It's almost impossible to maintain a successful business without a fully functional, responsive, SEO-compatible website -- but you don't have to shell out the big bucks to afford one.
There are plenty of options for building and designing a website for free, many of which require little to no coding knowledge. And these website builders are often comparable in quality to their paid alternatives, particularly for small businesses or personal brands.
The free website builders we're sharing today offer SEO benefits, embedded analytics systems, mobile optimization, and professional-looking templates. If you're on a tight budget and can't quite swing the paid builders, these are the next best thing.
Read on to check out 16 of the best free website builders, so you can build a website for free without forfeiting quality.
Wix is one of the most popular free website builders out there, with 110 million users. The fully hosted platform offers an easy drag-and-drop editor, and a large collection of professional-looking templates that are well-suited for small businesses, online stores, restaurants, or personal portfolios.
Wix supplies built-in Google Analytics to monitor your site, and even offers additional apps for individual preferences. If you want, Wix can even design your site for you. The biggest downside of Wix's free version is it doesn't come ad-free, and each page of your site will have a prominent Wix ad. Ad-free is only an option if you pay for the premium version.
This open source SaaS offers web hosting, domain registration, web design, and even ecommerce functions, making it suitable for businesses and startups. Weebly's a particularly flexible website builder, compatible with every device and platform, and easy to use.
Like Wix, Weebly has drag-and-drop functionality, as well as an integrated CMS solution, and hand-coded HTML files. The in-house editor comes with SEO tools and Google Analytics. With PayPal integration, an automatic tax calculator, digital gift cards, and more, Weebly is a smart choice for ecommerce businesses. And unlike some of its other free competitors, Weebly is ad-free.
WordPress is a commonly used free website builder that also allows you to buy a web domain. For those who don't want to pay for a domain, you can also run your site live with a WordPress-owned URL.
Like Wix and many of the other builders on this list, you can create visually stunning websites, blogs, and landing pages with WordPress. You can also place assets like contact forms, videos, and embedded content on to many WordPress pages.
For those who are less experienced in webpage building, WordPress offers and easy-to-understand backend interface with minimal to no coding needed.
WordPress is especially great for web editors with less design experience. When creating sites on this platform, you can build one from a professionally predesigned template or theme, or you can get more technical and personalize your own website. Below is an example of one of its pre-designed templates:
When you first get started, WordPress will show you a variety of themes that you can preview and test out. Then, once you select a theme, WordPress will give you a tutorial on how to edit your website. You can then change your theme at any time fairly quickly.
If a theme or the WordPress platform doesn't have something you're looking for, like an intricate customer relationship management system, you can easily get a plugin. A plugin is like an add-on feature that is compatible with WordPress but usually managed by another company.
For example, HubSpot offers a great WordPress marketing plugin which allows you to capture contacts through WordPress and send track them in HubSpot's free CRM. You can learn more about the plug-in here.
While WordPress is a great option for building a site, sometimes it’s nice to have a little help as you get started with designing from scratch. That’s where a WordPress page builder can be helpful.
Elementor is a drag and drop builder trusted by over 5,000,000 users, and it’s a great no-code option for getting a WordPress site off the ground quickly. With Elementor’s page builder, you can choose from hundreds of available templates, customize them, and guarantee your site displays correctly regardless of device size. It’s built with design in mind, and you can create pixel perfect pages without worrying about the underlying code.
While Elementor is free to use and includes 70+ templates, there are paid plans starting at $49 that offer more templates and functionality.
WebNode is a popular choice for both personal brands and professionals -- it's easy to use, and you can create a website in a different language or on a different platform to suit your business's needs. WebNode supports ecommerce stores, and the sites are compatible with Android, Mac, and IOS devices. WebNode will provide statistics to track your site's success, free of charge, and even with the free version, you won't have ads.
Based in Germany, Jimdo is a valuable option for international companies, with options to create a site in more than nine different languages. The builder is compatible with smartphones and tablets, and there's a mobile app you can use to build a mobile-optimized site, as well.
