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Creating a website has become a fun, relatively pain-free experience in recent years. Forget coding, cryptic words like HTML and FTP. These days, the main challenge is to find the right website builder among the enormous selection available on the market.
As you can guess, plenty of site builders offer free plans for you to build your own website. All you need is a computer and a web browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.
Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? But it’s worth taking a closer look at the web builders’ pros and cons. We decided to save you some work and do it for you in this research.
Quick Breakdown: Best Free Website Builders
|Use Case||Website Builder|
|Best overall recommendation for free sites||Wix|
|Best free website builder for small business||Wix|
|Connect your existing domain name for free||Ucraft|
|Best free online store builder||Sellfy|
|Best free designs||Wix|
|Best for advanced users||Webflow / WordPress|
|Best for free blogging||Wix / Weebly|
Who wrote this guide?
This guide was researched and written by Robert Brandl and his team of digital experts, including Inka Wibowo and Raphael Damain. We’ve tried out all the providers we mention in here and continuously update the article. You are welcome to leave a comment if you have any questions or found anything that’s inaccurate.
Quick note: if you have been to review sites similar to ours, you may have noticed that our list contains website builders you won’t often find elsewhere. The reason is simple: companies like Ucraft, Webstarts, or Zoho don’t pay huge commissions, but still have interesting free offerings. At Tooltester you can always be sure you get the full picture.
Video introduction: our 4 favorite free website builders
In only 4 minutes we’ll show you our top picks:
Now it’s time to find the website builder that is right for you!
Feel give our Smart Finder Tool a try, which will determine the best free website builder for you in 5 questions. Or you simply scroll down and read the profiles.
The full list: 21 Free Website Builders
And here’s the full lineup of 21 free site builders including pros and cons. The ranking is based on criteria like designs, the size of the ad, website functionality and SEO options.
1. Wix – Excellent Templates
The biggest of them all is Wix. They have more users than any other site builder, and it’s easy to see why. It’s packed with unique features and great templates. According to our tests, it’s the best website builder to create a paid site – but what about a free one? Does it fare just as well in this arena?
Well, it depends on what you are looking for. It’s great that they hardly have any restrictions on the free plan in terms of features and templates. On desktop computers, they place a pretty visible ad at the top of your website that is sticky (i.e. it will stay even when you start scrolling the page). Fortunately, on mobile phones, it far less visible and also not sticky.
Next to the classic Wix editor you can also give ADI (artificial design intelligence) a try. ADI is an alternative web creator that uses a series of questions about your project to create your website automatically. Definitely an interesting approach for beginners and also completely free to use.
Only if you want to use a custom domain name or go ad-free, you’ll need the Combo plan at least, which is $16 per month.
The URL you will get for free: accountname.wix.com/customname
Our demo website: Coworking Barcelona
What we liked: their spectacular selection of themes and the flexibility of their drag and drop editor. Also, they have an extensive app market and 500MB free webspace. No page limit. Full SEO customization, free SEO tools (SEO Wiz), and plenty of free apps in Wix’s App Market. In terms of functionality, it’s definitely the strongest free website builder.
Where they should improve: the Wix ad is very visible and should not be sticky. Also, the free URL is far too long and not easy to remember, unfortunately.
Wix Video Review
Free Trial: wix.com
2. Ucraft – Connect Your Domain for Free!
This is an interesting product as they are the only ones that allow you to connect an existing domain name for free! They also include SSL security at no extra cost but note that you will be limited to 15 pages on the free plan. Their cheapest paid plan is called Pro, starts at $10 per month and includes pro features such as multilingual sites.
Ucraft is a relatively advanced website builder, allowing you to fine-tune your styles such as fonts, colors, and spacings. Overall, we found it more complicated, though, than other free website builders as the editor isn’t quite as self-explanatory.
Let’s hope that this business model can work long-term. They are giving away quite a lot for free (which is great!) but it makes us wonder if this is sustainable.
The URL you will get for free: customname.ucraft.net
Our demo website: Wedding RSVP (runs on a custom domain name)
What we liked: the ability to connect a proper domain name for free (which is unique!). Their free templates look pretty modern and there is a decent selection available. Their support was helpful and the size of the advert on free websites is acceptable. SSL and unlimited storage (!) is included in free sites.
