7 best website builders for small businesses in 2024

You can't build a small business website without a builder. Using the results from our in-depth user testing, we'll outline the top picks for design, features, and overall value.

Our research

When reviewing website builders, our expert team of writers and independent researchers focuses in on the most important factors for small business owners. We look at the range of templates and designs available to choose from; how easy it is to get started building your site and customising it; the help and support options available; the range of available plugins, apps and extensions; the ability to customise a mobile design, and above all, the value for money – including any hidden pricing, ongoing fees, and initial setup costs.
Written and reviewed by:
Robyn Summers-Emler Grow Online Editor

Our independent reviews are funded in part by affiliate commissions, at no extra cost to our readers.

Gone are the days of needing to spend thousands of pounds getting a web developer to build and maintain a website for your business. Website builders make it affordable and easy to do it yourself, even without any prior expertise. With costs that can come in at under £100 per year, and simple templates to get you started, a website builder is our top reocmmended way of creating a business site.

So when you're searching for your website builder, you want to ensure it's highly functional, offers beautiful designs, loads quickly, and equips you with all the analytics tools you need to help your website traffic grow. But which website builder is right for your business?

From our first hand user testing, we found that WixSquarespace, and Shopify are the best providers to choose if you want to create a professional site.

In this comprehensive ranking, we give you all the details about what each provider offers in terms of features, user friendliness, value for money, customer service, pros, cons, and more. Our recommendations are fruit of hundreds of hours of in-house product research and testing. With our focus on what small businesses, this guide should give you the confidence to choose the website builder that works best for your brand.

7 Best Website Builders for 2024

  1. Wix – Best all-round website builder for small businesses
  2. Squarespace – Best for design flexibility & businesses looking to scale
  3. GoDaddy – Best for ease of use and simplicity
  4. Shopify – Best for selling online
  5. Site123 – Best for site speed and storage space
  6. WordPress.com – Best for SEO features
  7. Hostinger – Best cheap website builder

We also collaborated with real-life small business owners to find out the common pain points, such as social media integrations, page loading time, and which platforms were the best at helping them overcome these obstacles.

Alternatively, you can use our handy comparison page that will break down four of the top web builders so you can easily work out which of our approved picks suits your needs.

Website Builder comparison table

Swipe right to see more
0 out of 0

Wix

Shopify

Squarespace

GoDaddy

Site123

WordPress.com

Hostinger

BEST FOR

Best all-round website builder for small businesses

BEST FOR

Best for dedicated sales features when selling online

BEST FOR

Design flexibility & businesses looking to scale

BEST FOR

Ease of use and simplicity

BEST FOR

Help and support

BEST FOR

Blogging tools

BEST FOR

Cheap builder

Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing
4.8
Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing
4.0
Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing
4.6
Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing
4.4
Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing
3.7
Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing
3.6
Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing
3.6
Price
Price

£5 – £259 per month, billed annually

£1/month for 3 months

Price

£12-£35 per month, billed anually

Use code “STARTUPS10” to receive a 10% discount on all Squarespace plans

Price

£6.99-£12.99 per month, billed annually (first term discounts available)

Price

$0 – 12.80 per month (about £10.22)

Price

£3-£20 per month, billed annually

Price

£2.59 – £8.99 per month

Up to 81% discounted with code “STARTUPS”

Free trial
Free trial
Free trial
Free trial
Free trial
Free trial
Free trial

Prices correct as of January 2024

Our research shows that the best website builder for small businesses is Wix. It boasts an unbeatable range of website features, has over 800 templates, and offers free 24/7 phone and live chat support. Plus, it's a highly affordable product  its full premium plans start from just £7.50 per month, and you can save 10% of any annual or monthly plans using the code “GET10!” at checkout.

Squarespace is close behind, offering users design flexibility and stunning templates that certainly give Wix a run for its money.

1. Wix

Best all-round website builder for small businesses

Wix
4.8
Number one website builder for price, features and usability.
  • Free trial 14-day
  • Price from £7.50 per month
  • Flexible pricing plans
  • Good balance of easy usability and complex features
  • Customisable, 'drag-and-drop' templates
Summary Wix is the most popular website builder in the UK. The platform has undoubtedly earned these accolades, with an unparalleled list of features and wide-ranging payment options for every budget. Whether you’re new to website building, or a seasoned expert looking for endless customisability, Wix is an excellent choice. Its pricing is also practical for small businesses, with the Business plan particularly good value at just £20 per month.
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Pros
  • Impressive range of features. It supports everything from extensive blog functionality to digital marketing
  • Great solution if you're looking for creative freedom
  • Preview feature allows you to see how your customers will experience the website
  • Free 24/7 phone and live chat support
Cons
  • Editor is very clustered and overfilled, making website building a challenge at times
  • Slow server response time
  • Higher price point than other website builders
  • Free plan site has ads

What's it like building a website with Wix?

