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Best small-business website builders tried and tested in 2024

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No coding skills? Tiny budget? Go online the easy way with the best website builders for small businesses

You don’t need to have a huge budget or know how to code to give your business its own website or to set up your own online store. The best website builders make it cheap and easy, using ready-made themes and templates as a framework so you can get up and running fast. The results can look slick and highly professional but cost a fraction of what you would spend on professional web design. What’s more, the website builder takes on all of the hosting – securing and managing the servers that support your site – so you don’t need much in the way of time or expertise to keep it going.

In this guide, we’ll explain all the key features to look for and suggest some of the best website builders for small businesses, based on our own tests and reviews. You’ll find links to our in-depth reviews, in case you want to learn more, but if you’re just after a speedy recommendation, check out our at-a-glance list for the best options for different types and sizes of small businesses.

Best website builders for small businesses: At a glance

How to choose the best website builder for your small business

How much do website builders cost?

Not actually that much, although the costs can spiral upwards as you take on more advanced ecommerce features. You can even find some services offering completely free plans, but these tend to come with too many limitations for serious business use. For instance, they may require your site to appear as a subdomain of the builder’s website and carry their branding on each page, which might not provide the professional image that you’re probably looking for. You might also find that you’re restricted to a smaller number of pages, or a limited amount of web traffic each month. For these reasons, we generally recommend paying for a premium plan.

Luckily, these aren’t expensive. Prices start at less than £10 a month, and bargains can be had if you’re happy to pay upfront and annually.

What should you look for in a small-business website builder?

Ease of use is the most important thing. The best website builders make it possible for anyone to produce and run a professional-looking business website, without any coding skills or previous design experience. Of course, with skills and experience, you may be able to add custom features or fine-tune aspects of your site, but neither should be a requirement just to get something slick and stylish online.

To facilitate this, most website builders use pre-designed templates, where you can either assemble the pages of your website from ready-made blocks or components, or simply change specific elements, such as fonts or colours, to give your site its own distinctive style. This means not only that you can build something rapidly, but also that it will work, look attractive and consistent, and won’t have any design issues that might put potential customers or partners off.

There are some website builders that provide more options for advanced users, but if you prefer to work with your own designs or build everything from scratch, then a website builder might not be right for you. You might be better off working with WordPress and a good web host.

What kind of features do you need for business?

Most website builders support a range of business features, including the tools for you to build and manage an online store; however, it’s definitely worth looking for some of the following features if you want a website that doesn’t just give your business a basic web presence, but actually supports it and drives new work or sales.

Appointments and bookings tools – to enable potential clients to book services or meetings online.

SEO and analytics tools – to help drive traffic to your site via Google and the other major search engines.

Media and ad design tools – for creating and editing images, videos or promotional graphics for your site without using dedicated apps.

Responsive design capabilities – enabling you to build one version of your site that can then adapt for viewing different desktop, phone or tablet screens (without this, you’ll need to edit multiple versions).

Social media integration – tools to embed social media feeds into your site, as well as create posts or ads to promote your business and attract more traffic.

Blogging tools to create and maintain a blog, which you might use to showcase your existing work, or help you build an online brand around your business.

How about an online store?

More and more website builders are adding ecommerce features to their platforms. Some are even purpose-built for creating and running online stores. Basic features start with stock management – allowing you to create an inventory of products and sort them into categories – and move on to taking payments through established payment platforms and even arranging shipping. If and when your store expands, having integrated features for postal or delivery services and label printing can save you a lot of time and trouble.

The more advanced ecommerce platforms go much further, with more tools for sorting products and making them easier to find for your customers, alongside features you can use to organise sales and discounts, as well as track customers and purchases, helping you grow your business into something bigger and better.

Is there anything else to look out for?

Watch out for hidden costs as you shop around. Many website builders don’t include VAT in their headline prices, and you’ll also find that many of the “free” domains and SSL security certificates you get for the first six months (or year) become dramatically more expensive once the free period is over.

What’s more, sites with ecommerce features rarely provide them completely gratis. Most will have a transaction fee, giving the website builder and/or the payment platform provider a cut of every sale you make. A minority of sites also use a tiered system where the website builder gets more expensive once you reach a certain number of sales, although you usually do get more features to compensate.