Where they should improve: you are limited to only the Basic Elements in the free plan. That excludes anything to do with articles, social media or ecommerce. The editor was sometimes a bit slow loading and felt a little buggy (but nothing too bad) and generally more complicated than other site builders. The page limit is 15, and you won’t be able to use the SEO options.
Free plan: ucraft.com
3. Webnode – Modern Editor with Some Limitations
A while ago Webnode completely revamped their editor, making it very modern. The themes they added are stylish and responsive. A pity you can’t choose a completely new theme after your initial choice.
We used to love Webnode’s free plan because its inconspicuous footer ad was barely noticeable. However, it recently decided to change tack. Free sites now display a big, bright blue, and very obvious banner ad that unfortunately doesn’t disappear when you scroll down the page.
But if that doesn’t put you off, there are a few perks of working with Webnode. It’s very intuitive, and while it’s not the most feature-rich site builder ever, it covers the basics pretty well: contact forms, Google Maps integration, plenty of themes, and very decent SEO options.
Webnode also offers a low-cost plan at $3.90 per month (which they fittingly call Limited) essentially allowing you to use a domain name you already own and to contact their premium support. The Webnode branding will stay with this option.
The URL you will get for free: customname.webnode.com
Our demo website: Coffee Shop
What we liked: their selection of stylish, responsive templates. There’s no page limit and SEO settings can be changed for all pages.
Where they should improve: adding/improving their features (blog, ecommerce). Storage isn’t very generous, with only 200 MB in the free plan. Also, there is no app store for additional site features. And of course, the in-your-face banner ad is definitely a step backward.
Webnode Video Review
Free Trial: webnode.com
4. Weebly – A Simple Website Builder for Basic Needs
Weebly is one of the largest site creators out there, and used to hit the top spots in our ranking table, before it got acquired by Square. Since then, the platform has been somewhat neglected. Regardless, it’s still worthy of a place on our free website builders list, offering great usability (thanks to its intuitive drag and drop editor), and an App Center with additional features.
The main thing to be aware of is that the free plan will display a very visible ad in the website’s footer (which expands when you hover over it).
The URL you will get for free: customname.weebly.com
Our demo website: Yoga Business
What we liked: their responsive themes and the app center with third-party add-ons. Also, there’s 500MB of free webspace. No limit on pages. SEO settings can be edited for all pages.
Where they should improve: the very visible footer ad. Oh, and the cookie notice they show is just as annoying there is no way to switch it off (also it interferes with Google Analytics visitor tracking). As we mentioned, Square doesn’t seem to be updating the platform with new features, so we’d only recommend it for very small and simple sites.
Weebly Video Review
Free Trial: weebly.com
5. Webstarts – Access to (Almost) All Features
When it comes to Marketing, Webstarts is not exactly shy. With almost 4m users, they claim to be the #1 Rated Free Website Builder (without actually saying who rated them). To be fair, Webstarts’ free plan is a solid choice. It includes access to all the important features such as the blog, and you can even activate the online store.
The product feels similar to Wix – in that all the elements can be moved around quite freely. In the feature and template departments, though, you’ll find a lot less variety. They also added an AI-based editor next to the classic one. But trying out the ‘artificial intelligence‘ builder left me with a rather ugly site. It’s a great idea to offer such an assistant, but it still needs a bit of work I would say.
The URL you will get for free: customname.webstarts.com
Our demo website: Business Coaching
What we liked: Generous 1GB storage space, online store includes 10 products for free, SEO settings can be edited for all pages. The footer advertisement isn’t very intrusive and can be closed by your website’s visitors (it doesn’t disappear when scrolling though).
Where they should improve: The templates are a bit hit-and-miss, although you definitely can find a few nice ones. And while it’s not a terrible editor, in many respects it feels a bit old-school and not as modern as Wix or Jimdo, for example. The renewal rate for paid plans isn’t exactly clear, a bit more transparency would go a long way.
Free Trial: webstarts.com
6. Jimdo – Website Editing Powered by AI
The good thing about Jimdo is that it won’t cost you an arm and a leg, even if you decide to go premium one day. Their cheapest Jimdo Dolphin plan starts at $9 per month and will allow you to use a proper domain. But even if you have no intention of ever upgrading your Jimdo website, you’ll enjoy their very smooth and rapid website setup experience.
