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Even if you run an offline store, having a website can be a big boost for your business since customers today tend to resort to searching on the internet for everything. Your business’ website gives them access to your company without visiting you, making it more convenient for them to make a decision. Therefore, not having a website means you are nowhere in their sight, hence, you lose business.
However, building a website is no easy task if you do not have the required technical skills. A lot of small business owners already have their hands full with all other tasks that need to be taken care of. To fit building a website in their task list can be a fix. To make their work easier, there are several website builders in the market that can be used at a low cost to build a website without spending much time and effort.
Since there are a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to website builders, you need to keep certain factors into consideration while deciding on one.
- Business Growth: You might be running a small business, but if you have plans to expand, then your website should have the flexibility to add pages and features at any point of time without a lot of hassles.
- Cost Friendly: Running a small business means you have to have a strong grip on your budget. Splurging on an expensive host is not an option. Therefore, keep the price of the package and the features in mind while choosing a website builder. A lot of website builders offer free site building but you need to buy the domain and the hosting, along with certain specific themes and plugins, which makes most of them freemium services.
- User-Friendly: If you are not a technical person well-versed with the mechanics of HTML, CSS, etc, you need a builder that is user-friendly and uncomplicated enough for you to be able to easily learn how to use it. Drag and drop builders are hence becoming popular these days due to their ease of use. You should be able to add images and plug-ins or change themes as per your choice and preference.
- Customer-Support: The service provider should have a superior customer support that can solve your queries within a short span of time and not make you wait for days before attending to your problem.
Out of numerous service providers in the market, there are only a few that genuinely cater to the needs of small businesses by providing maximum features and services at a budget-friendly cost.
Below, we have reviewed in detail the top 3 website builders available right now for small businesses, including eCommerce and other small businesses.
Wix has become highly popular among DIY website builders because of its ease of use and multiple features it has to offer. It is a bit pricier than other options, however, the choice of themes and plugins more than make up for it. You also do not have to pay extra for hosting your website since Wix is a fully-hosted portal.
It implements drag and drop feature without any restrictions on where you can place the object, which is highly user-friendly for people who don’t know to code enough to arrange different objects on the page. Wix provides access to a huge number of templates for you to choose from and caters to businesses belonging to all industrial domains, be it hotels, e-commerce, freelancers, etc.
The free plan offered by Wix is good enough for you to check out the platform and try out the drag and drop feature. It does not offer a domain name under the free plan, though, and therefore, if you want a professional website, you have to choose from their multiple paid packages.
- Wix Combo: This is the most basic plan after the free usage which will set you back by just $10 a month. It includes a custom domain, the drag and drop website builder plus access to blogging. You also receive round-the-clock customer support as well as an ad-free website with unlimited pages and 3GB of storage capacity.
- Wix Unlimited: A step ahead, Wix Unlimited costs $17 a month and gives you 10GB of storage along with unlimited bandwidth. It does not let you build an online store but includes any number of pages you want to create. It includes all features of Wix Combo, which means no ads and a free custom domain.
- Wix eCommerce: Including everything from the previous plan, Wix eCommerce is specifically for setting an online retail store. It offers 20GB of storage and equal bandwidth, along with 24×7 customer support. You can create any number of pages and within the ad-free website and the plan offers a huge scope in terms of marketing specific features.
- Wix VIP: The most premium plan offered by the developer, Wix VIP costs $25, which is lower than a lot of other website builders’ plans. This plan offers you unlimited bandwidth, 20GB storage, a free custom domain, VIP customer-support, integrated online store and form-builder app along with an option to get your website reviewed by their team.
- The portal is highly user-friendly with its drag and drop website builder being one of the best in the industry. You do not need to know any form of coding/programming to operate the platform.
- You don’t need to worry about buying a web host separately since Wix is fully-hosted.
- All of its paid plans offer free custom domain name which means you save at least $10 right there by not having to buy it externally.
- Free round-the-clock customer support for all plans, free and paid. Wix is known for its excellent customer support in the industry.
- There are no preset areas where you have to drop the objects. It gives you complete freedom to drag and drop the objects anywhere on the page, a feature rarely seen with such website builders.
- It offers free SSL encryption with all their plans.
- Excellent designs and hundreds of professional templates to choose from.
- The page-load time of 5.2 seconds is more than the usual offered by website builders which can make your website slow.
- No custom CSS code editor as offered by other website builders.
- If you want to change the template after building the website, you’ll have to start from scratch, making it quite cumbersome to shift away from Wix.
WordPress is arguably the most popular website builder out there for creating blogging sites and other professional websites, including eCommerce stores. It is suitable for building any kind of websites due to the myriad features and flexibility it offers on the development side.
It has two versions, WordPress.org, which is the self-hosted version, and WordPress.com. The website builder offers over 5000 free themes to choose from and over 40,000 plugins to make your website just the way you want it to be.
WordPress is an open-source platform, which means it is free to use for anyone. For a website builder as extensive as WordPress, all you need to pay for is your domain and hosting.
The domain name will cost you about $14.99 annually while the web hosting will set you back by just $7.99 per month. Using Bluehost, the WordPress recommended host provider is the easiest option as it offers integrated WordPress website builder and free domain name for a year.