Obviously, the lower you can keep these hidden costs, the better, but to an extent they’re simply part of the cost of working and of doing business on a platform that your business can rely on.

How we test website builders

We test website builders by signing up for each service as a normal customer and then building a test website using a combination of automated tools and templates, plus some custom design features. We run through all the site-customisation features available, adding new page elements and changing colour schemes, using any of the tools included for adding images or uploading video, as well as trying out the social media or blogging features.
We always review the test site in both desktop and mobile formats in order to evaluate how well the tools work to build something that looks good, whether it’s displayed on a 27in widescreen monitor or a 6in smartphone screen.

Wherever the website builders offer ecommerce features, we use these to build a simple online store and add a series of items to stock. We then check the controls for pricing, sales, discounts and more. We also try out any SEO or marketing features. Finally, we run some queries through their online support to see how quick and effective their help or feedback is.

READ NEXT: Best website builder software

The best small-business website builders you can buy in 2024

1. Wix: Best all-round website builder for small businesses

Price when reviewed: From £0/mth | Check prices at WixBest website builder for small businesses WixWith its affordable Business Basic plan, Wix is a great option for small startups. Yet it also scales up well to cover businesses of almost any size. The Business Core plan comes with a custom domain – free for one year – along with secure online payments and support for customer accounts. Storage is capped at 50GB and you can only store five hours of video but, if that’s too limiting, the next-tier Business plan gives you twice as much of both, along with the tools to offer products and services via subscriptions.

Wix’s biggest strengths are its simplicity and flexibility. A wizard-based approach makes it easy to get a website up and running quickly, using the site-builder tools to customise the ready-made design and add your own pages, galleries, social feeds and more. There are add-on apps for taking bookings or reservations, and it has strong ecommerce features that enable you to create your own online store or sell through existing stores such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy. It will also work with PayPal, or you can use its own Wix Payments platform for payments. They include additional tools for social media marketing, prepaid postal labels and delivery tracking. When you also throw in some of the best SEO and advertising tools of any website builder, it’s easy to ignore some of their limitations – such as having just one global template for product pages, or the fact that you need to maintain different versions of your website for desktop and mobile use.

If you’re new to website building, Wix is a great place to start.

Read our full Wix review for details

Key specs – Storage: 500MB to 50GB; Bandwidth: 500MB to unlimited/mth; Ecommerce support: Yes (Business plans only); Free version: Yes; Custom domains: Yes; Free domain: 1 year (Premium and Business plans only); Automated design: Yes; App store: Yes; Support: 24/7 live chat, guides and tutorials, callback service

Check prices at Wix

2. Square Online: Best website builder for a new small business

Price when reviewed: From £0/mth | Check prices at Square Onlinebest website builder for small businesses Square OnlineSquare is one of the biggest names in digital payments and, in 2018, it acquired the website builder Weebly, with the aim of using its tech to launch a service for building online stores. The result, Square Online, doesn’t have the flexibility or customisation options of rivals such as Wix or SquareSpace, but it’s very easy to set up a business website, create your inventory, set up shipping rates and taxes and get the whole thing published.

Square Online has a good range of ready-built themes and styles, plus straightforward options for adding text, video, image galleries, and customer testimonials, even blogs. Its catalogue-management tools are excellent and happy to work with physical or digital products, or any mix of both. The integration with Square’s popular point-of-sale terminals and payment systems make Square Online a great choice for traditional brick-and-mortar stores looking to go online. You also get a decent range of email-focused marketing tools.

Perhaps the best thing is that it’s one of the few ecommerce-focused website builders with a free plan. This can get you up and running fast, albeit with fairly steep transaction fees, and there’s always the option of moving up to the Professional or Performance plans later, with their additional features and a free domain for the first year.