Not only is Jimdo the fastest loading website builder we found, but their designs are also mobile responsive and look generally pretty good. And even though it’s not a drag and drop editor, it was still extremely easy to use. Jimdo is pretty limited when it comes to features: there is no blog, no app store, or any fancy tools like that. But if you are a beginner and just want to get that website live on the web, you’ll appreciate the simplicity that Jimdo provides.
The URL you will get for free: customname.jimdofree.com
Our demo website: Bliss Bakery
What we liked: the free plan shows only a small ad. They give you 500MB webspace, which should be more than enough for most sites. And of course, their centerpiece, the intelligent setup assistant that lets you create a website in the wink of an eye.
Where they should improve: With the free plan you are limited to 5 pages only. Also, there is no app market, blog, or password protection. There is no customer support either, leaving you in the lurch if something goes wrong or you need a bit of extra help.
Jimdo Video Review
Free Trial: jimdo.com
7. Site123 – Easy as 1-2-3?
Site123 claims to be “by far” the easiest website builder, and while their tool is certainly not too difficult to use, we’d say that there are even more user-friendly ones. What’s great about their builder is that they have some pretty good looking themes that are all responsive. Paid plans start at $9.80 per month and include a basic ecommerce store as well as an email marketing tool. Be prepared to receive multiple daily emails after signing up. Free websites show a little banner stripe at the bottom of the page.
The URL you will get for free: accountname.site123.me
Our demo website: Business Theme
What we liked: It lets you create a one-page or multipage website. There is a good choice of plugins and we found it easy enough to work with Site123. Their templates are responsive and the site includes SSL. Oh, and you have full access to the SEO settings! Oh, and you can use their live chat support for free, which is really generous.
Where they should improve: we aren’t big fans of the editor. You change the content in a separate window, which is not really state of the art. To achieve even basic things you always need a lot of clicks. Also, the templates are pretty restrictive with what you can add.
Free plan: site123.com
What features are people looking for, anyway?
We ran a poll and asked our readers what features they were looking for. After collecting 64 votes, these are the results:
As you can see from this survey, the most looked-for features are Nice Templates (32.4%), Use My Own Domain (27.9%) and Non-Intrusive Ads (20.6%). Luckily, for each of these categories, we have a recommendation: Wix has the best templates, Ucraft allows you to use your own domain name for free and Webnode has the least-intrusive ad of all site builders.
8. GoDaddy – The Easy All-Rounder
GoDaddy is a giant in the domain name and web hosting business, so it’s no surprise that they’d offer their very own website builder, too. It’s called GoDaddy Websites + Marketing, and while it’s seen a few revamps over the past few years, this latest version now comes with some handy new features – and a free plan, too.
As a beginner-friendly website builder, GoDaddy focuses on making things easy – from its simple-to-edit selection of mobile-friendly templates, to useful add-ons such as an email marketing tool, blog, appointment scheduler and member pages. All of these are free to add to your site.
What’s not free is the ability to use your own domain name, or to start selling products through an online store. A GoDaddy banner will also display at the top of all your pages. While this is all pretty standard for a free plan, one thing that’s a little surprising is that your SEO options are severely limited. You’d need to upgrade to one of the higher-level paid plans to be able to edit elements such as image alt tags and keywords.
GoDaddy Websites + Marketing Screenshots:
The URL you will get for free: yoursite.godaddysites.com
Our demo website: Barcelona Bakes
What we liked: It’s dead simple to use, and its in-built features, such as its blog and email marketing tool, work pretty well, too. It’s perfect for anyone who is a beginner, has relatively simple requirements, and who would like to be able to manage their entire online presence in the one place
Where they should improve: The SEO options are too basic, even on the higher paid plans. A wider range of app integrations would be useful, too. We also hope that they make it easier to migrate websites to any future iterations of the website builder, as they don’t provide a lot of support for previous versions.
GoDaddy Website Builder Video Review
Free plan: godaddy.com
9. Webflow – An Editor That Feels like a Cockpit
Take a heap of functions, add a pinch of visual design and garnish your creation with a nice CMS topping – tadaaa! Your Webflow site builder is ready.
Webflow is a system that falls a bit out of line with all the other regular website builders. This one specifically targets designers, developers and advanced users who want to create a website, but require more design freedom than traditional site builders like Squarespace or Weebly can offer. Although it’s a complex tool with loads of customization options, Webflow still attempts to make it as easy as possible for their users – coding isn’t necessarily required, you get to see your designs immediately thanks to their visual editor, and they offer tons of help material.
