A website builder can make or break your small business. We've spent months reverse engineering what website builders popular brands use. We'll tell you the best website builders we found, so you don't have to waste months like we did.
Every business needs a website in 2022. Whether you’re a mom-and-pop candy store or a huge conglomerate, you need to have an online presence. This is vital to attract new customers, promote new product lines, and sell in a global marketplace.
For small businesses, a website can prove a significant investment. There are plenty of companies and solo professionals offering bespoke web design, but they can be pricey. Fortunately, following the success of online website builders like Squarespace, WordPress, and Shopify, a host of business-orientated web design platforms have sprung up in the last fifteen years.
In this article we’ll count down a baker’s dozen of the best website builders for your business.
What to look for in a small business website builder
What you need for your own website will depend upon your business model, target audience, and product line. But there are some must haves, regardless of what you’re selling. Here are seven qualities to look for:
- Custom domain name: You’ll want to purchase a creative looking domain. Not buyadomain.yourshop.com but simply yourshop.com. You can register domains separately from your website builder platform (recommended), but many bundle a domain name as part of their product offering.
- Ease of use: It should be easy for whoever will be updating your site to add tabs, pages, articles, products, and more. The last thing you want is to be interacting with customer support.
- Integrations: You’ll want your website to integrate with your CRM platform, ecommerce plugins, chat bots, marketing analytics tools, and other tools you already use.
- Dynamic visuals: Rather than a static site, you may need the option of incorporating moving visual elements like image carousels, popups, and smoothly embedded video.
- Speed: The servers hosting your site should be fast, cloud-based environments capable of delivering fast page refreshes, even at volume.
- Cross-platform compatibility: Your website builder should enable you to readily translate your designs to mobile and desktop versions, on multiple operating systems.
If you can tick these seven essential capabilities off your list, you’ve found an excellent website builder.
14 best small business website builders for professional websites
Here's a list of the best website builders for small businesses:
- Webflow (best for building fully custom websites)
- WordPress (best for blogs)
- Wix (best for simple websites)
- Shopify (best for ecommerce websites)
- Pixpa (best for portfolio websites)
- Duda (best for creating multiple websites)
- Squarespace (best for quickly getting a site up)
- GatsbyJS (best for web developers)
- Carrd (best for one-page websites)
- Bubble (best for building web apps)
- Weebly (best for being on a budget)
- GoDaddy Website Builder (best for free websites)
- Jimdo (best for building a website quickly)
- Webnode (best for multilingual websites)
Okay, let's dive a bit more into each website provider.
1. Webflow (best for building fully custom websites)
Webflow is used by over 3.5 million web designers, marketers, small business owners, and teams. The platform allows you to build completely custom websites in a visual canvas — no coding experience is required. Their client list is certainly impressive, including such well-known brands as TED, Dell, Zendesk, and Discord.
There’s a straightforward drag-and-drop functionality with many customization options ranging from different design elements, fonts, and website animations. Webflow also has integrated ecommerce elements including shopping carts, and the interface allows very specific element placement, including typographic spacing. Elements can be saved as “symbols” for use throughout the site, saving you time in recreating responsive websites.
Webflow’s content management system is also one of the best in the industry. Their CMS allows you to create different content structures for whatever use case you need (i.e. blogs, recipe pages, client work portfolios, ecommerce features, etc.).
All in all, Webflow is a sophisticated suite of tools, and their included templates could give designers a help start in designing a slick looking site. Best of all, it’s free to design a site, so you won’t pay until you’re happy with what you’ve created and are ready to launch. Their free plan allows you to launch a two-page websites on a webflow.io subdomain, using Webflow's high-bandwidth professional web hosting (free SSL certificate included).
Although there are a host of useful tutorials on their platform, in-person support is harder to source, with some users reporting delays in response. There are several pricing options for premium plans — with two sets of tiers for ecommerce websites or business blogs.
- Cost: Business plan: $12 / $16 / $36 per month; Ecommerce plan: $29 / $74 / $212 per month.
