The 6 Best Website Builders for Small Business Owners of 2023

Fledgling business owners may need assistance getting their venture off the ground. The right website builder can help small businesses establish an online presence and start building their brand.

By Tom Scalisi | Published Dec 12, 2023 2:52 PM

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Few moments in a small business’s early days of development and growth are more exciting than staking a claim on a piece of digital real estate. Grabbing a domain name, setting up hosting, and learning all the ins and outs of internet marketing lead to limitless potential. However, for business owners who lack years of design or coding experience, designing a site that fits a brand’s style, voice, and target audience can be a hurdle.

Fortunately for the average small-business owner, there are many website builders that make these steps easy. Drag-and-drop builders, built-in search engine optimization (SEO), and even marketing tools simplify the process, flattening the learning curve. The best website builder for small-business owners will depend on their exact needs, so it’s important to review the top options available and find the right match.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Wix
  2. RUNNER-UP: GoDaddy
  3. BEST FREE PLAN: Weebly
  4. BEST FOR MOBILE: Squarespace
  5. BEST CUSTOM OPTIONS: WordPress.com
  6. ALSO CONSIDER: Shopify
Two smiling women sit at laptops at a desk.

Photo: istockphoto.com

What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best Website Builders for Small Business Owners

Just as it’s a big deal to file LLC paperwork and get a business license, building a website is a huge step for a new small business. There are plenty of website-building options to choose from, but not all are on the same playing field as the very best website builders. Business owners will want to weigh several top considerations to ensure they get the value and functionality needed for their small business.

Ease of Use

Unless business owners have extensive experience with web design and coding, the software chosen needs to be easy to use for the widest audience possible. Many of the best website builders offer programs that allow users to drag and drop images, insert text blocks, and add links without the need for coding or advanced design skills.

More goes into launching a website than simply the design, though. The ability to quickly link to hosting, add necessary plug-ins, and track the site’s progress is just as critical to building the online presence the business needs. The best site builders make all these tasks straightforward, allowing new users to get their site up and running quickly.

Jon McEwen, founder of Datawith, a data and digital content service provider for small businesses, notes that because website builders are designed with different audiences in mind, ease of use can vary quite a bit from one to another. “No perfect website builder exists: Squarespace is easy and basic, ideal for straightforward needs, but limited in customization,” he says. “WordPress, on the other hand, offers robust tools but requires a steeper learning curve.”

Subscription Plans

Each website builder has its own menu of options to offer customers, which are often available through subscription services. Subscriptions may be available in free options for personal use—setting up a blog, for instance—or paid platforms that come with business and creator options. Each has a cost associated with it, but choosing the subscription that best fits the business’s needs will help ensure users have all the functionality they require.

Some small-business owners may find themselves starting with free versions of their website- builder software. However, for access to pro-grade templates and other tools, they may need to upgrade to a business or creator subscription.

Pricing

Business owners may have a number of expenses they need to budget for, such as payroll, rent, and insurance premiums if they get coverage from one of the best small-business insurance providers. Building and hosting a website is another cost to account for, so it’s often a key consideration for business owners as they weigh their options. Website pricing can vary significantly, and much of it depends on the business owner’s plans for their website. For example, if a site owner plans to simply build landing pages or run a blog, a professional site might cost relatively little each month to operate. For this, the owner will often have access to templates and other building tools that make setting up their basic site easy.

However, for those who want to run e-commerce sites or set up memberships and subscriptions, the cost can be significantly higher. These sites require more functionality and often need to run on faster servers, which means more is needed from the website provider. While these costs may seem high, they are often necessary expenses to run a business—similar to insurance and licensing fees.

Website Editor Features

Small-business owners are faced with making many important decisions in the early days of their venture, from deciding how to market themselves to determining what type of business license they need. Deciding which approach to building a website is right for their experience and skill is key as well, and this may determine the success of their new site. Each website builder features an editor program that allows the user to build their site, adjust the layout, and make changes to various on-page components. The easiest and most popular editors to use follow a “blocks” design, which allows the user to drag and drop certain types of content boxes onto the page that they can then customize by adding pictures and text. These editors also allow designers to create customized colors and text to support marketing efforts and match their brand identity.

Other editor features may include templates, which can be an incredible help to new website builders. These templates can include premade designs for home pages, landing pages, and contact forms, as well as image galleries and more. The site owner simply selects the template they want to use and then customizes it to include their business’s information, branding, images, and other details.

