Written by Sabrina Dougall Reviewed by Robyn Summers-Emler Updated on 13 June 2022 On this page Comparison: 3 ways to set up a website 1. Use a website builder 2. Hire a web design agency 3. Use a CMS What's the difference between a CMS and a website builder? Planning Your Business Website Designing your business website Final steps Jargon buster Expand There are three ways to start a website for your business: a website builder, a web design agency or a CMS. In this guide we'll compare the three before looking at each one in turn.Fortunately, website building is no longer solely the domain of programmers and tech geniuses (see what we did there?). Now anyone who's looking to promote their homeware ecommerce business, legal consultancy or gardening services can get up and running online faster than you can say “Wix, Weebly or Squarespace?”.If you're in the dark when it comes to setting up a digital presence, then read on for a quick-fire guide to website creation in 2022.We've also included a handy jargon buster at the end of this article just in case you're still confused about any of the main terms relating to setting up a website. Quick comparison: 3 ways to set up a websiteAre you short on budget and want full creative control? A website builder is the cheapest way to get online and most are fairly simple to use.By contrast, hiring a web design agency achieves the most professional results with minimal stress on your part and no IT know-how needed whatsoever.If you’ve got a bit more technical expertise you’ll want to try a CMS for creating more precise functions.The route you take depends on the cash, time, and knowledge at your disposal. Let’s look at the side-by-side comparison of each website type based on costs, difficulty and time to build:MethodTimeCostDifficultyWebsite builder🕒🕒££££★★★★★Web design agency🕒££££★★★★★CMS🕒🕒🕒🕒££££★★★★★ 1. Use a website builder Pros Beautiful design templates No coding knowledge needed Connect domain name with ease Simple email address setup Create a site in a matter of hours Cons Less effective for large scale ecommerce websites Can look very similar to other websites You'll need to invest hours into learning new web-building skills Website builders are the cheapest and quickest option for small businesses. They don’t require knowledge of programming because they have a range of design templates you can easily customise. Website builders are great for solo entrepreneurs looking to craft a simple and effective online presence. Why? Let’s find out.Easy to useYou don’t have to be tech-savvy to use a website builder. There’s no coding involved and most website builders comes with follow-along tutorials plus strong customer support. Simple drag-and-drop builders take the hassle away, meaning you can create a website in the time it takes to cook a meal.Top notch templatesWebsite builders offer a huge range of attractive templates so you don’t have to start from scratch. Easily edit them to personalise your website and appeal to your target audience. Pick a template based on what you’re selling and create an awesome experience for your users.Low costWebsite builders are the budget-friendly option, and some are even free of charge. The catch? You’ll have to deal with ads littering your site and adding to your website domain name. It’s worth upgrading to a paid plan to get rid of the ads and make your site look more professional. You can do this from as little as £7.50/month, and we reckon it's worth every penny. Find out more: Best website builder for small businessesEverything in one placeWebsite builders let you connect a domain name and add an email address or two. Paid features let you connect useful apps like Google Analytics. You don’t have to worry about hosting and security because it’s all included. And you won’t mess around downloading anything, you'll simply create your entire website from anywhere you can access the internet.Black and white: Wix allows you to create simply stunning websites in a matter of hours.Interested in a website builder for your online store? Check out our reviews of Wix and Squarespace ecommerce platforms to find the perfect drag-and-drop designer for your business site. Compare Quotes from Leading Web Design Agencies in the UK and Save Are you ready to create your business' online presence? Yes No It takes just 30 seconds... 2. Hire a web design agency Pros Everything included: domain, hosting, security, design and functionality No coding or technical know-how needed Very minimal time investment Professional results: looks and works as you need it to Maintenance and updates taken care of for you Cons Significant financial investment Can take over a month to get up and running Success depends on your ability to communicate with the web dev team Saves you timeHiring a web design agency is the best possible use of your time – because it hardly any of it is needed. Building a website takes weeks to do properly, so you may as well leave it to the professionals and get on with running your business as usual. All that's truly necessary is an initial consultation, a follow-up meeting to confirm plans and then some phone calls and emails later down the line to make tweaks here and there.Best-looking resultsA custom-made website looks unique, runs smoothly and gives your web visitors exactly what they're looking for. While website builders run off relatively similar-looking templates, a bespoke solution