- Pros: Sophisticated, thorough, with a simple drag-and-drop / WYSIWYG interface.
- Cons: Strong learning curve due to flexibility and power
Related reads: Webflow review (2022): Most comprehensive you'll find
2. WordPress (best for blogs)
You’ll probably be familiar with the name — as of October 2021, WordPress was used by an astonishing 42.8% of the world’s top ten million websites. Primarily a content management platform, WordPress.com has been in existence since 2003 as an open-source website builder specializing in blog content. Everyone from artists to Fortune 500 companies have used WordPress to create blog content.
Where WordPress excels is in its website templates and plugin ecosystem. With literally tens of thousands of options to choose from for the initial look of your site, you could be up and running in a matter of days. WordPress has a huge library of “widgets” too — plugin elements which you can add to your site to create newsfeeds, integrations, embedded content, counters, forms, SEO tools, and other marketing tools.
Sites created on WordPress are automatically optimized for mobile use too, resizing elements and substituting a more phone friendly UX, making it a preferably choice for many bloggers. You can also use different ecommerce tools like WooCommerce to build online stores with WordPress.
Support is good, although documentation is mostly in writing, rather than video tutorials. However, you’ll find plenty of WordPress users demonstrating features on YouTube if you’re stuck.
One criticism that has been leveled at WordPress is that it’s templates are a little fixed — you don’t have total control over placement or sizing. However, with so many templates to the choose from, and the option of starting with a blank canvas, this is a minor quibble.
A larger problem some users report is WordPress sites’ vulnerability to being hacked, particularly if you use many plugins. Some plugins can result in your site loading slowly, so it’s important to do a lot of testing before you go live. However, the results are usually very slick, the system’s relatively easy to pick up, there’s no coding to learn and the basic version is entirely free (3GB of storage).
- Cost: Personal: $4 / $8 per month; Business: $25 (varies based on hosting services)
- Pros: Slick, easy to use and very reasonably priced with mobile versions automated.
- Cons: Templates may be hard to adjust once set, and security can be questionable.
3. Wix (best for simple websites)
Perhaps you don’t need all the bells and whistles that a site builder like Webflow or WordPress can offer? Wix may be a viable option in that case.
The Israeli software developer have created a three-tier system that guides you firmly (Wix Artificial Design Intelligence or ADI), slightly (Wix Editor), or not at all (Wix Code). If you use the former method, it will take elements you input and arrange them in a pleasing way onscreen for you to approve or disapprove.
Wix Editor gives you drag-and-drop functionality and a palette of design elements. Wix Code means you’re working directly with HTML5 and CSS, which if you’re reading this article, probably isn’t very useful. It’s also possible to produce a slightly clunky-looking site if you’re not a natural designer, which might make it preferable to stick to the ADI setting.
Wix is very user-friendly, allowing inexperienced designers to create sites by themselves. However, it lacks the plugins and range of templates of WordPress or Webflow. If you want to incorporate ecommerce elements, some users have reported a lack of functionality and support. Also, the free version will host ads on your pages, and you won’ t have a custom domain. If you want to avoid these issues, get a paid plan.
- Cost: Personal: $0 / $4.50 / $8.50 / $12.50 / $24.50; Business/ Ecommerce: $17 / $37 / $75 per month.
- Pros: Easy to use with AI-driven design guidance, good value for money.
- Cons: Not much choice for plugins and poor ecommerce support.
4. Shopify (best for ecommerce)
If you want to sell products directly from your site, Shopify is the best ecommerce website builder on the market. Shopify powers over 160,000 retailers including big names like Tesla, Gatorade, and Forbes. For these big brands, it forms a subsidiary outlet for merchandise, mostly, but the fact that it's trusted by major corporations and solopreneurs alike speaks volumes.
Shopify sites are easy to set up and attractive, with an app store that has numerous integrations for fulfillment, customer analytics, advertising, email marketing, and more. Implementation is cloud-based, and mobile versions of your site are automatically optimized. Shopify scores highly for 24/7 support and training initiatives too.
