. According to 2019 statistics from Statista, around 1.92 billion people purchased goods or services online and this number is steadily growing. However, building a website can be an intimidating venture for a small business owner without prior experience.
To remedy this, some popular website builder options like BigCommerce, Weebly, Squarespace, and WordPress can help out a complete beginner. If you don't have the budget to hire a web developer or lack a design background, many of these platforms are known for their drag-and-drop interface, ease of use, and integrated eCommerce features.
Depending on your price range and desire for design flexibility, here are a few website builders worth considering to help you build the best website for your brand.
WordPress is one of the most popular website builders and content management systems that comes with a free plan. It has a simple user interface that's easy to understand, allowing users to create blogs and online stores with ease.
Comes with free customizable themes - WordPress is a free website builder that has a broad selection of themes. There are plenty of theme customization options and widgets that you can use to create a website that aligns with your brand identity.
Large online community for support - As one of the most popular forms of website builder software on the market, there are plenty of online tutorials and reviews if you're having trouble with your website.
Plenty of third-party plugins - There are plenty of drag-and-drop builder plugins specifically made for WordPress that can give you more control over your site layout. You can also add customizable web forms, event calendars, and SEO tools to your website.
Constant updates can be inconvenient - WordPress requires constant updates for plugins and themes that can cause your website to malfunction if various versions aren't compatible. Some are automatic and some are manual, which can add more things to your to-do list.
Prone to security issues - Because WordPress is an open-source platform, many of its plugins and themes are developed by third parties. Some individuals may introduce malicious lines of code or bugs into the system. In addition, its popularity as a content management platform means that your website might be targeted by hackers.
Can be expensive for some - Although the platform is free, it may not be the best value for money for those on budget. Differentiating your website from the competition can be difficult because of the limited number of free themes, and premium customization for plugins and themes can make it a relatively expensive website builder.
Plugins can have bugs - If you have too many plugins installed on your website, this can make it run slowly, and some may cause your site to malfunction if they aren't properly updated.
WordPress pricing options include a free plan that has a free SSL certificate for site security. However, for other features like a free domain name, live chat support, e-commerce options, and additional plugins, you'll need to spend extra on their paid plans. You'll also need to pay for a domain name and a web hosting plan, so costs can range between $50 to over $300 on a yearly basis.
For small business owners, Wix is an easy to use drag-and-drop website builder that looks great on both mobile and desktop devices. It can help you create an online store, and it's known for its fast site speed, a large collection of attractive design templates, and extensive app market.
Includes a large number of templates - Wix comes with over 300 free templates to choose from, including hundreds of paid options. They are arranged by category, including special layouts for travel companies, corporate websites, and more. The drag-and-drop editor also allows you to get your layout "pixel-perfect", while other website builders lack this amount of precision.
Comes with a mobile editor - In addition to the desktop site builder, they also have a mobile editor to let you edit and preview your site on a mobile device. This can help small businesses see what their mobile site will look like. You can even add animations to your text and elements for added visuals.
Plenty of app store options for added functionality - Through Wix and other third party add ons, you can install apps to further customize your site. This includes live chat options to improve customer service, a chat forum to discuss products, and an events app to help with ticketing and RSVP invites.
Comes with email marketing integration - Unlike other website builders, Wix comes with free email marketing integration that enables businesses to send 5,000 emails every month across 3 campaigns. This number resets per month, helping you target more customers.
Free plan has Wix branding and ads - Nothing comes for free, and the free site option on Wix's website builder comes with prominent branding. It also shows Wix ad banners, which can be annoying for customers. It will cost extra money or upgrading to a premium plan to remove these.
Site analytics are paid - Some platforms come with built-in site analytics for ease of use. However, these tools aren't included in Wix's free trial or free domain. To track numbers like site visits and determine the success of marketing campaigns, you need to invest in a premium plan and have a custom domain.
Website data isn't easily transferrable - If you build a website with Wix and need to scale up, it may not be the most appropriate website builder to choose in terms of growth. You might have to redo your new website entirely, so be sure to choose the best website builder in the first place.
Paid monthly subscriptions range from anywhere $4.50 to $35 per month. Website plans cost between $4.50 to $24.50, but businesses and e-commerce plans for an online store cost between $17 to $34 per month depending on your needs. They also have a 14 day free trial with a money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied with their platform.
