The Best Website Builders For Businesses And Side Hustles

This content originally appeared on Mashable for a US audience and has been adapted for the UK audience.

Everyone’s got a brand to promote these days, even if that brand is just a showcase of blogged thoughts or a portfolio of various talents. And if you’ve got a business — no matter how big or small — you’ll definitely need a strong and compelling website to stand out from the crowd.

So whether you’re just launching a business, setting up an online store, or sharing a message to help others, having a website is the easiest way to get it all out to the masses. After all, it’s your first introduction to potential customers and clients, so it’s vitally important to consider what your online presence is going to look like. Simply put, a website builder is the perfect tool for freelancers, start-ups, and more established companies alike.

That said, some site builder options are more friendly to beginners than others. For example, Squarespace is a popular website builder with lots of awesome templates that you can use to create a beautiful website with professional results (even if you don’t know your CSS from your HTML). On the other hand, a web builder like Weebly will give you a lot more freedom to play around with coding. So, though there are a lot of options for website builders out there, you’ll want to take some things into consideration before you can choose the best one for you. Fortunately, we’re here to show you the ropes, so let’s jump into the basics.

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 need advanced features, like e-commerce tools or a contact form, to keep you linked with consumers? Or, maybe you’re not running a business at all, and need to create an aesthetically pleasing portfolio of your work, or a more personal blog to keep people informed. The ultimate goal of your website is something that must be considered before you spend a single dime. You don’t want to invest in a website builder that might not be the right fit for your needs, or provides far more than you need when a free or low-cost plan option would suffice.

What should a good site builder cost?There’s a common misconception that developing a website takes hundreds of hours or the work of a team of professionals. Back in the olden days of the internet, it’s true that you had to be a little bit of a tech wizard (or dole out the cash to hire one) in order to have your own website. But, today’s website builders don’t require you to know about HTML, FTP, servers, or even web hosting in order to create a robust home for yourself on the web. They offer plenty of resources to help you create an attention-grabbing site, even if you have zero web design experience. That said, you should expect this convenience to cost you a bit of coin depending on the services you need.

Big companies can dole out thousands of bucks for custom sites, but small businesses or organisations should do just fine with a website builder in the realm of about £10 to £20 per month. If you need some extensive features, like extra storage or bandwidth, or you’re running an e-commerce operation, that cost may bump up closer to about £30 per month.

If those prices are not in your budget, however, it’s totally possible to find a free website builder that’ll get the job done with great results. Just keep in mind that the website building provider’s logo and other ads will be prominent on your site, which could make it look a little less impressive. A free website builder is also likely to be limited in bandwidth and storage which could very well limit what you want to do with your site. In these cases, it’s best to carefully read the fine print to see just how generous the website builder is with its no-cost plan.

What can you expect a good website builder to provide?All website builders will give you a web address with their domain, but a custom domain name will cost you extra. Most paid plans will provide this for free for the first year, however. Many will also provide a free SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate to ensure your visitors that your site is safe to browse, and 24/7 customer service to guide you along and make sure your site is up and running at all times.

That said, you’ll also want to pay attention to how much storage your site builder plan includes, as you’ll need a good amount to host big files, like videos or photos showcasing your products or portfolio. Also, note how much bandwidth a plan offers to make sure it can handle your site’s expected traffic.

Most, if not all website builders offer a lot of pre-built website templates to get your site started, and some even designate which templates may best suit different needs, such as e-commerce, portfolios, or even restaurants. Many site builders also utiliae a simple drag-and-drop interface that lets you place everything pretty much where you want it, along with the ability to tweak stuff like colour schemes, fonts, and more to fit your personal brand. Some, but not all site builders will allow for varying levels of HTML or CSS coding on the backend to tweak things even further if that’s something you have knowledge of and want to dig into. You should also expect a good website builder to provide stock photos that you can use to make your website look better.

If your site acts as an online shop, make sure you choose a website builder or an advanced plan that is equipped with the e-commerce services and features you need to operate properly. Think cart and checkout pages, credit card processing, and services like email marketing, inventory, and shipping tools to make your business better and your life easier. If your site is primarily blog-based, on the other hand, consider a website builder that caters to easy WordPress integration.

Some site builders will optimise the way your website looks on mobile devices, but a few are much better at this than others. Also keep in mind that no matter which website builder you choose, it will likely be quite difficult to switch to another website builder or web host in the future. So it’s pretty crucial to make the right pick from the start, while carefully considering your website or business’ potential growth over several year’s time.

What’s the difference between a web host and a website builder?A web host provides its customers with space on a server to store their data and website information, essentially giving it the means to reach the public. Think of it as purchasing a plot of land, and your website is the house that will be built there for everyone to visit. Simply put, you must have a piece of this “land” on the web to have a functional website, and your domain name is the address you share to help people find your “house.”

A website builder, on the other hand, is a software tool that helps a user design and actually create their website from a visual standpoint. In the homebuilding metaphor, this can be equated to the array of construction materials needed to build a house, like wood and nails. Of course, you could build your home on the web with just your bare hands if you know your way around coding. However, it’s much easier to design your own website when you get a leg up from a construction crew in the form of pre-made website templates and easy drag-and-drop functions. You can think of them kind of like contractors: you get a say in how you want things to look and where you want them to go, but you don’t need to get your hands too dirty with all the confusing coding language on the backend.

