Time has changed and today, it is almost impossible to run a small business successfully without a website. In other words, if your company does not have an online presence, you may as well be invisible to most would-be clients. However, creating a knock-out website can seem pretty intimidating, especially for entrepreneurs who are long on to-dos and short on time.
But, thankfully, there has not been a better time to get your business website off the ground. Gone are the days when you had a need to code your own page, dive into the nitty-gritty of web hosting and make changes through HTML or other coding platforms.
In modern times, there are many website-building platforms that take the hard work out of building your so-called ‘online presence’. Most of these platforms offer compelling templates that give your web pages a sleek, modern look and come with layout tools that do not require you to be a front-end developer just to put together a rudimentary site.
So, in this article, we are going to provide you with some of the cheapest yet popular website-building platforms that you can get started with quickly and successfully build a website for your small business that you have always wanted.
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Generally speaking, websites provide a medium of information about your products and/or services as well as allow communication between you and your customers, clients or vendors via the ‘Contact Us’ page that is included in your website. So, as you can see, it is indeed, very important to have a website, especially if you own a business, no matter the size and industry, in order to achieve your business goals and grow subsequently. Also, you get to maintain a relationship with your customers consistently.
So, before we dive into listing the cheapest ways to build a website for your small business, let us first, get into the fundamentals behind why you should have a site. The most immediate reasons are simple – word-of-mouth advertising only goes so far and most customers would rather visit a website for the information they want as opposed to calling.
A great website thus, allows you to market your services or goods to a wider audience and can also give people the information they need with fewer steps than ever before.
If you are running a retail business, having a good website is essential. A staggering 70% of worldwide consumers now shop online, making a digital buying experience a must-have for most companies. You will want to have a web presence in order to capitalize on the ever-expanding digital shopping market, or else you risk getting outmaneuvered by your competition.
Equally crucial for small businesses in search engine results. If your company does not have a website, it is difficult to appear in search. And if you do not appear in search, then it is highly unlikely that people will find your company online. Therefore, a good and descriptive website can make the difference between getting or losing a sale.
The cheapest option for building a site is to do it yourself. But what you save in money, you lose in time spent. Sure, you could register your own domain name, choose a website host, build your website and upload it to your server. But, this takes more time and energy than most entrepreneurs are willing to spend. In addition to this, you may also end up with a website that is less functional or efficient than you would have thought if you went with a website builder.
Website builders take out most of the work that goes into building a site: They will help you register for a domain name, offer dazzling templates for you to choose from and can make it easy for you to populate your page with information. A website builder is an online tool that helps you create your own website without having to know a single line of code.
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Although Squarespace may not be the cheapest option on the list, it is by far, one of the easiest website-building platform to use. The platform is user-friendly and can get you set up with a site in just a few hours. You can choose to register a domain name right within the Squarespace environment or sync up an address that you already own. This provider also offers beautiful templates that easy to edit your own needs.
However, bear in mind that Squarespace is designed to work best for e-Commerce sites since the platform offers great integrations for online shopping. Even if you are not in a retail business, Squarespace can still work for you, particularly if you want to focus on aesthetics and visuals. A Squarespace business plan costs $18 per month, which gives you access to a slew of features designed to make your small business website grab attention.
Wix is another cloud-based one of the most well-known website builders for small businesses. It offers a lot of responsive design templates to help you get started, each categorized by the kind of company you run. If you have a photography business, you can choose any of the themes for your page. The same is true for restaurants and general businesses as well, which means there is always something for everyone.
And also best in offering competitive pricing as well, with three tiers to choose from. The Business Basic plan will costs you around $20 a month, while Business Unlimited and Business VIP cost $25 and $35 a month respectively. You can right-size the amount of support and features you need without having to pay for those you do not require. Better yet, you also can upgrade to a bigger plan as your needs expand.
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WordPress.com is a website builder that is far easier to use and which comes with set pricing plans. WordPress was one of the first platforms to take the guesswork out of developing your own website. The site still maintains its competitive edge by letting users control as much of the site-building process as they desire You can create a rough-and-dirty website with one of WordPress’ various templates, or get into the weeds by coding and designing your own page within the platform itself.
WordPress is not as straightforward as some of its peers, but it offers much more customization for those who wish to create a more custom experience.
WordPress’ pricing cannot be beaten, either. Premium plans are an affordable $8 month, which is more than suitable for most entrepreneurs and small businesses. Larger businesses might want to opt for the Business plan, which comes in at $25 a month. Either way, you will get WordPress’ excellent blogging tools to keep your site fresh and analytics suite to see how well your site is performing.
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Shopify has quickly become to go-to option for e-Commerce businesses, given its simple setup and excellent user experience. With Shopify, you can sell products through your own online store, Amazon page, or other destinations. Also, you can use your Shopify account to conduct on-the-go transactions, whether at a trade show, fair or within your own store.
Every subscription comes with a point-of-sale system that hooks into your Shopify account, making it easy for you to manage all of your sales on one platform.
Since Shopify is tailored for retail businesses, it may not be a fit for you if you can only sell products in-store, or run a business that sells services as opposed to inventory. But if you are in the retail space, you would be hard-pressed to find a better option for selling in person and online. Pricing starts at $29 a month for the basic plan and goes up from there.
