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Over 3/4s of UK surfers check online before making a product or service purchase.
So, if your business isn’t online, you’re missing out on lots of potential money-making opportunities.
This guide is here to help you do so without spending a lot upfront.
In this guide, we’ll look at cheap website builders that offer perhaps the best ROI value. We’ve curated a list that considers: long-term growth abilities/SEO, user-friendliness, visitor experience - and of course, how cheap it is to use.
Cheapest Website Builder UK 2021 🇬🇧
#1: WordPress + SiteGround Hosting
The Most Popular Website Building Tool 🥇
WordPress has been around since 2003, created by two developers from the US/UK. A third friend suggested the name WordPress and the company was born. So it’s only fitting to start our cheap website builder UK review with WP.
By autumn of 2009, WP had the strongest brand strength of any open source CMS, according to the Open Source CMS market share report. Currently, almost two-thirds of all websites on the internet use WordPress as their content management system of choice.
If you ever feel like optimizing your site even further check out - 21 ways to speed up your WordPress.
What’s the Deal With .Org vs .Com?
So you’ve stumbled on the fact that WordPress actually has two different websites that work under the same name but offer very different things...
It used to be that only the .org website could make money for the average Joe. But now they’ve expanded their business plans. The .com website could be for you if you’re a small business or online store.
But if you want pro features with less cost, including monetisation - and lots of customizability, plugins, and the ability to rank high on search engines - the WordPress.org website is likely the best option.
Related Read: WordPress org vs. com.
WordPress is free to download and start using, with free themes. They’re specialists at building websites so you’ll need a separate host if you go with their most popular and versatile WordPress.org builder.
Keep it Simple if You’re Non-Technical
Because WordPress can do so much, the more you try to do with it, the more challenging it is to use (more than other providers in this guide).
Manipulating the layout may require an understanding of web development and web design theory. But if you choose a simple theme and simple strategy, you can get started without much hassle. Just keep themes, plugins and WP versions updated.
Overall: If you want something very capable but simple, you can build a website with zero coding knowledge. Get access to 1000s of independently-made themes and plugins - great for blogs, portfolio sites, posts, shopfronts and landing pages.
Pricing and Plans
As for your host, we recommend SiteGround, who ranked highest in our best WordPress hosting review: get a free SSL, unlimited storage, 24/7 support and excellent value for money. Get a 30-day trial.
WordPress is free to set up and start using. There are plenty of free themes, and cheap themes that perform very well at getting good traffic - also giving visitors a great user experience, e.g. mobile responsiveness.
- Create organic traffic for passive income
- Get seen on search engine page results (SERPS)
Best Free Website Builder 🥈
Wix has been around since 2006, created by a small team of Israeli developers.
It’s still headquartered in Tel Aviv and, in 2010, had 3.5 million users - as of summer 2020, this reached somewhere in the region of 180 million registered users (190 countries around the world).
This is likely the most popular drag-and-drop builder on the planet. It’s also #1 on our best free website builder list because of how quickly you can create a fully functional site… In 30mins:
- Populate a premade professional template.
- Completely automate your SEO process with a few clicks using the ‘SEO Wiz’.
This is our top recommendation if you have stumbled upon a new niche that’s somewhat new or low in competition for rankings. The same goes for if you’re creating a website for personal branding reasons, where somebody may search you up using a business card for instance.
For that, it’s hard to think of any faster and more affordable solution to creating a website if you’re not a web developer or web designer than something like Wix.
The Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) system leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence in order to make your website as quickly as possible, even migrating content from pre-existing websites.
Choose from more than 300 templates sorted by popularity and category. Editing the website is intuitive, as you can drag & drop things around the screen.
This is where it really gets juicy… Let’s say that you found a crisp new niche that you want to rank high in and monetise for. The competition is low and you have plenty of content that you think people searching for that search query will want and need.
Use their artificial intelligence to not only find the most popular keywords - but to find opportunities, optimise content and track your success.
All good to increase visibility… Wix automatically indexes your site on Google, analyses keywords and walks you through optimisations with a step-by-step checklist system.
They also have testimonials for the system boosting the visibility of pre-existing websites.