The URL you will get for free: http://yourwebsite.webflow.io/
Our demo website: Annika’s Coffee Mug Store
What we liked: You can easily sign-up (via Google or email address) and don’t need a credit card. The amount of features is massive and you have manifold customization options – for better or worse. You get a lot of support (videos, articles, forum). Plus, the advert on free sites is barely noticeable. In fact, you can publish two website projects with the free plan. Nice one!
Where they should improve: Although you have a lot of options with Webflow, it would be nice if there were more built-in features. There are a bunch of free design templates available, but for most of them, you have to pay. Prices range between $19 and $79 (one-off). The editor can be quite overwhelming at first.
Free plan: Webflow.com
10. WordPress.com – The Blogging Platform
WordPress.com is not to be confused with its bigger brother WordPress.org (read our beginners’ guide). The latter is fantastic if you are not scared of diving into technical terrain, but surprisingly, the .com version is not that much easier to use, and its free plan has a lot of restrictions. Having said that, if all you want is just to create a blog, WordPress.com could be a great solution for you. For a website, though, we find there are better solutions. Paid plans start at $15 per month.
WordPress.com Video Review
Free plan: wordpress.com
11. Mozello – Free Multilingual Websites
This Latvian company is one of the smaller players worldwide. What strikes us about Mozello is that they allow you to create a multilingual website for free – something you won’t get anywhere else. The range of features includes a blog, an online store and decent SEO options. Fortunately, the advertisement is just a link in the footer that most of your visitors won’t even notice. 500MB of free storage is included and should be enough for most of us.
The downside is that the editor, albeit easy to use, is really limited compared to its competitors’. Certain elements like a gallery can only be added to a specific gallery page-type, for example. This makes Mozello rather inflexible.
The URL you will get for free: customname.mozello.com
Our demo website: Beauty Studio
What we liked: the almost unnoticeable ad and the possibility to create a free multilingual website.
Where they should improve: the editor needs to become much more flexible and feature-rich. There is no easy way to add SSL encryption. In our test, not even the Mozello editor was using a secure connection, which is a bit worrying!
Free Trial: mozello.com
12. Strikingly – Free One-Page Layouts
“Don’t lose your visitors under the weight of a heavy, confusing website” says Strikingly, a website builder from California. That’s probably why they want you to put all your content on a single landing page. If you’d like to create multiple pages, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan. To be fair, they have some pretty decent templates to choose from and the website editor is easy to understand, even for beginners. If you ever leave the free plan, you’ll be charged at least $16 per month.
The URL you will get for free: accountname.strikingly.com
Our demo website: Furniture Store
What we liked: great themes that have clear call to actions. There is a mobile iOS and Android app for mobile website editing. And what’s fantastic is that you can access their live chat support – even in the free plan!
Where they should improve: Reducing everything to one page only can be quite limiting and is not the best approach in terms of SEO. And even though the templates look really good, there could be a bit more choice. SSL encryption should also be possible for free sites.
Strikingly Video Review
Free Trial: strikingly.com
13. One.com – Not Free, but a Cheap Website Builder
One.com doesn’t have a freemium plan like its competitors. They charge you from the beginning but the costs are very reasonable. Of course, your website will be ad-free. Optionally, you can add a proper domain name directly. There’s only one snag: you are limited to 5 pages, otherwise it’s getting rather expensive.
If all you need is a small, ad-free website with its own proper domain name, One.com could be a great fit. Oh, and if you’d rather use WordPress instead of their own site builder you can do that too. Best of all, there won’t be any page limit!
The URL you will get: customname.com (.co.uk, .net, .org etc.)
Our demo website: Coworking Space
What we liked: the fact that you are quite flexible: either use One.com’s own site builder or WordPress. It’s a great option to get started professionally for very little money. All templates are responsive and look modern.
Where they should improve: the limit to 5 pages isn’t great. Their own website editor certainly isn’t the best in the market but it gets the job done. It’s also pretty complicated to activate the SSL encryption.
Sign up (15 days money-back guarantee): one.com
14. Bookmark – Websites created by AI?
The latest fashion in website building are intelligent assistants. Bookmark, Wix ADI and, to a lesser extent, Jimdo Dolphin, all promise to use some kind of magic formula to get your website right with the first draft. Using Bookmark’s AiDA assistant we were left wondering where the intelligent assistant should get the information of what to put on your website. All you enter is your business name and the industry. The outcome was not terrible but it’s also not better than a website created without an assistant.
