So, you have decided that you need to create a website, but there is probably a small part of you still asking, “do I really need a website?” or perhaps you think building a website will be too technical, time-consuming and expensive.
There really is no need to be apprehensive about getting your first website up and running on the Internet.
Especially when you can create a website free of cost. But how do you make a website without paying?
By using a free website builders. Today’s website builder tools are very easy to use and you don’t need to know any HTML coding. They are extremely user-friendly using drag and drop functionality a WYSIWYG text editing (like Microsoft Word).
- How to create a website for free using a website builder.
- Find out which is the best free website builder?
- List of free website builders; features, and pros and cons.
- Are free website builders really free?
- Why you need to have a website.
Now let’s take a look at the best website builders that lets you create a website free of cost.
List of 11 best free website builders
Weebly has been around for a very long time and it is an extremely popular option if you only want free with no intention of using any upgrades. Weebly is at present hosting around 40 million websites.
When you first start with Weebly you instantly notice how easy everything is. The drag and drop in very intuitive and user-friendly. This is a great option for absolute beginners. Columns can be moved and resized along with most other elements.
Another great thing I really like about Weebly is that when you are editing one element the rest will fade out, this is really neat and a great way to limit distractions.
The pricing plan is very simple and with the basic option at $8, ads will be removed. On my test with Weebly, I built out a 100-page website which it coped with very well. Using Wix I would not be so confident in building larger sites. If you or somebody on your team is experienced and knows code, Weebly easily allows you to edit the coding. This is great news for advanced users.
There is also an app where you could even integrate appointments into your website. Just like Wix, Weebly offers a very wide range of professional themes and I feel that it’s a very complete package, with good value for money if you choose the upgrades.
As mentioned previously the basic plan starts at $8, pro at $12 and business at $25. For the free plan, you will be on the Weebly subdomain and will have a small ad in the footer of your site.
What are the pros and cons of using Weebly?
Very beginner friendly
HTML coding can be used
Good eCommerce platform
Cannot fully customize theme colors
Moving your site can be difficult
No site back up
Weebly is one of the easiest to use website builders
You can keep your account on a free plan as long as you wish
Create a free website with Weebly
It’s 100% Free
Wix is easily one of the most well known of all the free website builders and that is probably because they have been using some big Hollywood movie stars to tell you how good they are.
Currently, Wix powers around 110 million websites and online stores, so that alone should tell you something. Signing up to Wix is a breeze and you should be up and running in about 2 minutes.
Once signed up you will be presented with several industry-specific templates to choose from and this is probably one of their biggest strengths, the professional look of the templates. Whether you’re a photographer or baker there will be something to suit everyone.
At this point, it’s important to mention that the free templates may not impress you very much and this is where you might have to consider a paid upgrade. Another thing Wix do well is that all their sites are fully responsive.
What this means is that the website will automatically adjust to whatever device it is being viewed on, so it could be a mobile phone or a tablet. This is a very strong feature as it is a requirement by Google and the number of mobile users is increasing rapidly year on year.
Paid options start at just under $5 and can go up to around $25 per month. Paid plans include, connect a custom domain, remove ads, increase storage, VIP support and running email campaigns.
What are the pros and cons of using Wix?
Ease of use
Largest website builder on the market
Free provides a full working website
Huge wix app market
Ads may be intrusive
Free templates look a bit dated
Basic plan does not remove ads
Data cannot be exported
Wix website builder comes packed with features to help you build a website
The free version of Wix lets you build a good-looking website on a Wix-branded subdomain
From just $5 per month you can get rid of the ads and connect a custom domain
Create a website with Wix
Site123 is aimed at those that want to get up and running quickly and is great for business owners that want to set up e-commerce sites, blogs and landing pages.
What makes Site123 different is that it completely does away with the drag and drop building which most other Website builders use. To some, this will either be fantastic or a step backward.
To get started you can choose a theme and several different design options. Although the themes are not the most exciting, you do get a lot more customization options than other website builders. You can then upload content and the site will be generated for you. As with all website builders, the free option is limited, especially around e-commerce.
