By Allie Gray Freeland, @AllieGrayFree
With 3 billion people on the Internet, you can see why it's a no-brainer that your business should have a website. Yet, more than half of small businesses do not have a website, according to a 2013 survey of more than 3,800 small businesses conducted by Google and Ipsos with more recent reports indicating that number has only slightly increased.
What's the hang-up? Many people think they need to learn HTML to build a website or fork over thousands of dollars to an agency. However, there are many platforms out there that make building a website a budget- and user-friendly experience. Sure, you have the bigwigs in the space like WordPress, Squarespace and Weebly, but there are actually a host of other, smaller-known website builders that are strong contenders in this space.
Here are some awesome website builders, chock full of pros and cons, price per page, usability, functionality and support to widen your perspective when it comes to building a website.
SiteBuilder is has an easy-to-use editor and features... and it's free. It offers a free domain hosting and Web templates. SiteBuilder offers a clean and organized control panel the website editor, catering to the less experienced users. Plus, you can integrate animations to make your website look all-the-more professional.
Upgraded plans, which offer SEO and email tools, start at $7.95 per month.
The cons of SiteBuilder? Third-party add-ons and applications do not integrate well. (Many businesses add apps for social media, SEO, editorial planning and multimedia to supplement the platform.)
Websitebuilder.com is another powerful website design platform for businesses. Many businesses are leery of the cost of domain hosting, and this particular platform's hosting capabilities are free. Like SiteBuilder, WebsiteBuilder is easy to use thanks to its website templates. This platform is also great for the DIY-er, as it has drag-and-drop tools, 10,000-plus templates and a host of help guides. Ecommerce companies should take note of this platform, as it integrates well with this sector.
The best bonus: It is one of the only site builders on the market that offer a truly free website service. However, the blog functionality isn't the best and is in need of some work.
Sitey offers a fantastic template selection and user-friendly text editor. Though it is not as popular as mainstream Web builders, it is a great option for businesses because it has good mobile design capabilities, social media integration, hosting and image selection.
From within the editor it is very easy to preview your website, on desktop and mobile, save it and finally publish it -- an important feature for any business.
You can choose from a free option, or upgrade to "Starter," "Pro" or "Ecommerce" plans, which cost $4.35, $6.85, and $12.47 per month respectively. Pro is the best value for money, with 5GB storage, free hosting, a unique domain name, mobile design functionality and advertising credits.
The cons of Sitey? ... No forum for community support.
If you have baseline knowledge of Web design and development, consider using iPage for your web service.
What started out as a Web hosting company, turned into additional features with quality hosting service that iPage is known for. In fact, iPage's site builder is free with domain and hosting packages. With a package, iPage offers free domain, ad credits, photo gallery and even PayPal integration is included in the price. And, iPage's basic package that starts at just $1.99.
The website editor on iPage is powered by Weebly, offering all the features you would expect to see such a highly rated website builder. A negative of iPage is that it has only 200 website templates, which in comparison isn't a lot.
Though well-known website builders have their perks, there are definitely advantages of smaller website builders. Ultimately you need to decide what works best for you based on things like usability, cost, compatibility, restrictions, functionality and integration with other marketing tools.
Allie Gray Freeland is a Marketing Communications Consultant based in Kansas City, KS. A graduate of the University of Minnesota - School of Journalism, her passion lies in the art of business communication. While not working she's hanging out with her Goldendoodles, son Bennett, and husband Ryan. Connect with her on Twitter at @AllieGrayFree.