Additional Features

When it comes to designing and building a website, the best website builders have no shortage of additional features. These features often come in the form of plug-ins, which are essentially downloadable apps that users can add to their site to speed it up, embed videos, improve SEO, and even tweak the features of the built-in editor.

Other important additional features might include security, traffic monitoring, image compression, and other helpful tools. With these resources, business owners can keep a finger on the pulse of their web presence and protect their brand.

Also, many website builders will help site owners set up their domain name, or website address, making the process to get a new site up and running as simple as possible. Coupled with logo-creation aids and other marketing tools, these additional features can quickly boost a business’s website visibility and usability.

Michelle Slifcak Villa, product marketing manager at GoDaddy, suggests that site owners consider both the short- and long-term needs of their business when deciding on the best features to build a website. “When looking for the best tools and features within a website builder, think critically about the needs of your business today and tomorrow,” she says. “How could your website enhance your online impact—and what fundamental functions do you need to leverage within a website to not only garner new customers but keep them returning?

I recommend small-business owners prioritize services that offer expert insight, user-friendly interfaces, customizable templates to match their branding, and essential customer service features, such as contact forms, to capture leads.”

Free Trial Period

While this isn’t universal, a small-business website builder may offer a free trial period to new users. In those situations, website builders will allow users to set up their sites and take advantage of basic functions. These website builders will also host the site for a prescribed trial period before the user will have to decide whether they want to continue maintaining and hosting the site or not. Free trial periods can vary from one website builder to another, so if site owners need more time to assess the platform, they may want to take this factor into account.

Free trials can be helpful for business owners who are just getting started with a website builder, as they can try a few different platforms before they decide which one is the right option for them. However, if they’re linking their domain name to several different website builders over the course of a year, there can be integration issues that may cause headaches, particularly when it comes to hosting or design.

Customer Support

Business owners who lack web development, design, or coding experience will undoubtedly find themselves against a wall a time or two when building a site. They’ll either not understand how a tool works or they might even “break” their site, which means they changed one small attribute and the site is no longer functioning as it should be. That’s what customer support is for, and it’s a key consideration when users are deciding the best website builder for a small business.

For those business owners who are apprehensive about designing a website, they may want to prioritize finding an online website builder that makes contacting and using customer support a breeze. Phone and email contacts are helpful, but site owners may also want access to representatives via live chat to help them solve any issues they encounter. In some cases, website builders will provide the option for business owners to submit a customer service request online and request a representative to call the site owner back over the phone. Users may be able to reach out to customer service representatives at any time, whether it’s a weekend, holiday, or the middle of the night, or they may only be able to speak to someone during regular business hours. These are all considerations for business owners to think about when weighing website builder options.

Our Top Picks

With all that background on website builders covered, it’s time to start checking out some of these top options. While each platform has plenty to offer site owners, it’s important to weigh all factors when choosing the best website builder for a small business.

Best Overall

The word 'Wix' appears in black and yellow on a white background.
Photo: wix.com

Why It Made the Cut: Between AI editor functionality, a wide range of templates, and the option to go full-on developer with advanced tools, Wix is a fantastic website builder for small businesses.

Small-business owners looking for website-building platforms that will allow them to take their site as far as they want may find Wix to be the right fit. Wix is available in several subscription packages including Light, Core, Business, and Business Elite, and additional features include a logo maker and SEO tools. Wix is leaning heavily into the world of AI tools. It has a website generation tool that asks users about their business and generates a website based on their answers. This platform can help business owners quickly create a site that is tailored to their needs with very little lift on their end. Wix can also provide an AI-designed logo that can be tweaked according to the business’s industry, brand identity, and style preferences.

While rates may be somewhat high, access to these tools may be worth it for those who want a streamlined user experience. For instance, business owners can choose from more than 800 website templates to quickly build out their site. Meanwhile, those who need more customization and have some coding skills can use Wix’s full-stack developer platform to design custom graphics, pop-ups, and other features to make their site entirely their own.

 

Specs

  • Subscription plans: Light, Core, Business, Business Elite (Enterprise also available)
  • Pricing: $16 to $159 per month
  • Additional features: Logo maker, SEO tools
  • Free trial period: 14 days
  • Customer support: Online (with callback)

Pros

  • Helpful AI-based website creator tool
  • More than 800 website templates
  • Free AI-based logo generator
  • Full-stack development platform available for custom builds
  • Built-in tools to improve website accessibility

Cons

  • Monthly rates may be somewhat high

Runner-Up

The word 'GoDaddy' appears in turquoise with the company's logo on a white background.
Photo: godaddy.com

Why It Made the Cut: GoDaddy offers a user-friendly site editor, a long free trial period, and 24/7 customer support, making it a great option as a website builder for small businesses.

