In this modern day and age, it is a must for every business to have a website. After all, it comes with a bevy of benefits. Not only does it help generate customers (and ergo, more revenue), it can help you market your products and services as well.
Unfortunately, some businesses – especially the small ones – elect to not have websites built. Of course, the common worry is the cost. Creating a website can indeed be costly. Should you seek the services of a professional, you can expect to pay as much as $500 – and this is actually on the cheap side. For some small business owners, this costs a lot.
Fortunately, there are website builders that can reduce this cost to $0. As such, many savvy businessmen – who don’t have much IT experience – have turned their sights to website builders. These tools enable the construction of websites – without the difficult manual code editing.
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Types of Website Builders
If you are interested in getting a website builder for your small business, then you should know that there are 2 types of such tools. They are:
1. Offline Website Builders
As the name suggests, this program does not require you to have an internet connection to make a website. This is a software that you can download (or purchase) and install directly on your computer. You can go ahead and create your own website. Once you are done, you can upload your finished product to a web host.
2. Online Website Builders
True to its’ name, you need to be online to use this tool. That’s because it is web-based and runs on the service provider’s system.
To use an online website builder, you first need to choose from the design templates available. You then need to edit an element by clicking it and typing the text. You can then drag the element/s to where you would like to have them placed.
Apart from text, you can also add images, videos, blogs, social sharing options, and a full-on shopping cart (among many other things) to your website. Once you are done with the design, you can go ahead and publish your website.
Top 10 Website Builders
Wix deems itself to be the “Leader in Website Creation”. It offers over 500 templates, which are specially designed for every business. You can easily edit or customize your website’s content with its drag and drop feature.
Wix helps you design a mobile-friendly website, which is good because 62% of people browse the web with the use of their smartphones. You can also have a personalized domain name for a small price.
This website builder can be used for free. However, if you want to have a domain name (and many other features), then you need to opt for paid plans. Monthly prices range from $4.50 (Connect Domain) to $24.50 (VIP plan).
- Beautiful templates
- Helpful WIX smart assistant
- More expensive than other website builders
- Slower loading speeds, especially for mobile users
Squarespace is a website builder that offers a free trial for interested clients. It provides a handful of templates that enable you to create an award-winning website design.
Squarespace comes with an all-in-one platform, which gives you everything you need to run an online store. It also boasts of SEO, social media, and e-mail marketing features that help you reach more potential buyers.
The platform offers a special pricing scheme for annual billing. Plans will cost you $12 to $40 per month. If you elect to pay monthly, the prices will increase to $16 to $46 per month.
- Timely support features
- Squarespace app (iOS only)
Not applicable for multi-lingual websites
Shopify is a website builder that allows you to sell online with relative ease. This free-to-try program features 70 stunning themes. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have good design skills, because Shopify can improve the website aesthetics for you.
If you want to create a unique website, know that these themes are easily customizable. You can edit the theme in any which way you deem fit.
The Basic Shopify plan, which is perfect for a new bustling business, costs $13 a month. Shopify and Advanced Shopify plans cost $54 and $107 per month respectively.
- Easy to use
- Mobile-friendly templates
Basic e-mail marketing functionality
Webflow is a platform that allows you to build better, faster websites without complicated coding. This is made possible by its Designer feature, which helps you create grid layouts and flex boxes, among many others.
Webflow is powered by Amazon web services, so you have 99.9% uptime without the need for much maintenance. It also comes with flexible integrations, content updates, and SEO tools so you can grow your website (and subsequently, your business) exponentially.
This website builder comes with a free-forever feature that allows you to work on 2 projects. But if you need to make more websites, you need to go for paid plans that cost $12 to $36 per month.
- Bountiful template options
- Good customization features
More difficult to use compared to Wix and other website builders.
Gator website builder is a program that can help you create your website without breaking a sweat. It comes with a drag and drop feature, so you can make edits or changes without the usual complications.
Gator website builder allows you to create a mobile-friendly website that you can customize accordingly. It offers various options for different types of business, be it a blog, a technological marvel, or an e-store.
It also comes with numerous tools, including G Suite productivity tools and social media add-ons.
The Gator website starter plan costs $3.84 month. The premium and e-commerce plans, on the other hand, cost $5.99 and $9.22 respectively.
- Easy to use drag and drop editor
- No free plan
- Limited support services
GoDaddy is a website builder that allows you to craft a stunning website – without the need for confusing codes. It offers 20+ customizable themes with good responsive designs. It also has an SSL feature that can help secure your website – and even boost its rankings in search engines.
