Have you ever wondered how to build a website for free?
Websites are an ideal way for businesses and professionals to display their goods and services to their customers, and for individuals to present their hobbies and interests to their friends.
Many businesses and professionals may hire web designers to design their sites. But it costs, of course, so if you don’t have the cash to pay clever geeks to build you a website, you have to do it yourself! Gulp!
Happily, there are quite a few easy-to-use website building websites (yes, really) that are either very cheap or actually free to use.
We’ve taken a look at some of the main ones to find out which ones are best to help you build your own website.
- WordPress – good for serious sites…like Moneymagpie!
- Squarespace – clever and cheap
- Wix – good if you don’t mind ads on your site
- Weebly – cheap, simple and pretty impressive
- Simpl – nice and easy if you don’t mind their name in your url
What WordPress Offers
WordPress is one of the most popular and well-known website builders – they even state on their website that they power more than 24% of websites on the internet!
Chances are if you’ve ever looked up how to build a website for free before, WordPress will be a name you’ve come across.
WordPress is known as an ‘open source content management system’, which basically means that anybody can use and modify their codes. This makes WordPress like a community in a sense, where you can create your own tools (such as templates, themes or plugins) to use for yourself and share for free, or to sell to other WordPress users.
In other words, it’s great for geeks who are messing about in code all the time anyway.
Elegant Times, a leading WordPress theme developer, estimates that to build your WordPress website and to get it up and running without any hired help will cost you in the region of $200 – $1,000 (£128 – £641). This includes paying for your website domain, hosting, themes and plugins.
Ease Of Use
WordPress being an ‘open source content management system’ means that you can customise the codes yourself, which may allow accomplished website designers to build their own or someone else’s WordPress website with ease.
However, for those of us who aren’t accomplished website developers and are not good with coding, this makes WordPress difficult to use.
Downloading WordPress plugins could be an alternative to trying to modify the codes yourself to alter the website, however plugins do cost and it may take a while to find the right plugin you are looking for due to the large WordPress community.
Who WordPress Would Be Ideal For
Since WordPress is probably the most powerful website builder, it would be most ideal for those who
a) are willing to spend time learning how to use it, (and spend money on setting up the website) or
b) are willing to spend money on accomplished website designers to build your website for you.
If you’re a government organisation or a business that wants a very professional website and is willing to pay, then WordPress is for you. But if you’re someone who just wants to show pictures of your beloved cat then WordPress may not be the ideal website builder for you.
Moneymagpie is an example of site created on WordPress. Aren’t we cool??!
What Squarespace Offers
Squarespace is not an open source platform, which means that you yourself won’t need to do any coding.
Instead, all the website building tools are built by Squarespace itself, which you can essentially ‘drag and drop’ anywhere onto your page.
You can drag and drop pictures, text, maps etc. onto your website. Squarespace features many modern templates created by their design team that you can choose as a theme for your website which makes things easy.
Standard – $8 (£5) per month annually or $12 (£8) month-to-month.
Business – $18 (£12) per month annually or $26 (£17) month-to-month.
Commerce – $26 (£17) per month annually or $36 (£23) month-to-month.
Each plan comes with a different number of features, with more features available on higher priced plans of course.
Ease Of Use
The ‘drag and drop’ system offered by Squarespace makes it very easy to use, which means even the least tech-savvy person will be able arrange elements in their website to their own personal desire.
Squarespace also provides a library of user guides in video and text formats, which will help you get better at building a website with Squarespace.
Who Squarespace Would Be Ideal For
Squarespace would be ideal for anyone, from beginners to experienced website developers, who want to create a website for a business or even for their own personal use, depending on how much money you are willing to spend.
If you want a simple website for your business, the personal and business plans would be the best. If you want a website for your own online shop, the commerce package may be the most ideal for you.
The National Tutoring Conference is an example of a website created on Squarespace.
What Wix Offers
Wix again, like Squarespace, is a closed platform ‘drag and drop’ website builder which requires no coding, as all the website builder tools are designed by Wix already.
Wix offers many template designs for your website, and also features an app market with handy apps to integrate into your website.
On the free plan you can build a website under the domain .wix.com for as long as you like. However, advertisement logos are prominent at the side which makes the website look unprofessional.
To have a website completely free of adverts you would need to upgrade to at least the ‘Combo’ premium package.
Ease Of Use
The ‘drag-and-drop’ system makes Wix easy to use, which again is perfect for the beginner. Whatever you drag and drop in the website editor appears the same when the website is published. There are many help buttons on the editor, which come with specific tutorials for the different elements.
Who Wix Would Be Ideal For
Wix is ideal if you want to create a free website for your own personal use or business, and don’t mind prominent adverts being present on the side.
However, if you want a more professional website for whatever you do you would need to upgrade to at least the combo package.
What Weebly Offers
Weebly, again like Wix and Squarespace, is a closed platform pure ‘drag-and-drop’ website builder that requires no coding.
Weebly has a wide range of template designs for your website, and you can even gain access to their coding to modify the design as you wish.
Unlike Wix, there is only one small advert at the bottom which makes the website look much more professional. If you want to use more features then you can simply upgrade to the Starter, Pro or Business Plans.
Ease Of Use
Weebly, especially from my own personal experience, is a very easy drag-and-drop website builder to use. Again, what you see that you are building, looks exactly the same as what appears on the website. It is simple and it is effective.
Who Weebly Would Be Ideal For
Weebly would be ideal for anyone who wants to build a professional, free website quickly and easily for personal use, or for business purposes. This is ideal if you don’t have a lot of spare time to spend website-building.
Mrs. Hunts Staffing is an example website (designed by yours truly!) created by Weebly.
What Simpl Offers
Simpl is unique compared to other website builders as it is purely an app for iPad and iPhone, which is free to install.
Simpl allows up to 8 pages and 6 page types for a website, which are Text, Quote, Photos, Contact, News and Shop. Several pre-designed themes are available for use.
It is free to download the Simpl app and create your website, and you can even publish your site to see how it looks for 15 days before you pay for hosting. Hosting costs $5 (£3) per month.
Ease Of Use
Simpl is in the name; it’s a quick, easy and fun app to use to build your website. Simpl have recently added a guide to website success and an FAQ website.
However there is no link to either of these websites in the app, and no way to contact Simpl for any queries from the app.
Who Simpl Would Be Ideal For
Simpl would be ideal for those who want a very basic web presence for their own personal use or for a project, and want to design a website quickly, on the go.
However, due to the limited features, it may not be ideal for business or professional use, and for those more creative-types who want a bit more flexibility in a website builder.
The stylist website, Glorious 50, is an example of a website designed using Simpl.