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How to Choose the Best Website Builder for Your Business

Whether you run your own business, are a self-employed tradesperson or simply want to publish your own blog, you will need to build your own website to promote your business. With so many people relying on the internet these days to find a business or service you could find you’re missing out on opportunities if you don’t have a presence on the web.

The good news is that if you want your own website you don’t need to be a professional web designer yourself nor do you need to pay a large amount of money to hire one. There is a proliferation of online website builders offering a range of easy-to-use tools and features for a small monthly charge or even for free.

What is a website builder?
A website builder is an online software package which includes tools to help you create and build your own website. There will be a variety of templates for you to choose from to which you can add photos, slide shows, plug-ins, editorial content and, in some cases, an online shop. In most cases the tools are easy to use and it’s possible to set up your own website with a minimum of technical knowhow.

The website builder will come with a hosted domain and sometimes with an associated email account. There will usually be plenty of customer support available to help you with any problems you may encounter whilst building or running your website.

How much does it cost?
The cost can vary depending on what you want out of the website builder. Many website builder packages such as Weebly and Wix have a free version whilst others offer a free trial or have a small monthly charge for the most basic version. In most cases if you want a personalised web domain not including the host’s name or access to some of the more advanced tools you can upgrade to a package where you pay a monthly fee. The monthly fee is usually still relatively small, often less than £10.

Which are the best website builders?
Choosing the best website builder for you depends on what you want to get out of it. Some free website builders are ideal for bloggers or self-employed people wanting to promote their services. Some website builder packages have more templates than others, some have more traditional templates whilst others are more stylish. Some packages use a simple drag and drop system to build the website whilst others are slightly more complicated. Not all website builder packages include an online shop amongst their tools. You will need to do some research and read some reviews before deciding which website builder to go for. Most of the paid for website builders offer a 30-day money-back guarantee if you find the package isn’t suitable for your needs.

Which website builders are the most popular?
Wordpress, a website builder favoured by bloggers and used by many small businesses, powers almost 75 million websites around the world, almost half of which use the free version.You will get a good subdomain with your free package such as (yoursite.wordpress.com). The main bad thing about Wordpress is that it will place ads in your site by its own intiative.

Not far behind is Wix with 69 million websites. Very good site builder but the free stuff is quite limited.

Weebly is another big player with around 30 million websites. Flexible and easy to use, Weebly is getting more and more supporters all over the world. Your subdomain is solid and secure - (yoursite.weebly.com). Ecommerce is included in the free plan so definitely a good deal to have.

What to look for in a website builder
Easy to use: Unless you’ve had some experience of website design or you’re technically-minded, you will want a website builder which is user friendly and easy to get to grips with. The best packages to choose if ease of use is your priority are Wix, Weebly or GoDaddy.

Templates: The template you choose sets the whole tone of your website. In an ideal world you will have plenty of templates to choose from. Some website builder packages have templates with a more stylish, contemporary feel. Wix is the market leader with more than 900 templates to choose from. SquareSpace has fewer templates but they are all modern, stylish and elegant if that’s the image you want to portray for your business. SquareSpace templates will optimise automatically for mobiles and tablets whereas most other website builders will require you to do that yourself.

Domain name: Most website builders will give you a domain name for free. However, if the website builder is a free version, the likelihood is that the domain name offered will include its name as well as your business name eg blahblah.wix.com instead of blahblah.com. There is usually an option to upgrade to a paid package to secure a custom domain name without the host’s name included. Most paid packages will include a custom domain name.

Customer support: Building and maintaining a website isn’t always trouble-free and there may be times when you need some help. Having technical support and advice at the end of a phone or email is invaluable so it’s worth checking out what’s on offer. SquareSpace offers email support 24/7 and live chat, for example, whilst Weebly and GoDaddy offer support via email, phone and live chat.

Online shop: If you want to sell products via your website you will need to use a website builder which includes a tool for an online shop or has the facility to bolt-on an ecommerce app. Website builders such as Moonfruit include an online shop widget whilst Wix has a large App Market which allows you to buy ecommerce tools such as Shopify. Weebly has tools for ecommerce fully integrated into its website builder package.

Search engine optimisation: If your website is promoting your business you will want it to appear as high as possible in searches on Google and other search engines. Most website builders will allow you to optimise the primary SEO functions such as overall website and individual page titles and descriptions. SquareSpace offers a little more help with SEO by enabling you to customise your webpage address or URL. It will also create a sitemap which you can submit to Google.

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