Website builder for small business.

 

Web hosting company

 

Short version

Website creator for small business.

Before we dive deep into this subject I would like to point you in the right direction in case you don’t have time to read this long article. The best website builder for small business is WordPress by many abbreviated as WP. Why they are considered the best? There are several reasons for this. WP simply has the most themes available for any small business you may have. A theme is actually the design of a website. Also, WP offers thousands of free plugins. Not any of the other website builders can offer this. Plugins are essential enhancements for your small business that you can install in your site such as, among others, contact forms, popups, e-commerce tools, product catalogs, payment options for your customers and so much more. Another good reason to choose for the WordPress website maker is the fact that it’s free for web hosting customers. Web hosting companies are needed for bringing and keeping your website online. After all, what can you do with a website if it’s visible to you only, because the site is installed on your computer and not present on the Internet? So, in order to install WordPress on your website at no charge, you first need to acquire a web hosting package or get a free trial. The WP site you are reading now is hosted by Linux Hosts Inc. This company has been hosting our websites for more than 10 years. Compared to other WordPress web hosts we had in the past, they are by far the best and we’ll probably never leave them. The company offers a FREE TRIAL during which you can install the WordPress site builder for small businesses in a few seconds with the click of a button. So, that’s super easy. Click on https://linux-hosts-inc.com/hosting to visit the company’s web hosting section or click on https://linux-hosts-inc.com/domain-registration/ to acquire a cheap domain name. Actually getting your domain name should be the very first step. We can guarantee that you’ll be more than happy with your professional looking small business site driven by the WP website creator and with the web host. Good luck and, if you have enough time, you can also read the long version below.

Long version

Website builder for small business.

What is the best website builder for small business in 2020? Difficult question! There are many factors that determine the best website software for your specific situation. For example, you have to take into account the purpose of your website and the required functionalities, management and of course the design. To help you find the right website software for your business, in this blog we discuss the most important factors to consider and give our own top 5.

Top 5 best website builder software

  • WordPress
  • Squarespace
  • Weebly
  • Google My Business
  • Webflow, Ghost, Leadpages

Different types of website building solutions for small businesses

Building a website has never been easier and cheaper. The reason for this is the rise of so-called website builders. A website builder is a software solution that allows you to build a website without in-depth programming knowledge. Examples of popular website builders are Wix and Weebly. A website builder is a different type of software solution than, for example, WordPress. WordPress can be better described as a Content Management System (CMS). AMS is the system behind a website that allows you to manage the content of the website.

Why is this important to know?

There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of software solutions. An advantage of a website builder is that it is relatively cheap to start with. You already have a website for an amount of $ 0 to $ 50 per month. This often includes hosting, domain name and SSL certificate. Suppose you outsource creation of the website, then with a website builder you only have to pay for setting up and filling the website. If you do this yourself, then it only costs you time and you can invest your budget in good content or an advertising campaign, for example. Another advantage of website creation software are the standard templates that you can use. This is a lot cheaper than having a custom design made.

Obviously, there are also disadvantages to a website builder. This way you only get access to most functionalities with a more expensive subscription. As a result, the cheapest plan is almost never applicable. The biggest downside, however, is the hosting that is included. This is often so cheap because you do not have your own server and share it with others. This has a negative effect on the speed of your website. This in turn ensures that you can be less competitive in the organic search results of Google (SEO) in the long term. The slow speed is often because the standard templates are not optimized for this. When choosing a software solution, it is therefore good to weigh these advantages and disadvantages against each other and include them in your decision.

Most Important Factors for Choosing the Best Website Creation Software for small businesses

In addition to the type of software, there are also other factors to consider. The most important 5 are:

  • The purpose and the required functionalities.
  • Budget.
  • Management.
  • Design.
  • Technical performance.

1. The purpose and the required functionalities

What do you want to achieve with your website? Is your website a digital business card with the aim of showing who you are and which products or services you provide? Or is the website an extension of your services?

Building a business card is relatively easy to achieve. Because only standard functionalities are required, you can work with almost all software solutions. Of course, not all solutions are equally suitable! If, on the other hand, your website is an extension of your services, it is important to see which website software is best suited to this. The best appointment creation and management software is probably less suitable for running a member platform, and vice versa. Is your goal to sell products or subscriptions? Then designing a web shop is better. E-commerce functionalities are an art in itself! For each solution in our top 5, we describe for what purpose you can best use the software and in which functionalities it excels.

2. Budget

Is it a new website or an upgrade of the old one? Does all content still need to be made or just improved? What do you do yourself and what do you want to outsource?

The answer to these questions, just like the required functionalities, influence the budget required to realize your website. In our top 5 we have omitted improving the content. We do, however, give a recommendation for the right software if you have just started.

