Last Updated Jul 7 2020
I've reviewed over 40 website builders over the last two years and this is my guide to which website builder is best for a small business.
Truthfully, there isn't much difference between these two questions:
Website builders are designed for small businesses— that's their most lucrative customer. So the best website builder is also the best website builder for a small business.
Note: My work is supported by affiliate commissions, so I may earn a comission if you buy a website builder based on my reviews. More about that here.
Best All-Around and Best ThemesSquarespace.com
Best For Ecommerce StoresShopify.com
Both cover a wide base of features: appointment scheduling, restaurant menu builders, email marketing, portfolios, takeout orders, events and ticketing— all features that a small business might need.
I typically recommend Squarespace over Wix but you can read my in-depth Wix vs Squarespace comparison for a deeper look.
Wix and Squarespace also the two most widely used website builders. They are the top two in total websites powered:
It's a bit subjective but Squarespace has modern, clean templates. They all share a similiar look and feel: big photos, clean design and bold typography.
Here are two examples:
You can also browse live Squarespace websites here.
Squarespace also has excellent theme customization. It's strikes a nice balance between ease of use and flexibility. Read more on this in my Squarespace review.
Note: It's not that Weebly, Wix, Carrd, Webflow and Shopify have bad templates. In fact, their templates are quite good! Instead this is more about how excellent Squarespace's templates are.
Don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise.
Choosing between any of the website builders on this list will not rank your small business any differently in Google. You can read more about this here
There are important technical SEO requirements that a website builder must have— but every website builder on this list covers these. Some go a little further than others (for example: Squarespace supports Google AMP pages) but in practice choosing a different website builder will have no meaningful impact on SEO.
Learning SEO can feel overwhelming but a good place to start learning is Moz's Beginners Guide to SEO.
Most small businesses will want to learn about Local SEO — Local SEO is any Google Search result that returns a local result— for example, if you search camera stores near me or if you search in Google Maps. This involves different strategies than general SEO!
I actually did an in-depth guide to the best free website builders. You can find my recommendation there.
Here's the short story: website builders aren't going out of their way to give great free plans. Most free plans are designed to push you to upgrade.
Almost every website builder includes ads on free websites— for example, this is the ad on free Wix websites:
Wix includes an ad that scrolls alongside your page.
If your budget is really low, you may want to check out Carrd— which is far cheaper than most website builders:
And honestly, it's not even close.
In the last ten years, Shopify has become the industry leader for ecommerce builders:
Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke has said that before Shopify the ecommerce industry was like "what MP3 players were like before the iPod". For Lutke, competitors had tons of "advanced" features but were "bulky, hard to use and looked horrible." He's not wrong. It's an accurate analogy.
For example, consider the Shopify App Store. The App Store lets users add features when they need them— and empowers third party app developers to develop for Shopify. It's lead to a powerful ecosystem that no other ecommerce builder matches:
Beyond that, Shopify has repeatedly pulled the ecommerce industry forward with innovations like Shopify Payments and channels.
Squarespace has excellent restaurant templates and they've got great features for restaurants.
For example, Squarespace invented a simple markup langauge for writing menus— it's an elegant solution to a tricky problem:
Plus, Squarespace offers online ordering— obviously important in these Covid-19 times— and they can take reservations through Opentable.
Weebly is what I'd recommend to anyone who doesn't feel tech savvy. Everything is simple and straightfoward.
Pages in Weebly are built by dragging elements into the side drawer. Elements are then edited within the page.
Now the one thing to know is that Weebly is also going through a transition period following their acquisition by Square in 2018. They are currently in between two editors: the Square editor. and the Weebly editor.
The Weebly editor is for non-ecommerce websites. It's the "old" editor. It's easy to use and customizable. The Square editor is for ecommerce websites. It's simpler and less customizable.
Unfortunately Weebly has been clear that they are pushing users to the Square editor— so you have to wonder if the Weebly editor will be improved at the same rate it always has.
Read more about this in my Weebly review.
Carrd is by far the cheapest among my 6 recommended small business website builders. It's actually not even close:
Carrd is only for one page websites. So you'll only want to use Carrd if it makes sense for your website to be one page. If you're not sure if one page works for you, I'd suggest just trying Carrd for 15 minutes— you might surprise yourself with how much you can fit into one page!
Carrd's page editor.
Otherwise the other website builders on this list are all roughly the same price— as you can see in the above graph. The only exception is Shopify but that's because it's an ecommerce website builder. Ecommerce plans for the other website builders on this list are about the same price is Shopify.
Looking for more cheap options? Read my deep dive on the cheapest website builders.
Webflow is the most customizable website builder. It has a bit of a learning curve but if you spend a few hours learning it, you'll be able to code your own website from scratch.
Wordpress is a content management system (CMS)— not a website builder. A CMS like Wordpress is flexible but has a learning curve. Website builders like Wix and Squarespace are less flexible but easier to use.
Here's an overview of the differences:
For more on this, read my guide: Wordpress vs Website Builders.