While there are some questions around how well Wix can compete with WordPress for SEO (see WordPress vs Wix), even top experts like HREFs have a hard time seeing a clear difference between the two, for SEO.
Pricing and Plans
For less than £6 with their most popular premium plan - the Unlimited Plan (for entrepreneurs and freelancers) - you’ll get unlimited bandwidth, zero unwanted ads, 10GB storage, a free domain for a year and more.
Of course, there’s also a free plan with free hosting but if you want your website for business purposes, this isn’t recommended.
Possibly the best website builder UK 2021 if you see a low-competition opportunity.
When You Think of Ecommerce Think Shopify 🛍️
Shopify was formed in 2006 by a German kid who wanted to sell snowboards online. He set up his own e-commerce system and then it dawned on him that others may benefit from it too.
Easily create, launch and manage online storefronts with what’s now a leading eCom solution (online sales), enabling over:
- 800,000 stores.
- 3,000 employees.
- $63 billion sales
It integrates with other eCom providers like Facebook, eBay, and Amazon (more on that below). Get 24/7 support via live chat for any technical issues. Also integrate this with WordPress...
Use a very simple WordPress theme for content. Then set up a Shopify account as your easy online store solution. You can connect it to WordPress.
Get access to core marketing tools, such as very convenient SEO basics:
Quickly create landing pages and set up marketing campaigns for Facebook ads, Google Ads, email and so on.
The SEO is fully crawlable, with neat codes. Expect clean codes. Customize meta descriptions, title tags - even for collections. Canonicals are executed well.
The design is fully mobile/tablet responsive - with free themes for many different niches and a drag & drop system.
Shopify stands out for the plethora of App Store apps.
Expand your storefront to different channels and provisions such as Facebook, “Buy Now” Instagram buttons and Bitcoin.
No need to find developers for specific capabilities. Likely, you’ll find a much cheaper solution that works exactly as you need... this may be Shopify’s most powerful feature.
Pricing and Plans
You have to take some time getting used to how e-commerce systems create pricing plans as it can be very confusing. There will be differences in fees and subscription packages.
Shopify offers perhaps the best value around but we suggest that you take your time comparing between other payment systems such as Square and Authorise.net. Here are the four main fees you should consider:
- Monthly Cost - the cheapest plan is the Lite plan at $9/mo, but the main features begin at $29/mo
- Transaction Fees -If you use Shopify as your main payment processor, there will be zero transaction fees
- Credit Card Fees - Shop advice payment system goes solely through them which will save you money
- Add-on Fees - One reason Shopify is such a heavyweight in the online store industry is because it has so many powerful third-party plug-ins. Some of these cost money.
Instagram Shopping and Great Design 🛒
Squarespace (SS) is another easy website building solution that allows you to create something beautiful without needing to spend years learning CSS and HTML.
Known for stunning designs, Squarespace (Squarespace review - also contains step-by-step setup instructions) is a smaller competitor to WordPress and Wix. Edit content intuitively live without having to continually alternate between the frontend and backend.
If you want to add in custom coding, this is possible although it requires you to talk to the support team rather than be possible instantly inside of the application.
You can get set up in 7 main steps: make an account, choose a plan, choose a theme, add a domain, make/manage pages, lay out your website, then add marketing and eCommerce,.
Squarespace lets you easily migrate a pre-existing website to their system. Keep the URL you already use or choose a new custom one with SS.
If you go for the free URL, you will be given a SquareSpace subdomain which looks like: yoursitename.squarespace.com.
And the marketing section gives you lots of options: from social media buttons to pop-ups and product pages. Set up online storefronts and create special coupon codes. And the SEO is also straightforward. Configure basic aspects like descriptions and meta titles without needing any coding.
Products on Instagram
This eCommerce solution lets you sell via Instagram.
The basic process: Tag products in your posts and stories. Along with these tags will be a “Shop Now” button with extra details.
The powerful thing about this feature is that Instagram users can purchase your products while still on Instagram’s app, ie. without having to ever leave it - particularly because IG is still one of the most important social media providers out there.
Pricing and Plans
The Personal plan is the cheapest at £13.50/mo (£10/mo annual). It comes with an SSL security certificate, plugins, 24/7 support, a free custom domain and unlimited bandwidth and storage.