The main reason we've picked Wix as our top website builder for small businesses is just how easy it makes things when creating a professional looking site. Most small business owners won't have endless time for learning to code their own site, nor an unlimited budget for paying a web developer to do it for you. Wix makes everything straightforward thanks to its huge range of professional-looking templates. You can choose from any of these, then customise as you go by dropping in your own imagery and text.

It's no exaggeration to say that with Wix, you can go from having no website at all, to a full, published website in under a day.

Want to see it in action? Here's an effective overview video from Wix itself:

We also like that Wix is on trend with its Wix ADI and Wix Studio functions that let you build a website using AI within a matter of minutes. All you have to do is give the system some descriptions of your business and Wix will do the rest for you.

When you need to adjust your site design, Wix is an intuitive drag-and-drop website builder that's a great option for those new to website building. We consider it the easiest platform to use, and it's only narrowly beaten by Squarespace when it comes to template design and customisability.

The only big drawback with Wix is that once you've published your site, you can't change the template. This means that you can't make any large-scale or universal changes to your website at a template level once it's live. If you wanted to rework your template, you'd need to start from scratch.

Nonetheless, Wix has over 800 stunning templates, excellent ecommerce capabilities, and the best drag-and-drop tool we tested. This means that whether you're completely new to creating websites or keen to customise every inch of your online identity, we think you'll be pleased with Wix's offering.

Wix editor user interface. Image: Startups

Wix marketing integrations

With your website up and running, you'll want to promote it to potential customers. Wix makes this easy thanks to a great range of marketing tools you can integrate into your site. These can help you craft your strategy to reach your target audience as efficiently as possible. Wix integrates with multiple marketing apps, including

  • Mailchimp
  • HubSpot
  • Privy
  • Hotjar
  • Constant Contact.

These integrations also make it easy to design your digital marketing, such as email campaigns, as you can do it all from the same platform within Wix's back-end.

Wix SEO features

If you want your site to show up in the Google search results, you'll need to invest time into search engine optimisation (SEO). The good news is we consider Wix to have some of the best SEO features of any website builder. Only Squarespace matched it in our testing and analysis.

The platform has a partnership with the SEO giant, Semrush. This allows users to access high-quality SEO keyword data directly through the Wix dashboard. This helps you identify effective keywords to target and hopefully propel your website up the search rankings.

You can also integrate your Wix site with Google Analytics, allowing you to see how many people visit your site and where they are clicking. This is key to understanding how users behave on your site and how to optimise and maximise engagement. In turn, this can boost your chances of acquiring new customers and retaining them.

If there's a downside, we'd argue that Wix's Advanced SEO can be a touch overwhelming for beginners. We'd recommend Squarespace for more user-friendly SEO features.

Wix pricing

Wix is one of the best value website builders around, even if it isn't the lowest cost of all. We have a full Wix pricing guide that breaks down what you'll get for each tier, though the quick version of plans and costs is as follows:

  • Wix free plan – £0 per month
  • Wix Light plan – £7.50 per month
  • Wix Core plan  – £14 per month
  • Wix Business plan – £20 per month
  • Wix Business Elite plan – £119 per month
  • Wix Enterprise plan – Bespoke quote

See our table, below, for more on what you get for each Wix pricing point:

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0 out of 0

Free plan

Light

Core

Business

Business Elite

Enterprise

Price

Free

Price
Price
Price
Price
Price
Features
  • Use and test Wix’s features
  • No obligation to sign up for a paid plan
  • Can move your created website on to a paid plan option seamlessly
Features
  • 2 collaborators
  • 2 GB storage space
  • Custom domain
  • Free domain for 1 year
Features
  • 5 collaborators
  • 50 GB storage space
  • Basic marketing suite
  • Basic eCommerce
  • Accept payments
  • Basic site analytics
  • Abandoned cart recovery
Features
  • 10 collaborators
  • 100 GB storage
  • Accept payments
  • Standard eCommerce
  • Standard site analytics
  • Accept pre-orders
Features
  • 15 collaborators
  • Unlimited storage space
  • Advanced eCommerce
  • Advanced developer platform
  • Advanced site analytics
  • Loyalty program by Smile.io
Features
  • Unlimited collaborators
  • Dedicated account manager
  • Custom templates
  • Custom integrations

Wix versus key competitors

Squarespace: While Wix and Squarespace do most of the same things, Squarespace is a little slicker in the design of its website templates. Those with a key aesthetic eye may prefer to opt for Squarespace – say if you're a photographer, designer or creative freelancer wanting to show off the best of your portfolio. But, for most users looking to create a business website, Wix trumps Squarespace on ease of use.

Shopify: If you're looking to build an online store, then Shopify is the best ecommerce website builder we'd recommend. Its brilliant range of features are highly optimised for store inventory management and taking payments across various sales channels. Wix is no slouch, though – Wix Ecommerce is our second-ranked online store builder. But Shopify is narrowly the better option.

