We rate and review each of them based on the needs of Small Business Marketers; cost, ease-of-use, and overall functionality
We all know how critical it is for businesses to have an online presence, especially small businesses. Websites are a great (and necessary) marketing medium for B2B and B2C businesses. Check out the graph on the right to see just how effective they can be at engaging existing customers and attracting new ones.
Small Business Marketing Websites build brand recognition, rapport, and online communities through engagement yet you cannot achieve these with an old-school, basic static website. Small business marketers need the ability to add and edit their website content dynamically. They need tools like forms to gather conversion data and social media/commenting plugins to allow visitors to engage and share content with their networks.
Any business website should have clear goals around visitors, leads, and customers. Using these tools along with a web marketing automation tool like BoostSuite will allow you to achieve these goals without having to do any of the research or heavy-lifting.
If you are a small business marketer looking to create your first website, or you’re looking to break free from a domineering or absentee web developer/agency, you’re in luck.
We’ve compiled a list of the top 5 tools for building a small business website. These tools allow you to easily publish content and build a marketing website that provides your small business with long-term value.
iPage is dedicated towards giving their customers the best experience possible, addressing common website building “pain points”and adding new functionality often. They build and select tools that give customers incredible flexibility and are robust enough for experts, while intuitive enough for beginners. Plus, they offer a choice of site builders, shopping carts, blogging tools, photo galleries and more.
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They have a simple drag and drop editor and a large template library to choose from. They host your website for you. They also have email and domain name services, both attractive options for startups and small businesses. Customer services comes included as well. It costs only $1.99/month for the first 3 months, and then they offer 12, 24, and 36 month terms that range from $6.99 to $8.99/month depending on how long you lock it in.
Overall score: 3.0/5
The Web.com SiteBuilder package includes their easy-to-use website building tool with over 9,500 starter templates you can use to customize your design. You also get starter content that you can tailor for your products or services, features that keep you connected with your customers and prospects, and a stock image library so you can make your site attractive and relevant to your customers.
Web.com also has domain name services, email, and support, but they do not place as much emphasis on user-generated forums. This means that finding answers online can be a little tricky. They give you the option of building your website for you, but this option costs nearly $100/month. They are very vague about their DIY option pricing and appear to be focusing on users who do not want that option.
Check out the video on this page with real small business marketers talking about their Web.com accounts.
Overall Score: 3.0/5
Weebly’s drag & drop website builder makes it dead simple to create a powerful, professional website without any technical skills required. Over 6 million people and small businesses have joined Weebly to build their online presence.
Content elements (like text, photos, maps, and videos) are added to your website by simply dragging & dropping them into place. Text is edited just like in a word processor. Building your website is done in real time, right from within your web browser. There’s absolutely nothing to install and no upgrades to worry about.
Weebly offers hosting, customer support, and domain name management. No email, but there are plenty of other great providers out there like Google Apps Mail and RackSpace. It starts free and you can upgrade to their Pro account ($2.99/month if you lock in 2 years) which provides you with some additional features like password protected pages, an audio/video player, and premium support.
Overall Score: 4.0/5
Whether you need simple pages, sophisticated galleries, a professional blog, or want to sell online, it all comes standard with a Squarespace website. They focus on beautiful websites, starting you out with aesthetically pleasing designs right out of the box — each handcrafted by their award-winning design team to make your content stand out.
Their LayoutEngine technology gives you the freedom to create visually rich pages with any configuration of text, images, products, and content blocks. Simply drag and drop your content exactly where you want and they’ll automatically align them in a perfect grid. Here’s what their editor looks and feels like:
Another plus is that each Squarespace design includes a unique mobile site, so anyone can see the beauty of your work anytime, anyplace, on any device. They have great customer support, offer cloud hosting, and custom domain name services. SquareSpace’s Standard package starts at $8/month (billed annually vs. $10/month, month-to-month), but that only gets you up to 20 pages. Their Unlimited package gives you as many pages as you want (a must for long-term website marketing success) and starts at $16/month billed annually, or $20/month, month-to-month.
Overall Score: 4.0/5
WordPress is web software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog. They like to say that WordPress is both free (price) and priceless (quality) at the same time. The core software open source, meaning it is built by hundreds of community volunteers, and when you’re ready for more there are thousands of plugins and themes available to transform your site into almost anything you can imagine. Over 60 million people have chosen WordPress to power the place on the web they call “home”. You can use services like Template Monster and Elegant Themes to find the template that best suits your business.
You have to find your own host for your WordPress website but that is fairly simple to do. Check out this list of WordPress hosting providers. WordPress does not have a “support team”, but I wouldn’t call that a drawback as they have a vast knowledge base and user forum with tons of useful information. Usually a simple Google search regarding your problem or need yields tons of relevant details. All free of charge.
Here’s video 1 of a 7-part series from Bluhost that shows you the exact steps you need to take to create a WordPress site:
When it comes to price, flexibility, and functionality, I believe that WordPress.org is the best option out there for small business marketers looking to create a new website.
Overall Score: 4.5/5
I hope that you’ve found this article useful in your search for your next small business website builder. There is a tool out there that is right for every small business, it simply depends on what your needs and budget are. The 5 aforementioned tools provide small businesses with everything they need to create and manage a high-quality website at a reasonable price point.