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Squarespace, Wix, GoDaddy, and more



All businesses — no matter how big or small — need a strong and compelling website if they want to stand out from the crowd. Whether you’re starting your own business or simply thinking about it, looking to create an online store or just beef up your client list, it’s important to consider what your online presence is going to look like. Without one, you might as well not exist.

There’s a common misconception that developing a website takes hundreds of hours or the work of a team of professionals. These days, you can create your own website through one of many website builder companies. (Thanks internet!) Via a subscription plan, you can enjoy plenty of support while still being able to design your own site and choosing the look that’s right for you. A website builder is perfect for freelancers, start-ups, and more established firms alike. (And if you’re on a budget, you should also check out our list of the best cheap web hosting services.)

Our favorite website builder is Squarespace, but there’s plenty of room on the market for other options. We’ve narrowed down the best website builders for many different situations. Website builders that are great if you’re on a budget, looking for stylish mobile content, a minimalist approach, an ecommerce focused site, or simply a more hands-on way of doing things, have all been considered in our roundup. There’s sure to be the perfect website builder plan for your needs. 

Squarespace gets our approval for the best all-around website builder.

Squarespace gets our approval for the best all-around website builder.

Image: Squarespace / screenshot

What Squarespace offers: A well established name in the website building business, Squarespace focuses on being an ideal drag and drop website builder for all users, whether they want a hands-off approach or are looking to tweak the underlying code. 

It’s a potentially tough sell but its all-inclusive nature means that the sites it creates look far more distinctive than other website builders. 

Squarespace offers noticeably better templates than its competitors, even if they’re fewer in number. It’s possible to tweak and edit how they look so you’re not stuck with a cookie cutter style result, whether you have coding experience or not. 

If you ever want to leave, there’s the option of exporting your site into WordPress, and you can always change templates if your business needs change. 

The only downside to such a wealth of options is that it can be intimidating for complete novices. 

Additionally, Squarespace goes the extra mile when it comes to SEO with options for maximizing search performance, as well as tracking your site’s performances via its own analytics dashboard. 

The price: A personal website costs $12 per month if billed annually or $16 on a month-by-month basis. That gives you everything mentioned above, as well as a free custom domain if you go with an annual purchase. 

A business account costs $18 per month if billed annually, or $26 month by month. It comes with $100 Google AdWords credit, as well as fully integrated ecommerce support with a 3% transaction fee tied into it. More advanced online shop support ranges from $26 to $46 per month. 

Wix is a top website builder for mobile content.

Wix is a top website builder for mobile content.

What Wix offers: Wix offers an incredible 500+ different templates for your website. Aimed at every taste and industry possible, the drag-and-drop website builder has a user-friendly interface, making it great for folks who don’t know a thing about web design. 

It’s straightforward enough that pretty much anyone who can use a computer can get to grips with it, making it easy to create a website in less than an hour. Such ease of use is its main strength as a perfect starter package for businesses. 

Besides a constant flurry of new templates, Wix offers new features each month too. These range from new customization features to Wix ADI (artificial design intelligence) which builds your site for you, saving you the job. 

Are you a restaurant owner or cafe proprietor? A mobile website is practically a non-negotiable. You need people to find your website while they’re out and about, serving them everything they need right from their smartphone screen. The Wix mobile editor enables you to create a whole separate site for mobile users, potentially opening up a whole new market, ensuring your mobile site is far easier to use than any others. 

However, Wix lacks some flexibility. You can’t switch templates at a later date without adding and customizing all your content again from scratch. (So you better be pretty certain when you pick you layout the first time.) Quantity over quality is sometimes an issue here, with customization not quite as extensive as more experienced users will want. Don’t expect to be able to directly edit HTML or CSS code here. 

The price: Wix offers free ad-supported accounts for the most basic sites. Subscription plans ranging from $5 per month to $25 per month are available. The best value package is the Unlimited subscription priced at $14 per month. It provides unlimited bandwidth, 10 GB storage, a free domain name, no ads, and $300 worth of ad vouchers. 

We like that GoDaddy can help you get started quickly.

We like that GoDaddy can help you get started quickly.

Image: GoDaddy / Screenshot

What GoDaddy Website Builder offers:  A prominent name within the web hosting business, GoDaddy has its own website builder service. It lacks the bells and whistles of other website builders, but it’s very intuitive and perfect for speedy startups. 

A fully drag and drop user interface means users can easily insert content like images or slideshows and contact forms within seconds. Over 300 professional looking templates are available, with some insight offered as to what theme works best for which role. GoDaddy is aimed at those who simply want an online presence — and fast. 