This platform promises rapid loading, so customers don’t get impatient while viewing your website. Since it allows updating from any device, you could customize your website with the use of your phone – or your laptop.
The basic plan costs $2.99 month, while the dedicated hosting plans cost $179.99 a month.
- Affordable price
- Free 14-day trial
Additional fees (I.e. restoration fees)
WordPress is a website builder that enables you to create a website in mere minutes. Whether you have an online store or a portfolio, WordPress can help you out with its responsive and optimized themes.
It features an intuitive editor that saves all your inputs immediately. Its drag and drop feature for media allows you to upload photos, audio, and documents in just a few clicks. With its Jetpack essentials, WordPress can help make your website optimized for search engines.
A free plan is available for use, although there are paid plans that cost anywhere from $11 to $40 per month.
- Strong content management system
- Thousands of plug-ins available
Hard to use custom layouts
Weebly sees itself to be a ‘powerful website builder’. This tool comes with step-by-step guidance, so you can build and launch a website even if you are a newbie. It also has an E-commerce feature, so you can complete orders with relative ease.
With its integrated marketing tools, Facebook ads, and e-mail marketing campaigns, Weebly can help you generate more traffic – and more potential customers.
Weebly offers free basic use. Its paid plans, on the other hand, cost anywhere from $5 to $25 per month.
- Easy to use feature
- Free Weebly services if you add a subdomain
Limited blogging features
Jimdo is a website builder that is specially made for small businesses. This free to use application is very user-friendly, so you can complete your website even if you are clueless when it comes to coding.
Jimdo offers template designs for every industry. It also offers a professional domain, automatic SEO, and trackable statistics, so you can see how your website fares in search engine rankings.
Pricing for Jimdo website services cost up to $39 per month. If you wish to create an online shop, expect to pay $15 to $39 per month.
- Easy to use
- Good SEO feature
Jimdo app visible in free account websites
If you are a budding photographer, then you will benefit a lot from Format. After all, this is the preferred website builder for shutterbugs who wish to crack the biz.
Format has special templates made by award-winning designers. These can be customized easily without coding. Because this platform helps you create mobile-optimized websites, your clients can enjoy your photos no matter what gadget they use.
Format monthly rates (billed annually) cost $12 for the Pro plan, $18 for Pro Plus, and $25 for Unlimited.
- Free trial
- Good SEO features
Confusing user interface
How to Select a Website Builder
Now that you know the 2 kinds of website builders, you can go ahead with the daunting task of selecting a website builder. As you do so, here are the factors that you need to consider:
Many online and offline website builders can be used for free. If you literally don’t want to spend money on website building, then you should consider free programs such as Wix, WordPress, and Jimdo.
As with most free stuff, there are limitations to these free website builders. If you are willing to spend some money on more features, then you’ll be glad to know that you only need to pay a minimum for most website builders.
E-commerce website builders, on the other hand, usually come with a hefty price. Wixstores cost anywhere from $13 to $500 a month. Volusion starts at $29 a month, though it is only limited to 100 products. For an unlimited number of products, you need to pay $299 a month.
2. Programming and Technical Skills
One of the foremost factors that should dictate your choice is your technical ability. Do you have a working knowledge of coding? Or are you completely clueless about this? If you are the latter, then you should choose a user-friendly online website builder.
Before you go ahead with a website builder, you first need to check the program’s specs. Does it come with drag and drop technology? Can you easily edit the elements with a click of the mouse? Remember, these are important if you have no technical background.
However, if you can write code and do some FTP handling, then you may enjoy using an offline website builder. After all, this would give you the freedom to create a website in any which way you please.
3. Type of Website
What website do you want to build? Do you just want to detail your products or services? Or do you want to create a platform where you can sell your goods? The website that you wish to create should influence your choice of a website builder.
For the usual ‘website,’ top picks include Wix, Squarespace, Site123, WordPress, Hostgator, and Jimdo.
However, if you want to create an E-commerce website, then you should go for such specialized website builders.
For example, Wix has an E-commerce counterpart named Wixstores. It comes with the usual templates, though they are categorized according to type (online store, restaurant, business, etc.)
Another platform is Volusion, which comes with templates, inventory tools, hosting security, and SEO.
Then there’s BigCommerce, a company that is ‘built to sell’. It promises to simplify E-commerce management while driving online traffic all at the same time.
It’s not enough to put your business on the web. If you want to reach more customers, then you need to have it search engine optimized. Also known as SEO, involves making some changes to make your website ‘more attractive’ to search engines. By doing so, you can scale higher in search engine rankings.
