Best Website Platform for Small Business 

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

So you want to build a website for your small business, but you’re not sure which platform is best to host and build your website on. I get it! There are so many options and the ones that are best for you really depend on your specific business and what kind of resources you’re willing to contribute to launch the perfect website for showcasing your services and products.

I am writing this comparison from the perspective of a small business owner that wants to get online easily without paying massive development fees, and wants to choose the best platform for them from the start instead of having to jump around.

This angle is largely focused on service based businesses, as that’s who I tend to work with most often, but I will also touch on my recommendations for the best e-commerce platform. 

Best Small Biz Website Platforms Summarized

Don’t need to read the full comparisons and just want a quick answer to the best website builder/host for your small business? Here you go:

1. Self-hosted WordPress: best for business owners who do want to maintain their own server or are okay consistently paying someone else unpredictable fees to do so, are comfortable with a learning curve, and are comfortable handling WordPress errors as they come up. 

2. ProPages (our builder) : best for service providers and business owners who don’t want to deal with hosting and servers, don’t necessarily want to build their site themselves, want fixed predictable costs, yet still want the DIY customization of a quality website builder once its live, and would prefer to have a direct support on hand (me & my team!) vs a big company support maze. 

3. Squarespace: best for consultants, entreprenuers, and business owners who don’t  want to deal with hosting and servers, but do want to build or work on the site themselves, and are okay with paying someone else to do updates when they don’t feel like it. Or, perhaps they prefer the Squarespace community and support system. 

4. Shopify: best for business owners who will have a heavy emphasis on ecommerce products. Shopify is the best, easiest, out-of-the-box solution for a DIY ecommerce site for your small business – and even if your site is somewhere else, their cart can still be used to sell products from your SMB website on any other platform. 

Website Builders Comparison Chart

PlatformSelf-hosted WordPressProPagesSquarespaceShopifyWix
Monthly cost$10-15 plus variable dev costs$70$12-40$9-$299Free-$39
Server MgmtRegular upkeep requiredNone (done for you)None (done for you)None (done for you)None (done for you)
Visibility ratingCAN be great with proper optimizationGreat out of the boxGreat out of the boxGreat out of the boxDecent
Required maintenanceHighNone (done for you)LowLowLow
Technical supportNoneConciergeBasicBasicBasic
Website updates and changes included?NoYesNoNoNo
Cost of extra updatesUnpredictableFlat feeUnpredictableUnpredictableUnpredictable
Best for…Bloggers, tech savvy business owners, business owners who need extensive custom featuresService based business owners who want 0 tech headaches and predictable costs.Public figures, consultants, entreprenuers, who want lower monthly costs, don’t need regular updates, or don’t mind paying for them.Businesses with e-commerce as MAIN focusBusiness owners who prefer Wix’s backend over Squarespace.

Website Platforms to Avoid – Free/Lacking

Before we jump into platform specifics and comparisons, there are a handful of website platforms I would strongly urge you  not to use. These are any free platforms where your features are limited (meaning you’ll have to move later anyways, doubling the amount of time and effort you put in, instead of doing it right the first time), or where the out-of-the-box functionality of the platform will impact your visibility negatively.

The website platforms I personally do not recommend using are Weebly and Hostinger.

Why? Because after 14+ years helping businesses increase their visibility in search engines, I can tell you Weebly and Hostinger’s builders are not set up to get you the best visibility for your effort. I know their ease of use is very attractive, but I have never seen a high performing website on either of those platforms, and instead see massive gains in search engine visibility when moving from one of those platforms to any of the 4 recommended above.  

If you are desperate for a low cost small business website and just need to get a page up, I would instead recommend a one-page free website with Canva,  as long as it’s used with a custom domain. And I would only recommend that until you can afford a higher quality platform.

So, which recommended platform is best for YOUR business? 

Let’s jump into features and comparisons for the website builders I would recommend.

Which platform is best for you depends on a few key factors that you need to ask yourself.  

  1. Which resource would I rather put towards my online presence – time or money?
  2. Of that, how much time or money am I willing to personally input to maintain the website?
  3. What type of business do I have and therefore what type of website am I trying to put together? (local service based business, consultant/entrepreneur portfolio, blogger, ecommerce store)?

With those questions in mind, here are the best business hosting platforms I can recommend with their pros and cons, and why they might (or might not) be the right fit for you.


Are you comfortable learning a technical website platform, dealing with website errors, cpanels, FTP connections, and performing maintenance yourself? Then WordPress might be a great platform for you!

When set up correctly with speed optimization and site-architecture/crawl optimization in place, this is a very customizable website platform. WordPress as a platform is free, and your only ongoing platform costs are to the host of your choice. There are even great front-end page builders like Thrive Architect to make the design process more straightforward.

When done yourself, this can be a low cost but high learning curve/time-intensive option to get set up.

When built by someone else, this can be a useful way to get online at a low monthly cost, as long as the web designer knows how to optimize it for you and as long as you can maintain it yourself (or pay someone else to when issues come up.)

PROS: Highly customizable, large online community, many plugins since it’s one of the most popular platforms.

CONS: Too many features/bloat for what most businesses really need, typically the least secure website platform out there (and dealing with a hack is NO fun), have to stay on top of maintenance and updates (which might break your site) by yourself, or pay someone else to do it – usually an unpredictable cost.

Use WordPress if you’re not scared of tech, or of paying someone who can handle the tech. If you just need a small business website though without extensive custom features, a website builder might be a better option for your business long term.


Do you want all of the perks of an optimized WordPress website (high visibility, great user experience, easy to update content), without the tech headaches? Or do you want done-for-you website updates and changes  included in the platform fee, and with an easy, intuitive website builder to make endless changes yourself to your heart’s content?