It's easy to add new products and content, so you won’t be running to your designer or Shopify support every time you want to add to your site. There are over 100 payment integrations, which is of course vital for any ecommerce store, including all major credit card companies, PayPal, Stripe and more. Payments can be handled onsite or offsite through the third-party payment gateway. Do note, however, that Shopify will take a percentage of online sales plus a $0.30 transaction fee for online credit cards. You’ll also have to buy a custom domain separately.
There aren’t too many downsides to using Shopify, apart from the comparative difficulty of creating an online store that’s wholly unique or unusual (without knowing how to code or hiring a Shopify web developer). It’s a great all-round ecommerce platform, especially for beginners.
- Cost: Basic plan: $29 monthly plus 2.9% sales and 30c per card transaction; Standard plan: $79 pm plus 2.6% & 30c; Advanced: $299 pm plus 2.4% & 30c
- Pros: Easy to set up and run plus lots of integrations and payment options.
- Cons: Sites look a little too similar, no custom domain with basic version.
5. Pixpa (best for affordable portfolio websites)
Pixpa is an easy to use, all-in-one website platform for business owners, creators and freelancers. Pixpa’s intuitive yet powerful visual editor and drag and drop page builder enable you to build your website quickly, easily and without having to touch a single line of code.
Pixpa comes loaded with a range of versatile, feature-rich, professional templates that can be fully customized to your needs. The platform offers a full-range of e-commerce tools and a full-featured online store builder. Pixpa is ideal for businesses that sell products, services or even digital content. Additionally, integrated marketing and SEO tools help you promote and market yourself better.
The stand out feature with Pixpa is the proactive customer service with an average response time of under 3 minutes. The customer service is rated 4.9/5 on Capterra indicating very standards of customer care and a user-focused attitude. Pixpa’s pricing plans are also very affordable, with some of the most inexpensive prices in the market. The cheapest plan begins at just $3 a month!
With mobile-optimized website templates, robust and comprehensive e-commerce tools, affordable pricing, Pixpa is the perfect website building solution for small businesses.
- Cost: Light: $3/month, Personal: $7/month, Expert: $10/month, Business: $16/month
- Pros: Beginner-friendly, no-code platform. Excellent value at an affordable price.
- Cons: No built-in options for purchasing custom domain names.
6. Duda (best for creating multiple websites)
If you need to create a host of different websites (perhaps you have a franchise or your own web design business) then Duda is a low-cost option. It allows you to create multiple websites at scale. It’s also relatively straightforward to create mobile-friendly versions too.
Duda is a design platform aimed at website design agencies who don’t want to employ legions of coders. Since many small businesses just want simple sites up and running quickly, especially if they are opening new franchises or premises, Duda has easily portable content. It’s easy to transfer and grant permissions, making this a good option for generating multiple sites, then changing only a few key elements.
Duda has a simple drag-and-drop editor so clients or franchise managers can edit their local sites with ease. Like many site builders it offers a selection of templates or a start from scratch approach. In addition, it boasts a comprehensive library of add-ons and widgets.
Users were less happy with the lack of a free version, and customer support could be better. Apparently, its ecommerce and SEO (search engine optimization) offerings are limited too. On the other hand, unlike some competitors, Duda throws in SSL technology for free, giving you added security.
- Cost: $14 / $22 / $44 per month plus custom.
- Pros: Good for client-side maintenance and quick turnaround of sites.
- Cons: Ecommerce facilities limited and variable customer support.
7. Squarespace (best for quickly getting a site up)
When speed is of the essence, but you don’t want to sacrifice quality, Squarespace is a great choice. It’s one of the most straightforward, yet sophisticated site builders on the market. Founded in New York in 2004, it’s another of the grandaddies of the web design scene.
Squarespace provides a few templates, but it’s also easy to generate a site from scratch, and you can create and edit menus, links, content, and other elements with ease. Unlike many of the other general purpose website builders, ecommerce plugins are available and work well.
