Website Builder vs Web Developer vs Design Service | What’s best for startups?

November 8, 2021
Laura Smith

Got a small business or thinking of a side hustle? Chances are you need a website. A strong website goes hand in hand with a strong business and this has never been more true than post-Covid, where restrictions on going out meant so many of us worked, shopped and pretty much lived online. 

A weak or badly designed website could be the difference between a startup success story or becoming 1 of the 5 new UK businesses that fail each year. If you are not sure exactly how to make your dream website a reality then keep reading.

What are your business needs?

The biggest question is do you build your website yourself using a website builder such as Wix or Shopify or opt to pay a professional agency or individual to do it for you? 

Before you can answer that question you need to determine your business needs. 

  • Do you want a basic website or do you have something more unique in mind? 
  • What do you need your website to do for your business?  
  • Is it there purely to generate leads for a service that you provide? 
  • Will you be selling products or creating content? 
  • Do you need to gather information from your website user to create a user profile? 

Map out your requirements as a starting point and understand exactly what you need your website to do, a broad overview of how you need it to look and importantly what your budget will be.

Understanding your business needs when it comes to website design. Website builder vs web developer.

If at this stage you simply require a website to be a very basic online store, blog or landing page showcasing your services then a website builder will probably do the job. 

How do website builders work?

Website builders are tools containing templates that allow you to build a website with no coding or design experience. Popular website builders include Wix, Site123, Squarespace and Shopify

Website builders are often ‘drag and drop’ allowing you to position elements of your site easily. 

Basically, you choose a website template from your website builders library that best fits your needs, edit the template by adding in your logo, images and content to personalise the site.  The next step is just to click a publish button and your site is live!

DIY website builders such as these allow startups and small businesses to get online quickly and affordably, allowing you to reach your digital audience. 

Read our full guide on website builders here.

What is the easiest website builder for beginners?

Most website builders are designed to be user friendly, having said that some are definitely easier to use than others.  We love Site123 for ease of use.  Simplicity is at its heart, users have 3 steps to create their site and get it up and running.

Step one: choose your design. Step two: add content. Step three: go live.  Read our full review of Site123 here.

How does the GoDaddy website builder work?

Super beginner-friendly website builder which allows you to build a site from scratch and get it live in a matter of minutes.  Just enter the content which you want to appear on your website and it generates a unique site for you.   

You may have heard of GoDaddy as a brand as it is the worlds largest domain registrar. There are some cool features including insights and marketing tools that can help to guide you towards your business goals.

Is Wix a good website builder?

Honestly? We think it’s one of the best.  It allows a lot of freedom of design while still being relatively easy to use.  While other website builders focus on quite static templates, Wix focuses on creative freedom and exceptional features. It’s the middle ground between hyper-structured and blank canvass website builders perfect for businesses with low budgets that need a more bespoke site.

Using Wix, you can edit any template or theme to your heart's content, allowing you to get into your creative groove.  Simply put, Wix gives small businesses with no coding experience a simple way to build a stunning new website with ease, using a drag and drop interface.  Read our full review of Wix here.

What is the best free website builder for small businesses?

If cost is at the heart of your decision when it comes to which website builder is right for you then there is a 100% free option; Google Sites.  They don’t offer paid plans and you are able to create various different site pages for zero cost.  This may be a good option if you simply want a landing page to hold business details. 

However, all of the website builders mentioned so far are also free.  How do they make money I hear you yell?  They operate what’s known as ‘freemium’ models which makes it free for as long as you want but doesn’t allow you to access the more professional features like eCommerce (where you can sell a product online). 

These are probably better free services to invest your time in as they allow scalability as your business grows.  This leads us nicely into...

I need a more advanced website...

If you want a website that is tailor-made for your brand, customers and goals a bespoke website design agency or freelancer will be your best choice.

Do I need a web designer or a web developer?

You need both! A quick explanation of each role and why they are different. A web designer is very creative in nature and will plan the user journey ensuring that the graphics, images and copy, as well as structure, all work together.

 A web developer on the other hand is a more technical beast, taking the plans created by the designer and coding them into a functioning website.  They use coding languages such as HTML, JavaScript, PHP, and Python.

Understanding the benefits of using a web designer - small businesses

Some agencies will have both web designers and developers working together to produce bespoke websites while a sole trader or freelance service will be one person who possesses an array of creative, graphic and importantly, technical skills.

A professional service such as the above will not use a website builder, instead, they will hard code your website from scratch.  A benefit of this is that your website will be unique to you and your brand. 

Web designer vs website builder - what is best for you and your small business?

How much does web design cost in the UK?

You will typically be charged either by the hour or by a day rate. With an hourly rate, you can easily get a quick idea of how much your site will cost.  

Experienced freelancers typically start from around £25 per hour, for an agency a typical day rate is upwards of £300 per day.

The rate will vary a lot depending on factors such as; deciding between agency and freelancer, experience and size/content of their portfolio (previous work that they can show you).

If you are still unsure about the best professional service for your needs, get in touch with Childsey, a digital team of experienced eCommerce and technical folk who can share their knowledge and help to support you in the right decision for your needs.

Business Tech Blog

Top tips for getting started, latest news from the world of business tech & digital marketing. Guides to grow & improve your small business fast.

View Our Blog

Tech Categories

Our guides & reviews for the tech you need to grow you business.


Give yourself valuable hours back each week & ensure your business stays in the black with accounting software.

Guide & Reviews
Email Marketing

Are you a small business capturing email addresses but not making the most of the data you now have?

Guide & Reviews
Media & Design

We know small business budgets are tight, whatever your design requirement we have suggestions to help you achieve your goals.

Guide & Reviews

Want versatile payment solutions? We have tested the market's biggest brands so that you can start accepting card payments fast.

Guide & Reviews

There is no bigger to-do list than that of a business owner, that's why productivity software is big news.

Guide & Reviews

Do I need a website for my small business? Regardless of your industry, the answer will always be yes!

Guide & Reviews