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The Best Website Builders For Small Business

Which website builder to choose for a small business.

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Updated Jul 27 2021 Steve Benjamins Steve Benjamins

Over the last few years I’ve helped tens of thousands of small business owners choose a website builder. My job is to try every website builder so you don’t have to. 

In this post I’m going to show you the best website builders for small business.

Let’s dive into it.

Best Rated

Squarespace

Best all-around website builder.

Try Squarespace

Shopify

Best ecommerce website builder.

Try Shopify

Weebly

Great for ease of use.

Try Weebly

Webflow

Great for custom design.

Try Webflow

Wix

Great for flexibility.

Try Wix
  • Squarespace is the best all-around website builder for small business and one of the most popular website builders. 

    It’s most well known for it’s beautiful website templates— they are fresh, modern and responsive (so they “respond” to mobile devices”). 

    The 'Noll' template.

    The 'Noll' template.

    The 'Beaumont' template.

    The 'Beaumont' template.

    The drag and drop editor is user friendly and intuitive:

    Using the Squarespcae editor.

    Squarespace also includes lots of tools for small businesses:

    • Ecommerce — Squarespace has outstanding ecommerce features. Read more here.
    • Email Marketing — You can create email lists and campaigns.
    • Social media — You can use the Unfold tool to create beautiful stories for Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and more. 
    • Online Presence — Create a members-only area, let customers schedule appointments and even host a podcast. 
    • Blogging — Squarespace has outstanding blogging features. 
    • Marketing Tools — You can create banners, welcome bars and more. Plus Squarespace is an all-in-one package (email marketing, ecommerce, website etc.) so analytics work across all features. 

    Squarespace Video Overview

    Squarespace Overview (1:16)

  • Shopify is the best website builder if you want to build a sophisticated ecommerce website. 

    It’s ecommerce platform is more powerful than any other website builder— in large part, due to their huge app store ecosystem. 

    The Shopify core includes everything most online stores will need. The app store includes everything else— for example, gift wrap upsells, out-of-stock notifications and ebay syncing.

    Comparing total app count between ecommerce builders with app stores.

    Comparing total app count between ecommerce builders with app stores.

    Beyond the app store, Shopify is quite intuitive— though it’s not as easy to use as Squarespace or Wix. For example, the page editor is a WYSWIYG editor— not a drag-and-drop editor. 

    Shopify's WYSIWYG editor

    Shopify's WYSIWYG editor

    But if you’re hoping to build a powerful ecommerce website, Shopify will be a great choice for your small business.  

    Shopify Video Overview

    Shopify Overview (1:38)

  • First things first: Weebly was acquired by Square in 2018. So Square and Weebly are the same company. (Square is not the same company as Squarespace though.)

    Over all Weebly is the most user friendly website builder on this list. It’s really to use. You just add pre-designed sections to your website:

    Adding a section

    The only downside is that Weebly is best for a simple website— there’s not a lot of customization. For example, you can toggle individual elements on and off of a section but you can’t add additional elements!  

    You can toggle individual elements— but you can't add any new elements!

    The reason to use Weebly is that everything works with the Square ecosystem— which has a suite of small business tools:

    • Ecommerce
    • Point of sale
    • Restaurant ordering
    • Loyalty programs
    • Team scheduling
    • Kitchen display systems
    • … And more. 

    Weebly also has a generous free plan and I rated it my top free website builder

    Weebly (and Square) Video Overview

    Square Online Overview (0:49)

  • Webflow is powerful tool for for creating your own website from scratch. 

    It has a bit of a learning curve— similar to Photoshop— but it has nearly unlimited customization options for your website design. 

    Webflow Overview (1:01)

    It’s a tool popular with professional website designers— in part because it has white-label options.

    Webflow also includes a powerful CMS tool which lets you define fields and automatically create new pages based off of the entries into the CMS. Once again, this makes it a popular tool with web designers. 

    Two notes about pricing: 

    • Webflow does have a free plan but it’s called their Staging plan. Read more.
    • Webflow’s ecommerce plan is quite expensive— it starts at $42 / month.
  • Wix is one of the most popular website builders

    One of the most important things to understand about it is that it’s drag and drop editor let’s move any element to any spot on a page: 

    You can drag any element anywhere on your page with Wix— even pixel by pixel.

    This is different from most website builders. Most website builders constraint to moving elements within a preset grid. So if you find that restrictive, you’ll want to try Wix. 

    There are downsides to Wix’s drag and drop editor though— for example, I’ve found it to be buggy on mobile devices and websites:

    My desktop and mobile versions go out of sync with one another.

     

    But in the end if you want control and lots of customization options, Wix will be an excellent choice. 

    A few notes:

    • Wix has over 900 templates (and an AI powered template generator called ADI, though I’ve found the results are pretty underwhelming)
    • You should do a little research on Wix’s pricing. For example, Wix’s cheapest plans (the combo plan) has a 2gb bandwidth limitation. 
    • Wix offers a free plan but it’s not great when compared to other free website builders.

    Wix Video Overview

    Wix Overview (0:45)

Honorable Mentions

GoDaddy

A reasonable choice for simple websites. Try GoDaddy
  • GoDaddy is a good choice if you want a simple website. It’s user friendly and fast. 