Then a site built on ProPages might be the right choice for your business. 

ProPages is our internal platform, and it’s like WordPress and Squarespace had a baby. I believe in this platform so much that this website you’re reading right now is built on it .

It is more SEO-friendly than Squarespace out of the box, and more intuitive, easy to update, secure, and optimized than WordPress. It has all of the features a small business needs without extra bloat, SEO or security issues, or constant maintenance. 

Even non-technical business owners can log in to make changes if they want to, but the platform also includes 1 set of changes per month – so you can update your website as often as you want at a predictable cost. You get the optimization of WordPress and the ease of Squarespace.. without ever having to touch your website again if you prefer not to.

We don’t offer fully Do-It-Yourself plans (yet), but a site on ProPages is an affordable and low-time-intensive way to get online quickly, with a website that does everything you need it to (including blogging.) Your startup costs start around 500 and grow depending on how many optimized pages you need.

PROS: Optimized out of the box, predictable cost, your level of hands-on time is completely elective and up to you, there is no server maintenance, and the interface is incredibly intuitive. 

CONS: Because of the concierge/direct support, and done-for-you nature of maintenance and website changes, this  is slightly pricier than other site builders like Squarespace, where you are on your own or have to hire outside help.

Use ProPages if you’re a service based business that needs a reliable, beautiful website – without banging your head against the wall, spending hours learning new technology, or dealing with hiring unpredictable outside help.


Are you a public figure, consultant, or entrepreneur who needs to get online without managing your own hosting, and need to stick to a smaller budget, but you are pretty hands on and are okay with hiring outside help when you need it? 

Then a Squarespace website might be the right choice for your business.

It tends to lack the bloat and security issues of an un-managed WordPress website, while having a pretty intuitive design editing interface. Its visibility is not *perfect* out of the box because of some platform quirks (for example, navigation links don’t point to the canonicals of each page – which in layman’s terms means the internal linking they use gives less value throughout your site, in Google’s eyes) but if you don’t want to learn WordPress and are okay being pretty hands-on, it is a great site builder to get started with (and eons better than Weebly or Hostinger builder.) 

With a little time and effort, a business owner can build an effective Squarespace website that won’t need constant technical babysitting. 

However, there is no hands-on support offered here. If you want your website updated or changed, you’ll either have to do it yourself or find someone to hire, often at an unpredictable cost. 

PROS: *Mostly* optimized out of the box, very affordable, no server maintenance, easy to build a nice looking website yourself, can hire out hands-on help if you don’t want to do it yourself, more secure and easier to learn than WordPress. 

CONS: The platform fee only covers hosting and basic support – Squarespace plans don’t provide monthly content/design updates. 

Use Squarespace if you’re a public figure, artist, consultant, entrepreneur, or professional that is totally okay with being hands on on a regular basis and learning a new platform – but perhaps wants to avoid the deeper technicalities of WordPress editing and maintenance.


Do you need to build an online store for your business, with the store functionality being its primary purpose? 

Then a Shopify website might be the best hosting platform for your business.

Although Shopify can be pricy, I’ve found it has the best balance between functionality and features without having the excess number of moving parts that can constantly break in a WordPress or Magento e-commerce store.

Another factor to consider with Shopify is that if you want to sell some products but keep your website on another platform, you can use their lite plan to take advantage of their shopping cart without hosting your full website on their platform. To do so, you simply add your products to your existing website in whatever manner you prefer, and then link to Shopify. 

So you get the benefit of an excellent, bug-free checkout, without having to worry about cart security issues like you might on WordPress, and without the constant development costs/nightmares of Magento. 

The blogging functionality is not quite as good as any of the above builders, but if your priority is e-commerce, then the trade off is likely worth the switch. 

PROS: You can easily launch an online shop in a day with Shopify, and you don’t have to worry about PCI-compliance yourself, because they have a built in cart. It’s much more optimized than other e-commerce platforms, it’s secure, and it has a large community behind it for hiring third-party help and adding plugins and apps. 

CONS: If you’re hosting your website on Shopify and using a non-Shopify payment processor, they do add an extra percentage to the fee. The higher plan you’re on/the more you’re paying monthly, the smaller this fee will be (down to half of a percent.) However, I believe (anecdotally) that this fee is worth it for the checkout experience and lack of excessive development costs, because in comparison to Magento, it’s unlikely the platform fees will outweigh the extensive development costs that would be required on other platforms. The blogging functionality is also lacking in comparison to the other platforms here. 

Shopify is my best recommendation for any small business that needs e-commerce functionality as core factor of their presence online.


I’m not going to get into full comparisons of these website builder hosts here, because I honestly can’t recommend them! I think using these platforms does a big disservice to any business that wants an ROI-generating online presence. 

If you really can’t afford anything else, using the Google site builder (linked at the top of this page) is still a better option than Weebly or Wix, because it should be considered temporary until you can afford to get on a more robust platform. Or, WordPress can still be another low-cost option if you DIY it and are okay with getting around technical barriers.

Keep in mind if nobody sees your site, it’s basically like it doesn’t exist – which is why your platform is so important!

Hannah Martin

Hannah Martin

Hannah is a long-time SEO expert and website marketing strategist. She has been optimizing websites since 2010, and was previously VP of Operations at an SEO agency before starting her own SEO and web design business in 2016. She has worked with brands like Beyond Yoga, Gerber Childrenswear, Sanctuary Clothing, and dozens of small independent businesses helping them improve their SEO and build websites that work to grow their business. She's a Wordpress geek, Squarespace Circle member, and now shares her knowledge with others at TheSEOKitchen.com.

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