is a true one-off creation that gives your business a distinctive online presence.Advanced functionalityIf a vision exists in your head, it may not be possible to bring it to life with the limited tools of today's website builders. While it's true that website builders have come a long way in offering a wide variety of functions for websites, including chat forums, payment features and calendar bookings, there may be some bespoke features you just can't get exactly right from the templates on offer.Nothing overlookedChances are, if you're coding your own website from scratch, you'll lack the skills offered by a full agency web development team such as graphic design, UI development, web security, and accessibility. All of these are essential to get right so that your website continues to maintain a professional image for your company.Nothing says “untrustworthy” like broken links, terrible formatting and out of date security certificates. With a web design agency, you know everything will be covered – so you won't wake up in a cold sweat when you realise you've forgotten to renew your domain name for the year.Webpage samples from Envious Digital, one of our recommended web design agencies, across mobile and tablet devices. 3. Use a CMS Pros Provides more technical flexibility Allows for multiple editors of your site Less susceptible to hackers than a site built with a website builder Cons More limited range of templates Greater expertise needed to set up and maintain You’ll need to know how to code Another way to set up a website for your small business is with a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS is a popular way of creating and modifying content online. Everyone's heard of WordPress – the world's most popular CMS. Other names you might have heard of are Drupal, Joomla! and Django.But is a CMS right for you? The downside is that it’s more difficult to use than a website builder. You’ll need to be pretty tech-savvy and be comfortable with code. Failing that, you’ll need to shell out to hire an expert.Regardless of your approach, though, a CMS is still a highly flexible option, and gives you a greater level of control and functionality. Let's take a look at the key benefits:Thousands of pluginsCMS’ generally offer a huge selection of plugins to increase what you can do from your website dashboard. WordPress alone offers over 56,000 plugins to connect your website with the world and add a host of special features. Try Yoast SEO to focus your content and LiveChat to add a chat box to you site.Suitable for multiple usersAre you managing a team who will need access to your website? A CMS is a great option for you. CMS websites allow for several users all adding unique content. Manage your team members’ permissions with ease and assign them tasks. Ask The Experts What’s the difference between a CMS and a website builder? Lucy Crossfield Editor If you find the idea of building a website daunting , you’re best going with a website builder like Wix, Squarespace or Weebly. It requires no coding and little technical knowledge. It’s easy to drag and drop images and text boxes and play with a range of fonts. And you can do it in a couple of hours!If you’re planning on using a CMS you’ll need to learn code and how to host your online server. But you’ll have greater control over the overall process and a powerful website at the end. Planning Your Business WebsiteThink about your user’s journeyThis gives your website structure before you even start to build it. It’s about paving a comfortable path down which your user will walk. This involves thinking about where they will start. Is your landing page engaging enough to stop them bouncing straight away? Are the other pages on your website inviting? Well-signposted? Put yourself in the shoes of your user and let this guide your hand as you plan.Draw inspiration from websites you loveLooking at websites of businesses in your niche is a great place to start. Study them and think about where they work and where yours can be better. Draw ideas from the structure and use this to plan your own website’s layout.Consider your keywordsIt’s likely you’re not spending time making your own website just for the fun of it. You want people to visit your site and engage with your business. This is why you need to think about how your audience will find you. Which means optimising your site for search engines like Google and Bing. Think about the words you’re customers will be using to find you and jot them down. Expert Tip:Always consider the look of your website from mobile devices. You may be creating your website on a desktop computer or laptop. But it doesn’t mean your user is viewing it that way! From your computer you can right click a page on your website and hit ‘Inspect’. Click the button that looks like a smartphone and it’ll reveal how your website looks when someone checks it out on a mobile. Designing Your Business WebsiteColourIt’s up to you to decide what looks good. It largely comes down to a mix of your personal taste and the kind of message you want to convey. If you have a logo or company colours you’ll want to theme the aesthetic of your website around them. Our tip: black and white always look good together. And a splash of a third brighter colour reflects your brand’s vibrant personality and adds energy!ConsistencyKeep crucial visual elements like font, headings and text size consistent across your