Three Useful Website Builders for Entrepreneurs and Start-Ups

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Three Useful Website Builders for Entrepreneurs and Start-Ups

We humans have a cognitive bias as regardsA�our centrality to the universe. MaybeA�personal exceptionalismA�is an adaptive trait, serving to inoculate us against the omnipresent realities of doom and failure. Maybe ita��s a byproduct of aA�consumerA�culture relentlessly incentivized to assure us of our own uniqueness.

Either way, the entrepreneur of today may have a certain constitutional resistance to using a website builder to get their businessA�online. Only a completelyA�personalized and customized site could possibly accommodate dreams as expansive as yours! <cue Steve Jobs-esque chin rub>

However, if youa��re just starting out and you lacked the entrepreneurial acumenA�to have chosen wealthy parents, hiring a professional web designer to create your singularA�snowflake is going to blow your budget. Maybe you have a cool friend with asymmetrical hair willing to commit your digital vision to cyberspace on the cheap.

Given the potential pitfalls, however, placing your companya��s online future in the hands of an amateur is a foola��s bet, no matter how clever your friend seems on Twitter. (Allow me to inventA�assumptions about your friend)

Enter the world of website builders. They allow you to get your business online with a minimum of sturm und drang. And while your site may notA�be a precious jewel that sets the world alight with inventive righteousness, it will allow you to devote all the more time and resources to the core functions of your business.

Of the myriad options out there, Squarespace, Wix and Weebly have risen to the top in easily facilitating an attractive online presence for your emerging business.

Squarespace

squarespace

 

Squarespace is one of the most highly-rated website builders out there and is an excellent solution for the start-up company. Established in 2004, Squarespace powers 1.8 million websites, which is much fewer than competitors Wix and Weebly, though this is largely due to Squarespacea��s lack of a free plan. Companies making use ofA�Squarespace include Wired Magazine and Cisco a�� if you use Squarespace to power your businessa��s online presence, youa��ll be in esteemed company.

  • $8 a�� $18 a month
  • Mobile-optimized websites
  • Great-looking templates
  • Unlimited bandwidth and storage
  • Integrated eCommerce
  • Free custom domain with annual purchase

Alas, unlike many other website builders, Squarespace offers no free plan, though you can try it for free for 14 days. Typically, the free plans offered by website builders are quite spartan and lack eCommerce and other important features, so youa��ll likely want a paid plan for your business anyways, regardless of which site builder you choose.

Featuring several dozen templates to choose from, Squarespace doesna��t have the biggest selection of templates in the industry, but those it does offer really stand out in terms of quality and freshness. They are also fully customizable and adaptable to the needs of your business. They are particularly well-suited to those in the creative industries a�� restaurants, photographers and musicians will find an embarrassment of riches here.

Squarespace includes a robust eCommerce system, letting users track/manage their inventories, track payment activities, and create coupons and promo codes. Ita��s integrated with Stripe, meaning potential customers will need to have a Stripe account to make purchases. That is, unless you add widgets that link to other payment processors, which Squarespace allows. Keep in mind that Squarespace charges a 2-3% transaction fee on top of Stripea��s transaction fees. Squarespacea��s own transaction fees are waived in their separate, and pricier, eCommerce plans.

Unlike competitors such as Wix and Weebly, Squarespace doesna��t provide a 3rd-party App Store, which is unfortunate. Squarespacea��s in-house functionality is pretty thorough, however, so you probablyA�wona��t be missing it. Another bonus Squarespace offers is its mobile iOS apps for interacting with your Squarespace site. Manage your blog, check your site metrics and share your photo galleries, all on the go. (Squarespace recently added a few Android apps as well)

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Weebly

weebly

Weebly is a popular and well-regarded website builder with many features designed to appeal to the entrepreneur. The company was founded in 2006, currently hosts over 30 million websites, and is available in 15 languages a�� something ideal for the company with an eye towards the international market. Furthermore, TechCruch reports that a�?two-thirds of the companya��s customers identify as entrepreneursa�? so there you go!
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  • $0 a�� $25 a month (A free plan is available)
  • Custom HD video and audio players
  • Site membership (offered in the Pro and Business plans)
  • Integrated eCommerce
  • Unlimited pages, even with free accounts

Weebly offers a free plan with no time limit, so ita��s great if youa��re just getting started and arena��t ready to deal with eCommerce or other advanced features yet. As your business matures, youa��ll likely want to spring for one of the paid plans.

Weebly offers 24 mobile-responsive templates, categorized by style and not by industry, though all are customizable to your particular field. Theya��re nice enough, though not up to the standard of Squarespacea��s templates, and its number of offerings a�� 24 a�� is one of the fewest in the field.