3. Management

Do you want to be able to manage the website yourself or is this something you want to outsource? If you want to be able to change texts yourself and add new pages, then it is good to opt for a user-friendly management system. In our top 5, all solutions are basically user-friendly compared to alternatives in the market. One has a higher learning curve compared to other builders.

4. Design

Do you want a tailor-made design or is a design based on your house style sufficient? One type of software lends itself better to customization than the other. We often see that companies give great value to design. Of course this is not a problem as long as all content is in order. However, if you want a website to perform well, we would always recommend that you first focus on creating good content and only then on a custom design. The internet also has many conventions. Completely reinventing the wheel in terms of design is certainly not recommended!

5. Technical performance

Sixty percent of all traffic on the internet starts on Google. So you simply cannot ignore Google if you want to be successful on the internet. There are more than 200 factors that determine your performance in Google. The quality of your content is still the most important. However, if the technical performance is not good, no matter how good your content is, your website will not be found properly.

Google looks at various indicators to assess the technical performance of your website. Consider factors such as mobile friendliness, crawlability, security and speed (page speed).

1. WordPress

Number 1 on our list is WordPress. The biggest advantage of WordPress is that it is open source. This means that WordPress is basically free to use. You do not have to spend any costs on purchasing a license or the like. The open source nature has ensured that WordPress has become the most used CMS in the world. 37% of all websites are hosted on WordPress.

The purpose and the desired functionalities

Worldwide, hundreds of programmers and companies are continuously working on improving WordPress. As a result, there is almost nothing that WordPress can’t do. There are numerous often free plugins and themes available with which you can design the CMS completely according to your own wishes. WordPress can also be integrated with almost any software tool. Think of options for e-commerce, making and managing appointments and other useful tools to get the most out of your website.

If a plugin or functionality does not yet exist, that is no problem. You can then hire an agency or freelance programmer to build this for you. This is a big advantage over website builders. With some website builders it is not even possible to develop their own functionalities at all. Where possible, this is often very expensive since there are few programmers who find this interesting enough to do. However, since there are many programmers who like to build something for WordPress, this is usually a lot cheaper.

Budget

When you search for WordPress you will come across two official websites; WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.org is the website where you can go to learn more about their open source building software. You can also download the software there and install it on your own server or, even better, install it from your WP web hosting account. Just as we do for our own websites with the help of Linux Hosts Inc.

WordPress.com is the free web hosting version of WordPress.org and can be compared to a website builder. You can start a website for free or take a paid subscription. In terms of price, this is comparable to the subscription costs that you pay for a website builder. We ourselves are not a big fan of this solution, because the hosting is not very good for the technical performance of your website. For this reason, we would always recommend hosting WordPress via your web hosting account.

It is recommended to build a WordPress website yourself if you are not technically skilled.

Management

The reason to look at a website builder as an alternative is the user-friendliness. WordPress has a learning curve while site builders are simple. Although managing content with WP is simple, this does not fully apply to setting up the website. You will need some technical skills when using WP. This is one of the ways WordPress differs from a website builder. A website builder has a visual drag and drop editor. This is an editor with which you can easily create the layout of a page and adjust the content. You do not have to install plugins first to use certain functionalities. These are installed by default. In addition, website builders often automatically generate a standard website for you. This has the advantage that you do not have to think too much about the structure of pages. In principle, you only have to replace the placeholder content with your own content.

If you start working with WordPress, everything will be built automatically within a default theme. First WordPress must be installed on your web hosting server which takes only a few seconds. After that you’ll probably want to change the theme and install some plugins. Subsequently, a link can be made with other software tools. Only then can you set up a structure, create pages and fill them with content. If you have no experience with this it can be quite time consuming the first time.

Design

With WordPress you can go in all directions in terms of design. You can use a free template or purchase one from marketplaces like Envato. You can also have a custom design developed.

Technical performance

In order for your WordPress website to perform optimally, we recommend that you read some tutorials first so you know from the start how WP works. Also keep in mind that there are web hosting solutions and themes that do not exactly excel in terms of speed and technical support. Because there are so many offers it’s difficult to find the right one for your small business.

If you are going to buy a theme, make sure it is mobile-friendly. This is often claimed on marketplaces, but it regularly does not appear to be the case. To check this, you can also audit the theme with Lighthouse. In general, WordPress websites are easy to crawl. There is no way you can check this beforehand. Once the website is up and running, we recommend that you create a Google Search Console account. If there are issues, they will automatically surface with this tool.

Pros and cons of the WordPress website building tool.

Pros:

+ It’s basically free

+ Flexible, suitable for almost all purposes

+ Custom functionalities possible

+ Can be integrated almost anywhere

+ Choice of thousands of themes

+ Custom design possible

+ Own server possible

Cons:

– There is a learning curve

2. Squarespace

If your total budget for a new website is less than $3,000 and all content has yet to be created, we recommend that you choose Squarespace.