What we liked: Bookmark has quite a lot of features and modules that you can add to your website. All the websites are responsive and the editor makes a lot of sense. An advantage is that AiDA teaches you how to modify design elements in a couple of steps. They also offer integrated email accounts for $2 per month.
What they should improve: The website we got didn’t look particularly attractive. It was very stock-image heavy. With this whole AI-branding, they raise very high expectations which, from our point of view, they can’t really meet.
The cheapest ad-free paid plan starts at $11.99, which seems quite high compared to more established platforms like Wix or Weebly.
The URL you will get for free: https://yourname.bookmark.com
Free plan: bookmark.com
Tip: Save 15% on your first purchase with Bookmark using this exclusive voucher code websitetooltester15.
15. 000webhost – Your Website, 23 Hours a Day
000Webhost belongs to the same holding that owns Hostinger, a relatively well-known hosting company. They use 000webhost to offer free web hosting services. Those are limited to 1 GB of space, 10 GB of bandwidth and a maximum of 2 websites. But if you don’t really want to use WordPress, they have a website builder with a free plan.
If you ever decide to go premium to remove limitations from the free plan, you’ll be looking to pay about $9 a month. Being completely honest, there are much better tools (like Wix or Weebly) that offer similar deals.
The URL you will get for free: customname.000webhostapp.com
What we liked: It’s cool that both their website builder and WordPress are supported for website creation. You can actually connect a domain name you purchased elsewhere with the free version. They have almost 200 templates to choose from and they are categorized by industry. Although their templates aren’t responsive, you can create dedicated versions of your site that will adapt to desktops, tablets and mobiles. Interestingly, they offer a way to easily create multilingual sites. And if you are a backup paranoid, be at rest: you’ll be able to download backups and even restore them.
Where they should improve: Some of their templates are modern and slick looking, but most of them look a bit aged. A big limitation of the free plan is that your website will go down, every day, for one hour; if you ask me, this is a no go. It has some of the basic features and add-ons, but there are key elements missing (e.g. a blog or on-site search). When you change to a new template, all the content you had will be lost.
Free plan: 000webhost.com
16. New Google Sites – (Very) Basic Website Creation
Google recently revamped their website builder Google Sites. Now it’s a cleaner, more modern looking affair. After playing around with it for a few minutes, you will notice two things: 1) that it’s super easy to use; 2) that there are hardly any features: you can choose from six templates that all look pretty bare when you start building as there is no sample content at all. It seems to be possible to connect a domain name via Google MyBusiness, but then you have to be a business with a physical address.
The URL you will get for free: sites.google.com/view/yoursitename
What we liked: unsurprisingly, really good integration with other Google products (Maps, Calendar, Docs, Slides, etc.).
Where they should improve: there should be more themes and design elements. There is no access to the SEO settings of the website such as page title and meta description (!!!). Their knowledge base is as basic as the website builder, so it can be quite frustrating searching for answers (especially when all you find are forum posts like this one).
Google Sites Screenshots
Free Plan: sites.google.com
17. IM Creator
IM Creator has many modern-looking templates grouped by categories, which makes it easy to find one that fits your needs. Their designs are mobile responsive, and with their phone and tablet editor you can customize how they look on different devices.
Their approach to site design is somehow different. Instead of having a set of elements (e.g. headline, text, images, icons, etc.) that you combine into a design, they have prebuilt sections that you can customize. This makes it less flexible, but you are less likely to mess your design up – a good approach for beginners without much time to experiment with design and layouts.
Free plan: imcreator.com
18. Zoho Sites – Feature-rich
There are plenty of template designs in Zoho’s website creator. The downside is that only a small fraction of them are responsive. Also, they probably looked excellent five years ago but now have a bit of a dated feel. The editor itself is super easy to use and covers all basic features you can imagine. Using Zoho Creator you can even add dynamic content blocks to your site. Also, you have full access to the HTML and CSS of your website. All in all, a very decent product, especially if you work with other Zoho products.
