Can you remember a time when someone made an exceptional first impression on you?
Or indeed a truly awful first impression?
As the old saying goes ‘first impressions are the longest lasting’ and there was never a truer statement when it comes to business.
In the modern age these first impressions are made through company’s website.
Your web-site has to look slick and preform flawlessly for you to retain the attention of potential customers or risk losing them forever.
The once laborious process of building a website has been simplified over the years and it is now possible with the help of a website builder for any anybody out there to build their own website from scratch in a matter of minutes.
But as with most software out there today it can be a bit of a mine field to say the least.
There are literally are tons of options to choose from.
In this article we will have a look at some of the better options out there and help you to make the decision of which tool will be the best it for you and your business.
What is a website builder?
A website builder is a tool that simplifies the construction of a website.
Its allows people with any level of expertise, from absolute beginners to experienced web designers to piece together all the the elements they require for a website and have it live on the internet in a matter of minutes without having to manually enter a single line of code.
How popular are website builders?
In the modern age of the internet website builders have surged in popularity!
Back in the old days of the internet all websites were built manually by web developers who had to write hundreds of lines of code too create each individual page o the website.
To learn the skills required to code a very basic website would take the average person several months.
To learn enough to be able to code the beautiful, responsive and fully integrated websites of today that we all know and love?
Locked away in a dark room, studying mind numbing computer programming languages and solving countless problems.
Sounds like fun right?
So if that option was not to your liking you would pay someone else who knows what they are doing to code your site.
Sounds expensive? Yes it was.
If you couldn’t afford to spend the time or money on either of those options?
Well, you were basically left with option number three… nothing.
Enter… the website builder.
Allowing people with zero technical knowledge to build and launch there own web site!?
Absolute game changer.
And as user experience and expectations have increased so have the capabilities of the website builders themselves.
Which website builder is the best?
The best website builder for you is going to be the one that best matches your needs.
Only you know how your site needs to function.
Most business owners and bloggers will be able to create a website that fully matches their requirements through all modern website builders but there are some builders that cater more to specific niches.
Here are the best general website builders for small business and bloggers.
Established in 2006 WIX has become one of the market leaders in the world of DIY web design. And for good reason.
WIX has an extremely easy to use and intuitive interface that allows for stress free creation of beautiful web site within minutes without any prior tech knowledge.
It provides you with over 500 templates to choose from catering to a wide range of modern industries.
The templates are then easily customizable using the WIX drag and drop editor.
Really couldn’t be simpler.
Another cool feature of WIX is the Artificial Design Intellegence (ADI)
It allows you to really speed up the creation of your site.
By answering questions based on what needs you have and what you hope to achieve with your web site.
The AI will quickly build your website for you for based on the information you have given.
WIX is designed with the beginner in mind and really does make it easy for anyone to build their own website, that being said it also comes with one of best support systems out there.
So should you have any queries there is a back-up support to help you along and learn more about the web design process.
Below are some examples of websites and quality you can expect from WIX.
Packages from Wix start at $14 per month going up to $49 per month (billed annually)
Wix also offers a free plan, while limited (adds and no custom domain) it is a nice way to test drive the platform before you decide if its for you,
Another excellent option for your website or blog is Squarespace.
Again Squarespace is designed with the beginner site builder in mind.
Everything is you need to create and integrate a stunning website is all rolled into one neat package.
Not only that, the package itself is gorgeous.
The attention to detail and level of design that you get with the Squarespace templates is impressive.
They really are works of art and highly customizable should you wish to add some of your own creative flair.
Squarespace also comes with some really nice templates aimed towards bloggers.
If your busniess needs to manage bookings you will love the Acuity Scheduling feature.
This allows clients to book appointments and make payments directly through your website, you can manage your schedule, add bookings manually and even send out notifications to your clients.
Price plans start from $12/month for their Personal plan up to $36/month for their Advanced Commerce plan if you pay your annual subscription up front.
For this as part of the Personal plan you get FREE domain (.com, .org, etc.) unlimited bandwidth and storage, free SSL, and 24/7 customer support. Not a bad deal at all.
The higher price plans come with a huge list of added perks. Check out full details below.
You can also pay your fees monthly at a higher rate ranging from $15 – $42
Next on our list is Duda.
Most website builders make things extremely simple anyway but Duda’s level of simplicity will really appeal to people who struggle with design.
If quality performance on mobile devices is a must have for your site Duda boasts top of the line page loading speeds helping you to keep your visitors attention.
Duda also allows for customizing of your visitors’ experiences on your website based on their browsing history, location, number of times they have visited and even their language.
Providing your customers with a unique user experience and making Duda a great option if you plan on having your web-site in multiple languages.
Subscriptions to Duda start from $7.25 for the Standard package up up to $39 for the Unlimited packge
The next offering on our list is from the payment processing power house Square.
While the other website builders that we have mentioned could be used for business websites and blogging, Square Online is a better choice if you are looking or an eCommerce solution for your pre-existing bricks and mortar store.
Design wise, Square Online does not give you the huge suite of different templates like some of the other website builders out there.
But what you do get is a tried and tested recipe for and sharp and functional eCommerce set-up for a very reasonable price.
Having a template that is simple and familiar to your customers allows you to display your products in a highly visual way.
Adding products to your store, managing stock and setting up your shipping arrangements is really easy to do.
for payments processing as it is a Square product Square is the only option here but paying for one of the higher plans will allow you to integrate with papal should you really wish to.
Square Online offers a starter plan with no monthly payment required allowing you to launch your store and ad you only pay when you make a sale. 1.9% per European card or 2.9% per non-European card transaction but you will have to display Square advertising.
The paid Professional plan will cost you just $12 per month when you pay annually.
With the Performance and Premium packages they offer some good discounts on shipping and payment processing fees.
Are website builders worth it?
If you compare the cost of commissioning a web developer to build you a site vs the cost of using a website builder provider like the ones we have mentioned it will take roughly 10-12 years of using a website builder service before you reach the equivalent spend on building your own website from scratch.
This makes website builders an excellent option for small and new businesses in the short term, that may not be turning enough of a profit to justify splurging on a stand alone site.
Website builders provide you with a fast and easy solution to getting your website or blog out there and for a very reasonable price!