- The biggest advantage of using WordPress is that it’s free to use. You don’t have to pay for anything apart from your domain name and web hosting. There are additional plugins and themes you can purchase, but even then it offers you thousands of free templates to choose from.
- WordPress is highly SEO-friendly by default. It also offers additional plugins like Yoast SEO to increase your domain ranking and reputation.
- Incredibly fast page-load times; using BlueHost offers you a page-load time of 1.7 seconds.
- Access to a huge forum of WordPress users that are readily available to solve any technical issue you might face with the platform.
- Access to a large selection of free themes and plugins for each and every feature you might want for your website.
- You can create an eCommerce website with WordPress as well. It gives you a high flexibility to integrate with external tools and systems.
- Since WordPress is filled with features and themes, it can be a little overwhelming to decide on what to implement and what to avoid.
- Most of the technicalities of the website depend on your hosting provider.
- If you do not use managed hosting, you’ll have to manually keep updating the extensions and backing up your data. It can take up a lot of your time as a small business owner.
If you are looking to create a large-scale online store to sell your products, you need to look no further than Shopify. It is the best option available in the market if you want to build an eCommerce website. It currently has millions of users that use it for online selling.
Shopify also offers POS system if you want to integrate it with your offline store, apart from an online store, keeping all your sales and inventory analytics synced.
After a 14-day trial period, users have the option to choose from three paid plans – basic, standard and advanced. All plans include a choice of 10 free templates and a significant collection of extensions.
- Shopify Basic: The basic plan costs $29 per month, with 10% discount for annual purchase and offers all main features for an eCommerce store. It includes drag and drop website builder and custom CSS editor. The transaction charges for this plan are 2.9% and 30¢ per transaction. You can have 2 staff accounts and an option to upload an unlimited number of products with a 24×7 customer support, free SSL certificate and a completely managed website and a blog.
- Shopify Standard: It costs $79 per month with transaction charges amounting to 2.6% + 30¢ per transaction. You can have up to 5 staff accounts and additional gift card and abandoned cart recovery feature, along with professional reports and analytics.
- Shopify Advanced: The advanced plan will cost you $299 per month with a processing rate of 2.4% + 30¢ per transaction. It includes custom reports and access to up to 15 staff accounts along with best rates on shipping. It also offers additional external shipping rate calculator.
You’ll need to pay extra $49 per month to install the POS system in your store.
- You don’t need to worry about the technical aspects of the online store and everything is managed by Shopify.
- The drag and drop website builder is extremely user-friendly and you can choose from multiple themes that are free to use.
- A robust customer support; their representatives are available on calls, emails and text at all times of the day.
- Along with the website, you can also create your blog through the same platform without integrating any third-party extension.
- You can integrate your Shopify store with WordPress, which means you can use Shopify exclusively for selling your products and design your website with WordPress.
- An option to offer discount codes, gift cards, inventory management and generate extensive customized reporting.
- It is mainly meant for an eCommerce store and cannot work well as a normal business website.
- You can’t change platforms once you have your store built using Shopify, making it inflexible.
- The plans are a bit on the expensive end for a small business owner. Shopify is a good option for online stores that expect a large volume of sales.
Weebly is another highly recommended website builder in the free service providers category due to its user-friendly interface and beautiful themes. Even if you are a beginner who does not know programming, Weebly won’t disappoint.
Weebly offers multiple plans for online store as well as usual business websites. The free plan offers a weebly.com domain and drag and drop website builder along with 500MB storage, free SSL certificate. It also displays the Weebly ads.
The paid plans start from $8 per month and go up to $25 per month.
- Weebly Starter: It costs $8 per month and offers a free domain up to $20 of value and google credits of $100. It lets you disable the ads and offers unlimited storage and advanced website analytics.
- Weebly Pro: Costing $12 per month, it includes offered in the free and starter plan. Additionally, it offers site search, password protection, HD videos and access for a maximum 100 members.
- Weebly Business: It costs $25 per month and includes everything in the previous versions along with access to unlimited members and a feature for member subscription.
- Since the portal is fully-hosted, you don’t have to pay extra for web hosting and don’t have to worry about site management.
- The live page editor lets you edit all the designs it offers for free and the drag and drop feature makes it super easy to create your website.
- It is highly SEO friendly.
- You can easily create an online store as well using Weebly.
- You can use your own domain when you upgrade to the paid plans.
- It offers member registration feature and easy addition of HD videos and audios, along with a strong analytical support.
- You can’t move to other platforms once you create your website with Weebly. In case you plan to shift, you’ll have to create your site from scratch.
- The free version does not offer anything concrete and you’ll have to pay for premium plans for just using your own domain.
- Since the platform is fully hosted, you can’t use any external extension to add any functionality to the website.
Overall, for small business owners, keeping everything in perspective including pricing and features, WordPress turns out to be the best option. It is highly user-friendly and best of all, open source, which means considerable freeing up of your small business’ budget.
For eCommerce store owners, Shopify is a great option since you don’t have to focus on anything apart from selling. It takes care of all technicalities and offers great analytics. You can even sell just on social media through Shopify.