For small-business owners who don’t have an inclination to learn the ins and outs of website building, GoDaddy might be the premier choice for an easy website builder. Business owners looking for a simple website builder may find GoDaddy’s straightforward user interface very appealing. Site owners can choose from a wide range of industry-specific website templates, helping businesses get their web presence up and running faster and with less work.

While the interface might be simple, GoDaddy has more advanced features available as well. For instance, the platform’s AI-driven analysis tools compare sites with their competitors and design custom goals and plans based on that assessment. Prospective customers will want to note that GoDaddy’s advertised prices are described in months but reflect the annual cost of a subscription. However, with a long 30-day free trial period, small-business owners have plenty of time to test out the platform before deciding if it’s right for them. There are several subscription levels as well, allowing business owners to get the features they need without paying more. Site owners also have access to 24/7 customer support via both phone and text messages, allowing them to reach out for assistance whenever they need it. They can also reach out to customer representatives online and via live chat.

 

Specs

  • Subscription plans: Basic, Premium, Commerce
  • Pricing: $9.99 to $16.99 per month (with annual payment)
  • Additional features: Logo maker, SEO services, email marketing
  • Free trial period: 30 days
  • Customer support: Online, phone, text, live chat

Pros

  • User-friendly website editor interface
  • Customized competitor, market, and website analysis
  • 24/7 customer support via phone and text
  • Long 30-day free trial

Cons

  • Somewhat misleading pricing options

Best Free Plan

The word 'Weebly' appears in blue and white-colored font on a white background.
Photo: weebly.com

Why It Made the Cut: Weebly offers a surprisingly robust set of features with its free plan option, helping businesses establish themselves and grow on the internet without a pricey site build.

Marketing budgets can be tight for small businesses with very limited resources to spend on even critical expenses. When that’s the case, it may be better to start with a free website builder that doesn’t short users on features. Weebly is one of those platforms, offering such elements as inventory management, shopping baskets, in-store pickup options, and SEO tools. And for those who choose to upgrade to even more advanced tools, monthly rates are relatively low.

If there’s an issue with the site, Weebly offers online and phone support, though not all customers are eligible, depending on the subscription plan they select. While the basic plan is free, Weebly customers can still create a rich web presence with additional tools and apps. Some of these might cost money, but many are free, and they can all help increase the functionality of the website, providing a better experience for the business’s customers. These tools include traffic- and sales-boosting apps, social media integration, and more.

 

Specs

  • Subscription plans: Free, Personal, Professional, Performance
  • Pricing: $0 to $26 per month
  • Additional features: SEO tools, email marketing
  • Free trial period: None
  • Customer support: Online, phone (for eligible customers)

Pros

  • Feature-rich free plan available
  • Relatively low monthly rates
  • Wide range of additional apps available

Cons

  • Phone support not available for all customers

Best for Mobile

The word 'Squarespace' is written in black with the company's black abstract logo on a white background.
Photo: squarespace.com

Why It Made the Cut: Squarespace offers various client management features, advanced SEO tools, and built-in responsive design capabilities that resize images and content to automatically fit different devices and screens.

The large majority of internet users are searching through their mobile devices these days. To make sure businesses can take advantage of this traffic, Squarespace has a built-in mobile optimization platform. This software automatically resizes images, text, and other content so site pages display correctly across a wide range of devices and screens. With this mobile optimization capability, business owners can give prospective customers a positive browsing experience free of shifted images, wonky design, and unclickable links.

Business owners may want to note that live chat support hours are somewhat limited, so they may need to troubleshoot issues on their own outside of regular working hours. Even so, Squarespace gives customers plenty of benefits to consider beyond mobile integration and optimization. The website builder also provides a variety of tools and features that business owners can use to manage client relationships. There are intake forms, a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, and a wide range of accounting and scheduling templates, as well as invoice and payment agreements. In addition, every Squarespace account comes with a suite of advanced SEO tools to make it easier for search engines to crawl sites, thereby increasing visibility and driving traffic. These features include default SEO page titles and descriptions, SEO checklists, and various technical SEO resources.