The premium plan starts at $9.80 per month and comes with a free domain for 1 year (or you can use your own domain) and removes the SITE123 branding. What are the pros and cons of using Site123?
Professional looking e-commerce sites
SEO Friendly sites
Full website support
Easy to use
No drag and drop
Confusing pricing structure
No access to the site code
Free e-commerce site is very limited
Beginner friendly website builder
No drag-and-drop, instead it has all website elements pre-made
Site123’s free plan is pretty limited
Create a free website with Site123
It’s 100% Free
Unlike Wix and Weebly, the chances are you have never heard of Strikingly. Strikingly’ main selling point is bold, beautiful modern one-page sites. That is because the main selling point and feature of Strikingly are its one-page websites.
A one-page website is a site where the user will scroll through different sections as they land on the home page, a type of design which is becoming very popular these days.
Since the main feature is one-page sites, strikingly can strip away a lot of the tools and buttons that other website builders require. This, of course, makes it a very user-friendly.
There are some good options for templates, although not fully on par with Wix or Weebly. What it does do well to make up for this, is present you with templates that are completely good to go straight out of the gate. There is not a lot of tinkering that needs to be done.
To build your site you will simply move the sections you require from left to right. You can also add apps, although again the offering is not on the same level as other website builders.
One thing to note regarding Strikingly is that the free option is limited in what you can do. In saying that, the upgrades from $8 to $16 provide serious value for money. Users can also go pro for a year free, just by linking a Linkedin profile and syncing some contacts. This will save you $16.
What are the pros and cons of using Strikingly?
Professional looking sites out of the box
Mobile optimized themes
Great value for money
Zero code or design skills required
Generous rewards program
The free option is a bit limited
Small number of themes you can use
One of the best one-page website builders
The ideal choice if you want to create an online portfolio, business card, or a single-product store site
You can keep the free plan forever
Create a website with Strikingly
The Ucraft website builder is based on blocks. You stack blocks on top of each other and in the end, you will have a complete website.
While there are only 35 blocks which is not a lot to make your website stand out, they are fully customizable. Every block contains elements which you can add or remove, and this is where you can get creative. You can even create your own blocks from scratch.
Regarding ecommerce, this is one of the strongest features of Ucraft as it has its own ecommerce engine. Although, if you are looking to get up and running in the quickest time possible, Ucraft may not be for you.
Ucraft premium plans start at just $6 per month removes the Ucraft watermark. What are the pros and cons of using Ucraft?
Highly customizable website builder
Strong ecommerce features
Excellent customer support through live chat
No site backups
Cannot undo your edits
Not suited for larger more complex sites
Easy and simple interface
Well designed and well-constructed templates
Built-in ecommerce platform to start selling online
Create a website with Ucraft
Lander is a fully featured landing page builder. If you are not familiar with the concept of landing pages or not sure whether you need one, they are very simple one-page sites designed to capture leads or persuade a visitor to take an action.
Landing pages by their very nature will have a lot less content than a regular website, with some of them only displaying a single call to action.
Lander makes building landing pages incredibly simple with a clutter-free interface. You can integrate payment gateways and perform A/B split testing, which is an essential feature for any landing page builder. Also on offer are analytics and full tracking.
One cool feature is Dynamic Text. This allows the user’s search query to be inserted automatically into the landing page as part of a pay per click campaign.
Although there is a 14-day free trial, Lander can become very expensive, as the plans are based on the number of visitors your landing page receives. Lander’s basic plan starts at $16 per month. What are the pros and cons of using Lander?
High converting templates
Easy to use
Built-in reporting system
Mobile responsive templates
Facebook fan page integration
Free option is only for 14 days
100+ ready-made landing page templates
Easy to use visual editor makes it super easy to design a landing page
Built-in split testing capabilities and reporting system
Create a website with Lander
Try for Free
Jimdo is mainly aimed at those that mainly want to build ecommerce stores and their main idea is ease of use every step of the way. Right now, there are around 20 million Jimdo sites with around 200,000 of them being online shops.
