If your business is looking for online success – and why wouldn’t it – then choosing the right website builder is a decision that carries a lot of importance. Since small businesses often lack the cash to throw at professionals to do the work for them, do-it-yourself template-based services are an attractive, affordable option, providing you know where to look.
Most web builder packages are incredibly versatile, offering options such as hosting, e-commerce features and domain registration. So, it can be difficult to find the option which is best-suited to your business’ needs. The trick, however, is to balance value with a feature-rich offering that’s both professional and functional. Although, with so many options out there, finding the one that’s right for you and your business can be a tricky task.
To help you reach a decision, we’ve weighed up the pros and cons of some of the most popular website builders available, along with some considerations to think about before you invest.
Is a site-building service right for your business?
Although you might want to get stuck into building your website as soon as possible, it’s best to look before you leap. As tempting as it may be to go for the first building service you see, ask yourself what you want to achieve with the website first. Why do you want one in the first place? What kind of information should be on there? What do you want the finished article to look like?
From here, you can fine-tune the considerations to help you better reach a decision:
Something that may seem affordable initially may add up to a significant cost once you’ve factored in the time you and your staff will spend working on things, as well as any hidden costs the service may have in store for you. Added functionality such as analytics, SEO, social media integration and e-commerce can come at an extra cost.
Depending on the size of your website, the functionality, and how many hours (or team members) you can spare – a new web build can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to six months. Of course, when you’ve built your site, it’s not necessarily set in stone – you can always revisit pages or elements you don’t like and update the info or design.
As user-friendly as they can be for the most part, site-building tools need an initial commitment to create a website and then maintain it over time. If you’re too busy with running the business on a daily basis, then be sure to avoid any of the site builders that have a higher learning curve and less user-friendly interfaces.
If constant tinkering and fiddling is something you’re prone to do when it comes to design, then a site builder might not be the best option. If you know you’ll never be satisfied with something you’ll make yourself, then it may be worth hiring a professional designer and using a platform with customisable code on the backend.
What features do you need?
Whether you’re selling products or not, you’ll probably have to kit your website out with certain features.
An online store will obviously need some sort of eCommerce functionality that allows you to showcase products, sell them from your site, and track all of your orders from a single place. Perhaps you intend to use email marketing, in which case, something that allows you to manage your list of customers, send emails and see how recipients interact and respond is essential.
If visitors need to create user accounts - for online courses, customer profiles on eCommerce sites or blogs, for example - then your website will require such a feature. If you’re looking for third-party connectivity for things such as Google Tag Manager or Hotjar, then you’ll need a site builder that either supports the tool itself or allows you to add custom code.
Do you need to run advertisements? If so, a site builder with developer integration capabilities and custom code support for tools such as Google AdSense will be necessary.
Which website builder is right for you – four popular options:
If you need something simple and straightforward that’s still going to pack a decent visual punch, then Weebly is a great option. Equipped with plenty of eCommerce tools (though at a greater cost), Weebly also takes care of website hosting, as well as managing the software running in the backend too, so there’s no need to install and manage any software.
However, this means that you can’t add new functionality or features to the site, so if you’re thinking of hiring a developer or designer, Weebly isn’t the site builder to use. They also charge a 3% transaction fee on every purchase made through your eCommerce store – unless you upgrade.
Weebly’s free plan is rather basic; paid plans start at $8 per month, which are billed annually. A pro plan runs at $12 per month, while business plans will cost you $25 per month.
For blogs and online stores, Squarespace offers plenty of features. A user-friendly, drag-and-drop style builder, it has built-in functionality for credit card payments, customer tracking, gift card creation and much more. Other website builders would all require plugins for such things.
However, if you do decide to go with plugins, Squarespace unlocks even more plus points for eCommerce sites. If you’re looking for fabric swatch previews for clothing, inventory tracking and more, they’re only a plugin away. While it may not be suited to larger online stores with thousands of orders each month, the smaller e-store can definitely benefit from both the form and function that Squarespace can offer.
Squarespace websites start from $12 per month, while their online stores start at $26 a month.
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User-friendly and hugely customisable, Wix may well be the best all-round site-builder. With its drag-and-drop interface, plentiful design themes and extensive app capabilities, Wix certainly ticks all the boxes in terms of usability, design and customisability.
With that said, it’s not completely suited to every small business website, especially those on a particularly tight budget, and its eCommerce store tools aren’t the strongest either.
Wix offers a limited free plan with a Wix-branded subdomain. A domain will run you $9.16 a month, while a combo plan with a free domain name starts at $14.95 a month. Their eCommerce plan costs $26.25, too.
Incredibly versatile, the number of themes available with WordPress means it’s suited to pretty much any kind of website. Superb for blogging, and with a bit of tinkering, you can create an excellent eCommerce site that could well rival some of the best in the game.
With that said, WordPress takes some serious manpower and hours to get to grips with. If you have the time, the rewards are worth the effort, but for businesses who are short on time, it might be best to look elsewhere. WordPress has so much at its disposal, that if you’re not going to use what’s on offer, then it’s a good idea to go with another builder.
Harness its full capabilities, and there’s no telling what you can create.
While WordPress is free, you’ll still need a domain name and web hosting to get things live – this usually costs $14.99 a year and $7.99 a month respectively.
Gazprom Energy is a leading and award-winning business energy supplier, helping thousands of small businesses manage their gas and electricity contracts. To find out more about what we can offer your business, visit the homepage or call us today on 0161 837 2295.
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