WordPress: If you've the time and expertise for getting under the bonnet of your website, then WordPress will let you code and customise with greater freedom than Wix. This isn't something that all busy small business owners will want to do, of course. But, for the sheer creative freedom of breaking away from templates and customising a unique site, WordPress is hard to beat.

GoDaddy: While we consider Wix to offer better features and templates, there's no arguing that you can get a site up and live in record time with GoDaddy. A simple, streamlined approach guides you from scratch with GoDaddy's website builder – arguably, it's more limited than the creative freedom you et with Wix, but a small business owner in a hurry may appreciate GoDaddy's no-nonsense approach and good value plans.

Read our in-depth Wix review for more information

2. Squarespace

Best for design flexibility & creative businesses

Squarespace
4.6
Ideal for professional, creative website building and businesses that appreciate the best help and support available on the web builder market.
  • Free trial 14-day
  • Price from £12 per month Use code "STARTUPS10" to receive a 10% discount on all Squarespace plans
  • Over 100 stunning prewritten templates
  • Best knowledge centre on the market
  • Use code "STARTUPS10" to receive a 10% discount on all Squarespace plans
Summary Squarespace scores extremely highly for creative professionals, and boasts impressive blogging tools. It features over 100 template designs which are fully adaptable to mobile devices, and visually, its websites are unmatched. Recently, vast improvements have been made in vital areas like UX, and the expanded feature list makes great value for money at £17 per month for businesses. However, these incredible designs and templates mean Squarespace's sitespeed can be affected and this is definitely an area that needs improvement. The customisation of the site's features and functions could also be further improved, particularly when compared to Wix.
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Pros
  • Over 100 flexible, design-focused templates
  • Affordable pricing
  • Email and social media support
  • Great knowledge centre, providing a range of text, image and video guidance
Cons
  • Less easy to use than other website builders
  • Only able to customise a slight portion of the site's features and functionalities
  • Site speed needs improvement, poor results due to heavy designs

Squarespace editor user interface. Image: Startups

Squarespace is a dream for creative types, especially if you love playing around with different styles. The templates are stunning and are a huge reason why Squarespace is our top choice for the best website builders for photographers. For anyone looking to show off the creative merits of their business – such as a design consultancy, photographer, artist or interior decorator – then we'd recommend Squarespace every time. 

You can trust in Saquarespace's templates to help you create an utterly professional-looking site, leaving customers in no doubt about your own canny eye for aesthetics.

But it's not all surface. As well as being the best for design flexibility, our researchers found that Squarespace offers excellent help and support – this is key for small business owners who are having to create a website for themselves for the first time.

Technology is constantly updating and small business owners have told us they can struggle to maintain a competitive site if they don't consistently update their website with the latest tools or features. Squarespace can help you thanks to its constant investment in new tools, including AI features that speed up copywriting elements of your website. It also lets you build the text of your homepage by feeding Squarespace's AI tools prompts, just like you would with ChatGPT.

Thankfully, with Squarespace you can easily make changes to your website using the platform's simple drag-and-drop editor. Its simplified back-end experience means you can reset style settings with the click of a button  without needing to create a new site. This amplified design flexibility gives it an edge over Wix, which gives you less room to play around with formatting and features after publishing your site.

As an example of how easy it can be to create a website with Squarespace, check out Squarespace's own video guide, below, on building an ecommerce site from scratch:

Athough can drag and drop items, you don't just drag them anywhere (like with Wix). It's more section-based, which takes a little longer to get to grips with. But, there's a helpful grid system that lets you understand the layout of your site and keeps things lined up professionally.

Squarespace pricing

Squarespace's pricing plans are fairly straightforward, and split between the main website builder tiers and the ecommerce plans:

  • Personal: £12 a month – not recommended for business sites
  • Business: £17 a month – includes ecommerce functionality with 3% transaction fees
  • Commerce Basic: £23 a month – ecommerce functionality with 0% transaction fees
  • Commerce Advanced: £35 a month – advanced functionality for online selling and shipping with 0% transaction fees

You can read our dedicated Squarespace pricing page for an in-depth look at the different plans.

Squarespace versus key competitors:

Wix: This is a tough one to call. We would say overall that Wix is the easier website builder to use, and it's the one we'd recommend top for small businesses. But, Squarespace has Wix licked when it comes to the attractiveness of its website templates. That's not to say Wix's templates are in any way basic or ugly – but Squarespace is head and shoulders above all competitors on the design front. We'd also say that Wix is the better choice for ecommerce, though you can certainly create a good online store with Squarespace, too. Read our Wix vs Squarespace for small businesses guide to learn more about how they each stack up.

Shopify: As we mentioned in our Wix summary, above, Shopify is as good as it gets when it comes to creating an online store. While a Squarespace online store will look the part thanks to those brilliant templates, Shopify makes things just that bit easier behind the scenes, thanks to its peerless sales functions and inventory management.

WordPress: We definitely prefer the templates Squarespace offers you to when building a site from scratch, to those you can use with WordPress. But, if you want to get stuck into the coding and truly let loose with the design and technical setup of the site, WordPress is the way to go. That's great news if you're a confident website designer, but if you'd rather focus on running your business, then we'd steer you towards the far easier-to-use Squarespace.