With Jimdo you can be up and running and selling products within minutes. Where things could be improved are the templates. Although there are many of them, some more flexibility with them is needed.
The pricing is just about right for an ecommerce website builder, although I would say that if you’re not going to make use of the ecommerce features, another website builder with cheaper plans would be recommended. Pricing plans start from free, to $6 to $17. What are the pros and cons of using Jimdo?
Quickest way to get an ecommerce store up and running
Very affordable pricing
Access to the code
Strong SEO elements
Templates feel a bit dated
Payment system may not be the best for US sellers
Promises to have your website up and running in 3 minutes
Customize your design and edit your website any time, with no coding required
Create a website with Jimdo
Carrd is a relatively new website builder having just being launched in 2016. It is also another one-page builder just like Ucraft and if you want the simplest easiest website builder, Carrd is likely to be the one.
Overall there are 54 templates, 14 of which are for pro only users. The templates are not grouped together by industry, but rather by type, as in portfolio, landing page and profile. Altogether the templates look very sleek and inspiring.
You put your website together using elements and everything feels very natural. Some of the elements include timers, forms, and galleries.
As usual, the free option will limit you to a subdomain, but where Carrd really stands out is the paid upgrades, you can go pro for only $19 per year.
Carrd Pro is just $19/year and lets you use a custom domain and removes branding. What are the pros and cons of using Carrd?
Very user-friendly and simple to use
Extremely cheap upgrades
Professional looking sites
54 responsive templates to choose from
New in the marketplace
Email support only
Limited to one-page sites
Create free, fully responsive one-page sites for pretty much anything
100% free and the pro plan is just $19 per year
Create a free website with Carrd
9. Zoho Sites
Yes it has a bit of cool name but what’s it like as a website builder? Overall Zoho is very competent website builder. Getting started is pretty quick and you begin with the usual drag and dropping of elements.
While using the drag and drop along with the customization of the site, the whole experience did not feel as polished as other website builders.
There is a large selection of themes to choose from with some of them looking very professional, while others look like they’re from the 1980’s. Although they offer 97 templates, not all of them are responsive.
Being that Zoho is a rather large software corporation providing SaaS and CRMs, some of the site features like the form builder are outstanding. Pricing for ZoHo starts from free, to $5, $10, and $15 monthly. The monthly plan provides the ecommerce plan, however, it’s very limited as you can only offer 25 products for sale.
What are the pros and cons of using Zoho Sites?
Zoho Sites Pros
Impressive feature set
HTML and CSS access
Built-in SEO tools and traffic statistics
Free plan available
Zoho Sites Cons
Not all themes are fully mobile responsive
Some themes feel outdated
Editor can feel a bit awkward
Basic website building tool that gets the job done
Swap between templates anytime you want without losing your content
Create a free website with Zoho Sites
10. Google My Business
How can I make my own website on Google for free? Google My Business is the answer.
Google My Business is a free website builder lets you create a simple website in a matter of minutes. Google’s website builder is completely free, and the site you build is easy to create and edit from your both your desktop computer and mobile phone.
You don’t have to have a physical storefront to build your site with Google My Business, if you have a service-area business or home-based business with or without an address you can list your details to appear on Google.
What are the pros and cons of using the Google My Business website builder to create a website for free on Google?
Google My Business Pros
Lets you connect your own domain name
Free from ads or branding
AdWords Express ready to drive traffic
Google My Business Cons
Limited options, not ideal for larger or more complex sites
Basic templates and designs
Perfect for small businesses that don’t need a lot of content on their website
Free from ads or branding, and you can use your own domain name
Is a 100% free website builder from Google My Business
Create a free website with Google My Business
It’s Totally Free!
Are These Website Builders Really Free?
On to one of the main points of the blog post. Can I really build a website for free? Well, yes. It works like this. Technically yes, you can create a website for free but there will be limitations on the website.