site. Think about the experience of the user as they navigate the different pages of your site. Don’t make them feel as if they’re jumping around the web.CleanlinessLess is more. Don’t cram in blocks of text and give the user too much to look at. People tend to scan articles, so try to leave clean space around your text and images. The more you break up the content of a page, the more eyes will be drawn to your key message.ContactNo matter what business you’re running, you’ll need your users to be able to get in touch. Your website should provide a contact form or your phone number. We recommend a bold and accessible form that doesn’t require too much info from the user. Do you have a newsletter and you want your user to subscribe? Leave a box where they can do this.Sounds like hard work? Let professional web designers help you out. Click to receive up to four quotes from leading design companies. Final stepsConnect a domain nameA domain name is the first step towards projecting a professional image to your online audience. If you’ve used a website builder, you can connect a domain name by upgrading to a paid plan. Find out how much your chosen domain name will set you back.Optimise your site for SEOMake sure your site can be found online. Whether you can successfully direct your target audience to your content will be the fine line between the make or break of your website. Make people click through to your website with concise and compelling statements. And If you’ve opted for a website builder like Wix, you’ll get a handy SEO plan to get you going.Start creating powerful contentA big part of SEO is creating amazing content. Original, captivating content will boost your site up to the top of search engine pages. Whether it’s blog posts, informative articles, or reviews, content is king. And it’s a great way to form relationships with your readers and keep them coming back for more.Enable analytics and start driving trafficOnce you’ve got your domain name sorted, it’s time to start analysing. Where are your visitors coming from? Who are they? CMS offer a bunch of superb plugins for analysing traffic. And website builders offer integration with Google Analytics once you’ve upgraded to a paid plan. Compare Quotes from Leading Web Design Agencies in the UK and Save Are you ready to create your business' online presence? Yes No It takes just 30 seconds... Jargon busterHead spinning? The online world is full of mind-boggling terms, especially when it comes to website building. Let's get to grips with a couple.DomainPut simply, this refers to everything that comes after “www.” in the name of your website. There are two parts of the domain name: the first part is usually a company or brand name, such as “expertmarket” and the second part, for example “.co.uk.” can signal where in the world your business is based or what kind of group you are. For instance, “.org” signals an official organisation, whereas “.edu” typically means an education facility and “.co” is often a trendy new start-up or tech company.HostingThis is the service of storing your website on a physical server so that it will appear on the world wide web. You can't have a live website without that site being ‘hosted' somewhere. There are different hosting services available depending on how much memory and bandwidth your website needs to run – for example, if your website has lots of images and videos or loads of monthly visitors.Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)SEO means making your website as visible as possible for people searching online. The results pages of search engines like Bing and Google are dense jungles, with thousands of websites jostling to appear above one another on the lists of articles displayed under certain search phrases. There are various strategies you can introduce to try and get your site above the others or you can hire a specialist SEO agency to undertake this for you.Bounce RateIf someone clicks to your page and doesn’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll leave straight away. This is called ‘bouncing.’ A bounce rate measures what portion of people are bouncing. A high bounce rate might mean your page doesn’t draw the reader in. So you could look at including more engaging writing or eye-catching images to invite people to read on. Written by: Sabrina Dougall Web Marketing Expert Sabrina is a business journalist whose career began in news reporting. She has a master's in Investigative Journalism from City University London, and her work has appeared in The Times, The Daily Express, Money Saving Expert, Camden New Journal, Global Trade Review, and Computer Business Review. She specializes in writing about SEO (search engine optimization). Having run her own small business, Sabrina knows first-hand how critical digital marketing is to building a client base and local reputation. Reviewed by: Robyn Summers-Emler Digital Growth Editor Robyn started working on Expert Market in 2021 as a specialist in business websites and digital marketing. As the Grow Online Editor, she ideates, commissions and optimizes content on Expert Market that helps businesses thrive in online spaces and maximize their ecommerce potential. Covering everything from choosing a website builder to scaling a social media marketing strategy - Robyn uses her expertise to help startups, SMBs, and larger businesses realize digital growth in an increasingly competitive landscape.