The purpose and the required functionalities

With Squarespace it is possible to achieve almost any goal. It contains all standard functionalities for this. Think, for example, about forms, a blog, photo galleries and built-in SEO tools.

A functionality that makes Squarespace very interesting is the booking functionality. It is ideal for hairdressers, beauty salons, gyms, yoga studios and physical therapy centers. Customers can easily schedule an appointment via a calendar. Due to the e-commerce functionalities, it is also possible that they pay in advance. Customers can pay with Paypal, credit card and Apple Pay.

A big disadvantage of Squarespace compared to WordPress is that Squarespace is very closed. There is therefore no app store or the like in which plugins are offered. As a result, the network of external developers is very limited. Although customization is possible, there are very few companies that can provide this. This is also one reason why Squarespace is not very suitable for e-commerce. The advantage of a closed market is that all the extra functionalities that Squarespace offers work very well. So you don’t have to search endlessly and try different plugins.

Budget

As mentioned, Squarespace is perfect if you have just started or are on a budget. Subscriptions include hosting and SSL certificate. The domain is free for the first year if you pay annually. How much a domain costs after the first year depends on the extension. You can also choose to register your domain elsewhere and then link it. This is probably a lot cheaper than buying a domain from Squarespace.

Squarespace’s subscription model has its pros and cons. It’s okay that the price increases as you need more functionality. This makes it cheap to start. However, if you want direct access to interesting functionalities, the subscription is more expensive. If you are going to sell products or services, a more expensive subscription is worth considering. A transaction fee of 3% applies with a Business subscription. If you expect to run sufficient volume, it is better to take a Basic Commerce subscription with 0% transaction fee. If you plan to sell subscriptions yourself, you need the Advanced Commerce subscription.

To be able to use the booking functionality, you pay a separate subscription on top of the website subscription. Do you have multiple calendars, employees or locations? Then you need a more expensive variant.

Management

A big advantage of Squarespace is that the editor is very user-friendly. It is a so-called Wysiwyg editor. Wysiwyg is an acronym for “What you see is what you get”. There is an English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish version. The booking functionality is also available in these languages.

Design

Squarespace is known for its beautiful templates. They have even won several awards for this, including a Webby! The templates are also very easy to adapt to your own style. Although custom design is not possible with Squarespace, you can adjust the templates down to the smallest details.

Squarespace has a template for almost every industry. Creative professions such as photographers can use photo galleries to display their portfolio work. Because of this functionality, the templates are also suitable for physical stores selling products offline while utelising the internet for window shopping only. If you do want to sell products and services online, you can use various web shop templates. There are also many templates designed specifically for local businesses such as yoga studios, gyms and restaurants.

Technical performance

The technical performance of a Squarespace website is good in general. A disadvantage, however, is that you share the web server with others. This results in a slower website. Which is a shame considering Squarespace is one of the website builders with the fastest templates. Research from Backlinko shows that they can often outperform WordPress websites in terms of speed! Squarespace websites also score well in terms of crawlability, security and mobile friendliness.

Squarespace pros and cons

Pros:

+ Flexible, suitable for most purposes

+ Good value for money

+ Can be integrated almost anywhere

+ Beautiful templates

+ Easy to use

Cons:

– Limited custom design possible

– Limited custom functionalities possible

– Own server not possible

3 . Weebly small business web site builder

Number 3 on our list is Weebly. Weebly, like Squarespace, is a website builder. More than 50 million websites worldwide run on Weebly! This is a lot more than the 2 million websites running on Squarespace. The main reason for this is Weebly’s open source feature.

The purpose and the required functionalities

Like WordPress, Weebly is open to external programmers and companies. Take the booking functionality as an example. Although Weebly does not offer this functionality itself, you can install apps through the app store that enable this functionality. Well-known software solutions such as 10to8 and Schedulista offer an app for this in Weebly’s App Center. The app store makes it possible to achieve almost any goal with a Weebly website.

Weebly was taken over by the Square payment service in 2018. This has resulted in Weebly getting more e-commerce functionalities.

Budget

Weebly is perfect for small businesses that are on a budget or just starting out. With Weebly it is even possible to start for free! A downside to the Free plan, however, is that you don’t have your own domain name and visitors to your website will see Weebly ads. Not very ideal if you want to leave a professional impression. Your own domain name is possible if you purchase a Connect subscription. This is the cheapest plan that Weebly offers. If you also want to remove the ads, you need a Pro subscription. Hosting and an SSL certificate are included as standard with all subscriptions. This does not apply to the domain name. You have to register this elsewhere and can then connect to your website at Weebly.