When choosing the right website builder for you, your options can seem a little confusing because the line between web host and site builder gets a little muddied. Many web hosting services offer an integrated site builder to make it easier to get all your website-building tasks done in one place. And most, if not all, website builders will simply host your site on their servers as part of their whole package (even if you never encounter the words “web host” in the process — it’s sort of an unspoken thing).

How can you use a site builder to create a website fit for your visitors?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.

A good website builder should offer you plenty of templates catered to your site’s needs. If you’re creating an online store, go with a template that shows your products up front. They’re the star of the show, after all, so potential customers shouldn’t have to dig to find them. If you offer a service, on the other hand, make sure your template has space to put customer testimonials on view to encourage trust and community. Furthermore, you may just need a minimalist landing page to act as a virtual business card for your company. A simple website builder template is ideal here for displaying your contact info, business hours, and other personal details front and center.

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

We’re also 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 for your site, then don’t fret!. A great website builder will include a database of royalty-free stock photos that you can use to spice up your site and make it incredibly appealing to visitors.

What about SEO and landing high in web searches?Having a website is one thing. Making sure people can find it across various search engines is another thing.

It’s no secret that Google basically runs the show in the land of search engines, so do some work to find out how people are searching for the type of content or 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 search engine optimisation tips will take you surprisingly far when it comes to driving up your site’s viewership, and many website builders include some built-in SEO tools to give you a leg up.

It’s also 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, for example, consider adding a blog section to your site to offer dog training tips and advice. This fosters a greater connection between you and your customers, and offers them greater service. When it comes down to it, this is all about creating opportunities to showcase that you are the ideal person for the job, and your website makes the very first impression in that process.

What is the best website builder?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. 

These are the best website builders in 2023.

Best For Mobile

Wix(Opens in a new tab) 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 customisation 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 customising all your content again from scratch. So you better be pretty certain when you pick your layout the first time. Quantity over quality is sometimes an issue here too, with customisation not quite as extensive as more experienced users will want. Don’t expect to be able to directly edit HTML or CSS code here. 

Wix offers free ad-supported accounts for the most basic sites. Subscription plans ranging from £4 per month to £19 per month are available. The best value package is the Unlimited subscription priced at £10.75 per month. It provides unlimited bandwidth, 10GB storage, a free domain name, no ads, and £230 worth of ad vouchers. 

Best For Versatility

A well-established name in the website building business, Squarespace(Opens in a new tab) 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 maximising search performance, as well as tracking your site’s performance via its own analytics dashboard. 

A personal website costs £9.10 per month if billed annually or £12.25 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. Plus, new Squarespace users can save 10% on subscriptions with the code PARTNER10(Opens in a new tab). 

A business account costs £13.80 per month if billed annually, or £20 month by month. It comes with £76 of 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 £20 to £35 per month. 

Best For Speed

A prominent name within the web hosting business, GoDaddy(Opens in a new tab) 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 you won’t be 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.

Pricing starts at £4.60 per month for a personal site with business sites priced at £7.65 per month with the addition of a Paypal Buy Now button and SEO assistance. A full eCommerce setup costs £15.30 per month with purchase facilities. 

Best For Coding

Weebly(Opens in a new tab) 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 customisable templates with more than 40 pre-designed page layouts to get you started. Unlike other services though, you can easily switch between themes, extensively customise 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. 

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 £6.15 per month when paid annually, including a free domain, £80 of Google ads, and no Weebly ads. More advanced services start at £9 per month with a small business plan working out at £20 per month for unlimited product sales. 

Best For Commerce

If your main purpose for an online presence is to have a store facility, then Shopify(Opens in a new tab) 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 percent, with many of the apps available adding an extra fee on top of that. 

It’s also trickier to code and customise 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. 

A basic Shopify account costs £22.25 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 £60.50 per month.

Best For Single Pages

Not all sites need to be made of multiple pages, but few website builders take that into consideration. Strikingly(Opens in a new tab) 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. 

A free plan is available and includes 5GB monthly bandwidth as well as the option to sell one product via the Simple Store feature. Bumping up to £6 per month provides users with more bandwidth, a free domain, and up to 5 products on the store. A pro account works out at £12.25 per month and removes most restrictions with up to 300 products possible to list. 

Best For Less

Duda(Opens in a new tab) 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. 

Duda currently works out at £7.50 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 monthly fee to pay. 

Best For Languages

Many sites have multilingual support, but Voog(Opens in a new tab) 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 standard plan is £4.55 per month billed annually, which provides users with 2 GB storage, a custom domain, 30 pages, and a limited online store. £7.60 per month upgrades the storage to 10 GB, provides a full online store, and unlimited pages. A premium package costs £29.60 per month and eradicates the 3% sales transaction fee. 

Shopping Editor

Joseph joined Mashable as the UK Shopping Editor in 2018. He worked for a number of print publications before making the switch to the glittery world of digital media, and now writes about everything from coffee machines to VPNs.