Read our in-depth Squarespace review for more information

3. GoDaddy

Best for ease of use and simplicity

GoDaddy
4.4
An easy-to-use website builder with good support for beginners
  • Free plan Yes
  • Price from £6.99
  • Great value for money
  • Excellent SEO support
  • Quick and easy to create a website
Summary GoDaddy is known for making it easy for small business owners with little or no website building experience to start growing their business online. Whereas most website builders focus on giving users absolute freedom to create whatever type of website they desire, GoDaddy gets that for a website to be successful online, it needs to be optimised to ensure you're driving as much business as possible. Prices range from £6.99-£12.99 per month for a website.
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Pros
  • Quick and efficient website building experience
  • SEO Wiz is excellent for SEO newbies, giving hints as to how to optimise content
  • Comes with a wealth of 'must have' features which will set anyone up for success initially
Cons
  • More restrictive block elements e.g you can't resize or move image blocks outside of certain parameters
  • Due to the AID function, no matter the industry or site, they can all look really similar and generic
  • Not the best live chat support if you encounter an issue

GoDaddy editor user interface. Image: GoDaddy

GoDaddy has grown in leaps and bounds since we last rated the best website builders for small businesses a couple of years ago. Back then it was our lowest-ranked website builder overall, including for several key metrics, such as help and support, value for money, and customer score.

It is now our third best overall, and our third best for design flexibility, value for money, help and support, and customer score, and our second best for ease of use! The latter means getting a site up and running with GoDaddy will be quick and easy for small business owners who are short on time — and tech or coding skills.

The web builder has seen a huge improvement in quality since our last round of research, and we'd now highly recommend GoDaddy for anyone who wants a thoroughly decent, affordable, and easy-to-use website builder that can get your site online remarkably quickly. However, if you'd like something that takes functionality and features to the next level and there's some room in your budget, we'd recommend Wix.

According to statistics, 55% of website traffic comes from mobile devices. We tested GoDaddy's ease of us on mobile and found it to be very mobile friendly, which is thanks to its mobile app that lets you edit while on the move. You can use its app to keep testing the website on real mobile devices – dramatically increasing the number of potential customers that will interact with your site.

Plus, you'll be able to manage your products, find a domain, and start a website from your phone. Users also gain access to GoDaddy Studio, a free content creation tool that can be used via the mobile app or on your desktop.

The app’s advanced image editor is designed to help small businesses create professional looking content quickly and effortlessly. This includes promotions, business announcements, logos, and ads across multiple platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and X (formerly Twitter). It's a great tool for businesses that are still getting off the ground, and since it's great value for money, it's a good option for businesses that are cash strapped.

GoDaddy pricing

Godaddy's plans differ in cost depending on whether you choose to pay yearly or monthly:

  • GoDaddy Basic plan costs £7.99 per month (annual rate is £4.99 per month).
  • GoDaddy Standard plan costs £11.99 per month (annual rate is £7.99 per month).
  • GoDaddy Premium plan costs £16.99 per month (annual rate is £11.99 per month).
  • GoDaddy Ecommerce plan costs £19.99 per month (annual rate is £13.99 per month).

For a deeper insight into the different GoDaddy pricing plans and what they offer, visit our GoDaddy pricing page.

GoDaddy versus key competitors

Wix: We'd highlight a richer feature set as one of the main reasons to choose Wix over GoDaddy. You've a better selection of design templates to choose between with Wix, and more creative control when it comes to customising them. But, there's a flip-side to that coin. If you don't want to get stuck in to the nitty gritty, and just want to get a good-looking, reliable website live, fast, then you really can't miss with GoDaddy. It helps time-poor small business owners to achieve everything they need with minimal friction.

WordPress: You could almost think of WordPress as the opposite of GoDaddy, in some regards. Where GoDaddy will help you launch a site without breaking a sweat, WordPress will encourage you to sweat the small stuff. Want to code and customise? WordPress is your friend. Want to get on with running a business, not working out how to create a website for it? GoDaddy has your back.

Squarespace: GoDaddy and Squarespace are quite closely similar, these days. For years, Squarespace would have been the far better choice because of its much slicker design templates – and that's still largely true. But GoDaddy's own templates are catching up fast. They're not quite as customisable, so those with a design-eye might prefer to stick to Squarespace. That said, GoDaddy is significantly cheaper, especially if you pay for an annual or multi-year plan.