The Business plan gives you 0% transaction fees with extra premium features and deeper reporting insights. The eCommerce system is fully integrated. This begins at £20/mo (£15/mo annual).
The Most Innovative Website Builder 🎨
For cheap website design UK, Zyro is the newest website builder on this list, having launched in 2019. It combines website building and artificial intelligence to create websites in a simple, fast manner.
That said, it needs some time to establish a reputation but you can expect drag & drop grid layouts that let you create a full website in a small amount of time without needing coding knowledge.
If you want something with a very simple user interface, without confusing arrays of features, Zyro could be a good bet. Find the most important tools at the top of your design screen.
Find dozens of templates on premium plans, with roughly 20 if you go for the first level. Expect to find the most common categories are websites such as art and design, fashion and food.
One downside is that there templates can’t be customised that much. Perhaps they will expand this in the future, for instance being able to change colours but not fonts.
Once again, this is a good choice if you want something minimalistic - a no-nonsense website builder without frills.
Note: You won’t be able to manipulate spacing, as each template comes with a specific grid outline.
The SSL certificate comes with every plan for no extra charge.
AI & Add-Ons
There are some interesting artificial intelligent tools such as the AI Writer. There’s no shortcut to writing quality content but this tool can generate industry relevant content, which you can use as a brainstorming tool.
The AI Heat Map feature is more useful, showing you the trajectory visitors make when visiting your site (the most popular pages, so you can optimise for better conversions). It essentially works as a very basic sales funnel tool.
Pricing and Plans
If you want third-party plug-ins, you’ll need to pay for the Unleashed plan at the minimum (around £3), which is essentially the same price as the basic plan. You may overall find certain key plugins missing from this website builder.
Buying Guide 🛍️
Build a Website for Beginners
Creating a website is about as simple as you make it. You’ll need these 3 things:
- Website host
The first step is choosing the best web host for your purposes and a domain name. This is the backend aspect of making your website findable online. Without either of these, you won’t be online.
Once you set these up, you can design your site using a builder (content management system). The most popular around is WordPress, powering over one-third of all internet sites.
#1 Domain Name Registrar
The online address where your website will be found.
For instance, ‘hostingdata.co.uk’: visitors type this into the web browser’s address bar, to load your site up.
Our recommendation is NameCheap, as you’ll get free privacy protection. Others like GoDaddy/NameJet charge $35+ more for the same options.
- For a personal site, yourname.com is a solid choice
- For business, try to match your domain name with your business name. For instance, yourbusinessname.com
- For SEO, we recommend you use the most common URL extensions: .com, .net, or .org
Related Read: Top Domain Registrars
#2 Web Host
Web hosts store and host your website’s contents and files on a managed server that constantly runs, with security protections. Hosting servers are found in data centres.
Here are a few things to look for when choosing a web host:
- Location of the nearest server (the nearer the better)
- FREE domain name & an SSL certificate
- No bandwidth limits, to prevent bottlenecks
- Custom emails
- 24/7 live chat support
Our top recommendation is SiteGround, which gives you all of the above for a very affordable price.
Your host should have servers located in your country. But if your audience is mostly on the Asian subcontinent, check out our web hosting India guide.
#3 Website Design
Fortunately, we’ve created this cheap website design UK article for you. Scroll through to the top section to review the top 5 choices again of website builders.
WordPress is the most popular website builder in the world and probably has an edge in terms of SEO, which means it will be more findable via search engines by visitors.
That said, if you are new to website building and do not have the time or patience to spend a few days getting to grips with the basics, Wix will set you up in only a matter of minutes or hours, making SURE you get online.
How much time do you have? WordPress has the most amount of features and abilities, but Wix makes sure you get a website up and running without developing a migraine in the process. You can always redesign your content using WordPress later.
What Is a Website Builder?
Website builders let you construct websites without needing to manually do the coding or code editing. How does a website builder work?
The two main types of website builders: online and offline.
#1 Offline Website Builders
These website builders are self-awareness programs you installed on your computer. Using it, you can create a website and save files in computer folders, then when ready upload this to your web host of choice.
