Today, it’s almost impossible to run a small business successfully without a website. If your company doesn’t have a presence online, you may as well be invisible to most would-be clients. Creating a knock-out website can seem pretty intimidating, especially for entrepreneurs who are long on to-dos and short on time.
Thankfully, there hasn’t been a better time to get your business website off the ground. Gone are the days when you needed to code your own page, dive into the nitty-gritty of web hosting, and make changes through HTML or other coding platforms.
Now, there are many platforms that take the hard work out of building your page. Most offer compelling templates that give your page a sleek, modern look, and come with layout tools that don’t require you to be a front-end developer just to put together a rudimentary site.
Why Do You Need a Website in the First Place?
Before we dive into the cheapest ways to build a website for your business, let’s get into the fundamentals behind why you should have a site. The most immediate reasons are simple: word-of-mouth advertising only goes so far, and most customers would rather visit a website for the information they want as opposed to calling. A great website allows you to market your services or goods to a wider audience, and can give people the information they need with fewer steps than ever before.
If you operate a retail business, having a good website is essential. A staggering 70% of worldwide consumers now shop online, making a digital buying experience a must-have for most companies. You’ll want to have a web presence in order to capitalize on the ever-expanding digital shopping market, or else you risk getting outmaneuvered by your competition.
Equally important for small businesses is search engine results. If your company doesn’t have a website, it’s difficult to appear in search. And if you don’t appear in search, it’s highly unlikely that people will find your company online. A good, descriptive website can make the difference between getting or losing a sale.
The 4 Cheapest Ways to Build a Business Website
The cheapest option for building a site is to do it yourself. But what you save in money, you lose in time spent. Sure, you could register your own domain name, choose a website host, build your website, and upload it to your server, but this takes more time and energy than most entrepreneurs are willing to spend. Plus, you may end up with a website that is less functional or efficient than you would if you went with a website builder.
Website builders take out most of the work that goes into building a site: They’ll help you register for a domain name, offer dazzling templates for you to choose from, and can make it easy for you to populate your page with information. Here are a few website builders that offer you the most bang for your buck.
Squarespace isn’t the cheapest option on the list, but it’s by far one of the easiest to use. The platform is user-friendly, and can get you set up with a site in just a few hours. You can choose to register a domain name right within the Squarespace environment or sync up an address you already own. This provider also offers beautiful templates that are easy to populate and edit to your own needs.
Bear in mind that Squarespace is designed to work best for ecommerce sites, since the platform offers great integrations for online shopping. Even if you’re not in a retail business, Squarespace can still work for you—particularly if you want to focus on aesthetics and visuals. A business plan costs $18 per month, which gives you access to a slew of features designed to make your small business site sparkle.
Wix is another one of the most well-known website builders for small businesses. Wix provides a lot of great design templates to help you get started, each categorized by the kind of company you run. If you have a photography business, you can choose between dozens of different themes for your page. The same is true for restaurants and general businesses as well, which means there’s something for everyone.
Wix offers competitive pricing as well, with three tiers to choose from. The Business Basic plan costs $20 a month, while Business Unlimited and Business VIP cost $25 and $35 a month respectively. You can right-size the amount of support and features you need without having to pay for those you don’t. Better yet, you can always upgrade to a bigger plan as your needs expand.
WordPress was one of the first platforms to take the guesswork (and agony) out of developing your own website. The site still maintains its competitive edge by letting users control as much of the site-building process as they desire: You can create a rough-and-dirty website with one of WordPress’ various templates, or get into the weeds by coding and designing your own page within the platform itself. WordPress isn’t as straightforward as some of its peers, but it offers much more customization for those who wish to create a more custom experience.
WordPress’s pricing can’t be beat, either. Premium plans are an affordable $8 month, which is more than suitable for most entrepreneurs and small businesses. Larger businesses might want to opt for the Business plan, which comes in at $25 a month. Either way, you’ll get WordPress’ excellent blogging tools to keep your site fresh, and analytics suite to see how well your site is performing.
Shopify has quickly become to go-to option for ecommerce businesses, given its simple setup and excellent user experience. With Shopify, you can sell products through your own online store, Amazon page, or other destinations. Plus, you can use your Shopify account to conduct on-the-go transactions, whether at a trade show, fair, or within your own store. Every subscription comes with a point-of-sale system that hooks into your Shopify account, making it easy for you to manage all of your sales on one platform.
Since Shopify is tailored for retail businesses, it may not be a fit for you if you can only sell products in-store, or run a business that sells services as opposed to inventory. But if you’re in the retail space, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option for selling in person and online. Pricing starts at $29 a month for the basic plan and goes up from there.
No matter which option you choose to use, building a site that truly represents your company is a must. The sooner you start, the quicker your customers can find you online and the quicker you can scale your business.
Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Prior to Fundera, Meredith was the CCO at Funding Gates. Meredith is a resident Finance Advisor on American Express OPEN Forum and an avid business writer. Her advice consistently appears on such sites as Yahoo!, Fox Business, Amex OPEN, AllBusiness, and many more. Meredith is also the Senior Financial and B2B Correspondent for AlleyWire.