Read our in-depth GoDaddy review for more information

4. Shopify

Best for dedicated sales features when selling online

Shopify
4
Shopify is the ideal platform for small retail businesses that want to build a website and start selling right away.
  • FREE TRIAL 3-day
  • PRICE FROM £5 per month
  • Best range of apps and extensions
  • Preempts and predicts what a merchant might need next in all aspects of creating a website
  • Easy drag-and-drop functionality allowing you to design your website with limited fuss
Summary Shopify is perfect for users looking for that all in one online store solution. Its ability to predict what a merchant will need next when creating a website is a brilliant feature, and its countless apps give you complete control over your business, enabling you to grow through diverse multi channel integration options and automated SMS and email marketing. It is definitely better suited to store owners with complex, larger inventories and because there are fewer built in features, using the platform can get expensive compared to other feature-filled competitors like Squarespace and Wix. As a web builder, it offers reliable website hosting, domain name registration, and stock photos. And to top it off, you'll get access to a 24/7 customer support team.
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Pros
  • Offers the highest number of sales features, averaging 61/65 across the 13 sales specific areas evaluated - perfect for businesses selling products and services
  • Shopify is an entirely customisable platform – should you require a bespoke feature it can assist, directly within the builder, on the template you choose, or through its app market
  • Access to over 8,000 apps - including integrations with CRM systems to improve customer journeys, as well as with order fulfilment and dropshipping plug ins to ensure sales go smoothly. This is unlike other providers like Jimdo and Weebly, which offer limited integrations
  • Have the option to hire a Shopify Expert that specialises in building websites, should you want to hire a developer to build an open source, entirely custom website.
Cons
  • Although it has brilliant sales features, Shopify imposes transaction fees if you don't use its own payment gateways - meaning it's not the best for value for money
  • Pick your template wisely, as you will need to reformat your entire site if you decide to switch themes once your website has gone live
  • Only scored 3.5 out of 5 for help and support. Has limited online resources to help its web builder customers compared to the likes of Squarespace and Wix.

shopify web builder

Shopify editor user interface. Image: Shopify

Shopify is our fourth highest scoring web builder for small businesses, achieving an overall rating of 4 out of 5. This is thanks to its incredible sales features, which enable you to build your website and get selling online in minutes.

It was, after all, originally created with one purpose: to help you build an online shop. If this is your goal, we strongly recommend this provider.

Its industry-leading range of sales features, includes abandoned cart recovery, unlimited products, and professional sales reports, all of which will help you streamline the sales process, increase conversions, and make selling to your customers as simple and easy as possible. You gain access to all of these on Shopify's cheapest plan. This is in contrast to builders like Squarespace and Jimdo, which offer little to no sales functionality on equivalent plans. This is why it scores a respectable 3.3 out of 5 in our website features category.

With Shopify, you have access to hundreds of store themes that are designed for businesses wanting to sell their products and services online. While other web builders, like Squarespace, certainly have beautifully crafted design templates, their themes aren't designed with as much of a focus on sales.

Another benefit to Shopify is that once your website is set up, you'll have access to more than 8,000 apps. These include integrations with CRM systems to help improve the customer post purchase experience to plug-ins with dropshipping platforms.

Despite its third-place ranking, Shopify does have its drawbacks. It only receives a value for money score of 3 out of 5, largely because its basic plan offers many of the same features as Wix's unlimited plan, but for a substantial amount more (£19 compared to £11). This is quite a large jump in price, particularly for a small business owner who wants to build a website while keeping costs low. Nevertheless, the good news is that Shopify does have a deal where you can may £1 for a 3 months deal.

Shopify's sales features are unrivalled. This is why it is ranked as our second best ecommerce platform for small businesses. For more information on its ecommerce offering, visit our dedicated Shopify review

Shopify pricing

Shopify isn't the most affordable web builder available for small businesses, which is why it scored 3 out of 5 in the value for money category. This is because other website builders still allow you to sell online for cheaper plans – the difference is that Shopify is oriented towards those who are seriously looking to scale their business and want to access more advanced ecommerce features.

  • Shopify Starter – starting from £5 per month, Shopify Starter is a great simple option for those that don't have the time to bother with coding or design.
  • Basic Shopify – from £19 per month (billed annually), this plan is great for small businesses with a low monthly sales volume. It includes basic reports, up to four reporting locations, and two staff accounts.
  • Shopify – from £49 per month (billed annually), the Shopify plan gives you more powerful reporting tools and the ability to create country-specific domains to optimise your international SEO. This is great for growing and international online businesses.
  • Advanced Shopify – from £259 per month (billed annually) you can get your hands on a custom report builder, lower credit card rates, and third-party calculated shipping rates. This powerful plan is best for large online stores with an international presence and a substantial customer base.

Head to our dedicated Shopify Pricing page to learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of each tier

Shopify: The Verdict

Because Shopify was originally built as an ecommerce platform, online store considerations have been factored into every feature, every theme, and every design tool.

This makes it unique from other website builders on our list. Platforms like GoDaddy and Squarespace were created as web builders, with ecommerce functions added afterward. This resulted in a rather clunky, awkward sales experience for your customer. Whereas with Shopify, the customer purchase experience is seamless.

But its customer score also needs to be mentioned, achieving an impressive 4.9 out of 5, only 0.1 points behind Wix, our top website builder.