That means it’s not as advanced as the likes of Wix or Squarespace, but it saves on being intimidated by options. It’s particularly great if you’re unsure of design and style, and just want a company to say what works best. Multiple backup points can be set up so there’s never any fear of losing valuable content along the way. 

The downside to the simple service is that — like Wix — there’s no way of changing to another theme without losing content. Code editing isn’t an option either, which may be limiting if you’re aiming for a site that grows with your abilities. Mobile functionality is also somewhat limited with GoDaddy, especially compared to Wix.

The price: Pricing starts at $5.99 per month for a personal site with business sites priced at $9.99 per month with the addition of a Paypal Buy Now button and SEO assistance. A full eCommerce setup costs $19.99 per month with purchase facilities. 

Make a digital business card to claim your place on the web while you build your actual website.

Make a digital business card to claim your place on the web while you build your actual website.

Image: 1&1 Builder / Screenshot

What 1&1 Builder offers: The German-based web hosting company offers a speedy setup process, ensuring that if need be, you can simply have a website that serves as a form of online business card. 

The feature means that your site simply offers contact details while you build your site, giving plenty of time to get things just right. A simple-to-use, drag and drop facility makes 1&1 Builder easy to adapt the many templates to your needs, with the welcome option of customizing things further with HTML or CSS. 

Elsewhere, there’s access to more than 20 million stock images with plugins available for making your site more interactive along the way. Regular backups are possible and there’s the option to import existing blogs into the site. 

Its image gallery is a little low quality in places, and it’s not quite as flexible as some competitors, with no eCommerce options. But for a speedy setup and at an affordable price, 1&1 Builder is pretty useful. 

The price: A personal website currently works out at $6.99 per month on an annual basis with business packages priced at $9.99 per month with a domain name and industry-specific templates included. 

Looking to start an online shop? Shopify is the website builder for you.

Looking to start an online shop? Shopify is the website builder for you.

Image: shopify / screenshot

What Shopify offers: If your main purpose for an online presence is to have a store facility, then Shopify is a no brainer. It provides professional looking designs that ensure your products will appear glamorous and appealing to prospective buyers.

Like any good website builder, it’s hardly any effort to implement a template and design a site that reflects your business brand. Where Shopify differs from the rest is its extensive array of apps that can be plugged into your store, thereby including accounting, customer service, inventory management, marketing, and other features. Made specifically with ecommerce in mind, it’s hard to find a feature it lacks.

The only limitation comes from its relatively high transaction fee. In addition to a monthly service fee, each Shopify transaction has a fee of 0.5%-2%, with many of the apps available adding an extra fee on top of that. 

It’s also trickier to code and customize as it uses its own coding language called Liquid, rather than HTML or CSS. 

Despite that, it’s a great option for small businesses owners who want an ecommerce setup with minimal hassle. 

The price: A basic Shopify account costs $29 per month, which includes unlimited products, discount codes, and features such as manual order creation. Extra features such as gift cards require a regular Shopify account, which costs $79 per month.

Like to get your hands dirty? Weebly might be the best web site builder for you.

Like to get your hands dirty? Weebly might be the best web site builder for you.

Image: weebly / screenshot

What Weebly offers: Weebly is a kind of middle ground for those who want to code and design their site, but who also want the flexibility and convenience of templates and simple tools. 

On the surface, there are extensive customizable templates with more than 40 pre-designed page layouts to get you started. Unlike other services though, you can easily switch between themes, extensively customize the code, and even download the site’s code for future reference. 

That comes at a small cost to the drag and drop functionality as it’s limited compared to other website builders, but it’s ideal if you want to get more hands-on with your site design. In a similar vein, Weebly lacks plugins or advanced features, but it’s possible to add functionality via coding instead. For people who run their own online business, it’s worth noting that the ecommerce functionality is a little limited. 

If you’re keen to design your own site and know how to code, but want a little helping hand along the way, Weebly covers all the right bases. 

The price: An ad-supported free package is available and could be good starting option to see if Weebly feels right for you. A personal site works out at $8 per month when paid annually, including a free domain, $100 of Google ads, and no Weebly ads. More advanced services start at $12 per month with a small business plan working out at $25 per month for unlimited product sales. 

If your needs are super basic, then Strikingly will make it easy.

If your needs are super basic, then Strikingly will make it easy.

Image: Strikingly / screenshot

What Strikingly offers: Not all sites need to be made of multiple pages, but few website builders take that into consideration. Strikingly is that exception, focusing on long, single-page websites. 

With its template design focused on dividing each part of the page into sections, it’s simple to create a one page design within hardly any time at all. It’s perfect for small businesses that want to advertise their physical location, or for portfolio sites. 