Some of the website limitations that you may face if you choose the free only option, there will be adverts or branding on your site. For your website to look more professional, you will normally have to pay for some upgrades to remove ads or branding.
Also, for the free option, you will usually have to use a subdomain, as opposed to a custom domain name. For example, on Weebly your free website’s domain will be something weebly.com/MikesGarage instead of using your own domain like MikesGarage.com. In other words, you will have to get a premium plan to be able to use your own domain name.
- Your domain name on a free plan: https://mikesgarage.jimdo.com or https://www.jimdo.com/mikesgarage
- Your domain name on a premium plan: https://www.mikesgarage.com
As well, you will usually be limited in terms of the number of pages that you can add to your site as well as any ecommerce options will be basic.
In short, “you get what you pay for” rings true here and if you are serious about your site and business, some of the premium upgrades may very well be worth the extra cost. There are not many businesses which can be set up for as little as a few dollars a month.
On the other hand, using a free website builder is a great way to test drive a website builder and get a feel for how it all works before deciding on the one which is right for you.
Reasons to have a website
There are so many reasons to build a website, whether that is for personal use or for your small business. Let’s look at some of these reasons in a bit more detail;
This is probably the single most reason to start a new website. Regardless of your actual credentials people will see you as an expert once you have a polished website to represent you.
When I had my first online business I would always ask clients why they chose me. The answer was always the same, “because you had a website”.
2. Showcase Your Talents (or Services)
Whether you have a small or large business or even if you are a one-man band, a website gives you a shop window. Potential clients or employers can instantly see what you have to offer.
Some of the greatest business people of our time all had websites, Jeff Bezos from Amazon and Sean Parker at Spotify.
3. Low Barrier to Entry
You can literally set up a business in your bedroom and attract clients within minutes, even on a tiny budget. It’s a level playing field for everyone, regardless of your social standing or education.
Remember Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook in his dorm room.
Just in case you needed any more convincing, let’s look at some Internet facts (from this post). In North America in 2018, 88.1% of people used the internet, followed by 80.23% in Europe. Did you know that Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second? That’s a lot of people potentially looking for your website.
What is a Website Builder and Why Use One?
A website builder is probably the easiest and quickest way to get a website off the ground in a matter of minutes. In simple terms, it is a piece of software that allows you to build a website or blog without any coding. As there is no coding involved, you will simply be using drag and drop elements, along with some templates.
Another free (ish) alternative to building a website is to use WordPress. It’s a very flexible content management system (CMS) but is has a steeper learning curve compared to website builders.
Website builders normally come in two flavors, online and offline. Although we will just be focusing on the one type which is online, I think it’s important to still mention the other.
1. Offline Website Builder
“Offline” website builders come in the form of software. Rapidweaver for Mac is a type of offline website builder. You would normally download the software to your PC and start working on your website.
One of the advantages of offline software is that you can work on your site anywhere, as an internet connection is not required.
The biggest disadvantage is that you will have to upload the entire site to hosting, which can be technically challenging. I used to use Serif offline website builder which has now been discontinued, and I think the upload process is reason enough not to use an offline website builder.
2. Online Website Builder
With an online website builder (the ones I covered here above), the company you go with will host everything online in the cloud. If you need to work off a different PC, you just need to log in with your account details and you’re good to go.
There is no need to upload anything anywhere or set up hosting, it is the easiest all-around solution. The only thing you really need is a web browser like Google Chrome, an internet connection and a little bit of imagination and spare time.
I have narrowed down the best there is of the free website builders out there right now. As you will see there is a lot to choose from, however, whichever one you decide on will come down to what’s more important to you.
Do you want a full ecommerce store, or is your priority to have a website up and running in minutes to show a potential client? Maybe price is a major driver, or you just need a simple one-page site that provides a professional image. Either way, I am sure there is one above that’s just right for you.
Have I missed something important that you think should be included here? Then I would love to hear all about it in the comments below!
Written by Lisa and .