While Weebly’s app store is useful, it also has some drawbacks. There are costs associated with almost every app. It is therefore wise to list all costs before making a choice for which software you choose. The investment for a WordPress website often seems high in advance, but it turns out to be better than expected over a period of 1 to 2 years. This is especially the case if you plan to sell products or services online. In addition to the subscription costs, the costs of the payment provider are added. Although Weebly offers several options for this, it is recommended that you include this in your calculation.

Management

In terms of user-friendliness, Weebly is not inferior to Squarespace. An advantage of Squarespace is that you don’t have to install third-party apps.

Design

Weebly offers many different templates. It is difficult to compare this with Squarespace, as they specialize in this. Weebly’s templates are also very easy to adapt to your own style. Weebly has a template for almost every industry. If you want a custom design, there are many companies worldwide that can help you with this.

Technical performance

Weebly can also be compared with Squarespace in terms of technical performance. Weebly websites score well in terms of crawlability, security and mobile friendliness. A disadvantage is that, just like with Squarespace, the servers are shared with other website owners. At Weebly, however, it is possible to manage the hosting yourself. Which is good news for the page speed of your website! We dare not say exactly how this works and what it costs. We have no experience with this ourselves. In Backlinko’s research, Weebly is one of the best in terms of page speed.

Weebly pros and cons

Advantages:

+ Flexible, suitable for most purposes

+ Good value for money

+ Can be integrated almost anywhere

+ Lots of templates

+ App store

+ Easy to use

+ Own server possible

Disadvantages:

– Limited custom design possible

– Limited custom functionalities possible

4. Google My Business site creation software

Basically, almost every company should be able to handle the top 3 options. If your budget does not allow this, we advise you to temporarily start a free website with Google My Business. After all, a temporary website is better than no website! Potential customers feel the same way; almost 70% say they are more likely to buy from a company with a website than from a company without a website.

Google My Business website

The great thing about a Google My Business website is that it is linked to your company profile. The website is generated on this basis and can therefore be put online very quickly.

A Google My Business website supports the achievement of various goals. Via the primary button you can, for example, ensure that customers will call you, send you messages or make an appointment with you. The goals you can pursue are optimized for the industry in which you operate. The messages and photos that you post on your company profile are automatically placed on your website as well. Positive reviews are also shown. Which is great to show potential customers that you are reliable (social proof)! As soon as you update your information, this will also be immediately reflected on your website.

If your website is extremely outdated, it is not a bad choice to use a Google My Business website temporarily. Your website simply remains up-to-date, because it is linked to your profile. In addition, the website is mobile-friendly and optimized for conversion. The websites that we have been able to test ourselves also score very well in the field of page speed. As you would expect from Google, they follow their own guidelines. If you choose a temporary website from Google My Business, don’t forget to refer your existing domain name to your domain name on Google.

Pros and cons Google My Business website builder

Advantages:

+ Free

+ Easy to set up and use

+ Good technical performance

+ Up-to-date, by linking to your company profile

Disadvantages:

– A temporary solution

– Limited functionalities

– Custom design not possible

– Custom functionalities not possible

5. Webflow, Ghost, and Leadpages site builders

As you may have noticed, we believe that the best website software is the software that will help you achieve your goals. We therefore conclude our top 5 with a number of interesting options for specific cases.

Webflow

If design is super important to you, because it is linked to your brand, then Webflow is an interesting option. With Webflow you can design a website yourself without the help of a programmer. You can start with a blank canvas or build on a template. Although Webflow is not very complex, it is certainly not suitable for everyone. Experience with design tools is therefore not an unnecessary luxury. The great thing about Webflow is that you can also make interactions and animations with it. Something that is normally quite expensive to develop. A subscription with Webflow is quite affordable.

Ghost

If as an expert writer you want to make money with the content you create, Ghost is by far the best option. Ghost offers all the functionalities you need to become an independent publisher. Readers can purchase a membership from you to access the unique content you create for them. Like WordPress, Ghost is open source and can be installed on your own server. If you are just starting out, it might be smarter to start with a subscription. Ghost itself also offers various templates to start quickly.

Leadpages

If you want to achieve one goal in a very focused manner via one page, take a look at Leadpages. With Leadpages you can create a landing page based on a template within a few minutes. All Leadpages pages are designed for conversion. With Leadpages it is also possible to create websites. However, this is not why they are known and not what we would recommend them for. The options are just a bit too limited compared to Squarespace or Weebly.

Conclusion

If you are looking for flexibility and a website that performs well technically, WordPress is the best option. If you cannot afford to pay for web hosting, Squarespace and Weebly are good alternatives. It is good to know in advance which goal you want to achieve and which functionalities you need for this. Choose the website builder for small business that best suits your needs. Good content is more valuable than a custom design. Keep this in mind if you have a website developed or you do it yourself. Also make sure that all costs are clear in advance if there are any. Only then make a choice for the right technical solution. Good luck!

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