With no page limit and 500 MB of space, you'll likely have more than enough space to build your site, and it even provides HTTPS/SSL encryption, meaning your visitor's information will be kept safe. Plus, you're able to integrate your site seamlessly with social media accounts. If you do decide to use Jimdo, beware of one thing: the builder prevents free websites from being indexed by search engines.
One of the biggest selling-points for this Latvian-based company is the builder allows you to create a multilingual site for free -- something unmatched by other website builders.
Mozello's features include a blog, online store, SEO options, and 500 MB of storage. There is an advertisement, but it's just a link in the footer, so most visitors won't see it. The only drawback is the drag-and-drop system isn't as intuitive or complex as some other options, and there aren't a ton of design customization options.
With a wide collection of beautiful templates and a user-friendly drag and drop functionality, WebStarts makes building a website as simple as possible: best of all, whatever you see when you're designing is exactly what your visitors will see when you publish the site. This can take some of the guess-work out of the process.
While most of the other builders in this list are for people without a ton of coding knowledge, Webflow is specifically for designers and agencies who build sites for clients -- this means the HTML and CSS is entirely in your control.
After you've built a site on Webflow, you will need to transfer it to a content management system. There are some features, like drag-and-drop widgets for adding social components, maps, and videos, that don't require coding knowledge. But if you want the full benefits of Webflow, you'll need to know HTML or CSS. There's a limited set of themes, a responsive interface, and your Webflow site can be customized for desktop, tablets, or smartphones.
Apart from the necessity of knowing code, one other drawback of Webflow is you can only have two pages, and there's a limit of 500 visits for free users.
With more than 11 million sites built on IM Creator, it's a popular option for a few reasons: there's an easy point-and-click interface, an extensive range of templates and images, and unlimited web hosting and domain services. Plus, the platform is scalable, and you can have either single or multipage layouts. This builder is unique for its built-in ecommerce tools, and offers SEO and Google Analytics to fully optimize your site for search engines.
Arguably one of the most flexible and easy-to-use builders, Site123 lets you customize anything and offers a one-click installation wizard with graphics and templates. Site123 stands out as particularly helpful with its free images library, professional fonts to add visual elements to your site, and creative DIY plans for creating multiple pages (which are unlimited). Plus, since it offers web hosting domain registration, 500 MB storage space, Google Analytics, and is ad-free, you won't feel pressured to switch to a paid plan.
Strikingly prides itself on helping its users build a website with no programming skills required. Thousands of sites have been launched through this website creator, and users can start designing their own by selecting from countless templates contributed by site owners around the world. You can find website designs suited for startups, ecommerce stores, blogs, events, product launches, and personal branding.
Strikingly's free offering comes with unlimited free sites but a modest 5 GB of monthly bandwidth. You're also limited to a strikingly.com domain unless you upgrade to a paid plan, which starts at $8 per month.
Duda is a feature-rich website creator with numerous site widgets and media files, allowing you to piece together a website to fit your specific needs. On top of site templates and a lengthy content library, Duda comes with a team-collaboration tool and basic analytics to show you how visitors are engaging with different parts of your website.
Duda offers a free trial, as well as plans that start as a low as $14 per month billed annually.
Squarespace is fairly similar to WordPress and Wix in that it allows you to work off of pre-designed themes or build a site from scratch with its wire-framing features. Squarespace claims to require no plugins while offering 24/7 service to its users.
Squarespace's pre-designed themes usually emphasize imagery or video, so it might be great for people in visual media, entertainment, dining, or fashion industries. Many templates, such as the one below, are both simplistic and mobile optimized. While simplicity might be difficult for a software company or a business which offers many services, it could be great for consumer facing companies that sell products related to one major industry:
Strikingly is another easy-to-use and code-free website builder that allows you to create a website using templates that are optimized for different sizes of screens. It also offers basic image editing features to make your photos look crisp and clean.
Because of its simple interface, Strikingly and its customer testimonials claim you can build your site within an hour on the platform.
Picking Your Website Builder
There you have it! Since all of these website builders are free, try out a couple if you're unsure of the best fit. In particular, take note of what you really want to get out of your site to ensure your needs will be met by one of these free builders.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in November 2018 but was updated in October 2019 for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Oct 9, 2019 2:03:00 AM, updated December 04 2020