Creating a Small Business Website: Free Website Builders for Your Small Business
As a small business owner, having your own business website provides a central location for consumers to connect with your brand and services, and possibly even buy products. Thanks to the multitude of website builders out there, you don’t have to become a web designer overnight or dip too far into your cash reserves to set up a functional, well-designed site for your business.
What is a website builder?
A website builder is an online platform that provides the necessary tools to craft a website. These builders typically host your website on their domain or help you purchase your own domain, giving your site a custom web address.
Many builders offer free or inexpensive services, giving small business owners a low-cost way to present their brand professionally online, Maia Singletary, a Chicago-based digital strategist and consultant, told LendingTree. Singletary is also a front-end developer and designer at G2 Crowd, which provides reviews of technology products for business owners.
“Many builders come with templates that can save you time if you need to get a website up and running in a pinch,” Singletary said. “You don’t have to know any code and the websites can be updated and maintained with minimal effort.”
An effective business website should inspire visitors to take some sort of action, said Singletary, whether that’s making an appointment, making a purchase, calling the business or joining an email list. All business websites should include an about page, a contact page (or section) and clear navigation, she said.
“No matter the business, a well-made website should be easy to read and navigate,” Singletary said.
What to look for in a website builder
When considering a website builder, there are several features to look for. You should choose a builder that offers a sizeable selection of quality website templates that will work for your business, Singletary said. The templates should be customizable, giving you the ability to adjust components as needed.
Additional tools Singletary suggests looking for in a website builder:
- Image editing
- Search engine optimization controls
- Available customer support
- Blogging capabilities
- Ecommerce capabilities
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Top ten free website builders for your small business
A website builder’s free services could help you establish your business’ digital presence and get your website off the ground. Here are 10 website builders with free options to get you started.
Bookmark helps entrepreneurs build online stores for their ecommerce businesses. Bookmark’s templates and drag-and-drop features let you set up a website that meets the needs of your business. If you choose a mobile-friendly template, your small business website will adjust to fit phones and tablets in addition to desktops. Bookmark offers free photos and videos for your site, as well as the ability to edit images. Bookmark provides customer support via live chat and online guides for various topics.
What you get: Bookmark’s free package includes a published website on the Bookmark.com domain and cloud hosting. The package also provides a mobile site, free site security, 1 GB bandwidth and 500 MB of storage. Your site would feature Bookmark’s branded ads, which you could remove upon upgrading to a premium paid plan. You would also have to upgrade to a paid plan to access ecommerce services.
Jimdo’s website builder offers templates to help you showcase your business. The drag-and-drop feature allows you to add your own photos and place them where you want. Jimdo website templates include built-in search engine optimization tools to improve your site’s Google ranking. Jimdo also tracks your website performance over time. If you don’t want to spend the time dragging and dropping items to make your website, Jimdo offers an AI-powered tool that generates a site for you in a few minutes. You would still be able to edit your site’s components before publishing. To reach Jimdo’s customer support team, you would need to fill out a contact form with your questions.
What you get: Jimdo’s free plan includes basic features such as templates, mobile optimization, a blog and photo galleries. Your site would appear on the Jimdofree.com domain and would include 2 GB bandwidth and 500 MB of storage.
As the name implies, Site123 takes a simple approach to building a website by automatically creating a site around the content you upload. Site123 allows you to choose from ready-made layouts that will adjust to all devices, including smartphones and tablets. You may create multiple websites through one account and connect a custom domain to the Site123 platform for a monthly fee. Site123 offers multilingual websites with unlimited pages and tools to optimize your website’s search engine performance. The platform provides a set of tools to aid in setting up an online store and also includes features for specific industries, such as the ability for musicians to upload audio files and restaurant owners to post menus and accept reservations.
What you get: Site123’s bare-bones free subscription includes 1 GB bandwidth and 500 MB of storage, as well as a Site123 domain name. However, you won’t have access to the ecommerce features unless you upgrade to the premium plan. For $9.80 per month, the premium plan provides ecommerce services, 10 GB of storage, 5 GB bandwidth and removes Site123 tags from your site.
Strikingly’s website builder helps you create a site that houses your online store, blog and social media feed. Strikingly provides analytics services, charting website visitors. The intuitive editor tool allows you to add galleries, videos and custom colors to your site. All Strikingly websites automatically adjust to fit any device. Customers can access articles explaining various aspects of the platform, from templates and styles to social media integration. You can also use their online messaging form to contact Strikingly with any questions or concerns.
What you get: Strikingly’s free plan includes cloud hosting, 5 GB bandwidth and an unlimited number of sites using a Strinkingly.com domain. It also includes an ecommerce option, but you would be limited to selling one item in your online store. You can upgrade to a paid plan to access more features and revert back to the free version at any time.