Free plan: zoho.com/sites
19. Mobirise – Installable Website Building Software
Usually, we’re big advocates of hosted site builders that run in your web browser. But we do, of course, acknowledge that some of you are more comfortable with an installable Windows or Mac website software. Mobirise is such a program: you install it on your computer and within minutes you’ll be able to start dragging and dropping a free website together – even when you’re offline.
Their templates look quite fresh and offer lots of functionality. The choice is limited to a handful of designs. Also, most of them are paid ones that will set you back $19-$39 (as a one-time payment). It’s also a pity we couldn’t find any blogging functionalities.
Once you are happy with your result, you need to publish the site to your own web space. Of course, that’s a lot more complicated than with a hosted website builder as it requires you to set up a FTP connection and upload it to your own host (there are plenty of cheap web hosting providers to choose from).
Free Download: mobirise.com
20. Adobe Spark – from the makers of Photoshop
You’ve certainly heard of Photoshop. Maybe you’ve even heard of Adobe Dreamweaver, which was one of the first big WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors. While it’s powerful, it’s everything else but free (or easy to use). Probably for that reason, Adobe created a free solution called Spark.
Spark is pretty much the anti-Dreamweaver in that it’s as easy as it gets. But that has mainly to do with their limited feature set. Rather than building websites, it allows you to create a single web page. There’s no blog, store or any other business features. It does offer nice design possibilities and lets you create really nice galleries. But be aware – Adobe puts its brand top and bottom. To get rid of their ads you’ll have to pay around $10 monthly. Frankly, for this kind of money you are much better off with site builders like Wix or Ucraft.
Free plan: spark.adobe.com
21. Sitey, WebsiteBuilder.com, Sitebuilder.com – Triple Déjà Vu?
This is a bit of an odd company: they use three different brands that sell exactly the same site creator. And we couldn’t find any company details as there is no ‘about’ page on either of the three websites (even their own domain names seem to be registered privately). At first glance Sitey & Co. looks pretty sweet: they offer a vast number of flawless templates. Once you get to the editor you’ll start to notice some similarities to another well-known player: Wix. Everything is really similar (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). However, we see little reason not to opt for the original. The free plan is limited to 5 pages only and their paid plans are all more expensive than Wix’s.
Free Trial: sitey.com
The Best Free Site Builders: Our Overview
This table shows you our ten favourite website builders:
|Logo in footer and Header||Free subdomain||0.5 GB||Good product with an incredible amount of features. Unfortunately, it shows very intrusive logos both in the header and the footer of the page. Bandwidth limit of 1 GB per month.|
|Ucraft||Logo button in footer||Free subdomain||Unlimited||The only one to let you connect a domain name for free. Limited to 15 individual pages.|
|Sticky banner ad at the top of the page||Free subdomain||0.2 GB||Banner ad is very obtrusive. Could do with more storage. Unlimited pages.|
|Logo & expandable sign-up form in footer||Free subdomain||0.5 GB||The ad-bar at the bottom of the page could be less intrusive. As a basic website builder it’s fine, but its features are outdated compared to its competitors.|
|Webstarts||Logo in footer||Free subdomain||1 GB||Great free option: very small ad, access to all SEO options, decent templates, and an online store. Unfortunately sites are not mobile-friendly.|
|Logo in footer||Free subdomain||0.5 GB||Solid product with unlimited pages. Minimal advertising.|
|Site123||Overlay in footer||Free subdomain||0.5 GB||Decent site builder with modern templates but a pretty outdated web editor. There are numerous plugins that you can add to your website and support is included.|
|Banner ad at top of page||Free subdomain||Unlimited||Easy to use and comes with free extras such as appointment scheduler and email marketing. Also has useful backup and restore feature. However, SEO is limited.|
|Mozello||Footer link to Mozello||Free subdomain||0.5 GB||Great for multilingual websites. Features decent templates but the editor isn’t very flexible. The only site builder without SSL support.|
|Strikingly||Overlay in footer||Free subdomain||Unlimited (10 MB max. file size)||Features modern and responsive one-page websites. Multi-pages are only possible in their paid plans. Personal support is included in the free plan.|
How do I create a free website step by step?
For all the website builder we list here, the creation process always consists of these 6 steps:
- Sign up for a free website account
- Choose a template you like
- Add pages to your website
- Customize your content (text, images, video, etc.)
- Optional: Manage the SEO settings
- Publish your site
So who really pays for these free plans?