Read our full Square Online review for details

Key specs – Storage: Unlimited; Bandwidth: Unlimited; Ecommerce support: Yes; Free version: Yes; Custom domains: Yes (paid plans only); Free domain: Yes (paid plans only); Automated design: No; App store: No; Support: Knowledgebase, guides, live chat, 24/7 email support

Check prices at Square Online

3. Shopify: Best website builder for creating online stores

Price when reviewed: From £25/mth | Check prices at Shopifybest website builders for small businesses shopifyShopify is designed to do one thing and one thing only: build and manage online stores. As a result, it works differently compared to other website builders, in that you develop the back end of your store – the catalogue and the payment and shipping systems – before you get to the storefront and how that looks and feels.

The big upside of this approach is that Shopify is brilliant at adding, categorising and managing products, even if you offer a wide range of products of differing types. It also has comprehensive features so you can keep track of customers and work out what they’re looking for. It has some of the best tools for creating sales, discounts and promotions, along with useful integrations with social media, as well as shipping or print-on-demand services.

On the downside, you don’t get the flexibility or customisation tools that you’ll find with more general website builders. The interface can feel opaque, leaving you unsure how to tweak certain page elements or give a product page some extra style, and switching between the front-end and back-end tools can be a pain. What’s more, while there are lots of brilliant Shopify templates, only a handful are free to use.
It’s a strong option if you want to build an online store, but not so much if you want a complete online presence for your business, with the ability to sell products on the side.

Read our full Shopify review for details

Key specs – Storage: Unlimited; Bandwidth: Unlimited; Ecommerce support: Yes; Free version: No (trial only); Custom domains: Yes; Free domain: No; Automated design: No; App store: Yes; Support: Knowledgebase, guides, 24/7 live chat, 24/7 email

Check prices at Shopify

4. Squarespace: Best website builder for a professional business website

Price when reviewed: From £12/mth | Check prices at Squarespacebest website builder for small businesses SquarespaceSquarespace has some impressive ecommerce features, but its real strengths lie in its advanced design tools and its features for professional services, creative services or consultants. These include tools for scheduling and managing both online and offline sessions or appointments, not to mention managing memberships and subscriptions. Plus, when you’re trying to drum up business, you’ll find the marketing and social media promotion very useful, alongside the SEO and analytics tools.

Squarespace wins extra credit for supporting responsive design, and it strikes a great balance between the drag-and-drop flexibility of a service like Wix and supporting consistency and real control.

The modular design system makes it simple to add a new component to a page – or to move it around – with a grid to help make sure that everything aligns. Most style options are instantly accessible from the Site Styles sidebar, and there’s ample scope to adjust layouts, formatting, fonts, colour palettes and more. It’s not impossible to make an ugly-looking, dysfunctional site with Squarespace, but it’s certainly more difficult than with some other website builders. If you want to showcase your business with a distinctive, bespoke website, this is the builder to use.

Read our full Squarespace review for details

Key specs – Storage: Unlimited (30-minute video upload limit); Bandwidth: Unlimited; Ecommerce support: Yes (Business and Commerce plans only); Free version: No; Custom domains: Yes; Free domain: 1 year (annual plans only); Automated design: No; App store: Yes; Support: Videos, guides, live chat (business hours) and email support

Check prices at Squarespace

5. GoDaddy: Best web-hosting and site-building combo for small businesses

Price when reviewed: From £6.99/mth | Check prices at GoDaddybest website builder for small businesses GoDaddyWhile it faces stiff competition from Wix and 1&1 Ionos, nothing beats GoDaddy Website Builder when it comes to getting a website up and running fast. This is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to take your business online, and it will work with existing domains – whether you’ve bought it from GoDaddy or another domain registrar – or you can buy a new one when you sign up. You can even just publish your site with a suffix and link through to your chosen domain later. Just be aware that the ecommerce features are only available with the premium Ecommerce plan.

Many of the templates have been built specifically for business use, and you can pick one to get things started then switch to another one later, or simply change the existing colours, fonts or buttons to customise the look and feel. Different layouts are available at a click, or you can build your own pages from sections designed to showcase different types of content. If you’re new to website building, you’ll appreciate the Next Steps feature, which advises you on what you could do next to improve your website or drive more traffic to it.