 

Specs

  • Subscription plans: Personal, Business, Commerce (Basic), Commerce (Advanced)
  • Pricing: $16 to $49 per month
  • Additional features: Logo maker, SEO tools, client invoicing, online courses, email marketing
  • Free trial period: 14 days
  • Customer support: Online, live chat

Pros

  • Built-in responsive design optimizes websites for mobile devices
  • Comprehensive client management features
  • Advanced SEO tools included

Cons

  • Somewhat limited live chat support hours

Best Custom Options

The word 'WordPress' appears in black letters with the company's logo on a white background.
Photo: wordpress.com

Why It Made the Cut: With unlimited customization options and an open-source community of developers constantly creating new features, WordPress.com is great for custom sites.

WordPress.com is worth a look for small-business owners who want a fully customizable website platform. WordPress is an open-source platform, which means that anyone with the requisite skills and experience can create or tweak their website to their exact specifications. New community users are also developing plug-ins and apps all the time, providing near-limitless customization options. It’s available in free, personal, premium, business, and commerce subscription levels.

Live chat is only available to customers who pay for a premium plan or higher, so those using a free or personal plan will need to reach out to customer service by submitting a request online. WordPress offers a wide range of other tools and features to aid small-business owners as they craft their ideal website. For example, the advanced SEO tools available through WordPress can help business owners increase their site’s visibility on search engines, driving more potential customers to their site. Also, with almost 11,500 (11,462 to be exact) themes available, businesses will likely find a design that fits their needs.

 

Specs

  • Subscription plans: Free, Personal, Premium, Business, Commerce (Enterprise also available)
  • Pricing: $0 to $45 per month
  • Additional features: SEO tools, email marketing, social media tools
  • Free trial period: 14 days (for paid plans)
  • Customer support: Online, live chat

Pros

  • Flexible site customization via open-source platform
  • Advanced SEO tools included
  • More than 11,000 free themes available

Cons

  • Live chat support not available for all customers

Also Consider

The word 'Shopify' appears in black letters next to the company's green shopping bag logo on a white background.
Photo: shopify.com

Why It Made the Cut: With a singular focus on e-commerce, Shopify can help businesses develop professional retail sites with the platform’s free built-in business tools—and there are big discounts available as well.

Shopify’s strengths lie in e-commerce, and it’s a great start for small-business owners looking to sell products online. The platform offers small businesses a wide range of templates for online shops as well as QR code generators, integration with social media apps, and email marketing templates. There are two subscription levels to choose from (basic and Shopify), and prices are either $39 or $105 each month, with a 25 percent discount for annual payments. That discount opportunity could help budget-conscious business owners lower the costs to build and host their website.

The free trial period is relatively short, but business owners looking for a website builder focused on e-commerce may not need to think twice about their selection. As an e-commerce site builder, Shopify has many applicable tools for small businesses, although it’s worth noting that there are a limited number of themes available. These business tools are designed to boost the marketing, branding, and day-to-day management of a retail-focused small business. There are even tools that provide shortcuts to generating business names, logos, and slogans, as well as business-card makers, pay-stub generators, and much more. And the majority of these tools are free, giving business owners more bang for the buck.

 

Specs

  • Subscription plans: Basic, Shopify (Advanced also available for medium to large businesses)
  • Pricing: $39 or $105
  • Additional features: Logo maker, slogan maker, QR code generator, business card creation, email marketing
  • Free trial period: 3 days
  • Customer support: Online, live chat

Pros

  • Specialty in e-commerce websites
  • Wide variety of free business tools available
  • Generous 25 percent discount for annual payments

Cons

  • Limited free theme options
  • Short 3-day free trial

Our Verdict

The Best Overall award goes to Wix, thanks to its AI functionality, various template options, and full-stack developer capabilities. With its user-friendly editor tools, custom site analysis, and 24/7 customer support, GoDaddy is our pick for Runner-Up.

How We Chose the Best Website Builders for Small Business Owners

When determining the best website builders for small businesses, we looked at each platform’s functionality and ease of use, particularly in regard to site editor tools, as these features are arguably the most important aspects of a business website builder for folks without a lot of experience. We also looked at available templates, customization options, and additional features that may aid site owners as they launch or grow their business. From a cost perspective, we considered subscriptions and fees, as well as free trial periods. Finally, we considered customer support options and other perks that might be available with each builder. Website builders that offered enough value and functionality were added to our list while those that didn’t were cut completely.