One Shopify user summarises why the platform is regarded so highly:

5. Site123

Best for site speed and storage space

Site123
3.7
Generous in storage and speedy
  • Free trial Free plan with up to 250MB storage
  • Price from $12.80 per month
  • 10GB storage
  • Connect your domain
  • Free domain for 1 year
Summary Site123 scored a perfect 5 out of 5 in our research into website builder storage space, as you can access 30GB for just $12.80 per year on the professional plan. For the amount you're paying, you get a good return on your investment compared to others like Squarespace or Wix, which score just a 4 out of 5 and 3 out of 5 respectively. It also has Speedy-Gonzalez like speed when it comes to loading. It scores the highest performance score (92/100) in our speed research, with a speed index of just 1.1sec.
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Pros
  • Robust help and support features, with an 4.5 out of 5 score in this category
  • Good value for money
  • High site speed, with just a 1.1 second speed index time
Cons
  • Very few plans on offer so it's difficult to scale
  • Low design flexibility, scoring an unimpressive 1.9 out of 5 in this category
  • Low customer score of 2.6 out of 5

Site123 editor user interface. Image: Startups

Site123 is in our top five best website builders, scoring an overall 3.7 out of 5.

While it may not score a home run in most categories of our research, it stands out with a 4.4 out of 5 score for value for money. This is due to its generous offering of storage space and fast loading speed for its price point.

Its professional plan gives you access to 30GB for $12.80 (around £9.88) a year. In comparison, Wix's Light plan offers you only 2GB. Our site speed analysis shows that Site123 earns the highest score out of all the website builders we tested with a speed index time of 1.1 seconds and its response to user interaction is 1.3 seconds.

It also scored an impressive 4.5 out of 5 for help and support as it comes equipped with live chat, a knowledge centre, a community forum and onsite editor help.

However, when considering whether to go for Site123 you need to be aware that its website features menu is quite limited and it's handicapped by its poor design functionalities. Its range of templates is slimmer than other providers like Wix, which could make it harder to get a professional end product you're happy with. Overall, this makes it a difficult website builder to scale.

Site123 pricing

This one's easy to explain. Site123 offers a free tier, which isn't strictly ideal for creating a small business site anyway – this is one for bloggers, not entrepreneurs.

If you're ready to spend, the premium Site123 tier is £12.80 per month.

Site123 Verdict

If you're after a website builder that has high loading speeds and is generous with storage space, Site123 might be the solution for you. Do keep in mind that choosing Site123 comes with a risk as it has poor design functionalities and only one pricing plan. This might make it harder to scale and make your website look aesthetically pleasing.

If the poor design functionality is a deal breaker for you, we'd recommend looking at Squarespace, which takes home an impressive 4.7 out of 5 in this category in our research.

6. WordPress.com

Best value for SEO features

WordPress.com
3.6
The standout choice if you want access to endless apps or unmatched blogging tools.
  • Free plan? Yes
  • Price from £3 per month for WordPress Business (billed annually)
  • Huge app marketplace for integrations
  • Rare free plan
  • Steeper learning curve than most web builders
Summary WordPress is a powerful software that's less beginner-friendly than most website builder platforms. Favoured by blogging and journaling types, WordPress is a popular website builder option that comes with some quite sophisticated tools and integration capabilities, making your websites endlessly customisable. However, there is a competitive price tag of £20 per month attached. We recommend it for small businesses that need to host lots of content.
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Pros
  • Strong value for money (4.5 out of 5) as for £20 you get access to a respectable range of features
  • Strong average customer score, taking home a 4.2 out of 5
  • Can buy a domain directly within the builder
  • Can transfer over a pre-existing domain
Cons
  • Limited range of design functionalities, scoring a 2 out of 5 in our research
  • Not the easiest system to wrap your head around. It scores a 2.7 out of 5 for ease of use
  • Thin customer support features, missing out on email support and a community forum

WordPress.com editor template menu. Image: Startups

WordPress.com is an industry giant when it comes to blogging and SEO. According to our research, it also promises great value for your money as it scores an impressive 4.5 out of 5 (the highest score we gave away in this category).

The great part about WordPress.com is that it comes equipped with pretty much any SEO feature you might possibly want to get your hands on. You'll get SEO best practice prompts, keyword support, custom URLs, and more. These can help your website rank higher in the Search Engine Results Page and make it easier to reach new clients.

Another plus is WordPress.com's high average customer score of 4.2 out of 5. This hints that customers have been pretty happy with their website builder experience on this platform, ranking it highly in places like Capterra and G2.

However, if you're going for WordPress.com, you'll need to be aware that it scores pretty low in our design functionalities and website features categories. In the former, it has an unimpressive 2 out of 5 score as it has a thin offering of templates and theme designs. For website features, it only reaches a 2.6 out of 5 as it falters on its app market offering.

