Choosing The Best Website Builder – United Kingdom
Choosing the best website builder for your UK-based website is a tough and often all too confusing process. It’s difficult to do a simple comparison because there is no such thing as an absolute “best website builder.”
There is only the website builder that is right for you considering all the tradeoffs, including where you & your audience are.
Even though website builders operate on a global market, the tradeoffs include, but are not limited to, your budget, your technical knowledge, the features you need, your end goals, and any UK-specific considerations such as currency, support, data regulations, etc.
Based on my experience** working with many website builders, there are a few that are a good fit for most people starting UK-based websites.
**The author is an American who does business with UK clients…please pardon my misspellings & odd turns of phrase.
Disclosure: I receive referral fees from companies mentioned on this site. My recommendations are based on my experiences as an independent paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.
Summary of Best Website Builders – UK
|Name||Best if you want to build…||Explore!|
|Wix||…a website w/ drag & drop design.||Visit!|
|Shopify||…an online store w/ tons of features.||Visit!|
|WordPress.com||…a content website w/ versatile options.||Visit!|
|Gator||…a website w/ value pricing & support.||Visit!|
Other Website Builder Options for UK-based Websites
There are plenty of options to build a website on the Internet. Website builders are the most accessible option if you want to do it yourself and hand off some of the more complex parts of a website to a company. Speed, security, and data access can be difficult when serving readers around the world. Self-hosting your own website provides more freedom, versatility & affordability, but a hosted website builder will solve a lot of those issues so that you can focus on content, product & services.
The companies listed in the summary are the ones that I most commonly recommend to UK readers. But they certainly aren’t the only options. Here’s a few other options before we cover what to look for in a website builder.
Weebly is a drag & drop builder owned by Square, the growing international payments processor. They are a good choice for a smaller online store, though they have a US-centric bent.
BigCommerce is an Australian-based global ecommerce website builder. They are more focused on online-only stores than Shopify.
GoDaddy is the global giant of website services. They have local payments & local support. The builder is limited, but very convenient.
Squarespace is a popular brand in the website builder industry. Their builder has a focus on beautiful default designs w/ access to coding features, but remains US-centric.
BoldGrid is an interesting “overlay” builder for self-hosted WordPress. It’s a website builder app that allow you to use self-hosted WordPress (and all the control benefits of it) but have drag & drop design of traditional web builders. If you are curious about self-hosted WordPress, and would like to get a free trial setup – you can check out the ShivarWeb Sandbox for WordPress here.
HostPapa is a traditional hosting company with a decidedly International focus – including UK payment & support options. They offer an accessible website builder in addition to shared hosting options for WordPress and other self-hosted software.
Google has a very basic website builder with every Google account. And it’s totally free (*but with plenty of limitations).
What to Look for in a Website Builder for a UK website
Website builders exist on a spectrum, and the builder that makes sense for you depends on what you really need out of it.
Think about when you are choosing a car. The core need is to get from point A to point B. With an website builder, you need a place for your website to “live”, a toolset to help you create the right design, and the ability to edit content. That’s it. But like car selection – there’s more to it. Here’s the most common considerations for UK website owners to look at when choosing your “top” or “best website builder.”
Where your audience is, where you are, and what you want to do determine many of your parameters. The Internet is global, but you, your audience, and your business may or may not be. Every country has small variables in how websites are built and run. Even if you are starting small, be sure to to think about where you want to be.
Consider what you are good at now, what you are interested in learning, and what is truly important. Learning some website editing might sound daunting, but learning some basic HTML might be worth the tradeoff to have better forms & templates.
Ecommerce options are basically inventory, a shopping cart and the ability accept payment. Some website builders integrate, and some offer it as an upgrade (sometime paid and sometimes free). Some offer robust platforms that integrate with international shipping & supply chains. Some have limited ecommerce functionality for basic sales of limited inventory. If you don’t need ecommerce right now, then it widens your options.
Budget & Pricing
Free is not necessarily cheap and expensive is not necessarily the best. However, budget does provide some parameters. Think about when you go car shopping – if a salesman knows you have a maximum budget of 5,000 GBP, they can at least rule out the Ferrari.
Drag & Drop Functionality
Most all website builders start with a “theme” or “template” as the design foundation. You can then customize to your liking. However, some allow for drag and drop customization. Some people like it, and some prefer to customize within set limits.
Related to the drag and drop are the pre-made templates. Some website builders have basic templates that you customize. Some offer beautiful, professionally designed templates that you aren’t really supposed to customize much.
The best websites aren’t always a click, click, done process. But if you need something quick and basic, then a fast setup might be exactly what you want.
Local Legal Considerations
The EU has strict GDPR regulations that apply to anyone collecting personal information. Online stores have to work with additional VAT regulations. While the UK doesn’t have as many data laws as Germany, it is very different than the wild west of the USA. Make sure your provider have tools to help you comply so that you can get on with your business.
A blog is simply webpages listed in reverse chronological order. However, most blogging platforms make creating new posts fast and automatically formatted in a certain way. Some website builders do not have strong blogging functionality – they focus on creating a series of static pages.
Currency & Payment Options
Think about how important currency is to you. The Pound has been volatile in recent times versus the US Dollar, but you might actually have many US customers. Think about how you want to pay and how you want to integrate payments. And if currency is not important – then say that as well.
The UK & US share the default language of most of the Internet, so UK shoppers have more choice than many countries. But it is important to consider the details of language and how much you want to customize…err, “customise”. Options like Shopify take care of href-lang tags for instance.
This consideration is straightforward – if you get stuck do you want to email/call someone or are you comfortable Googling the answer. Keep in mind that customer support costs money, and local support via multi-channels in local time costs money.