This is more an option for someone who already has technical web development skills with something such as Rapidweaver.
#2 Online Website Builders
By far the most common form and the type in this guide.
This type of website builder is web-based, which you can one on your web browser such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. Build and manage your website from any location or device. Some website builders also offer web hosting.
How Hard Is It to Make A Website?
You’ve seen the six-figure salaries of web developers - you’re wondering whether it's worth attempting to create a website for yourself with a cheap website builder (without paying for a developer).
The truth is yes... It’s hard work to make a website that’s high-performing, competitive with SEO and optimally designed.
As a result, creating websites alone can be a very inefficient way of going about getting a sorted website. The one exception to this is using a drag & drop builder like Wix.
Wix automates the process, with some SEO compromises.
But if you’re looking to dominate a space with solid competition, it’s in your best interest to hire an affordable developer/someone with SEO knowledge. For this, WordPress is hard to beat.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. In order to understand it, you need to look at it separate traffic dimensions:
Is irrelevant how many visit your site if they’re an unrelated audience. Perhaps you’re selling online workout courses but the only people visiting want cheeseburgers.
You want people very interested in your product or offer, and perhaps ready to buy something.
Relative, as your niche may not need a lot of people in order for you to make your livelihood. For instance, perhaps your pricing is higher-margin. Once you have accurate traffic, quantity is the next most important aspect for SERPs (search engine result pages).
Means the high-quality/quantity traffic flooding your site comes free. Paying for SERP’s via paid ads lowers your profit margin.
Organic traffic is the cornerstone to having passive or semi-passive income. You can do this up by creating high quality content that search engines reward more and more over time.
Going into a competitive SEO space? Chances are you’ll need to pay a Wordpress designer/developer… But if it’s a new or low-competition space, Wix could be more than enough.
Should I Pay for A Web Developer?
The four main reasons you should pay for a web developer, unless the niche you are entering is low in competition (and you can therefore use a drag-and-drop option like Wix):
You may think that you’re saving money by using a free website builder but the time involved required for you to learn to build an effective website will come at an extreme cost to your business.
Any free website builder will probably be a free trial, after which point you will be charged a monthly fee, or have inconvenient URLs and banners that put off SEO and visitors.
The most important apps and features such as SSL certificates will also require an additional hidden fee.
#2 Functionality / Look
A badly designed website will create a bad first impression, which counts when it comes to your brand and trustworthiness.
Even worse, if your website is difficult to navigate or looks generic, it will make it hard for you to stand out.
#3 Performance / Support
The better the performance of your website, the more that SERPs reward you and the better your conversions.
Then there’s SEO, which if not done well, will leave you invisible online. Once again, unless your space has little to no competition, it's recommended to pay for a professional.
And premium providers offer swift technical help when you inevitably experience a technical issue with your website.
Time is money. Try to create a website yourself and you won’t only need to spend hours inputting content and arranging it, you will also need to spend days, weeks and perhaps more learning the theory behind web development.
Know the level of competition you’re aiming to out-compete and set aside investment money appropriately.
Common Website Jargon / Terminology 📚
In this section, we’ve organized the most common web designer and development terminologies you’re likely to come across:
The backbone of websites and the internet.
Essentially, it’s a bunch of computers connected together, in order to store massive amounts of data.
Buildings with lots of servers are typically called data centres.
You’ve probably heard a lot about ‘content creation’. This is what the person sees when they search you up on a search engine and enter onto one of your webpages. SERPs reward you for high-quality content that keeps visitors on your page for longer.
How accessible is your website by those with disabilities: do you have disability guides with larger icons and simpler copy, to help sites navigation? Many web designers do not take this into consideration.
Short for Cascading Style Sheets. This is a coding language that helps HTML code lay itself out in your webpage better. In a way of thinking, HTML codes for text and CSS codes for the actual page design.
#5 Static Layout
This can be easy to design but lacks flexibility. If you try to visit a page with a static layout on different devices, pages will be unresponsive and require awkward scrolling to the property, such as in a mobile device. Mobile responsiveness is the standard in most instances of top-performing websites.
What we called the image that pops up next to your domain name if you look at the address bar in your web browser.