However, if you're going for WordPress.com you'll need to be aware that it scores a low 2 out of 5 in design functionalities because it has a thin offering of templates and theme designs. It also scores an unimpressive 2.6 out of 5 for website features categories as it falters on its app market offering. Wix is a superior provider in both of these categories, so if a stunning website design is what you're after, we'd recommend look at it as a viable WordPress.com alternative.

WordPress.com pricing

The WordPress plans have a straightforward pricing structure. We wouldn't recommend the Personal plan for business users. If you're a small business with a site that doesn't anticipate heavy traffic (think thousands of visitors per month) then the Premium plan may suit better than the Business plan:

  • WordPress.com Personal – £3 per month
  • WordPress Premium – £7 per month
  • WordPress Business – £20 per month

WordPress.com: The Verdict

If you're on the lookout for a powerful website builder that has a stellar offering of SEO features, WordPress.com could be the option for you. It comes equipped with virtually all the SEO features on offer in the market, so if your goal is to boost your organic reach through SEO, WordPress.com would be a logical choice.

However, keep in mind that WordPress.com doesn't necessarily have the best range of website features or design functionalities, so you might feel a bit restrained when trying to scale your site.

7. Hostinger

Best cheap website builder

Hostinger Website Builder
3.8
Great first term discounts make this a very affordable website builder.
  • Free plan No
  • Renewal price from £1.49
  • Affordable first term deals
  • Easy to use for beginners
  • Free domain
Summary Hostinger is a simplistic and low cost website builder with decent first term discounts. However, it's features are not as sophisticated as rival website builders and it doesn't offer much in the way of design flexibility. If you sign for any subscription between 12 and 48 months in length and use our code "STARTUPS" you can get up to 81% off, which includes a free domain, and a free 3 months!
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Pros
  • Low prices
  • Three months free when you sign up
  • Strong additional functionalities like AI writer, heatmaps and logo maker
Cons
  • Limited features compared to other web builders
  • Lacks creative flexibility, making it hard to build a truly unique website
  • No app market

Hostinger editor user interface. Image: Startups

Hostinger is still a relative newcomer to the website builder market. However, that doesn't mean it should be disregarded.

The platform's biggest pull factor is undoubtedly its low-cost pricing plans – a great option for startups looking for minimal overheads.

Hostinger also offers users a substantial list of advanced functions, which means it can play the role of multiple people in your organisation. Users can build a logo in Hostinger, there's an AI writer tool that can create content for your site in an instant.

There are drawbacks to the low cost. You won't be able to implement a members' area on your website, so it's not great for large businesses that want to build a community of customers. Similarly, the blogging tools leave much to be desired with no ability for users to add comments. It also is not the best for scaling with only one plan on offer. Additionally, from our first hand testing we found that the section and grid layout of Hostinger's editor limits your overall creative control.

In a nutshell  Hostinger makes it cheap and easy to get a business website up and running with minimal fuss, though that does come at the expense of in-depth features and unique designs.

To see how Hostinger stacks up against our top rated website builder, take a look at our Hostinger vs Wix comparison page. Or, to see how Hostinger compares to the granddaddy of all website builders, take a look at our Hostinger vs WordPress.com head-to-head comparison.

Hostinger: The Verdict

If you want to get your website up and running with minimal fuss (and with plenty of support should you need it), Hostinger is the website builder for you. Instead of offering you a bewildering array of templates, Hostinger just chooses one of its simple but effective website designs for you based on your answers to a few questions.

However, this simplicity does come at the expense of in-depth features and design flexibility – businesses after a more complex website may want to look elsewhere.

How does a website builder work?

There are two types of website builder: offline and online. Online is the most popular, and it can be opened on your computer as easily as starting a new search tab. On the other hand, offline website builders are for apps you can download meaning you don't have to be ‘online' to be able to edit your website. We recommend the online version simply because it requires no coding, is more user friendly, and doesn't take up space in your software from having to download an app. Keep in mind all of the website builders on this list are online.

Website builders typically use a simple drag-and-drop interface so that every aspect of the website is flexible and adaptable. It then converts every change you make on the front end (the part that users will see) into code for the backend (the part that controls a site's structure, data, logic).

To make things even simpler, online website builders offer templates or themes based on the type of website you are trying to create.

For example, if you are a dentistry firm, Squarespace (our number one platform for templates) will give you a suitable, clean-looking theme to edit from saving you time and therefore money.

What types of businesses are website builders suitable for?

Website builders offer users a DIY platform, helping them avoid the need to hire a third-party web designer. This means they tend to be favoured by small or microbusinesses that just need a simple virtual shopfront to start selling or advertising from.

Another appeal for this group is that you can get set it up quickly. Wix is an example of a website builder that is very easy to use and is great for those wanting to launch a side hustle or don't have a lot of free time.

Ecommerce website builders are a specific subgenre of website builder. These tools allow you to set up an online store and control things like product inventory, sales, and promotions from one space. This makes them a popular choice among online retailers or dropshipping companies.

How do I choose the best website builder for my business?

Our first tip would be to use our website builder comparison page, so you can compare the builders side by side, and click through to their sites to find out more.

