Microsoft has announced a new service that will allow small businesses to create a website completely free of charge.
In 2021, every company needs a website. Whether it be a simple “what we do” page or a fully functional hub for your entire business, having an online presence is vital in the modern era. After all, 80% of consumers head to the web before making a purchase – so, you need to be sure you've got something to show them.
Fortunately, Microsoft is making it easy with a new feature to its Digital Marketing Center that won't cost your business a dime to get online.
Microsoft Announces Website Creation in Digital Marketing Center
In a company blog post earlier this week, Microsoft revealed that its Digital Marketing Center would now allow small businesses to build a website directly on the platform.
The resource will work as a true competitor to business Facebook pages and simple Google listings, and could even compete with cheap website builder offerings from the likes of Wix and Squarespace.
To make it even more attractive, Microsoft's website building feature is available at no additional cost to users, so you can get your online presence established without consulting your budget first.
“We hope to remove the barriers of cost and lack of time by providing a free and simple solution small businesses can leverage to get started with a website,” read the post.
This move is obviously part of Microsoft's plan to make business management more accessible to everyday people, and it's not the only one.
How to Set Up Your Website with Microsoft
If you're interested in getting your business' website up and running through Microsoft, we can help explain how. The Microsoft website builder feature is surprisingly easy to navigate. Here are the steps you need to take to get started:
- Sign up for a Digital Marketing Center account with Microsoft (don't worry, it's entirely free)
- Select the option: I don't have a website. Help me build one for free
- Input your business name and choose your website URL (if you don't have one already, you can set one up here, too)
- Click My website in the upper right corner of the Digital Marketing Center
- Choose whether to build your own website or import it from your Facebook page
- Use the website builder to fully customize your website
Once you're in the website builder view, you'll be able to add and subtract anything you need from your site, including headlines, descriptions, customer action buttons, cover images, business summaries, social posts, reviews, galleries, business contact information, and social links.
What You Can and Can't Do with Microsoft's Website Builder
Obviously, the Microsoft website builder offers a lot compared to more basic options such as a social media page. You'll able to establish an informative online hub for your business, where new customers can find you and loyal customers can stay up to date on what you're doing.
Perhaps the primary purpose of the website, at least from Microsoft's point of view, will be advertising. Because it is connected to the Digital Marketing Center, ad campaigns are built right into the platform, so you can add advertising to your business.
Additionally, the platform allows you to keep track of a wide range of metrics, including exposure, click-through rates, conversion data, consumer spending, and fan growth. With most free website builders, you really do get what you pay for, so it's encouraging to see a depth of features from Microsoft.
However, it's not all a rosy story. Microsoft's offering is missing a few key elements that many businesses will need in a website. For one, it doesn't appear that it allows for ecommerce functionality. Unlike paid plans for Shopify or Wix, you won't be able to set up an online store to sell products or, honestly, make money at all. Even Square Online, which offers a great free plan, allows you to do that.
Selling online? See our guide to the Best Ecommerce Website Builders
More importantly, the Microsoft website builder doesn't have an app marketplace that allows you to turn your website into a business powerhouse. You can't add integrations, meaning you're stuck with whatever Microsoft offers you out of the gate. Yes, this functionality could yet be added later on via a future app store, but for now, you'll pretty much just have a glorified social media page with a dedicated URL.
Simply put, the Microsoft website builder is a great option if you don't have a website at all and need to get started. It's easy to use and gets you the most essential information you need online. Still, if you're looking to really turn your business into a digital powerhouse, there are a few very cheap website builders — and even a few free options — that might better suit your needs.
If you're looking for an ecommerce website builder specifically, take a look at the table below to get a better idea of the alternatives on the market today.
Our score is based on independent assessments of ease of use, features, ecommerce functionality and value for money
Cheapest Ecommerce Plan (per month)
Priciest Ecommerce Plan (per month)
Physical Product Sales
Digital Product Sales
Click to check for deals, discounts and tiers of plans
BEST FOR SMALLER STORES
BEST FOR LARGER STORES
Wix is our top choice ecommerce website builder. It makes creating an online store easy, and there are Regular Discounts
The best ecommerce website builder for larger businesses, with outstanding features, great websites, and a scalable platform
A genuinely high quality way to launch an ecommerce site for free, and also perfect for anyone already using Square POS.
Runs Shopify close with great sales features and has a Free Trial, but a small knowledge base and weaker website design let it down.
Can't match the scalability of the its rivals, but you'll get a great-looking, easy to use sales website.
A good alternative to BigCommerce with better web design. Can be confusing to use, though.
Has some advantages over Wix when it comes to sales features, but Weebly's overall platform isn't as compelling.