Website builders allow you to create your site in a flash with simple drag-and-drop editing interfaces and user-friendly tools. Scroll down to learn about the top free website builders.
Because builders are accessible to people of all skill levels, these services have exploded in popularity in the recent past and are starting to expand their features to meet consumer demand. Many site builders also offer hosting plans, giving you a “one stop shop” option for setting up, deploying, and managing your site.
Free vs. Paid Website Builders
A big draw of using a builder to create a website is the prospect of being able to do so for free. However, it’s important to be objective when comparing free and paid options.
Most free builders:
- Are suitable for temporary websites or landing pages
- Allow you to get a site up and running quickly
- Lack robust functionality and features
- Lack scalability
- Limit storage and bandwidth for hosted sites
- Offer few options for customization
- Don’t provide a branded domain name
- Display ads or company logos somewhere on the site
- Don’t offer useful SEO tools
With a paid builder, you may be able to access:
- Advanced site and e-commerce features
- Customized domains
- Unlimited storage and bandwidth
- Professional-quality designs and customization tools
- Better options for design, color and layout
- SEO and analytics
The cost of a paid website builder averages about $8.55 per month, making these plans accessible even to those on limited budgets.
Choosing a Website Builder
If using a website builder appeals to you and is appropriate for the project you have in mind, the first step is to review the features, pricing and positive and negative aspects of the available platforms. Consider these three popular options as you start your search.
Wix has become one of the most widely used website builders, a distinction likely due in part to the dynamic nature of the platform. This builder incorporates such a wide variety of features, archives of the releases are divided by date, and new features are added monthly.
Some highlights include:
- Professional quality templates
- Mobile-friendly designs
- Drag-and-drop editing tools
- One-page site templates for easy landing page creation
- Unlimited number of total site pages
- Blogging tools
- Domain connection or purchase
- Free hosting options
- Stock image library with image editor
- Video backgrounds
- Parallax effects
- Upload and embed video and audio
- Social sharing buttons
- Online storefront
- Google analytics
- “App market” with tools to expand site functionality
With these features and over 500 templates available, all you have to do to get started with a Wix website is pick the template you want, plug in your content, and go live. However, once you choose a template, you can’t switch to another one without starting your site from scratch.
Signing up for Wix is simple and only takes a few minutes. In addition to a free plan, you can choose from paid plans with prices ranging from $5 to $35 per month. The more you’re willing to pay, the more features you’ll be able to access and the better results you’ll get. Free plans feature ads, making them unsuitable for business use. Plus, running an e-commerce site requires a paid plan.
As the name suggests, Webstarts provides a site builder with features designed to get you started on the web. Depending on the level of plan you choose, you can get access to:
- Cloud storage
- Over 700 fonts
- Search engine submission
- Automatic domain setup
- Mobile-friendly site templates
- Online store
- Blog and chat options
- Contact forms
- Email addresses
- Content delivery network
- Image and video library with image editing
- Sitemap creation
- Bonus advertising funds
- Icon library and favicon support
- Right click disable option to protect image copyrights
- Email list building and newsletter creation
- Membership site creation
- HTML editing and “advanced styling control” for design flexibility
All of the features associated with the plan you choose are available in a “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) editor designed to display your site exactly how visitors will see it. This gives you the freedom to preview your layout and make changes until it reaches your exact specifications. Any images you upload are stored in an image gallery for future use, and Webstarts gives you more control over the mobile rendering of your site than other builders. However, some changes may go live before officially being published, and it’s easy to throw off the mobile layout if you go too crazy with the placement of page elements.
Signup can be a confusing because Webstarts emphasizes its free plan. Clicking the “get started” button on the homepage takes you to a gallery of free templates, and the pricing page has “upgrade” buttons underneath paid plans. Clicking one of these allows you to create a new user account and sign up for a plan at $4.89, $7.16, or $19.99 per month.
To get started with Jimdo, choose either a free plan, a pro plan for $7.50 per month, or a business plan for $20 per month. Hit the “get started” button, check your desired domain for availability and you’re set to start building.
Features vary by plan and include:
- Fast activation and setup
- Simple user-friendly site builder interface
- Mobile app for editing on the go
- Blogging tools
- Adding contact forms
- Social media sharing buttons
- Photo gallery and embedded video
- Google Maps
- Password-protected areas
- Making files available to visitors for download
- Professional customer support
- Online store
- SEO options, including a “Paid Ranking Coach” tool
- Option for unlimited storage and bandwidth
Many of Jimdo’s features are available on the free plan, and it doesn’t put as many restrictions on free users as some other builders do. You get the flexibility of editing the HTML and CSS code if you’re comfortable doing so, but if you’re not good at coding, you can let the “Dolphin” tool create a basic site layout for you in about three minutes. Should the free plan no longer be adequate, upgrading is easy.
Jimdo may not be the best choice if you want to run an e-commerce site. The online store lacks robust options, and there are a limited number of professional template designs available. You’re restricted by the functionality of the builder interface unless you’re able to edit the code, so it may wind up being difficult to create the site layout you desire.
Any of these website builders can make it easy to go the DIY route with your website. Be discerning as you compare features, weigh the available options and choose the platform with the right tools to create a site meeting the needs of your business or project.