SEO entails a lot of things. It includes keyword research, specialized meta tags, comprehensive content, backlinks, and social media integration, to name a few.
If you don’t know how to utilize these SEO components efficiently, then you need to select a website builder with SEO features. Programs that have this include Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, GoDaddy, and WordPress. They can help optimize your website as if you are a tech wizard who knows what you are doing.
5. Domain Name
While there are many free website builders out there, you can only get a sub-domain for a website address (yourbusiness.websitebuilder.com). While this is okay, this may not be healthy for your website’s search engine presence. For one, Google and Bing put more credence on custom domain websites.
If you wish to have this type of service, then you may have to turn to paid website builders.
6. Domain E-mail Hosting
Not all website builders offer domain e-mail hosting. And if they do, they usually come with additional fees. With that being said, you need to check the program features to see if it comes with such a service.
So why is e-mail hosting important? For one, it is beneficial for businesses because it conveys an air of professionalism. Apart from that, the customized domain name helps foster brand retention for customers.
Blogs come with a lot of benefits, especially for small businesses. For one, blogs can help develop relationships with new and old customers alike. They can help create sharing opportunities, as well as establish your company as an industry leader.
More importantly, blogs can help strengthen your website’s SEO. As mentioned, this can help improve your rankings in search engines. Remember, the click-through rates for top-ranking websites are 30%. This decreases to 10% for third-spot searches. Websites on the fourth to tenth spots only have a click-through rate of 2%. Click-throughs for latter searches are virtually non-existent.
Think about the clients you can amass if you have a high-ranking website. If you are number 1 in the results for “dog grooming services in Brooklyn” (which has 10.5 million hits), this would equate to 3.15 million hits. If you are on the third spot, your hits would be greatly decreased to 1.05 million. But if you’re on the fourth to tenth spots, the click-through rates would only be 210,000.
Now that you know the SEO strengths that blogging can give you, then you know that it’s important to go for a website builder that includes or supports blogging services. These can make your website scale higher – which means a bigger potential for paying customers.
8. Website Analytics
Websites are just like real-life businesses – you need to know how they are faring. Even if you impose all the SEO strategies possible, they are essentially useless if you don’t know their effects on your website.
As such, you need to have a website builder that has analytic and reporting features. Google Analytics and other similar tools can help you track your visitors, so you know which pages or products perform best. These can help you decide which needs more promotional work and whatnot.
9. Social Media Integration
Social media is not just for socialization. These platforms prove to be vital for businesses as well. Just look at these stats:
- 50% of the world’s population – or 3 billion people – use social media platforms.
- 54% of these people use social media to research products or services.
- 74% of Facebook users check it daily.
- 83% of Twitter customers who tweeted businesses – and received replies from them – are more likely to continue their transactions with the said company.
- 53% of Twitter users buy products that they saw on the platform.
- 71% of American businesses use Instagram.
- 83% of consumers prefer YouTube marketing.
- 71% of clients are more likely to recommend a business that provides good social media experience.
With these digits, it is advisable to have social media integration on your website. As such, you should choose a website builder that allows you to link with platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, to name a few.
10. Design Aesthetics
Apart from technical knowledge, you should consider your design aesthetics when choosing a website builder. Can you create a website beautifully? Do you know which colors and layout go well with the viewer? If not, then you should choose a website builder with design templates.
However, if you have a great eye for design – or if you want your website customized – then you can go for a program that allows you to start a design from scratch. Fortunately, most online and offline tools come with these pre-made/custom made features.
11. Additional Features
Websites should not just be for sightseeing. They need to be interactive as well. You should go for a website builder that offers add-on features that would benefit your company. Examples include:
Good customer service is the hallmark of any business. Statistics show that customers are willing to pay 17% more for companies who espouse good customer service. Seamless communications through Form Builders or Skype can help you tend with client concerns at the soonest possible time.
E-mail marketing is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your website. With an open rate of 23.4% and a click-through rate of 17.8%, it wouldn’t hurt to have an email marketing system (such as Mailchimp) in place.
c. Appointment Booking
If you run a spa or a salon, then you are going to benefit a lot from an appointment system. Clients can set their schedules easily, so your employees are ready when they arrive. This helps lessen the wait times, a usual problem that prods customers to switch to a similar business.
c. Table Reservations
If you have a restaurant or a bar, you will enjoy having an online table reservation system. This eliminates long wait times on the client’s part. As for your employees, this system may save them from the ire of impatient customers.
