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

Startups.co.uk is reader supported – we may earn a commission from our recommendations, at no extra cost to you and without impacting our editorial impartiality.

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.

7 Best Website Builders for 2024

  1. Wix – Best all-round website builder for small businesses
  2. Squarespace – Best for design flexibility
  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

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.

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.

Read on for our take on the best website builders to choose for creating your own business site.

Website Builder comparison table

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Best all-round website builder for small businesses


Best for dedicated sales features when selling online


Design flexibility & businesses looking to scale


Ease of use and simplicity


Help and support


Blogging tools


Cheap builder

Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing
Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing
Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing
Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing
Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing
Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing
Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing

£5-£259 per month, billed annually

£1 for first month


£12-£35 per month, billed annually

Use code “SU10” to receive a 10% discount on all Squarespace plans


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


$0 – 12.80 per month (about £10.22)


£3-£20 per month, billed annually


£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
Try Wix Try Shopify Try Squarespace Try GoDaddy Get Site123 Get Wordpress Get Hostinger

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 “TAKE10” 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

Number one website builder for price, features, and usability.
  • Free trial 14-day
  • Price from £9 per month
  • Flexible pricing plans
  • Good balance of 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 £25 per month.
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  • 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
  • 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 – £9 per month
  • Wix Core plan  – £16 per month
  • Wix Business plan – £25 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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Free plan




Business Elite





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

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 "SU10" to receive a 10% discount on all Squarespace plans
  • Over 100 stunning ready to use templates
  • Best knowledge centre on the market
  • Use code "SU10" 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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  • 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
  • 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

What’s it like building a website with Squarespace?

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

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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  • 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
  • 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

What’s it like building a website with GoDaddy?

In a couple of words – quick and easy. GoDaddy is one of the simplest ways you can create a website, with a user-friendly focus that means you can genuinely – without exaggeration – have a basic business site ready to go in under an hour. In fact, with GoDaddy’s templates and simple setup process, you can be looking at the skeleton outline of your dream website in mere minutes.

Getting a site up and running with GoDaddy will be quick and easy for small business owners who are short on time. If you’ve no tech or coding skills, don’t fear – GoDaddy keeps these complexities far away (unless you really need to get access to the code, which is still possible).

With extremely reasonable prices (see below), we’d highly recommend GoDaddy to anyone who wants a thoroughly decent, affordable, and easy-to-use website builder that can get your site online remarkably quickly.

That said, we’d argue that GoDaddy keeps things almost too streamlined. If you’re looking to start with a template, then customise the website exactly to your liking, then you’re better off using Wix or Squarespace. Either of these platforms will put more power in your hands for getting he precise details of your site exactly as you’d like things. GoDaddy feels keener on keeping you “to template”, which may suit novice users perfectly well.

We tested GoDaddy’s ease of us on mobile and found it to be very straightforward, 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 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 for ecommerce sites
  • 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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  • 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.
  • 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
  • Has limited help and support resources to offer customers compared to the likes of Squarespace and Wix.

shopify web builder

Shopify editor user interface. Image: Shopify

What’s it like building a website with Shopify?

Shopify is one of the best choices you can make for building an online store, thanks to its incredible sales features, which enable you to build your website and get selling online in minutes.

Its industry-leading range of sales features includes abandoned cart recovery, unlimited products, and professional sales reports. All of these 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 even 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.

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.

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, but you do get plenty of bang for your buck. Other website builders will 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. However, this tier is really aimed at those looking to sell via their social feeds, rather than by creating an online store. For that task, you’ll need one of the higher-paid plans, below.
  • 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 versus key competitors

Wix: Shopify and Wix are our two top platforms for building an online store. We’d highly recommend either if you’re looking to sell online, but, depending on the scale and needs of your business, one may suit you better than the other. If you’re building a small or boutique store, then Wix may prove preferable – it has a larger selection of templates, which you can easily customise, and its less complex sales tools may better suit a smaller-scale business. If you’re looking to scale fast, then Shopify wins out based on sheer depth of sales features. It offers everything you’d need for selling products online, analysing your customer buying habits, managing your store inventory, and tying everything in with customer database and contact management. You can do all the above on Wix, too, through various apps and plug-ins, but Shopify offers a holistic ecommerce platform that’s hard to beat.

WordPress: You can build a fully featured online store using WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin, which is freely available to WordPress users. But, there is lot of coding to get your head around to do this all justice. While WordPress has templates to support you, they tend to require more expertise to customise. Shopify’s templates are far more approachable for users who don’t know how to code, or for business owners that don’t have masses of time to put aside into creating an online store. Your ecommerce site will look brilliant on Shopify; it can also look first-class if built on WordPress, but you’ll have to put in a lot more work to get it looking that way.

