website builder for small business

If your small business has no website or you are looking to redo an existing dated website, there are more options than ever for how to build and host your site, including DIY options that can still look and feel fairly professional. That said, there are caveats with each. Not all services will suit every business, and some specialize in different aspects than others. Let’s explore seven popular website building and hosting options and what kind of small business needs they can cover (or not):


No-Limits Web Design

WordPress is a dominant player in the web hosting space, with an array of tools available for your small business to build a website. WordPress’s popularity and longevity translate to a robust marketplace of apps, themes, and code to suit the purposes of pretty much any business, with a high degree of customization possible on the backend. No other service can compare to the plentitude of options you get with WordPress. Need support for ecommerce? No problem. SEO plugins? Sure. Lead gen tools? Of course. Flexibility is a strength, but the user experience can be complex and hard to manage, especially if you’re not code-savvy. It can be hard to create a truly professional looking and highly functional site without expert help, or without using a secondary service like Bluehost to assist in building and customizing a WordPress site.


Theme-Heavy with an eCommerce Focus

Recently acquired by Square, Weebly is another website building and hosting provider that provides a more structured experience, letting users choose from themes and drag and drop areas to create a website quickly, without having to be a coder. Weebly websites look fairly polished and are especially suited to accommodate ecommerce sites of various kinds, thanks to integration with Square’s point of sale technology and backend. The downside to more rigidly structured services like Weebly is that they have a “look.” With a set of themes and predefined layouts, Weebly-built sites will frequently give you déjà vu. Weebly users do remark that changing themes is fairly simple, and there are plenty of apps that you can incorporate for specific kinds of functionality.


Theme-Heavy with Robust Design AI

Similar to Weebly, Wix is allows non-coding users to quickly design a site. Wix is slightly less ecommerce focused than Weebly but is still a very popular choice for ecommerce sites. They offer more design templates and a robust site design tool along with the drag-and-drop editing functionality shared by many similar services. While Wix sites used to look very similar to each other, more available themes for DIY users are helping fix that problem. Some tools, like appointment calendars, come baked-in on Wix, making it a great choice for local businesses who don’t need a lot of flexibility in functionality.


Built in SEO Tools, Great UX

Squarespace is another popular provider for ecommerce and small business sites, offering design templates, AMP functionality for a great mobile experience, a suite of baked-in SEO tools, and apps to accommodate desired functionality. If your small business has an artistic or creative component, or intends to create an online presence via blogging, Squarespace is a very strong choice in that area.


Coders Rejoice; Non-Coders Beware

Drupal is a WordPress alternative that’s even more flexible. It uses an open source CMS that resembles WordPress, but the learning curve overall is much higher for non-technical users. You can’t get a Drupal site online without some coding, even though some templates and tools already exist. The plug-and-play aspect isn’t there, but Drupal does offer some powerful advantages in terms of how scalable and flexible it is. The associated expenses may be too much for small businesses to bear, but if you’re planning on growing and need a flexible, enterprise-level platform, Drupal may be a good choice.


All About Business

You may already know about HubSpot as a company because of their digital marketing and sales tools, but you may not know that they have their own blog and website builder. If you’re looking to deploy a site that’s intimately tied into your lead gen and marketing efforts, you can do a lot worse than HubSpot. You can hook up your landing pages to your main website seamlessly, so you don’t have a fragmented experience across sales funnels. HubSpot CMS isn’t for ecommerce, so if you’re planning to sell products online, you’ll want to go with a different service. Their design and website building tools aren’t as elegant  or high-powered as the Wixes and Squarespaces of the world, nor do they have the same array of apps and themes as WordPress, but you can get a polished site with an edge in the marketing and sales realm.


E-commerce Excellence

Although Shopify’s marketing claims you can use it to build all sorts of sites (not just e-commerce), e-commerce is where this website builder shines. The suite of e-commerce tools available to Shopify users is designed to make the creation of an online store more accessible for individuals and businesses. With integrated checkout and payments, as well as inventory management, Shopify can streamline e-commerce for your small business. And because Shopify also powers large enterprises, you don’t have to worry about growing out of your store down the road. You don’t need coding skills to set up a Shopify site thanks to its fairly standard-quality tools and templates, but you can edit HTML and CSS if you have the skills—or a partner with expertise.

So which web design services for small business should you consider?

The answer to this question depends on a few things: what kind of coding and design resources your business has available, whether you’re doing e-commerce, what kind of marketing initiatives you manage online, and how big your business is. If you’re not sure, it’s best to consult with experts who can help you understand what will suit you best and look professional. Unless you’re a solo design, marketing, and copywriting prodigy with tons of free time, however, it’s unlikely that a full DIY approach will go well. Worst case, you’ll be outlaying a ton of your hours (which are valuable!) for something that won’t make as strong of an impression on your customers as something done professionally.

At bfw, we’ve worked with a variety of business website building and hosting services to find the right solutions for our clients. Get in touch if you’re looking into options for your small business and don’t know where to start.