Creating your own website is cheap and simple these days. For most small businesses, it's not just a great way to boost business, it's essential to have a website.
Fortunately, you don't need to know how to code as these online website building tools let you use templates and customise them to your liking. And they'll make your website look great on phones as well as laptops and desktop computers.
There are many places where you can sign up for a completely free website. However,we don't recommend this as it won't look nearly as professional. For example, you'll end up with a web address such as www.techadvisor.wordpress.com rather than www.techadvisor.co.uk. And it's likely that the provider will put its own adverts on your web pages.
So, if you want a good-looking website with a proper URL, you'll need to spend a little money per month.
This will also give you other benefits including an email address such as [email protected], higher bandwidth limits (so more people can visit your site) and no unwanted adverts on your pages.
If you plan to sell products on your site, it pays to choose the right package as some are much better than others. Some are suitable for only a few items, while others are built for importing huge product catalogues.
Now that you've got a better idea of what to look for, take a look at these great website builders that will help you build your site from scratch in just a few minutes.
Wix is a great tool for beginners who've never made a website before but want to get one up and running quickly.
It uses an intuitive drag-and-drop editor to help you build exactly the website you want, and has 500 templates to help you get started.
The website you create will be phone and tablet friendly, and if you're willing to cough up some cash each month you can get your own custom domain name complete with an email address and all.
Wix's Unlimited plan costs £8.50 / $14 per month, with unlimited bandwidth, 10GB storage, your own domain name (for 1 year), £75 / $300 of Ad Vouchers and more.
If you want to engage with your customers through your site, then Wix has just launched a bolt-on called Ascend. This is a suite of 20 products aimed at helping small business owners. A few key features include live chat, a price quote form so potential customers can send requests, plus a video maker so you can create promos for your business.
There are three tiers: Basic, Professional and Unlimited which range from £6.95 to £34 per month and vary in the features they offer.
1&1 Ionos MyWebsite
1&1 Ionos also has a website builder that requires no previous experience of web design. The Business package is only £1 $1 per month (for 12 months, then it's £10 / $10 per month) and comes with a domain and email address plus hundreds of mobile-optimised design templates.
The templates are similar to other services in this round-up, including Wix and Duda, but 1&1 also includes "text suggestions" which help you fill your website with relevant content when you pick your business sector. You'll want to change the text to suit your business, but it certainly gives you a good head-start if your strength isn't writing.
1&1 also offers a free personal consultant that you can phone, email or instant message to talk about your products and contract as well as tips for making your site more successful.
Duda's website builder offers gorgeous, modern and responsive templates that use a drag-and-drop editor to make things nice and easy. You'll be able to integrate the likes of OpenTable, Yelp and Paypal, and you'll get analytics to track your visitors too.
Duda offers neat touches such as shrinking headers when visitors scroll down a page, and the editor lets you dig deeper into web design than many rivals. That's ideal if you want to tweak elements and even get involved with the HTML and CSS code. But you don't have to if you don't want to.
Handily, there's also the option to import existing content including images, contact details and more from any other website or Facebook business page. More importantly, it's possible to update your webpages on the go from your phone, including uploading photos you've just taken, changing links and editing text.
The Basic package costs $14 / £11 per month and that gets you most of the features and allows you to sell up to 10 different products. It gets more expensive after that, but the higher packages are aimed at bigger businesses. If you need to sell more than 10 products, it's worth looking at Weebly.
Another easy-to use option is Ucraft, which offers a free version with just a 'landing page', free hosting and the ability to add your own domain. That won't be enough for most people, so for $6 / £4.75 per month (an annual fee of $72 / £57), the Basic Website package gives you unlimited pages on your website, the ability to connect your own domain name, an on-site search, password-protected pages and more.
We think the templates are gorgeous. There are plenty to choose from to suit any type of business.
If you want to sell items directly from your site, you'll need the Pro Website package that allows you to list up to 50 products and doesn't charge any commission on sales.
Weebly is a well-known website builder which also uses drag and drop tools that are really useful for beginners. It's aimed primarily at people wanting to set up their own online store. There's a free option available if you're content without a shop or your own domain, but you'll need to pay from £5 / $5 per month (billed annually) for those features if you need them.
You're limited to selling only 10 products (with a 3% commission fee) but the same commission applies to the Pro package that costs £8 / $12 per month. However, it allows you to sell up to 25 products and host video and audio on the site. To sell unlimited products with no commission fee, you'll need the £17 / $25 per month Business package. This also gives you the ability to add user reviews to items.
There are plenty of templates to choose from, each with full customisation to allow you to tailor it to your business, event or organisation. You'll also be able to track visitors using the statistics tools, and even host your own video content.
We rather like the range of templates available on Weebly, which look modern and stylish, so it's well-worth a browse.
Squarespace offers stunning templates that would suit high fashion stores, restaurants or professional, image-led blogs.
It uses a drag-and-drop system to help you get your website looking just how you want it without requiring any coding at all.
You can browse the templates, which will give you a good idea whether Squarespace will be right for you. If you decide it is, prices start at $12 per month, which is just under £10.
GoDaddy Website Builder
GoDaddy is another name you might be familiar with, mainly due to its TV advertising for domain names. The website builder is only part of what GoDaddy offers, so click our link above to go directly to the tool rather than the main site.
Despite the 'Start for Free' button there's no free package but you do get a free month-long trial of either the personal, business or business plus accounts with no credit card required.
The personal account is £4.99 / $5.99 per month, but this is unlikely to be suitable as - for one thing - it doesn't offer SSL for an encrypted connection. Generally, customers prefer to see https and a padlock icon especially if they're buying products or services from your site. That means you'll need the Business package as a minimum, which is £6.99 / $9.99 per month. This gives you a PayPal Buy Now button.
The Business Plus Plan lets you accept credit cards via Square as well as PayPal. It costs £10.99 / $14.99 per month. None of these plans include a domain name, but you can of course buy that separately from GoDaddy for just a few pounds or dollars per year.
We're not the biggest fan of the range of templates offered by GoDaddy but they are quite well tailored to business sectors so it's worth a look. The problem is that there's a limited amount you can do to change the look of the template.
Also note that unlike most rivals, there's no option to create a multilingual site. The editor itself is available in other languages though.
There's a free version of Jimdo available, with pre-made templates, contact forms, file downloads, built-in social media tools and more, but you'll have .jimdo.com at the end of your website address and you might see ads here and there too.
Jimdo's pricing has gone up recently, so your cheapest real option is the £9 / $9 per month 'Start' plan which includes a proper domain name and no ads. You get 10GB of bandwidth, 1 forwarding email address, but also a silly limitation of 10 website pages.
If you need more pages, you'll have to opt for the £19 / $19 per month Grow package. The increases the limit to 50 pages, and gives you 20GB of bandwidth. Wix offers unlimited bandwidth (though 5GB less storage at 10GB) for just £8.50 / $14 per month
There's a nice mix of modern-looking templates, all simple and clean, and you can change the template at any time if you change your mind. Being based in Germany, Jimdo is a reasonable option if you don't want your website to be in English only, and it's possible to build a multilingual site.
Jimdo's editor is pretty good, and it's possible to edit your site on your phone. Overall though, we'd expect a bit more for our money.