Before You Use One of the Best Website Builders for Small Business Owners

Even the best website builders will require some time and a bit of learning to get the site up and running. Some small-business owners don’t have the time to devote to learning how to use these tools and building websites. When that’s the case, it may be better to simply hire the project out to a website designer. Unlike choosing the best HVAC software for small businesses, sometimes it makes sense to farm out website design to an independent contractor. While the cost is high, hiring this job out will allow the business owner to continue focusing on the business rather than distracting themselves with the minutiae of building and maintaining a website.

For those who do hire a freelancer or contractor to build their website, it’s a good idea to ask which platform they use, and then use the pros and cons in this article to determine if that particular platform is a good fit. Given the high cost and lack of direct control, though, going the independent contractor route may not always be the best option even for business owners who feel like they have little time to devote to creating a website on their own.

Slifcak Villa notes that dedicated website builders can still be a good fit for those with limited experience and bandwidth. “Many time-strapped entrepreneurs face significant barriers—such as limited resources or a lack of design-focused expertise—which often overwhelm as business owners try to create and activate their digital presence, but it doesn’t have to be this way,” she says. “I think the true benefit of using a website-building service is how efficient, affordable, and accessible expertise is. These services allow small-business owners to create and share a professional, search-engine-optimized, and aesthetically enhanced website quickly and effectively.”

Cost of Using One of the Best Website Builders for Small Business Owners

The best website builders for small businesses are generally pretty affordable. They break their payment schedules up into annual or monthly payments, giving business owners payment options to fit their budget. Annual payments are generally less expensive over the course of the year, but monthly payments can help business owners avoid a large up-front initial payment.

With that, business owners can expect to pay anywhere between nothing and $160 each month, with the typical price being around $20 each month, depending on the subscription plan and additional features selected. Considering that the cost of small-business insurance comes out to $81 a month, on average, the cost to build and host a business website is pretty affordable. There are often deals available to new customers as well. Users can take advantage of lower rates while building their site to fit their needs, and by the time the prices increase after the trial period has ended, the site should (hopefully) pay for itself.

The Advantages of Using One of the Best Website Builders for Small Business Owners

Whether a site owner is looking to grow their plumbing business, consulting firm, lawn care business, or other type of organization, a robust site builder can help them achieve their goals. The best website builders for small businesses come with tools that businesses can use to grow their business, rank higher in search engines, and integrate with social platforms. These tools can help make businesses more profitable and drive more business.

Also, as McEwen notes, these platforms are often designed to get customers up and running immediately. “[A builder’s] design templates can be generic, [but] what it lacks there, you get back tenfold in ease of use,” he says. “And for small businesses, simplicity can be the fastest route to getting off the ground.”

Also, it’s important to note that website builders often take care of the nitty-gritty background stuff, like hosting. The builder will automatically host the site, giving the user the ability to focus on design rather than shopping for web hosts. This may even be true for a cheap website builder. The best website builders for small businesses also have several other benefits that may appeal to those looking to build a digital presence for their new venture:

  • Advanced AI-based tools, such as website creators and logo generators, that can streamline the site-building process and help grow small businesses;
  • Hands-on customer support, including 24/7 assistance, to help site owners work out any issues they encounter and get the most out of their platform; and
  • A wide variety of additional features, including SEO tools, client management resources, plug-ins, apps, and branding services, that can help small businesses establish themselves in the marketplace and reach their customer base.

FAQs

Choosing the best website builder for a small business can seem daunting at first since there are so many factors to consider and business owners may not be too familiar with these platforms or what distinguishes them. These frequently asked questions on the topic (along with their answers) can better equip business owners to make a more informed decision so they select the right builder for their needs.

Q. How long does it take to build a website?

Some websites can take just a few hours to build, while others take weeks of design and development before they’re ready to roll out. The best website builders for small businesses certainly flatten the curve, making it possible to create a fully functioning, beautiful website in less than a weekend.

Q. Are website builders secure?

The website builders on our list provide advanced security measures to prevent attacks and hacking. Although there may be some concerns with builder software that shares the same code across all websites, the top site-building and hosting platforms are typically reliable since they routinely install security updates and monitor for potential threats.

Q. What features make a good website?

A good website ought to be fast and have an eye-catching design, customizable color schemes and brand identity, and extreme functionality with no broken links or major content shifting when opening pages.