Ucraft’s drag-and-drop website builder lets you choose from multiple templates to create a webpage that fits your brand. You can customize different aspects of your site and make your content available in multiple languages, no coding necessary. Ucraft’s responsive design ensures your website is accessible from all devices and platforms. If you run into trouble, you can find help on Ucraft’s customer support page or submit a specific request.
What you get: Ucraft’s free plan allows you to create one landing page on the platform and you can connect your own domain name. The free plan also includes search engine optimization tools, a logo maker and the ability to publish articles and blog posts on your site. If you want to add an ecommerce tool, you’ll have to fork over $13 per month.
Webnode offers mobile-ready website templates for business owners and an ecommerce tool for those looking to sell products. The content and design are both customizable, allowing you to craft a site that suits your business. You could use your own domain name and Webnode would not place any ads on your site. Webnode provides support for search engine optimization and suggests techniques to boost your SEO performance. You can add various types of content, including articles, videos and forms. Webnode’s support team is available five days a week and can resolve issues in as little as 24 hours.
What you get: Webnode allows customers to create and run a website for free, but you’ll have to purchase a paid plan if you want to use a domain without Webnode in the title. Plans start at $3.95 per month for the Limited plan, which includes 100 MB of storage and 1 GB bandwidth.
Weebly’s drag-and-drop tools allow you to manipulate pre-made templates to fit your aesthetic preferences. You can add custom fonts and images, as well as animation effects and video backgrounds. Weebly’s mobile apps can help you track your website performance and interact with your visitors. Weebly’s hosting service includes security features, a support team that’s available 24/7 and features a responsive website design.
What you get: The free package comes with a Weebly.com domain name and 500 MB of storage space. Your customizable site would also display Weebly ads. The free plan gives you access to tools for SEO, as well as chat and email customer support from Weebly. Plans that include ecommerce options start at $8 per month for up to 10 products in your online store.
Wix offers hundreds of website templates customized for specific types of business, from restaurants and food to health and wellness. Wix’s website builder lets you move and edit the elements on your website, giving you the option to start from scratch without using a template. Websites created on Wix are optimized (it will work seamlessly on desktops and mobile devices), and, if you’re familiar with coding, Wix allows you to add your own code to fully control your site’s functionality. You can add tools and apps to improve your website’s SEO, such as Wix SEO Wiz or Google Analytics. Wix’s help center includes information on a range of topics related to Wix services.
What you get: Wix’s free service includes access to the drag-and-drop editor to create a site with unlimited pages using a Wix.com domain. You get 500 MB of storage, 500 MB bandwidth and secure cloud hosting. A free website will include Wix ads, which is not removed when upgrading to a premium plan. Premium features also include an online store and the freedom to use your own domain.
WordPress offers dozens of website themes to help you get started and allows you to customize your site with your business content. WordPress offers spam protection and reliable hosting, as well analytics and social media features. Customers can find support through WordPress community forums on a variety of topics. WordPress lets paying subscribers set up an online store and accept credit or debit card payments through their website.
What you get: A free subscription includes a WordPress.com domain with WordPress ads and banners and dozens of free website themes. The free plan comes with 3 GB of storage space and basic customization of ready-made templates. You’ll also get WordPress’s Jetpack plugin, which includes SEO services, social sharing and website statistics.
Yola’s drag-and-drop builder lets you customize a website for your business. You can choose from professionally designed templates and add your own photos, forms, videos and maps. Those comfortable with web design can add their own coding to further modify their site. Yola provides site statistics to track your business’ online performance. Customer support is available 24/7 to help as you build your site. Yola’s mobile publishing feature lets you create a mobile-optimized version of your site.
What you get: With the free plan, you’ll get a few websites (up to three landing pages) on a Yola domain, 1 GB bandwidth and 1 GB of storage. You can add an online store to your free plan for $10 per month, which would let you sell and manage inventory, accept credit card payments and track orders. The free plan includes one-click web publishing, search engine-friendly design and is available in six languages. However, Yola branding will be present on your small business website, which you could remove by upgrading your subscription.
One of the main advantages of using a free website builder is the money you save. Free platforms also allow you to launch a decent website relatively quickly without having to worry about hosting or configuring backend settings yourself, Singletary said.
However, customization is often limited within free services, she said. Template selection could be smaller when you subscribe to a free plan and you may not be able to make as many changes as you would like. You may also have to deal with invasive ads on your site, which is not ideal for any small business website, Singletary said.
Once you’ve found a website builder that meets your business’ needs, you could sign up for a free trial to get a feel for the dashboard, Singletary said. You’ll want to make sure you like the functionality and features before committing to the platform.
“Most builders today are easy to use by design but we all have our preferences,” she said. “You want to make sure you select a builder that you’ll be comfortable using and growing with for some time.”