orange and pink cartoon style browser window with search bar question: 'which website builder should I use?' and 4 logos in centre: WordPress, Square, Shopify and Squarespace

How Do I Start My Small Business’ Website?

Website

How Do I Start My Small Business’ Website?

Popular Website Builders: Square, Squarespace, Shopify, and WordPress

Affiliate links are included in this blog post about website builders so you can support my work at no additional cost to you (and some include sweeeeet deals). These links provide a small bonus to me for the time and effort I dedicate to creating and sharing free content and offering my professional services.

It’s 2024 and having a strong online presence is crucial for small businesses and personal brands. Website builders have simplified the process of creating a website, empowering users to establish themselves online without the need for extensive technical knowledge.

If you can make your own social media accounts by yourself, chances are you are capable of beginning a website using one of these website builders too.

I word this with ‘beginning to create a site’ as ensuring your site is built to serve your audience for your business goals (whether ecommerce, services or a combination of both) as well as covering your country’s and global legal policies necessary documentation on your website, are only some of the further optimisations necessary for expanding and strengthening your online presence.

So let’s begin with the popular options used for creative businesses and Mumpreneurs: Square (Up), Squarespace, Shopify, and WordPress are widely used for small businesses (and corporations too), each with their own pros and definite cons for specific business uses.

Square

Fully known as Square Up, Square is the popular Point of Sale (POS) system for markets, events and on-the-go sales and invoicing for small businesses that expanded to have its own website builder in 2018 when it acquired Weebly. Monthly/yearly subscription, with the option for a free website (free Square domain only).

Recommended for: food and drink operators with online ordering, small ecommerce and service-based businesses that aren’t looking to grow/scale business

Square Site Builder Pros:

  1. Square’s website builder integrates with its POS for card payments and recording cash payments too, with receipts texted and/or emailed directly to customers
  2. Free site option (without domain connection) with some template site options to choose from
  3. Mobile app version of Square allows website editing, invoicing, e-contracts and customer management

Square Site Builder Cons:

  1. Zero coding customisation, only code embedding in sections
  2. Using it’s email marketing and further addons can make it more expensive than Squarespace or Shopify’s fees
  3. Clunky and slow loading site builder = slow website for customers and search engines

Squarespace

Squarespace and Square get confused with each other all the time! There’s a huge capability difference though. Squarespace’s ability to utilise code as well as it’s powerful and true Fluid Engine drag-and-drop builder means it is the site builder for visual design and creativity, and for allowing responsive design across all devices from laptop/desktop view to mobile view. Monthly/yearly subscription, with the option for a 14 day free trial, or extended free trial with my Squarespace Circle access and 20% off your first year of annual subscription.

Recommended for: service-based businesses and small ecommerce (digital or physical products).

Squarespace Site Builder Pros:

  1. Stunning templates available for creating your website with clear desktop and mobile editing for responsive design
  2. Online course management and subscription functionality paired with Acuity for free or paid bookings/scheduling appointments

Squarespace Site Builder Cons:

  1. Add ons add up for email marketing, Acuity etc. to be more expensive than Shopify’s monthly/yearly fees (comparing ecommerce only, not online courses or services)
  2. Steeper learning curve for beginners to web design

Shopify

Shopify is the Queen of website builders, and is specifically for ecommerce (digital or physical products). Not only does this site builder allow for mass editing of products, it’s also speedier regarding the site builder’s loading, and a higher amount of functionality inlcuded that aren’t paid addons such as full coding access, email marketing and automations, currency display and basic website legals too. Monthy/yearly subscription with 3 days free trial, then the first month at $1USD before rolling over to an active subscription.

Recommended for: online selling (ecommerce) – physical and digital products

Shopify Site Builder Pros:

  1. Specialized ecommerce features such as mass product/category editing, email marketing and code functionality for online stores included in monthly/yearly subscriptions
  2. Extensive app store for added free and paid functionalities, such as Ricemill’s MyPost Business integration and Order Printer app for mass customer invoice/order print off
  3. Shopify POS for in-person selling without using Square POS that doesn’t integrate with Shopify

Shopify Site Builder Cons:

  1. Specific transaction fees added on for using external payment gateways
  2. Higher pricing plans for advanced features such as having D2C/B2C website and B2B wholesale login (Shopify Plus is necessary for this)
  3. Only recommended for ecommerce, and not for courses or service bookings (unless services are addons such as personalisations to products, recommend the Infinite Options app for this functionality)

WordPress (.org)

The King of custom websites that need ecommerce, services, or both! WordPress.org (not to be confused with WordPress.com) is an open-source content management system – meaning this is accessible site builder that you are not paying a company like Shopify or Squarespace a monthly fee for being able to build your site and host it too: you are sorting this out yourself (or through a professional Web Designer like me). Which means you can also backup your website offline, and aren’t reliant on Squarespace, Shopify etc. for their monthly/yearly billing and changes to terms/policies (or closing up business, leaving your website hanging and having to copy and paste it elsewhere).

It does mean if you aren’t sorting your own hosting, domain, free or purchased themes, it can be a time consuming learning curve that not all small businesses can afford to do themselves while also trying to run their income generating activities, and establish their online presence. Monthly/yearly hosting subscriptions apply with various charges across hosting companies such as Siteground or Ventra IP.

Recommended for: ecommerce (physical and digital products), services, scalable growth and combination businesses

WordPress website Pros:

  1. Highly customisable web design with an immense amount of free and paid themes and plugins (apps) for enhancing functionalities
  2. Quicker loading times from its initial setup, with full coding and SEO access and capabilities compared to Square, Squarespace and Shopify

WordPress website Cons:

  1. Themes and plugins require regular updates and maintenance for optimal performance and ensuring your site is secure
  2. Steepest learning curve compared to previous site builders due to its complexity of sorting own hosting and connections – a Web Designer like myself simplifies and walks you through the whole process as well as offering maintenance packages for security, backups and future website updates

Whether you prioritise learning to DIY your website until you are ready to invest in professionalising your online presence, need the easiest to use site builder for yourself, require full customisation options for your products or services, email marketing capabilities, or SEO-friendliness; each of these website builders offers unique strengths and weaknesses depending on your business planning, investment and scalability needs.

Consider your specific requirements and goals for your business to boom, as well as what your dream business site would look and function like to you, for you to choose the platform that best aligns with your needs in the end.

Ready to chat with a creative Web Designer for your existing or new website?

Lock in your free Discovery Session today to discuss your website and online presence needs.

Who wrote this?

I’m Kira! Arts, English & Humanities High School Teacher turned Web Geek, living my teenage dreams as a Social Media Manager, Content Creator & Web Designer for women in business & creative entrepreneurs.

I provide holistic, done-for-you Creative Web services across Social Media and Web Design, as well as Pick My Brain Sessions to empower you to learn how to problemsolve common issues with your social media or website, making web design and being online simple.

In my free time I enjoy sewing comfy and stretchy outfits, playing Switch games with my family, or sharing business (and non-business) content on my social media accounts.

Join me on Facebook and Instagram, and stuffing around on TikTok.

Let’s get your creative business online today!

Kira Hansen

Creative Web Geek, Brisbane Creative Web Studio