It’s true that the best things in life are free, but this generally only applies to the intangibles. Hosting a website, on the other hand, clearly costs the provider money. They have to cover the cost of running their servers and marketing their services, not to mention ongoing development.
Free web page builders are almost always based on a freemium model. This means that the free, entry-level plan is funded by those customers who go on to purchase a paid (or premium) plan.
That’s why it’s worth doing your research before choosing which free website maker is best for you.
What about domain names in free websites?
You won’t get a proper domain name, because .com or .net domains always come at a cost. As you have seen, most providers will give you a subdomain such as yourname.providername.com.
A free subdomain may be fine for a personal website, but we wouldn’t recommend it for professional or commercial sites for the following reasons:
- It looks unprofessional.
- You’re not doing yourself any favors in terms of search engine rankings (more on this below).
- It’s not easy to remember such a long name
There is actually a place where you can get free custom domain names that aren’t subdomains. At Freenom you can get a few (admittedly, obscure) domain names for free: .tk, .ml, .ga and a few others. So you could name your site mycoolsite.ml, for example. Now, I wouldn’t recommend building your business on top of such a free domain name.
But if it’s just for a personal project that’ll be completely fine. Freenom allows you to forward your domain name to a URL (such as your free website’s subdomain) or to point it to a website, which is a bit of a technical process. Pointing your domain is actually the professional way as then it will entirely run on this domain and no one will ever see the subdomain.
Ucraft is the only decent free site builder that allows you to point your own domain name free of charge. You’ll still have to obtain the domain somewhere else as Ucraft doesn’t sell domain names. At Namecheap, for example, a .com domain will cost you a bit less than $10 per year. Or you go for a free domain name as mentioned above.
Can I get free email addresses, too?
Yes, you can! Next to the classic free Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook email addresses, you can also have up to 5 email accounts on your own domain name. Zoho Workplace offers a Forever Free plan with 25GB webspace per user. Note that the free plan is a little hidden on their website.
This way you can have an email address like [email protected]. You’ll only need to pay the $12/year or so for your domain name. If you don’t need a .com domain and wouldn’t mind something like [email protected].ml, you could even get it entirely for free as I’ve explained in the section above.
Are there any other downsides of free website builders?
As we’ve seen above, many providers will run advertisements for their own or other businesses on your free website – not a professional look.
Advert on a Strikingly website
Then there are a few providers who offer only dated or unattractive layouts on their free plans, and keep the good designs for their paid plans. Also, free web page builders will restrict the number of pages you can build and keep their most advanced features for paying customers. Webstarts, for example, even blocks your visitors from seeing a mobile-optimized view when accessing the site via a smartphone.
What about search engine optimization (SEO)?
In order to rank highly in Google it’s not only important to provide decent content but also to be able to manage certain settings on your website. For example, you should be able to set a page title and a description for each of your pages. Fortunately all major site builders, with the exception of Jimdo, provide this.
As we’ve learned before, nearly all of the free packages have one limitation in common: you won’t be able to use a proper domain name. The domain name also has an important effect on SEO and most of the time subdomains don’t reach the top spots in search engines.
Another factor that can have a minor influence on your rankings is whether your website uses SSL encryption (https). The screenshot below shows the Chrome web browser bar when it’s activated:
This will ensure that data submitted through a contact form, for example, is safe and can’t be intercepted. This feature is usually included for free with all major website builder companies. From the tools we tested, only Mozello doesn’t secure their free sites by default. When SSL isn’t active, it will look like this to your visitors:
Not very trustworthy, is it?
Which free website builder is best for ecommerce?
Now that we’ve seen it’s possible to have a website at no cost, you might be wondering if you can also create free online stores. We’ve taken a look at these four tools and checked their offer:
|Sellfy||Complete online store||Sellfy not only lets you add up to 10 products, but you can also accept PayPal as well as credit card payments through Stripe. You are limited to physical items and print-on-demand products – so no digital products. It’s also great that you can hand out voucher codes to your potential customers.|
|Mozello||Complete online store||Allows up to 10 products and supports payments via Paypal. Although the store is quite limited, they also support a multilingual setup here.|
|Add-on for existing websites||This plugin will turn your current website into an online store. Be aware that the free plan is limited to 10 products. You can also add Ecwid to one of the aforementioned free site builders.|
Find more alternatives in our guide to the best free ecommerce website builders.