There are a lot of third parties creating clever add-ons for Squarespace sites too, and its SEO features are impressive, so you should be able to optimize your site to climb the Google rankings (although, we don't see many high SEO-trafficked websites using Squarespace).
On the downside, some users feel the interface can be confusing and it's not always immediately apparent where to go to adjust various parameters. In addition, Squarespace only embeds videos which are hosted on another platform.
The site works best for site creators with a visual portfolio to show off and its social media integrations aren’t especially impressive. For simplicity and speed, however, it’s a good option.
- Cost: $12 / $18 / $26 / $40
- Pros: Set-up speed, range of plugins and polished end product.
- Cons: Lack of social media and video integration.
8. GatsbyJS (best for web developers)
If you’re a developer, or you have the time and expertise to create a perfectly optimized, state of the art site, you can use this platform, named after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s jazz era hero. Do it right and you’ll be guaranteed a site that ranks brilliantly for SEO, scales with ease, is secure, powerful, and optimized for both desktop and mobile applications.
There’s a large developer community to access if you have questions or specific needs to satisfy. However, written documentation may evidently contain gaps. Also, it may be hard to build a site that the end user can easily maintain, unless they have coding expertise.
- Cost: Free (1 user, 100GB storage); $42.50 per month or custom pricing for Enterprise.
- Pros: Create a perfectly optimized, bespoke, high-performance website from scratch.
- Cons: Steep learning curve for clients, lack of proper documentation.
9. Carrd (best for one-page websites)
Not every site needs intricate menus and masses of content. For some small businesses, a simple one-page landing page builder is sufficient. In theory, such a site should be creatable within a day and Carrd aims to do just that.
Carrd sites have a simple, minimalist aesthetic yet still provide the basic facilities you need — forms, widgets, embedded video content, custom domains, and integration with payment facilities like PayPal and Stripe. You can pay for a custom domain and access Google analytics to check how your site is performing.
What you sacrifice is complexity and scalability. Customer service is also said to be lacking (a common theme of website building software, it appears).
- Cost: $9 / $19 / $49 per month
- Pros: Very simple, straightforward, and quick to implement.
- Cons: Not ideal for complex sites, ecommerce, or sites with don’t suit a minimal approach.
10. Bubble (best for building web apps)
If what you want to build is more of a web app than a website, there are different specialist tools to do so, including Bubble. In case you’re confused, the omnipresent word game Wordle is an example of a web app, and so is Pinterest.
Bubble lets you to build web apps quickly without writing code. A drag-and-drop UI editor allows you to quickly create workflow chains, so that you can create a workable prototype before you go public. It claims to be sophisticated enough to build a site like Facebook or Airbnb which work on desktop and mobile devices.
When it comes to road-testing your web app, you can check out metrics including workflow runs and page views. Although it’s a young platform, some high-profile apps have been built on it which went on to secure investment, including clean energy financing platform Dividend, which obtained $365 million from investors.
It is entirely cloud-hosted, and (unlike Webflow) you cannot export code from it, which means Bubble retain control over your creation until you launch. This could slow you down if you change your mind midway through creation and decide to move to a different platform. Loading time can be a little slow too, but overall, this is a great value platform for testing ideas and potentially even bringing them to market. Building a site is free, and you only pay once you launch.
- Cost: (post-launch) Personal: $29; Business: $129; Production: $529 (all per month)
- Pros: A great resource for simple web app building.
- Cons: Slow load time and lack of data exportability.
11. Weebly (best for being on a budget)
If you want to develop a slick-looking site for your business but you don’t have much money, there are a few budget options available. Weebly is one of the best low-cost tools to try out. It can even produce simple ecommerce sites (powered by Square), perfect for craftspeople or home businesses.
Weebly is not unsophisticated, despite its small price tag, incorporating a drag-and-drop interface, templates, video content embedding and a web app to monitor your ecommerce store while you’re out and about. Over 5 million entrepreneurs worldwide use this platform to create fast, personal sites, or small business portals.
If you want advanced features or need to host a lot of content, Weebly probably isn’t the best platform. It should be noted that many of Weebly’s own features are only available in the paid version. However, considering the stylish sites you can create, although the code may not be the most elegant around, Weebly offers unbeatable value.