One nice feature offered by Weebly is the ability to add community forums to your site, should you want to provide a place where your customers can discuss their experiences. You could even combine this withA�Weeblya��s membership features to create a private user forum.

Weeblya��s eCommerce system is strong, if somewhat less impressive than that of Squarespace or Wix. For payment processing, Weebly offers four options: Stripe, Square, PayPal and Authorize. Each charges a transaction fee, as does Weebly itself in its Starter and Pro plans. Weeblya��s transaction fees are waived in its top-tier Business plan. And if you want to sell digital goods, have inventory management, and offer coupon codes, the Business plan is required for that as well.

For 3rd-party integrations, Weebly offers extensive options via the recently-addedA�Weebly App Center, bringing Weebly up to speed with Wix and others. Ita��s a great addition and can help to fill any functionality holes in Weeblya��s first-party solutions.

weebly app center

Weebly offers live chat support, email support (through the Support Ticket system), a knowledge base, and, contra Squarespace, phone support, though only for Pro and Business plan subscribers. We found Weeblya��s customer service to be quick and helpful.

Read more about Weebly in our Weebly review.

Wix

wix

Wix is a giant in the website builder field and provides an absolute bounty of options and features for the budding business. With offices in four continents and 77 million users in 190 countries, Wix is a truly global brand, and is one of the only website builders to be listed on the Nasdaq.

  • $0 a�� $24.92 a month (Yes, therea��s a free plan)
  • 500+ attractive templates a�� the most in the field
  • Integrated eCommerce (In the top-tier plans)
  • Integration with Bigstock Photos
  • Lots of integrations available through the Wix App Market

Perhaps the coolest thing about Wix is their massive template selection. Dwarfing the selection of its nearest competitors, Wix has over 500 templates, and while they may be slightly less pretty than those of Squarespace, theya��re better looking than Weeblya��s templatesa�� and did I mention therea��s over 500 of them? Youa��ll have a ton of great template options in each of the following categories:

  • Business
  • Online Store
  • Photography
  • Music
  • Design
  • Restaurants & Food
  • Accommodation
  • Events
  • Portfolio & CV
  • Blog
  • Health & Wellness
  • Community & Education
  • Creative Arts

wix templates

The only downside to Wixa��s templates compared to those of Squarespace and Weebly is that they are not fully mobile-responsive a�� they dona��t automatically adjust to different screen sizes.

Rather than just providing some free generic stock photos, Wix gives you access to Bigstocka��s enormous selection of attractive images, which can prove invaluable in making your site stand out from the pack. These photos will cost you $3 a pop, however.

Wixa��s eCommerce is strong and well-regarded. Wixa��s Online Store lets you use PayPal, WebMoney, Skrill, Authorize.net, and PayU LatAm (Latin America only) as payment processors. These payment processors will charge a fee per transaction, but, unlike Squarespace and Weebly, Wix itself does not charge transaction fees. Keep in mind, though, that Wixa��s Online Store is only available with Wixa��s two priciest plans, and Squarespace/Weebly waive their transaction fees in their priciest plans anyway.

Like Squarespace and Weebly, Wix offers such features as inventory management and coupon codes. One true advantage of Wixa��s eCommerce is that theyA�allow you to accept offline payments a�� cash, check, wire transfer, etc.

Additionally, Wix users can sell MP3s and other audio files through Wix Music for free without having an eCommerce or VIP plan. Very nice.

All manners of features can be integrated into your Wix site through the Wix App Market. Add an Etsy shop, and Ecwid online store, an Instagram feed, or about a million other things.

Wixa��s customer service options arena��t as comprehensive as some others. They provide a toll-free number to call, a knowledge base and community forums, but no live chat or email support. Many have found this phone support to be considerably less than instant. VIP users are offered more instant assistance with a dedicated VIP phone line.

Conclusion

So, whichA�website builder is best suited to your entrepreneurial heart? Cost-wise, our three finalists offer similarly-priced plans, though a closer comparison reveals that Wix users have to pay more a�� as in twice as much a�� for features such as eCommerce and priority support than do users of Weebly and Squarespace. However, unlike Squarespace, Wix and Weebly offer free starter plans for those who prefer to slowly ease themselves into the pool.

All things considered, I give a slight edge to Squarespace, with its best-in-classA�templates (face it, no matter the website builder you use, most of you will beA�sticking pretty closely to the provided templates), rich features, solid eCommerce and competitive, simple pricing. Wix follows slightly behind with its hundreds of great templates and plethora of 3rd-party apps. Weebly comes in third, but only just, with its membership features, custom video player, and great customer service.

CREDIT: MERCHANT MAVERICK