More Choice in Small Business Site Builders

When it comes to montizing a hosted website builder business, two things have been clear for a long time.

It is very hard to build a business and give people a decent experience by giving away free websites. With half of the small businesses in the US still without a website, there is a large potential market that is (presumably) willing and able to pay for the service.

So what do you do when you are not Google or Intuit, and you can’t start a noisy Get Online sales campaign (with the help of a bit of unfair advertising)? Well, you have to redefine the problem and find a different solution.

And so it happened that we saw a number of new, paid website builder services being launched on one and the same day this week. Each of these services approached the market from a slightly different angle. It will be interesting to see how these different approaches play out business-wise over the coming months and years.

Go for the Verticals

LexisNexis, provider of content-enabled workflow solutions for the legal, risk management, corporate, government, law enforcement, accounting, and academic markets, launched an updated suite of web development solutions that comes in three different flavours; Site Essentials, Site Edge and Site Exclusives.

The services are aimed at helping law firms establish an online presence.

All three services offer “an effective, professional website, designed and hosted by LexisNexis, that can be implemented in as little as two weeks with minimal effort from law firm personnel,” among many other things. The biggest differentiator between the services appears to be the amount of copywriting that LexisNexis will do for its clients.

No pricing was announced for these services.

Go for the Middle Man

Instead of cutting out the middle man (i.e. website designers), why not target them and offer webdesigners a better tool to do their work?

Y-Combinator alumni Weebly, until now known for their free personal website services, announced the release of a white label designer-service version of its tool.

Weebly Designer Platform

It’s a concept that has been tried and tested (in different ways) by the likes of Adobe Business Catalyst, DevHub, SquareSpace and SiteKreator, to name just a few. Something that high-profile blogs like TechCrunch happily glanced over while they copy-pasted the Weebly press release.

While we have not yet had a chance to play with Weebly’s new white label tool, the screenshots and video (see below) do not appear to offer much more in the way of point-and-click design-tools from what we already know from Weebly. Instead, Weebly offers designers a ThemeEditor that very much looks like an online code-editor for HTML and CSS. We had already also seen Weebly’s collaboration options where site owners can define user roles and access levels to enable shared editing of website content, something that white label resellers can now do for their customers.

Pricing for Weebly White Label start at $7.95 a month for a 15-page site and 500MB storage, all the way to $24.95 a month for a site with unlimited pages and 10GB in storage.

Go for a Different Type of Website

A third approach to getting small businesses online is to offer them a tool that is as limited as the time and specialized knowledge about getting online that many of these businesses have.

“Even Your Mom Can Build a Website Now” was the headline that Business Insider chose for their coverage of Onepager.


Onepage offers businesses exactly that; one page with the basic info about their business, split into a handful of predefined sections that can be individually enabled or disabled.
All editing is done in place. Website owners can change the background, typeface and a few other settings.

Onepages is sweet and simple, it is a lot like or for businesses. And would probably neatly fit in the time constraints that small business owners have. The question is, will it offer enough to justify charging $10 a month.

We’ll be taking a closer look at these services in the coming weeks and months. Meanwhile, we would love to hear your opinion in the comments below.

Photo: MorgueFile/Clarita

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