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Weebly is a classic website builder. It offers five different plans, allowing you to create anything from a simple blog to a full-blown online store. Weebly specializes in small business websites, specifically those that are non-e-Commerce, although its online store plans are constantly improving.
Weebly also has its own free plan. However, the ‘Connect’ plan at $5/month lets you access a few neat features. The most obvious benefit is that you get your own domain, which instantly makes your site look ten times more professional. There is also free SSL security to help protect your site, 500MB of storage and of course, the use of Weebly’s templates and drag-and-drop editor.
The editor is not as straightforward or creatively free, but it is pretty easy to get to grips with. Anyone who has a working knowledge of PowerPoint should not have too much trouble learning how to use it. Weebly works best for service-based.
If you are a personal trainer, dog walker, trades-person, or anyone in between, then you will be able to build a professional-looking site on Weebly’s Connect plan.
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SiteBuilder is an extremely easy to use and user-friendly builder that likes to keep things simple. It has three very affordable price plans starting at just $5.50 per month (billed annually). Though it falls short on its features and designs, but for a basic website, it is a quick and simple option.
SiteBuilder is the recommended option for total novices because it is very easy to use and is best for creating small websites as well. In fact, it is the easiest to use website builder that is available on the market.
Also, one of the great things about SiteBuilder is that it runs a seemingly constant 50% sale on all its price plans. That means you only have to pay half price for your first subscription, making it one of the cheapest builders around!
SiteBuilder’s cheapest Pro plan costs just $5.50 per month (billed annually) with this discount. Once that first year is up, the Pro plan renews at the regular rate of $11 per month, billed annually. Because of this renewal price, SiteBuilder does not offer much long-term value.
Part of this is the lack of quality in SiteBuilder’s features and designs. And also has hundreds of templates, but its designs are rigid and outdated, offering very limited customization. You get all the basic features but they lack real depth, meaning that you are pretty much restricted in how much you can grow your site.
You probably have recognized GoDaddy from its corny TV ads, but behind this exterior sits a solid website builder, offering the fastest way to create a website that we have encountered. That’s because rather than using a drag-and-drop editor, GoDaddy uses design assistance to help create you a website. Design assistance is where a website builder will ask you a few questions (such as what the purpose of your site is, etc.) before actually generating a website for you.
GoDaddy offers a one-month free trial, with prices starting at $5.99/month for its Personal plan. And while this plan does not cover everything, you do get your fair share of features. You can use the design assistance to create your initial website, before making further edits thereafter. There is also free SSL security and 24*7 support, should you get stuck with anything.
Most of the features GoDaddy offers are available as part of the Personal plan, but if you want to create an e-Commerce website, you will need to upgrade.
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Strikingly is a ‘best of the rest’ kind of website builder. It is good at most of the things, but not great at anything. Its plans are excellent value for money, though. Like many other platforms in this list, Strikingly offers a free plan. However, the next step up is its limited plan, which costs $8/month and unlike its name suggests, you actually get a decent amount for your money.
For starters, you can build and publish two websites for the price of one, great news if you have a need for a second site. Secondly, you can actually sell products online. There is also a free domain, plus 24/7 support, although there is one drawback – you can only create one-page websites.
This is not a massive issue. There are plenty of great one-page sites out there, but it does not lend itself to sites with a lot of info to share. There is no disputing that Strikingly offers great value for money, striking that perfect balance between cost and quality.
IM Creator is another stunning website builder that puts speed at the heart of its user experience. If you need an image-rich site, but do not want to get bogged down in the design aspect, then IM Creator is definitely one to consider. There is a free plan, which actually lets or allows you to sell online, but prices start at $8/month for a Premium Account.
The premium plan allows you to sell online, remove ads from your website and access all of IM Creator’s themes. There is no free domain though, and more importantly, no SSL security, which is a big red flag. You will have to purchase both separately.
The editor is another gripe of ours, in that it is less intuitive than the likes of Wix and Weebly. There is no dragging-and-dropping, so you will have to spend a little time getting to know how it all works.
While HostGator is one of the world’s leading web hosting providers, Gator is its supplementary website builder. And though Gator may not be the main attraction, it is still a pretty nifty website-building platform for individuals and businesses. It has an easy to use drag-and-drop features or options, a range of basic templates and some brilliant features. It may not be for everyone, but Gator is certainly suitable for those with limited to no technical experience.
There is no free Gator plan, but the ‘Starter’ package is just $9.22/month. This can be reduced even further if you sign up for a 2-year period, with long-term deals from as little as $3.84/month. Gator’s draw is that it is designed in line with web hosting, meaning you get unmetered storage and bandwidth on all plans. Also, there is a free domain, SSL security, plus live chat, e-mail, and phone support, if you need one.
Getting value for money should be one of your most important concerns when shopping around for a cheap website builder. You will want to stretch your hard-earned cash as far as it can go, so it is definitely worthwhile knowing what you can expect to get for your money. Paying for a premium website builder plan, even a cheaper and more affordable one will give you the following key benefits.
Sure, you can use most website builders for free and have access to a decent range of tools, but many platforms actually limit how many you can access on the free plan. You might find restrictions on adding image galleries and contact forms, or even a limit on the number of pages your website can have. Paying a small monthly fee will remove these restrictions, freeing you up to create the website you have been dreaming of.
No matter which option you choose to use, building a site that truly represents your company is a must. The sooner you start, the quicker your customers can find you online and the quicker you can scale your business.