Ok, so all the other answers seem to promote some company or the other, so I’m just gonna go out and state all facts.
First, it depends on what kind of Online Website you’re looking to develop. There are a few categories:
- If you’ve got an offline business such as a Restaurant, Clothing Store, etc, you need a basic website that’s got some 5–10 pages talking about your business. This can be built in HTML/CSS directly, there’s really no need for a content management system, as I’m guessing the content would be put up once and then changed once every few months.
- If you do require frequent content updates (eg: if you’re planning on running a blog as well), then WordPress is hands down the best option to go with. Its amazingly flexible, you can build as many pages as you want, and style them as you wish. There are many WordPress themes available for as little as $50, which are quite easy to set up.
- Online Business Website:
There’s many different kinds of online businesses. There’s E-commerce store, Listing Sites (Properties, Coupons, Restaurants, etc), Online Booking sites (Food Delivery, Parcel Delivery, Hosting Services, etc etc). Depending on the kind of site you want to build, the platform would vary. Lets take a few examples:
- If you’ve got a small budget and just need a quick and easy online store, Shopify is the one to go with. It costs around $29 per month, and requires no development work to set up. This is best for home & small scale businesses such as T-shirt printing, handicrafts selling, etc etc. If you’re just about to start an online e-commerce store, this is a good way to gain some traction before you go full-fledged.
- If, on the other hand, you have a validated business idea and a larger budget, and want more flexibility on the website features & UI, Magento is the way to go. Magento is very flexible, you can any kind of online store on it, and there’s a huge list of extensions out there that you can plug & play into your store. Magento as a platform is free to use, however you will require a developer to help set this up for you, and that is going to cost you money. Additionally, the themes and extensions you need, including the Payment Gateway, will cost you money. So you can look at spending anywhere upwards of $1000.
- Again, this depends on the scale. If you’re just starting out and want to build a quick website to validate your business idea, and see how much money you can make out of it, you should use WordPress. You will require a developer to set it up, you will need to purchase a theme as well. A WordPress site with a theme & some developer fees will cost around $500 - $1000, depending on the kind of features & customization required.
- Same applies to Online Booking Sites, you could have a WordPress with WooCommerce & some [Hotel / Property / Restaurant] Reservation System plugin that sets the base for you and you can customize as you need. Cost, anywhere upwards of $750.
So, thats a summary of the easiest platforms for most online business needs. There are various other platforms as well that I haven’t spoken about here - OpenCart, PrestaShop for E-commerce, Drupal, Joomla, Django for Content Management, feel free to research more on those.
The next option, which is going to cost you more, and you should get into only if you have a validated business idea, is to custom build the website from scratch. All the Flipkarts, Amazons, Snapdeals, Zomatos etc run on a custom built framework, as it gives you the most control over scalability. Once your online business has reached a high level of daily active users, and find some parts of your site slowing down your sales, or you need an entirely custom functionality that isn’t available readymade, then you can look at a custom build.
In general my advice is, the website has to pay for itself. So if currently you’re not earning anything i.e. you’re just starting out, go for the quickest & most cost-effective option and whatever it takes to get out live and start drawing some users in.