    But it’s important to understand that GoDaddy websites have limits. 

    For example, pages are built by adding sections— but you’re not able to add individual elements to sections. Instead you’re stuck with what whatever the sections gives you:

    You're not able to add more elements— instead you can only toggle existing elements on or off

    I’ve also found some issues with GoDaddy’s ecommerce— specifically that checkout is not hosted on your domain! 

    When your customers go to checkout, they are redirected from your domain name to mysimplestore.com. This is not ideal. 

    Customers are redirected off your domain name during checkout.

What Is A Website Builder?

A website builder (or site builder) is a drag-and-drop tool for creating your own website

Small businesses often use website builders because of their ease of use. Website builders do not have a steep learning curve— you do not need to be a web developer or understand HTML & CSS.  

Website builders are an all-in-one package and they include all the functionality you’d need for a typical small business website: web hosting, templates, blogs, photo galleries, forms and more.

Pricing

Some common questions about pricing and website builders:

Are there free plans?

Some website builders offer free plans. You’ll want to read my free website builders roundup.

The main thing to understand is that you get what you pay for with a free version—  there will be some limitation. Most free website builders include an advertisement or don’t allow you to add a custom domain name. 

Why are ecommerce plans more expensive?

Ecommerce plans are almost always more expensive. For example: 

  • Squarespace starts at $12 / month but their ecommerce plans start at $26 / month.
  • Wix starts at $12 / month but their ecommerce plans start at $25 / month.
  • Shopify is only an ecommerce website builder and their plans start at $29 / month. 

So expect to pay a little more for advanced features like ecommerce. Here are a few more tips:

  • Know what kind of online store you need to sell products. If you’re building a simple online store, you’ll be fine with Squarespace or Wix. If you’re building a large ecommerce store, I’d suggest looking at Shopify.  
  • Never choose a plan that charges a transaction fee. Transaction fees (which are charged on top of credit card fees) are occasionally included on cheaper plans— but it’s never worth it unless you have a really low volume of sales.  
  • You’ll probably want to use Shopify if you need serious checkout or shopping cart customization.
  • In almost all cases you’ll need to integrate with a credit card processor such as Stripe or Paypal.  
  • The only free website builder that I’d recommed for ecommerce is Square. Most free website builders are too limiting for ecommerce (for example: some don’t include an SSL certificate or don’t allow you to connect to Google Analytics). 

What’s the cheapest website builder?

I’d recommend reading my cheapest website builder roundup. 

The main thing to remember is that you get what you pay for. Basic plans often lack the advanced features that premium plans include. So make sure you understand those limitations before putting down your credit card.

Domain Names

Most website builders will allow you to register own domain through them.

Typically a custom domain name with a typical TLD (for example .com) will cost around $15. Private registration for your domain name will cost an additional $10. 

What is private registration?

Domain names must have up-to-date contact information for the public Whois database (this is a requirement). This contact information is accessible to anyone (including marketing firms and spammers) but with Private Registration the public contact information will not be your contact information.

Can I get a free domain name?

Most website builders will give you 1-year free if you buy an annual plan. But that’s about as close to free as you will get.  

Should you register your domain name with a website builder? 

We often do. It’s just easier— but you should make sure you have the option to move your domain name off that website builder. As an alternative you could also register your domain name with a third party provider like Namecheap but you’d to setup the DNS (which can be intimidating).

What About Wordpress?

Wordpress is a great tool that still powers a huge portion of the internet. 

Webste builders are easier to use but have a steeper learning curve. A CMS like Wordpress has a steeper learning curve but is is more flexible.

Webste builders are easier to use but have a steeper learning curve. A CMS like Wordpress has a steeper learning curve but is is more flexible.

That being said, it’s not a website builder per say. Instead it is a content management system (CMS). 

There are important differences. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Website builders include everything — Wordpress is more a la carte. For example, you have to purchase hosting and themes from a third party provider. 
  • Wordpress has a massive plugin library — Wordpress is open source and so anyone can contribute plugins. Because of that there are way more Wordpress plugins than any website builder has widgets or add-ons.
  • Wordpress is great for bloggers — Squarespace is the only website builder that can compete with it on blogging.  
  • Wordpress is not drag-and-drop — Although you can find plugins that make Wordpress drag-and-drop, it’s not a drag-and-drop editor by default. Website builders are all drag-and-drop. 

Note: When I say Wordpress I mean Wordpress.org not Wordpress.com— which is a seperate service.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are SEO tools a waste of money?

Sometimes. There's a lot of snake-oil being sold. We don't recommend buying any SEO tools offered by website builders. Instead, we'd suggest you start learning from the Ahrefs Youtube Channel, Backlinko or Moz.

What tutorials do you recommend for building a website?

I wrote an in-depth guide to creating a website for beginners— I'd start there!

What's the best free website builders?

Check out our free website builders roundup.

What's the best alternative to Shopify?

I'd suggest checking out BigCommerce and Woocommerce.

Can I hire a web designer for a website builder?

There are freelancers and professional web design teams who work with website builders who can help you with your website design but website builders are most often DIY tools.

Does any website builder offer unlimited storage?

Most offer unlimited storage. Though heads up: even if they say "unlimited" there is generally a limit... it's just probably very high.