A blog section can be included, as well as a contact form, but Strikingly keeps things very simple so it’s not perfect for all website design needs. As a form of online place holder, however, it’s quick and simple for small startups to get their name out there. 

The price: A free plan is available and includes 5 GB monthly bandwidth as well as the option to sell one product via the Simple Store feature. Bumping up to $8 per month provides users with more bandwidth, a free domain, and up to 5 products on the store. A pro account works out at $16 per month and removes most restrictions with up to 300 products possible to list. 

Low on cash? Try Duda.

Low on cash? Try Duda.

What Duda offers: Duda offers a lot of what other website builders provide, but it stands out through its unrestricted free plan. 

For free, you can launch as many sites as you can build, with as many pages as you want, and without any bandwidth limits. Unusually, the free plan also offers a web store with up to 10 products, PayPal, Stripe, and Global Gateway support, and order and customer management tools. That’s unheard of in the industry and perfect for those users dipping their toe into the ecommerce market. Admittedly, there are ads involved, but for a no-risk form of trial, it’s perfect.

Designing your site is a simple matter of picking out a template through the builder’s drag and drop interface, with some basic widgets also available. Editing HTML and CSS code is also an option. 

Duda could have been just another website builder, but its free package makes it worth checking out if you’re unsure about whether your company will benefit from an online store presence. 

The price: Duda currently works out at $9.75 per month over the course of a year, for its Pro package. For additional ecommerce tools such as a larger store, there’s an additional $7.25 per month to pay. 

Need to reach an international clientele? Try Voog.

Need to reach an international clientele? Try Voog.

What Voog offers: Many sites have multilingual support, but Voog offers the best package for those users looking to appeal to a wide range of markets. 

On the surface, Voog is a fairly typical website builder. It has a simple-to-use editor with drag and drop elements that make it easy to get started. Layouts can be tweaked to a certain extent so that sites look different from others, and it’s particularly ideal for avid bloggers. Ecommerce features are simple to implement with a great degree of flexibility, although there are limitations to PayPal and MakeCommerce when it comes to payment. 

It’s the simple way in which each site offers a flag to change languages that makes Voog perfect for start-ups and entrepreneurs who need to speak to a global market. It’ll even automatically detect the language from the visitor’s location. Although, do expect to translate things yourself. There’s no automation here — not that such services are particularly accurate anyhow. 

The price: The standard plan is $6 per month billed annually, which provides users with 2 GB storage, a custom domain, 30 pages, and a limited online store. $10 per month upgrades the storage to 10 GB, provides a full online store, and unlimited pages. A premium package costs $39 per month and eradicates the 3% sales transaction fee. 

Why do you need a website?

It’s important to consider why you want an online presence before purchasing a website builder plan. Is it just to double up as a form of online business card or do you absolutely need advanced features — like ecommerce tools or a contact form? Are you creating a portfolio of your work or a more personal blog of sorts to keep customers or potential clients up to date? Consider these questions before you spend money or invest in something that might not be for you. 

Additionally, if you’re willing to learn some coding yourself or are open to purchasing web hosting separately from a website builder, there are other options you can take. A service like Dragify WordPress Builder and Hosting is perfect for when you want a slightly more hands-on approach, and it’s far cheaper than a subscription plan. 

Alternatively, cheap web hosting services are available in number and we’ve narrowed down the best of the bunch here for when you simply need the space rather than the building facilities.

Tips for building your own website

Remember to put yourself into the shoes of someone who knows nothing about what your company does. Your site should be less about what you are and more about how you can help someone get what they need. 

If you’re creating an online store, show your products up front. If you offer a service to others, put customer testimonials on view. Simply looking to display a personal website with contact info so that others can get in touch with you? Make sure your details are front and center.

A great website should be easy to navigate, with text distilled down to it’s most basic and direct form. When communicating on the web, shorter is definitely better. 

We’re a highly visual species, so the value of good photos and art cannot be overstated. If your budget doesn’t allow you to hire a photographer and shoot custom photos, then don’t fret. There are great options for royalty-free photos out there (like Pexels and Pixabay), and the average smartphone can now shoot just as well as some DSLRs. 

How to show up on the front page of Google

Having a website is one thing. Making sure people can find it across various search engines is another thing. 

Google basically runs the show in terms of search, so do some work to find out how people are searching for the types of services you offer, then make sure those keywords show up prominently on your site and are also built into your site’s metadata. Mastering a few key SEO tricks will take you far.

It’s a good idea to create service-oriented content that speaks to your expertise. If you’re a dog walker looking to use your site to find new clients, create a blog section dedicated to dog training tips and advice. It’s all about creating opportunities to showcase that you are the ideal person for the job. Your website is the very first step in that process.

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