Alternatively, here are a few key notes to consider:

1) Price vs. Value

Price is the most important factor for many businesses. However, rather than cutting costs, what you really need to find is a provider that will offer you the most value.

There’s no point downloading a free builder that’s keeping you from impressing your customers or achieving sales targets. Instead, ponder which added features could make a real difference to your business.

2) Time

Thankfully, website builder templates allow businesses to create beautiful websites in a matter of hours, but look into each one to find one that suits your business and which one is the easiest to use.

3) Goals

Pinpoint what you want your website to do both now and in the future to help you find the web builder that's the right fit for you. Will your customers be looking for an online store? Will you need 24/7 support? Will the site be able to grow and be customised over time? These are just a few questions to ask yourself before choosing a website builder for your small business.

How we test website builders for small businesses

We tested 10 website builders to evaluate them in terms of functionality, usability, accuracy, and aesthetics so we can make the most useful recommendations to small UK-based businesses.

Our rigorous testing process means these products have been scored and rated in six main categories of investigation and 33 subcategories – in fact, we covered 251 areas of investigation in total. We then gave each category score a ‘relevance weighting' to ensure the product's final score perfectly reflects the needs of our Startups.co.uk readers.

Our main testing categories for website builders are:

Website Features: the capabilities and functionalities offered by a website builder, e.g. blog functionality, SEO capability, and marketing capacity.

Design: the aesthetic appeal and visual layout of a website created using a website builder. It encompasses aspects such as page templates and customisable themes.

Customer Score: external customer opinion; the feedback and ratings given by customers who have used a particular website builder – the market position and reputation a website builder holds.

Ease of Use: how user-friendly and intuitive a website builder is for people with varying levels of technical expertise.

Value for Money: the balance between the cost of a website builder and the benefits it provides. It considers factors such as pricing plans, subscription models, and available features.

Help and Support: the assistance and resources available to users when they encounter issues or need guidance while using a website builder.

The Startups product testing process

The Startups product testing process diagram

Our verdict: the best web builder

Although all of the website builders that feature on our list have their strengths and weaknesses, it’s Wix that comes out strongest with a stellar overall score of 4.8 out of 5. As a great all-rounder, it offers users a feature-rich, beautiful website builder at a great price.

If you’re looking to build an artsy website, Squarespace certainly has the feature package for creative freedom and it has the best looking templates in the business. Interestingly, it also scored an overall 4.8 out of 5 owing to its exceptional help and support offering and design functionalities scoring higher than Wix in both categories. However, it does fall slightly behind Wix for customer score, value for money, website features and ease of use.

Shopify is easily the best platform for businesses that focus primarily on making sales. Even its basic website builder plan comes with some impressive selling features that you won't get on other platforms. This is apparent when you compare Shopify with providers like Squarespace, which offers zero ecommerce functionality on its first few plans.

GoDaddy is a cheap website builder with fuss-free building. If you don’t already have a domain and you’re looking to set one up, GoDaddy offers cheaper paid plans than other providers on the market, like Weebly.

Lastly, Hostinger is quite a simplistic website builder that may not have as many features as the other top providers, but it does have its benefits. Hostinger is pretty easy to use and has a great freemium plan.

Whichever you choose, make sure it fits the needs of your business. Many website builders offer free plans and free trials, so it's easy to try out a few and find one that works.

The good news is, you could have a site created and live today using any of the web builders in this article. Just click on one of the linked web builder names in this article to start a free trial or plan.

Website Builders for Small Business FAQs
  • What is the cheapest website builder?
    The cheapest website builder is Hostinger, with plans going for as cheap as £2.59.
  • Can I build a free website?
    Absolutely. There are free website builders, such as Wix, that you can use to design an online face for your business free of charge. However, there are drawbacks to any free software. This means it's may not the best choice if you want to grow into a successful small business. Wix's free plan mandates having a Wix-branded domain, for example yourbusinessname.wix.com.
  • Is Wix reliable?
    Wix services are hosted on AWS and Google Cloud Platform cloud-based data centres, which provide a robust security for websites hosted on the platform. They also have industry standard security certifications like ISO 27001. In other words, your website is in safe hands.
  • Which website builder has the best templates?
    Squarespace has the best templates, hands down. This style-conscious web builder offers a great variety of fully-optimised templates that are beautifully designed and will suit a variety of businesses.
  • Is it better to build your own website or use a website builder?
    Building your own website is a tricky process that requires software development experience. Unless you're really confident with coding, we'd recommend that you use a website builder.

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Written by:
Ross has been writing for Startups since 2021, specialising in telephone systems, digital marketing, payroll, and sustainable business. He also runs the successful entrepreneur section of the website. Having graduated with a Masters in Journalism, Ross went on to write for Condé Nast Traveller and the NME, before moving in to the world of business journalism. Ross has been involved in startups from a young age, and has a keen eye for exciting, innovative new businesses. Follow him on his Twitter - @startupsross for helpful business tips.
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