Weebly was Capterra’s Top Website Builder Software choices in 2021, with many businesses forced to close in COVID-19 lockdowns turning to it to quickly secure online business.
- Cost: Free / $4 / $8 / $25 per month
- Pros: Simple to use and relatively sophisticated given the price.
- Cons: Can be a little clunky and the best features aren’t free.
12. GoDaddy Website Builder (best for free websites)
If free really must mean free, then GoDaddy’s free website builder is your best option, although if you want it at its most optimal, you’re better off opting for a paid subscription.
GoDaddy is very much ecommerce led and aimed at the small business or solopreneur. Their ecommerce fees are lower than Shopify’s and the company has a long pedigree, dating back to 1999. There are plenty of templates and the interface is easy enough to use, although not the simplest in this list.
Unusually among web builders, customer service is adequate. Modification access rights may prove an issue however — make sure you register your administrator correctly to avoid embarrassing access issues. Website hosting is priced separately and powered by WordPress (see above).
Form creation, analytics and reporting are all covered, although support for animation, photography websites, and video content may be limited. This remains a reasonably priced ecommerce platform, even if you do choose the paid tiers, which can be complicated to negotiate.
- Cost: Free / From $5.99 - $14.99 a month (or with ecommerce: $19.99). WordPress domains: $3.99 - $19.99 per month)
- Pros: If you have a very simple site in mind, it can be entirely free.
- Cons: Ecommerce and hosting bring the price up, although it is still competitive.
13. Jimdo (best for building a website quickly)
Another very quick option for creating a simple business website is Jimdo. It boasts probably the simplest interface of any website builder. You’ll be trading versatility for speed, but if you need to get a temporary site up and running quickly, Jimdo’s worth checking out.
Jimdo has features to get your business going quickly too — logo creators, legal text generators and other plug-in elements allow you to seize short-lived opportunities by quickly creating a brand AND a site to go with it.
Squarely aimed at the self-employed and local businesses, Jimdo provides just enough functionality to turn your personal brand into a public-facing online concern. SEO optimization tools and analytics are limited, however. Despite this, it’s still good value for money.
- Cost: Free / $7.50 / $20 per month
- Pros: Useful features to help the solopreneur or self-employed.
- Cons: Basic templates and simple design may not suit your brand.
14. Webnode (best for multilingual websites)
If your business sells to multiple territories worldwide, then you want to localize your content and translate your text, depending on where it's being displayed. This can prove costly and time consuming if you do it manually using professional translation services.
Founded in the Czech Republic in 2008, Webnode has been used by 40 million users worldwide, throughout Europe and the rest of the world. As well as its English language offering, Webnode is available in 44 languages, meaning it's easy to work with developers and designers overseas, should you wish to adapt a foreign language version of your site.
Using the same drag-and-drop simplicity as other simple website builders, Webnode may be a little light on sophisticated features and plug-ins compared to some of the other items on this list. However, with such a global reach, it’s a real contender for businesses seeking to scale-up internationally.
- Cost: $3.90 / $7.50 / $12.90 / $22.90 per month
- Pros: Strong on geographic reach and multilingual support.
- Cons: A little light on advanced features.
Which online website builder is best?
Although the website builder you will choose will depend largely on your timescale, budget, the size of your business and the uses you’ll want to put your site to, we were most impressed by Webflow.
This platform combined sophistication, ease of use and a reasonable pricing strategy, and would suit the widest range of small businesses. It is both flexible and fast, and has been the preferred choice of well-known brands including Chipotle, Upwork, Michael Kors, AngelList, Adobe, and many more.
Which is the simplest website builder?
Without compromising too much on quality, SquareSpace is probably the simplest site builder to learn. However, users are restricted in terms of the layouts they can achieve and the graphic elements they can alter. For a truly polished site, it’s best to look elsewhere.
Overall, if we were forced to choose one platform from from our website builder review list above, we’d opt for Webflow.
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