Nowadays, even the smallest business needs a website to compete. Luckily, it’s not nearly as difficult as it used to be, thanks to the number of website builders out there. 

Website builders, also called CMS software solutions, sell themselves as being cheap, easy to use, and beginner-friendly. But with so many out there, how can you determine which is the best one for your business?

This guide will help you narrow down the options. We’ll list some key features to look out for, the most popular website builders on the market, and the pros and cons of each system. 

Key Features to Look For

User friendly

The whole point of CMS software is that it makes website design t easy, so most of them aim to offer an intuitive and straightforward service. 

Variety of design templates

CMS platforms offer you a range of pre-made design templates to help you build your website. Some have more options than others, allowing you to create a unique looking site.

Plugins and extensions

A good CMS platform will allow you to add more software solutions and extensions to your website.

Some will give you access to a library of plugins to use, where others will require you to find your own. 

E-commerce capabilities

If you want your website to sell products or services, you’ll need to find a CMS platform that lets you add a payment gateway. 

Some platforms will offer this service for free, some will charge you transaction fees, and others will only let you sell things when you pay for a more expensive subscription package. 

Customer support

Building a website is quite confusing for beginners. There are a lot of features to get used to, so the learning curve is steep.

For that reason, a good CMS platform will offer user support that can answer questions, explain features, or give general advice on using the service. 

Price

There are CMS solutions available at different price points, and it all depends on what you’re looking for. Most of them offer free services and charge more for extra features. We’ll go into more detail about prices in the next section. 

Some popular website builders – Pros and Cons

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular website builders for beginners.

WordPress.com

WordPress is the most popular and well-known CMS platform. 

The pros of WordPress.com:

  • It’s easy to use. 
  • It’s quick to set up. 
  • The domain is free – you only pay for a subscription. 
  • Easy maintenance – they’ll take care of updates. 
  • Access to over 50,000 extensions and plugins.

The cons of WordPress.com:

  • The free subscription is not suitable for small businesses. Most features you’ll need are only unlocked with the Business or E-Commerce subscription. 
  • Site identity – because WordPress hosts your site, you won’t have a unique domain name. It will always have “wordpress” in the URL. 
  • Interruptions – your site could be slow, or go down completely, when WordPress decides to install updates. 

How much does it cost?

There’s a free option with limited features, and all the subscriptions will let you build a functional website. But the Business and E-commerce packages are the most suitable for selling online. 

  • Personal subscription: £3 / month
  • Premium subscription: £7 / month
  • Business subscription: £20 / month
  • E-commerce subscription: £36 / month

WordPress.org

This confuses a lot of people, but wordpress.org is different from wordpress.com. 

It still gives you access to the same plugins and extensions – the main difference is that wordpress.org is self-hosted and free. 

The pros of WordPress.org:

  • Complete control over customisation.
  • Free subscription 
  • Access to over 50,000 extensions and plugins.
  • Don’t share ad revenue. 
  • Unique domain name. 

The cons or WordPress.org:

  • Not great for beginners.
  • Longer set-up time. 
  • Limited customer support.
  • You’re responsible for maintenance, updates, and security. 

How much does it cost?

WordPress.org software is free. However, you will have to purchase your own domain and pay for web hosting.  

Squarespace

Squarespace emphasises design and aesthetics, calling itself THE site builder for bloggers, portfolios, and online catalogues. 

The Pros of Squarespace:

  • Easy maintenance – they’ll take care of updates. 
  • Easy design features with over 100 design templates.
  • Access to Getty Images.
  • 24/7 customer support at all levels of subscription. 

The cons of Squarespace:

  • Transaction fees make growth difficult.
  • The interface takes some getting used to. 
  • There are reports of difficulty when adding or editing content.

How much does it cost?

Squarespace has a cheap personal plan that’s fine for personal use. But for small businesses that want to accept payments, there are 3 suitable subscription plans:

  • Business subscription: £15 / month, (3% transaction fees)
  • Basic Commerce subscription: £20 / month (0% transaction fees)
  • Advanced Commerce Subscription: £30 / month (0% transaction fees)

Wix.com

Wix is probably the most beginner-friendly. There’s an option to answer a few questions, pick a colour scheme, submit your logo, and they’ll build a site for you. 

The Pros of Wix:

  • Easy set-up through a questionnaire.
  • Easy DIY set-up with drag and drop design feature. 
  • Easy maintenance – they’ll take care of the updates.
  • Mobile friendly at every level of subscription. 
  • 24/7 customer care at every level of subscription. 

The cons of Wix:

  • After finalising, you can’t change the design. 
  • A limited number of templates, so your site might not feel unique.
  • Limited space for content at cheaper subscriptions. 

How much does it cost?

For simple sites:

  • Unlimited subscription: £9.50 / month
  • VIP subscription: £19 / month

For E-commerce sites that want to trade online:

  • Business basic subscription: £13 / month
  • Business unlimited subscription: £17 / month
  • Business VIP subscription: £22 / month

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