In a nutshell, if you’d like a really simple, free ecommerce site, our recommendation would also be Sellfy. Feature-wise they offer much more than all the other store builders in this test. Another option to sell online is Ecwid, but you’ll need to already have a website to add this ecommerce plugin.
Also, we would only recommend a free store if you have means, other than Google, of getting traffic to your website. Without being able to use your own domain name, it will be rather difficult to receive organic search engine traffic. You can find low cost options in our best ecommerce website builder guide.
Best free website builder: Our conclusion
Wix is the most convincing free website builder in our view.
Wix’s advantage lies in their huge number of features, of which most of are available for free. It’s the most future-proof choice should you ever be considering a paid upgrade.
If you are looking for a free website builder that lets you connect your domain name for free, check out Ucraft. While it’s probably not most easy to use website builder, we found it a good-enough choice.
However, it’s important not to be blinded by the word “free.” If you can afford it, stay away from free plans for your business site, even if it’s a small business. Of course, if the alternative is no website, then a free one is still better than nothing. But free plans come with certain restrictions that can give your business website an unprofessional look, such as strange domain names and an obtrusive advert.
Once you’ve built it, moving your website to a new provider can be quite a hassle. So remember to take your future plans into consideration when weighing up your options, especially if you might want to get a proper domain name, matching email addresses or an ad-free version of your website at some stage in the future.
So if your plan is to upgrade to a premium package in the nearer future, you should also check out our paid favorites Wix and Squarespace. While their free plans have certain downsides, they are more advanced when it comes to the complete product.
For more details, please also take a look at our ranking chart of the best website builders.
I hope this article was useful! For questions and feedback, please leave a comment!
Our Testing Methodology
To evaluate and compare the different website builders, we use a meticulous, standardized testing methodology. You find all the different criteria we examine in the individual in-depth reviews, like for example this Wix review (see the Rating Details table). We always build demo websites for each website builder we review as you can see above.
There are 20 different factors that we use for our research, the most important ones being Pricing, Ease of Use, Designs, Overall Features, SEO, Blogging Tools and Support. We value these factors differently according to the respective article (e.g. in this article we put the focus on the quality of their free plans).
We also spend a decent amount of time in the support pages, evaluating the quality of the documentation as well as personal (live) support. We also receive feedback continuously from real users via our comments section as well as user reviews.
Latest Review Updates
15 Apr 2022: Changes in rankings, Webnode demoted due to new obtrusive banner ad
03 Mar 2022: Update in free ecommerce builders
20 Jan 2022: Checked for accuracy and a few small updates
08 Oct 2021: General update
10 Mar 2021: Free email addresses section
22 Dec 2020: Webstarts contact form not available with free plans.
10 Dec 2020: Ucraft changes, Smart Finder updated.
16 Nov 2020: Webs.com removed, no free plan
09 Nov 2020: Webflow profile updated
07 Oct 2020: GoDaddy updated
06 Oct 2020: Jimdo updated
15 May 2019: A few smaller updates
20 Mar 2019: IM Creator added
24 Jan 2019: Changes in Ucraft’s free plan.
10 Dec 2018: New video overview added.
30 Nov 2018: Adobe Spark added.
27 Nov 2018: Infographic added.
21 Nov 2018: Smart Finder added.
15 Nov 2018: Added demo pages to most site builders.
20 Feb 2018: New site builders added – Bookmark, Webflow and 000webhost.
18 Jan 2018: Added WordPress.com, Mobirise and Sitely.
16 Jan 2018: Added Strikingly, Google Sites, Site123 and Ucraft.
20 June 2017: Full update of the article, adding Webstarts and Mozello.
18 May 2016:Weebly Free’s storage is limited to 500 MB.
13 Apr 2016: General update. Ecommerce free site included.
4 Apr 2015: It is no longer possible to use an existing domain name with your free Webnode site.
9 Jan 2015: We included Wix.com in our selection; it provides a free plan, which is excellent for creative people.
17 Jul 2014: Webnode states on their pricing overview that you can’t connect an existing domain name to a free Webnode site. However, this only applies in a few cases, generally it should still be possible.
10 Jun 2014: Weebly’s free plan continues to deteriorate: now there is an ad bar in the footer with a Weebly sign-up form.
24 Oct 2013: It’s no longer possible to use an existing domain name with your free Weebly site. That’s why they are only second in our ranking now.