Weebly is a great website builder for small businesses that provides good value for money. It's one of the best website builders for those who are looking for a way to create a personal site or an eCommerce store. However, it may not be suited to larger businesses specializing in eCommerce functionality due to its limited customization options.
Has an easy to use drag and drop creator - Weebly gets full stars for its simple editor that has all the basic building blocks to create a website. There is no need to know how to code unless you want to, making it the best overall website builder for the technologically challenged. All you need to do is position text boxes, buttons, forms, and images to create your page.
Has advanced features for SEO and custom code - For more advanced options, those with experience in writing HTML code and modifying CSS files can develop their website even further. It also comes with some SEO features that allow you to adjust header and footer code along with index control for search engines.
Offers a mobile app with offline functionality - Their touchscreen mobile app enables you to track valuable website analytics including social media management, website traffic, the number of sales, and more. As a bonus, it even comes with offline capabilities that sync your changes when you gain access to the Internet.
Easy to upgrade - All of Weebly's subscriptions are easily scalable, making it a great eCommerce website builder if you want to upgrade to a more comprehensive plan as your business expands from small to medium-sized.
Not the best option for bloggers - Weebly's blog tools aren't the best if you're looking for site builders that specialize in blogging. In contrast to WordPress, Weebly has limited functionality due to fixed formatting and minimal content management options.
Lacks customization unless you know how to code - Compared to other free website builders with more flexibility, Weebly has fewer templates that have relatively fixed structures. There are a limited number of color schemes, and these only apply to areas such as buttons and menus. For better customization, you may need a coding background.
No personal backup option - Having a backup can be incredibly helpful if your website goes down. However, Weebly's backup system is rather limited and lacks ease of use. You are reliant on their support team to store your site if anything goes wrong, which can be frustrating.
The good news is that their pricing plans are relatively affordable in addition to the free plan, as prices start at $5 monthly for the personal option. The eCommerce builder subscriptions will cost you approximately $12 to $38, depending on your needs. These come with a custom domain name, unlimited storage, and secure payments through Square.
Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce website builders out there today, competing with companies like WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and Wix. It is relatively simple to use if you're planning to set up an online store, and it comes with a host of exciting features, including a tipping feature for merchants and contact-free shipping options.
Includes social media integration - If you have multiple stores, you can integrate your Facebook store with your online store in a few easy steps. It also has various apps that can help you broaden your audience base, like a direct add to cart option on Instagram and social sharing buttons.
Has plenty of payment options - Depending on your needs, the platform comes with multiple payment options that allow you to accept credit card payments, PayPal payments, and even Bitcoin.
Comes with a good inventory management system - Shopify is known for its comprehensive inventory system that can tell you which items need to be restocked. Their point of sale system allows you to manage inventory both online and offline and even receive offline payments.
Has 24/7 customer support - Even their most basic plan comes with 24/7 phone support, social media support, email support, and more. There are also video tutorials and your own dedicated support agent if you choose more advanced plans.
Includes transaction fees - One of their biggest cons is that they charge a small transaction fee for every payment unless you use the Shopify Payments gateway. This percentage varies depending on the plan you choose, which can be a dealbreaker for some businesses.
Desirable features are paid - While their free plan allows you to sell unlimited products, some features are limited to more expensive options. For instance, the "abandoned cart recovery” plan alerts visitors with an automatic email to complete their purchase, potentially leading to greater conversions.
No credit card is required during their 14-day free trial, but price plans can cost between $29 to $299 for higher volume merchants. However, the Shopify Lite plan allows users to add products to any website or blog and process credit card payments for only $9 per month. Check out their pricing options for more information.
WordPress and Weebly are among the most affordable website builders that come with basic functionality and competitive features.
For smaller businesses that want to use a website builder to launch their brand online, Weebly is a good fit for brick and mortar shops while Squarespace provides better value to small eCommerce stores.
For greater customization, professional web designers often code websites from scratch instead of using a website builder, but larger companies would use sites like BigCommerce and WordPress.org.
Finding the best website builder for your business can involve a lot of trial and error until you find the perfect fit for your brand. Examine some desirable features like social media integration, eCommerce functionality, and ease of use before coming to a final decision. For greater insight, here's a side by side comparison of the best website builders to suit your needs.
If you want to find the best website builder for your brand, let PageKits help you! Contact PageKits today for more information.