Squarespace: We wouldn’t call out Squarespace as being the best ecommerce platform all round, and it certainly doesn’t have the depth of features that make Shopify such a powerhouse for selling online. But, its secret weapon is the range of stunning templates that Squarespace offers. If you’re creating a store to sell clothing, art, accessories or anything where visuals will make the most important impact with your customers, then you’ll be able to wow them from the word go with Squarespace.

5. Site123

Best for site speed and storage space

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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  • Robust help and support features
  • Good value for money
  • High site speed, with just a 1.1 second speed index time
  • Very few plans on offer so it's difficult to scale
  • Low design flexibility and fewer templates than Wix or Squarespace
  • Low customer score with less likelihood to recommend

Site123 editor user interface. Image: Startups

What’s it like building a website with Site123?

There’s quite a bit to like about Site123. It’s a low cost, relatively simple website builder that can help get your website up and running with ease. But, we’d argue it’s off the pace set by Wix or Squarespace.

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.

For its one and only price point, $12.80 per month, you get plenty of storage space for your site’s assets such as images and media. Its professional plan gives you access to 30GB for $12.80 (around £9.88) a month. 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.

If you get stuck, then Site123’s help and support is strong. It offers live chat, a knowledge base, a community forum and onsite editor help.

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 versus key competitors

Wix: Wix may not offer as much storage space as Site123, unless you push up the Wix pricing plans, but the depth of features you get from Wix is far superior. As well as many more templates (Wix has over 800) to choose from when building your site, Wix has a richer app store for adding integrations, and a much slicker editor tool for customising your site.

Squarespace: Site123’s designs are rather show up by Squarespace. The quality of the website templates you get from Squarespace leave Site123’s in the dust. If you want to impress your customers from the moment they land on your website, then Squarespace really is the best option.

Shopify: If you’re building an online store, Site123 isn’t a strong option. We’d steer you towards Shopify for its depth of sales features and its excellent ecommerce site templates. Shopify can be a little intimidating for first-timers, so, if you’re building a smaller, boutique store, then the ecommerce plans from Wix or Squarespace may be perfect for you.

6. WordPress.com

Best value for SEO features

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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  • Strong value for money, especially on the £20 plan that gives you access to a respectable range of features
  • You can buy a domain directly within the builder
  • Endlessly customisable and offers access to the code to make your site your own
  • Potentially intimidating for users who aren't familiar with creating websites
  • Not the easiest system to wrap your head around, compared to Wix or Squarespace
  • Thin customer support features, missing out on email support and a community forum

WordPress.com editor template menu. Image: Startups

What’s it like building a website with WordPress?

Let’s be super clear – a huge amount of the internet is built on WordPress, and for very good reason. It’s an incredibly powerful and nearly endlessly customisable way of making a website.

Which might be a bit of a problem for time-poor small business owners. The thing about WordPress is, it invites a level of tinkering and customisation that may simply go beyond the time and resources available to a small business owner, if they’re not already familiar with using the platform. Those in the know won’t break a sweat – which is why WordPress web developers are typically always in demand for their coding skills.

If you want to create a website from scratch, then WordPress has plenty of templates to get you started. But, the process of using these templates is night and day compared to the effortless ease of the template site builders offered by Wix or Squarespace. For example, with Wix’s ADI, you literally only need to answer a few questions about the type of site you’re trying to build, and the style of design you prefer, and in minutes you’ll find yourself looking at a website that’s been laid out for you. It’s a similar story with Squarespace.

As WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) rather than a website builder, this process is rather different. Even using the templates, you’ll find yourself investing days and indeed weeks getting things set up on WordPress. For a detail-oriented site developer who is familiar with the WordPress back-end, this will all feel appropriate and time well spent. For a busy business owner, it could feel disheartening.

Of course, there’s plenty to like with WordPress once you’ve learned the ropes with it. The sheer customisability is beyond compare, and there are plenty of powerful features under the hood, plus a healthy app market for further integrations. WordPress.com is an industry giant when it comes to blogging and SEO. 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.

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
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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  • Low prices
  • Three months free when you sign up
  • Strong additional functionalities like AI writer, heatmaps and logo maker
  • 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 to choose a website builder

Every website builder seems to make the same boasts – ‘stunning templates,’ ‘happy customers,’ and ‘get online with ease’ among them. And it’s true, a lot of website builders will help you do much the same thing – create a website for your business or personal brand.

But, there are some key differences in how they go about this, and some brands have better strengths than others. Below, we will talk you through some of the main considerations when making a site with a website builder.

What type of site are you making?

This is particularly key to your choice of website builder. Do you just need a simple landing page or two to explain your business and how to get in touch? Or, are you creating an online store with thousands of products listed to sell? As well as affecting which site builder you should choose, these kinds of questions have quite an impact on how much money you should spend to make your site (see section below).