If your business is somewhere remote – or could not be seen easily – then you would benefit from having a Google maps feature on your website.
e. Music or Video Player
Sharing your sounds or videos will work well for your business, especially if you are a musician or an owner of a record company.
f. Language Translation
Do you want to establish an international reach? Then you should consider a Google Translate program, which enables easy understanding for over 80 languages.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answer will depend on your circumstances. If you have the technical know-how yet don’t have a regular internet connection, then it’s best to get an offline website builder. However, if you are not tech-savvy a person, an online website builder can help you create a site wherever you may be.
Here are some pros and cons that can help you decide:
Offline Website Builders
You can create your own website even without an internet connection.
1. You need to have some technical know-how to use this, as you are going to upload the website to a web host directly.
2. You need to purchase a web hosting software as well, which means additional expenses on your part.
Online Website Builders
1. You can create a website wherever you may be, granted you have an internet connection.
2. It already comes with web hosting services that don’t require much set-up or tinkering.
3. Best for people with little or no coding experience.
You need to be constantly online when you build your website.
Website builders come with many features. While some are vital, most are add-ons.
With that being said, here are the important things you need to consider when choosing a website builder:
Unless you are an IT guru, you are going to need a website builder that allows website creation in just a few clicks and edits. Many programs offer this drag and drop feature that allows you to complete a website in record time.
Depending on the services, website builders range from free to up to $299.95 per month. As such, you need to consider your budget when choosing a website builder. Know that free services often have limited services. If you want more, then you need to be prepared to pay a few bucks per month.
Most websites offer beautiful templates, but some offer limited customization options. If you want to follow a certain color scheme, you need to opt for a program that allows for easy customization. Again, this is a unique feature that may entail some additional costs.
While many website builders are free of charge, some add-on services require some payments.
If you want to keep your expenses at a minimum, then you need to heed these tips:
a. Use an existing template.
It might not be your ‘dream design,’ but it’s a good and cheap option. Having a customized design will set you back a couple of dollars. If you have a limited budget, then you need to stick with the available design templates.
Should you find the template library limited, you can always find additional themes at websites such as Elegant Themes, Themify.me, Solo Stream, Theme Forest, or Template Monster.
b. Reduce the number of website pages.
It takes time to create a website, even if you use the ‘easiest’ website builders out there. Instead of creating different pages for the company’s history, mission, and vision, why not put them all on one page?
Remember: time is gold. You could always use this extra time for other more important things. Forego of ‘unimportant’ website details and focus on the more important ones.
c. Keep it simple.
When it comes to website building, know that it’s “the simpler, the better.” While adding a lot of features would be good, they are not always necessary. You don’t need a Google Map feature if you don’t operate a physical shop. You don’t need an online appointment system if you run an online-only shop.
Remember to go for necessary features. They can help save you money – and precious time (which equates to money as well).
d. Use stock photography.
Unless you have hired the services of a professional photographer, you are better off with stock images. Not only are they of good quality, but they are royalty-free as well! No need to worry about copyright infringements and what not.
However, you have to keep in mind that the options may be limited because they are free. With that being said, you’re free to browse from several sources, which include Unsplash, Pexels, Pixabay, and Reshot, to name a few.
Website builders usually come with templates and design features that make website creation a breeze. For one, you can choose from any of the available template designs. More often than not, these templates’ colors and fonts can be changed or customized accordingly.
Add to that, most website builders come with drag and drop editing systems that allow for easy website authoring. They usually come with big image libraries that can help you design your website with relative ease.
More than just helping you establish a website easily, a website builder can help you earn some extra money as well.
You can actually monetize your website through the following techniques:
This platform is not just for online stores. Websites who peddle services may benefit from this as well. This is especially useful in this day and age. After all, the pandemic has left most people cooped up in their homes for fear of the virus. With the help of a website builder, you can promote your programs and services – which can be delivered by way of videoconferencing or streaming – for a small price.
As mentioned, an SEO-friendly website ranks higher in search engines. The difference can amount to millions of potential clients (which can become paying customers later on).
Should your business website reach a lot of clients, chances are more and more people would pay for advertising space on your website. You can start small, and bill higher as your website gets wildly popular.
c. Affiliate Marketing
You can also make some money by selling other people’s products on your website. This method, called affiliate marketing, allows you to earn commissions for sales made via your website. You don’t need to set up a store for this (although you can), it could be as simple as embedding links in your blog posts.
Website builders are great programs that make website creation a breeze. If you want your small business to make more customers and prosper on the web, then you need to get this tool ASAP!