GoDaddy Website Builder has some impressive features for anyone selling professional services or online consultancy, including tools to book appointments or set up webinars or training sessions. The ecommerce features are comprehensive, including secure payments through PayPal, Square and Stripe, as well as integrated SEO and marketing. There’s even a specific tool – GoDaddy Studio – for designing branded visuals and online ads. It doesn’t quite have the design capabilities of Squarespace and its stock photo library could be broader, but if you want to spend the minimum time building a professional-looking site, GoDaddy Website Builder will help you do that.

Read our full GoDaddy review for details

Key specs – Storage: Unlimited; Bandwidth: Unlimited; Ecommerce support: Yes (ecommerce plans only); Free version: Trial only; Custom domains: Yes; Free domain: No (from 82p/yr for the first year); Automated design: No; App store: No; Support: Guides, 24/7 live chat and email support

Check prices at GoDaddy

6. 1and1 Ionos: Best website builder for small businesses on a budget

Price when reviewed: From £1/mth (exc VAT) | Check prices at Ionosbest website builder for small businesses 1and1 Ionos1and1 Ionos Website Builder is another good option for anyone wanting to get a website online fast then tinker with it later. At first, it might seem limited and inflexible – it has fewer templates than other website builders and fewer tools to customise them – but with a bit of experience, you can see that Website Builder offers modern, responsive site design that prioritises consistency and control. You can change the styling of most elements with just a few clicks, or add image galleries, videos and interactive modules. There are some particularly impressive tools for handling backgrounds, and for shifting or scaling your image on the page.

1and1 Ionos’ ecommerce features are targeted at physical and digital sales. You won’t have any issues adding products to your catalogue, or keeping that catalogue organised. There are some useful features for bulk editing, too, which can save you time if you need to add a selection of products to a different category, or change their availability in one go. 1and1 Ionos also gives you more control over how your storefront looks than Shopify or BigCommerce Essentials, along with taking payment through Lightspeed Payments, Stripe, Square and PayPal, plus facilitating shipping with UPS, FedEx and DHL. It’s just a shame that the setting to change the default currency isn’t easier to get to from the start.

This is a solid all-rounder for business and ecommerce sites, and very cheap in the first year thanks to massive discounts. Prices rise after that, but it’s still a great choice if you’re starting out on a tight budget.

Read our full 1and1 Ionos review for details

Key specs – Storage: Unlimited; Bandwidth: Unlimited; Ecommerce support: Yes (ecommerce plans only); Free version: Yes; Custom domains: Yes; Free domain: 1 year; Automated design: No; App store: Yes; Support: Knowledgebase, Guides, 24/7 live chat and email support

Check prices at Ionos

7. BigCommerce Essentials: Best website builder for fast-growing online stores

Price when reviewed: From $29/mth | Check prices at BigCommerceBest website builder for small buisnesses BigCommerce Essentials

Like Shopify, BigCommerce is a website builder focused on creating and managing online stores. Though it skews towards larger enterprises, with clients such as Ted Baker, Skullcandy, Nikon and Oral-B, BigCommerce’s Essentials tier is its website builder for smaller businesses. It works a little differently to Square Online or Shopify: there are no fees for transactions, but you move up from the cheapest plan to the more expensive Plus and Pro plans as your sales increase. These plans also include additional features to help your sales rise even more.

BigCommerce can seem complex and intimidating, with a lot of forms to fill out early on. And the design tools prioritise consistency and usability over flexibility and creative control – if you like having a wide range of design tools and templates, then this isn’t the website builder for you. However, it does a great job of building a functional online store and helping you manage a growing product catalogue with hundreds, or even thousands, of items. The more advanced tools for managing discounts and sales, or targeting specific groups of customers, are clearly powerful. The analytics and reporting features are top-notch. Perhaps stick to Squarespace, Square Online or Shopify, if you’re just trying to start and build your business, but BigCommerce Essentials has a lot to offer more established businesses looking to make the move online.

Read our full BigCommerce Essentials review for details

Key specs – Storage: Unlimited; Bandwidth: Unlimited; Ecommerce support: Yes; Free version: No; Custom domains: Yes; Free domain: No; Automated design: No; App store: Yes; Support: Knowledgebase, FAQs, video guides, 24/7 phone, live chat and email support

Check prices at BigCommerce

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