Here are a few pointers from our own research and time spent testing the best website builders on the market:

  • If you’re creating an online store: then your best options are Wix (for smaller, boutique stores), Shopify (for larger stores that handle higher volumes of transactions) and Squarespace (for design-focused stores selling clothers, art and accessories). Any of these platforms will give you everything you need to process online payments, manage your store inventory, and create a genuinely impressive shop-front to wow your customers. You’ll need to pay more for an ecommerce store, with prices typically starting from £20 per month. You’ll also need to factor in transaction fees on your sales.
  • If you’re creating a simple business information site: then you can’t go wrong with Wix, GoDaddy or Squarespace. Both of these brands offer fantastic templates for creating a landing page or two that let you describe your business – whether it’s a construction firm, consultancy or restaurant. You can then easily customise your site with your own words, imagery and logos. You can create a site like this in under a day, and the costs tend to be lower, typically in the £10-£15 per month range.
  • If you’re creating a portfolio site: to show off your designs, photos or inspiring examples of your past work, we’d highly recommend Squarespace. Its beautiful templates can give you a professional-looking site with spot-on visuals that are bound to impress.

How much time do you have to spend on creating a site?

As a time-strapped business owner, if you’re creating a website for yourself, then you’re not going to want to spend endless weeks and months getting it ready. This is why website builders are the perfect support.

If you’re keen to get a site live, and fast, then you can use the AI-assisted website building processes from the likes of Wix, Squarespace and GoDaddy. These will typically ask you a few questions about the type of site you’re looking to build, and ask you to feed back on styles of design you do or don’t like. You’ll then be offered a selection of templates to choose from, and you can be looking at a skeleton version of your site in a matter of minutes.

You can then customise this skeleton layout with your own imagery (replacing the placeholder images) and text. If you don’t already have a business logo, some of the website builders can even help you create one, for an added cost. Of course, this customisation step can be as quick or as thorough as you’d like it to be. You can chip away at it slowly before feeling ready to publish, or throw everything together as fast as possible and still produce a professional-looking site within a day or two.

If, however, you want to really get under the hood of your site, then you may want to take longer with the customisation and with adding integrations and deeper features. Building an online store tends to take longer, because of the process of importing (or creating) a product inventory and setting up the sales process and ways to take payments. You’ll find a website builder will support you throughout, with clear tutorials and teady-made templates for integrations, but it’s definitely more than a day’s work to create an online store. Think weeks, rather than months, though!

Code versus no code

If you want to get under the hood of your site and delve into the coding and customisation, then you’ll find most website builders make this possible. However, if this is your level of expertise, it may be better to choose WordPress over typical website builders such as Wix or Squarespace. Thanks to its endless ability to let you customise, WordPress is the more powerful tool for advanced users to rely on.

But, anyone who lacks this level of expertise would do better to avoid WordPress and trust a website builder. A tool such as GoDaddy can have your site up and running for you without ever requiring you to go near the code. Wix can also shield you from the complexities of coding, but keep the option there for you if you ever decide you need it.

The great thing about website builders is that they democratise access to building sites – you don’t have to be experienced or technical to create something that genuinely looks impressive.

How much do you want to spend?

Of course, the answer to this is usually “as little as you can get away with” – business overheads are dreadful enough as they are.

You don’t need to spend a fortune to create an impressive website using any of the tools we’ve included on this page. As a general rule of thumb, expect to spend in the region of the following:

  • For a basic business or restaurant site: from £7 – £15 per month (paid annually)
  • For a small online store: around £20 per month is typical
  • For a larger ecommerce store: costs can rise to over £200 per month for larger online stores processing a lot of transactions

There are some additional costs to consider, too

  • Purchasing a domain with your business name in the URL (from around £10 per year, but this can rise considerably for in-demand domains)
  • Getting a business email address: this will typically cost around £5 per address, per month
  • Hosting your website: some website builders will include this for free; otherwise, it can cost over £50 per year for a small site without a huge volume of trfafic

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 easier, 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 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 and next steps

Although all of the website builders that feature on our list have their strengths and weaknesses, it’s Wix that comes out strongest as the best overall choice for building a small business website.

Squarespace runs Wix close, and arguably betters it when it comes to the attractiveness of its templates – making it a great choice for creative businesses. And, if you’re looking to create an online store, then Shopify offers an exceptional depth of sales features that can set you up for huge growth.

Whichever website builder you choose, make sure it fits the needs of your business and your ambitions to scale in future. Many website builders offer free plans and free trials, so it’s easy to try out a few and find one that works for you. With AI-powered website builders letting you see what your site could look like in just a few minutes, there’s never been a better time to dive in and see what you can create.

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.
  • 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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