After launching some successful startups, I’ve learned a few things about effective tools that are available to help me create the look and feel that will define the brand and company image. A website is one of the most important ways to immediately create that image and sets the tone for all other visual representations of the company.
Despite having minimal resources, I needed to develop an attractive website quickly and use a website builder that could work with my limited skills in this area. Here are some of the various website builders—with their pros and cons—that I have tried over the course of my startup career that you should consider:
My favorite things about Wix are that it is so easy to use, it’s free (although some features you may have to pay to use), and it has a very strong blogging feature.
Since I’m not a designer, I truly appreciated the hundreds of available templates that then could be easily customized with user-friendly tools. The website templates are arranged by business type, which made it even easier to find what I needed and get it built.
Other benefits include numerous tools for building mobile websites, as well as the ability to store your media online, use title animations and video backgrounds, and tap into third-party site additions.
While it has an extremely intuitive site-building interface, it doesn’t have the responsive design capability that is necessary so your website can go from viewing on a computer to a mobile device in a seamless way.
This has been a go-to website builder for me because of its ability to work so well on the mobile screen, which is becoming so important to all businesses. It provides some help for amateur designers like myself in terms of leading me through the website building process. Unique features include a free SSL certificate, Apple Pay support, the ability to include digital downloads on the website, and numerous analytics tools.
On the downside, there is no free pricing level, although you can take advantage of their two-week trial to see if it works for you. There are fewer templates than the other website building brands and no access to third-party widgets.
Accounts start at $12 per month, which gives you a website with up to 20 pages or $40 per month for an e-commerce website that features shipping integration. There are other pricing options as well, depending on the type of site you are looking to build.
Weebly does provide some free level website building that gets you a 10-page site and 500MB of storage, but there is considerable limitations on what you can do and Weebly ads that appear. I’ve found it useful to upgrade to the paid version that offers various options between $8 per month up to $49 per month with different features that fit your needs.
This is another site builder that is easy to use for those that do not feel comfortable in this technical environment. Benefits include an intuitive interface, responsive design themes, and regular updates that yield new and valuable features. If you need to create an e-commerce website, this is the website builder for you because it has extensive options that include email marketing and newsletters.
Some of the cons to using Weebly are no selling capability in the free website building versions, a lack of customization for mobile sites, and weak photo capabilities. It also lacks undo functionality.
Among the website builders that require a monthly fee, this is one of the least expensive while offering a significant value in its mobile capabilities, social integrations, and customization. You can start with a free account to try its straightforward approach to building. The free site comes with 500MB of storage.
On the downside, there are limited options for those looking to build an e-commerce website, no site asset storage, and no photo adjustments. While it’s a decent option, the other website builders deliver more features and ease of use. For my own experience, it took me awhile to find some of the features compared to other website building platforms, but I got there in the end and created a very attractive website.
Prices include the Pro version for $90 per year or the Business version for $240 per year. These pricing models remove Jimdo branding from the website you create, allow for custom domains, provide site stats, and give you 5GB of storage.
Along with Wix, this website building tool has to be a favorite because of the free site option (which does plug Duda with ads on your free website) that even includes the ability to sell products online, ease of use, social media integration, and the strong mobile site building features.
This website building solution works for all types of businesses—from service providers and content producers to e-commerce firms. It offers a wide range of website templates divided up by business type to help you find a design that fits your industry.
The only downside I could find with DudaOne is no access to third-party widgets or the ability to port the site to another website hosting company. However, DudaOne does integrate with PayPal, OpenTable, Yelp, and others. I was also able to add a WordPress feed and social sharing buttons.
Costs range from $14.25 per month to $22.50 per month with various additional features like email support, custom domains, HTTPS security, more analytics, and site backup. The higher-end pricing also includes no ads, device-specific editing, and a full developer mode.
Making a decision
I recommend trying each of these website builder tools to see what works for what you want to create, the amount of content and features you want to use, and the type of business you are operating online to make sure that the platform can help you achieve those objectives while remaining within your budget and skill level.
John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru and startup enthusiast. He is founder of the payments company Due.