So you’ve decided to start your own business. You’ve got your idea, you know what sets you apart from all those other schmucks out there, and you’ve even got a client or two. So far, so good.
What about your online presence? Yeah, you’ve got your Facebook page set up, a Twitter account, and you’ve connected with all your friends, your mum, your best mate’s embarrassing brother and sister-in-law who made a Twitter account for their dog (which tweets at you, yay!), but it’s important to have more than just a social media presence. If you’re serious about getting your business going you’ll need your own website.
There are a number of ways you can get yourself online, but unless your specialty is freelance web design you’re probably after something quick and easy to set up, that not only looks great but also doesn’t cost the earth. Luckily for us, there are a number of options out there designed to help with exactly that. In no particular order, here’s a roundup of 10 of the best website building tools…
Squarespace takes the template approach; a wide and varied selection of options, based around clean and contemporary layouts, with real flexibility built right in, which means you’re very spoilt for choice. A comprehensive yet attractive interface means it’s easy to assemble very professional-looking multi-page websites.
A full range of tiers ranging from the light personal user to heavy multi-page ecommerce websites means Squarespace has the potential to grow with your business. Not convinced? There’s a 14-day free trial period just for you.
From $8 per month | www.squarespace.com
Known as the designers' best kept secret, Semplice is the first fully responsive case study portfolio system based on Wordpress. Built by designers, for designers. And you can create your own beautiful website without knowing any HTML or how to code. Templates are so yesterday – you need the freedom to build what you want, and Semplice is the simple tool you've been searching for.
From $89 for individual creatives | www.semplicelabs.com
Slick-looking Voog offers flexible and customisable templates and where it lacks some of the flexibility, tools and features of some of the others listed here, it’s also the only one to offer proper multi-lingual support. Want to attract business across the EU or beyond? Voog may be the one for you.
A smaller but fully responsive array of 10 templates offer starting points and there is the additional option of wiping the slate clean and creating your own, should you so wish.
From €8 per month | www.voog.com
Boasting over 10,000 templates, SiteBuilder is the king of templates, setting out to deliver quick and easy site-building with a minimum of hassle and effort. If you don’t have time to customise, you should be able to find something that fits the bill.
The site offers an email service using the domain name you choose on the pay-for tiers, and there’s support for SEO, with the add-on of an eBook explaining how to make the most of the feature, which should prove fantastic for those of us who aren’t exactly technical.
From £8.99 per month | www.sitebuilder.com
Format’s mission is to provide portfolio websites for creative people. Designs on offer are clean, simple and there’s a 14-day free trial along with the ability to edit content easily, and a wide array of available templates to choose from. Like every entry on this list, you do not need any coding know-how to create your site, but if you want to go behind the curtain, Format includes a built-in ‘code editor’.
Being intended primarily for portfolios, Format doesn’t include options for ecommerce or domain-named email, but focuses on showcasing your pictures and videos as elegantly as possible with a minimum of specialist know-how, as well as offering the feature of password-protected pages on the Professional and Agency tiers.
From $6.25 per month | www.format.com
Wix goes to town with the number of templates available, with intended uses ranging from restaurants to weddings to your own CV. If you want to bring things back to basics, Wix offers a blank slate, but it should be noted that once you’ve picked one, you’re locked in, so it pays to try a few out before deciding on one style.
With its templates, Wix is all about drag-and-drop, so adding content is beautifully simple. While the bottom tier of £2.55/month is cheap, Wix doesn’t offer the unlimited bandwidth and storage offered by others like Cindr so you’ll be paying around £14/month before you’re able to handle the kind of traffic you’re probably after – if you want your business to thrive.
From £2.55/month | www.wix.com
Another template-based, drag-and-drop site builder – Weebly has attracted some very positive reviews. Like all of the options on this list, there’s no need to know any code – just how to use a mouse and keyboard. If however you get to a point where you want to meddle with HTML, then the flexibility to do so is there, giving you the option of getting your hands dirty and making it really personal.
Weebly allows multi-page websites and has no limits on the number of pages you can create – even on the free tier. If you’re looking for an easy-but-flexible site builder that can grow with your business, Weebly is definitely not a bad choice.
Free with upgrade option available | www.weebly.com
Sitey bills itself as the UK’s favourite website builder, and offers hundreds of templates, offering the ease of drag-and-drop alongside an intuitive editor. Responsive design means your sites will adapt to fit whatever device potential clients may be using to visit you and there’s plenty of easy-to-use online help if you get stuck.
Simple search engine optimisation (SEO) and access to Google analytics means you can both maximize traffic and keep tabs on who’s actually using your site, and ready availability of e-commerce tools and social integration are just some of Sitey’s other options.
Free with upgrade option available | www.sitey.com
Site-hosting pro GoDaddy also offers a tool for building your own website – again following the template approach, but with the offering of as many templates as possible to make up for fewer options to customise the templates.
GoDaddy’s tiers are reasonably priced and include many of the standards from other website builder services such as SEO and ample bandwidth. On the top tier you even get a social media manager service thrown in, as well as a free year’s SSL certificate for ecommerce – which keeps transactions on your site secure if you’re not using Paypal.
From £1 per month | uk.godaddy.com
10. The Grid
Not fully launched yet, but promising to open ‘soon’, The Grid offers ‘AI websites that design themselves’. Using complex algorithms and slick, fluid layouts, it sets out to take literally all of the effort out of creating your website. You set purposes for the site (followers/sales/media plays/clickthroughs), it analyses your content and, before you know it, you’ve got yourself a great looking, responsive website.
Coming in at $8/month while in beta, which – according to the site – is a discounted rate down from a standard rate of $25/month, it is, for the moment, very cheap. For that you get a commerce engine (when available), custom domain support and up to seven different websites.
From $8 per month ($25 per month post-launch) | www.thegrid.io