#7 Mobile Responsiveness
Mobile responsive layouts adapted to the device being used.
They shrink or increase the width of the page in order to fit as much content as possible.
This is the standard now for web design.
#8 Style Guide
Consistent styling is very important for branding. Use too many colours or shapes and it can confuse the focal point of the user. Good web design uses complementary colours, and this can typically be found as a premade template in a web design theme.
#9 UX Design
The feel, look and user-friendliness of a website is what we call the ‘UX design’. To do this well, you need to look through the user’s eyes; experience the website through them.
This is a type of web development framework, relating to how websites are coded. It’s completely free.
#11 Graphical User Interface
Software that makes devices simpler to use. For instance, your mobile home screen has apps and menus organized in a clever way to make navigation straightforward.
#12 Growth Driven Design
The theory behind web design, aimed at making websites in the simplest way possible. As a site close, complexities increase, but the foundations give everything a care regularity, which also helps updating in a logical way.
There’s an enormous number of processes at work that cannot be seen by the user. This is known as the ‘back end’ of your website. One example is the WordPress dashboard.
#14 Bad Neighbourhood
A name given to groups of websites, perhaps with similar IP addresses, that have bad search ranking scores and bad reputations. If your website gets trusted in that neighbourhood, chances are that you will damage your chances of ranking well in SERPs. This is a good reason to choose a quality web host.
This is your device’s temporary storage space, there so that your browser can be more efficient.
If you visit a webpage and accept cookies, your browser stores a record of pages you visited;
The next time you visit, your browser doesn’t need to reprocess them, saving loading time.
What’s the Difference Between Web Development and Web Design?
You can think of web design as the front end of the website which includes usability, and some of the backend involved in managing the layouts and of our visual elements. They’ll know about web design principles: balance, contrast, emphasis, consistency, and unity.
Is a Wix Website Completely Free?
Sure. But for pro capabilities such as custom domain names or eCommerce, you’ll need to upgrade to a premium package. The cheapest plan is roughly £18/mo.
Wix is ideal for small businesses (entering a non-hyper-competitive market), artists, restaurants, online stores and photographs. Templates are optimized for mobile devices and there’s lots of apps available in the Wix App Market.
How to Hire a Web Developer?
A web developer may be one of the most important hires you make. They’ll help you to build an optimal online face for your business - making the wrong decision could hurt your success. Here are five tips:
#1 Check That They Have the Same Sensibilities
It may not be smart to hire somebody with a large corporate website portfolio if you’re a startup company. Large companies place less emphasis on self-starting, versatility and risk-taking. Does the person you’re considering hiring understand the niche you’re in?
#2 Test on a Smaller Project First
Don’t test the design on the most important project, but one that’s peripheral. Once they’ve proven efficient, you can upgrade them: did they put in extra effort? How creative was the final product? How about communication and timeliness?
#3 Test for Somebody Who’s Cutting-Edge
Ask about the new programming languages they recently learned. Ask where they go to learn new tricks and know-how. Ask what their top technology conference is… Programming becomes obsolete roughly every 24 months or so - you need someone who’s able to adapt to new landscapes quickly.
#4 Avoid Asking Specific Technical Questions
Don’t question them on the specific year PHP was released or who created HTML programming. Focus on passion, their ability to communicate and general open questions about how they can deal with technical issues.
Hire slowly, fire fast. Choose someone who works well with your workflow.
In Conclusion 🏁
To summarize our cheap website builder UK review: WordPress provides the most flexible solution with tons of free templates. But if you want anything complicated, it could require an enormous time investment – in that case, it’s best to hire a web developer/designer.
Wix is the best “do it yourself” website builder - and maybe the best website builder for small business UK side, for those who’ve found a niche without much competition. For instance, a personal website you don’t need to rank high in SERPs for.
You might just hand out a business card and somebody can find you using it – or your website is linked to a specific location in Google Maps, perhaps you bake cakes on your local high street. Or when the SEO difficulties are low.
Rule of thumb: the more you need to rank high in SERPs for particular search queries, the wiser it could be to hire experts. Just remember: avoid spending savings (vs investment money) to start a new business.