Free Website Building Platforms

If you’re starting a business, I know you have lots of moving parts to manage. One of the elements everyone is eager to begin is that of designing their website. And rightfully so, as it is a direct representation of their brand and will help get their name out into the world. But with all the technology at our fingertips, creating a website can either be too expensive or very complicated.

While all of us here at Sparrow Websites believe in the services we provide, I understand if $50/month is not currently in your budget for one of our LaunchKits. So I have done some research to provide you with other options you’ll find as you search for a free website building platform.

TOP 3 BEST FREE PLATFORMS

If you search “free website builder” in Google, you will find lists of the top ten companies that will presumably give you a customizable template upon which you can build your website easily, quickly, and for free.  But how much of that is actually true?  These are the results of my research (all opinions are my own and are completely subjective):

3rd Place: Wix

Wix has established itself as one of the most user-friendly website builders you can find.  It allows people to design one of their templates however they choose and even publish it for free.  

  • Can you use a custom domain? No
  • Can you customize the template? Yes
  • Can you promote your services? Yes
  • Is it ad-free? No

You do have the option to upgrade for extra features (including being ad-free) which range from $13 – $40/month.

2nd Place: Weebly

Providing 6 to 15 themed options for each function, Weebly provides a free web design that is extremely easy to set up and is compatible with any device. But, as it is a very basic template, it is not ultimately customizable to your creativity.  This platform is specifically geared toward online stores and you could easily function and promote your business without needing to upgrade for quite some time.

  • Can you use a custom domain? No
  • Can you customize the template? Yes
  • Can you promote your services? Yes
  • Is it ad-free? No

Extra features (which would be extremely valuable as you grow) are provided with upgrades ranging from $6 – $30/month.

And #1, BEST FREE WEBSITE BUILDER (*drumroll*)……

1st Place: MailChimp

When you search for free website builders, MailChimp is nowhere on the list.  That’s because this is a new feature they’ve recently launched.  MailChimp is known for making email campaigns very simple, but now they’ve entered a new realm which you may just want to check out.

  • Can you use a custom domain? Yes, for five years
  • Can you customize the template? Yes
  • Can you promote your services? Yes
  • Is it ad-free? No, but it’s only a footer ad at the bottom of your page

KIND OF FREE

While the following list of website builders is touted as free, there are a lot more limitations than freedoms when trying to actually use it for your business.

WordPress.com

While this is a very customizable design program* where the options for creating a stunning website is easily within your grasp (no need for technological or coding experience), you can’t actually use it effectively until you pick an upgrade plan. 

  • Can you use a custom domain? No
  • Can you customize the template? No
  • Can you promote your services? No
  • Ad-free? No

For all the extra customization, more variety of themes, storage space, and practical business tools, you can choose an upgrade ranging between $4 – $45/month.

*Fun fact: WordPress (different from WordPress.com) is a code-based system that you can use to create a website.  WordPress.com uses WordPress code on its platform in an easy-to-use way for the least tech-savvy person to successfully make their website.

Strikingly 

While this platform has a strikingly easy setup (sorry, I can’t help it), it is a pre-planned design with no customizing options other than putting in your own text.  In order to even choose a different font, you would have to upgrade to one of their other plans.

  • Can you use a custom domain? No
  • Can you customize the template? No
  • Can you promote your services? Yes
  • Ad-free? No

Upgrade plans range from $12 – $20/month with better deals offered for committing to years instead of month-to-month.

Jimdo

Internationally accessible, Jimdo is compatible with tablets, smartphones, and computers in multiple languages.  While there are many features available and you can set up your website for free, you won’t be able to market your company because their builder doesn’t allow free websites to be seen by the search engines (not super helpful, huh?).  Upgrades are necessary.

  • Can you use a custom domain? No
  • Can you customize the template? No
  • Can you promote your services? No
  • Ad-free? No

Upgrades range from $10 – $40/month.

NOT ACTUALLY FREE

What’s interesting is that some of the most popularly advertised as free web design sites are not actually free.  They present themselves in a particular way and they certainly have great options and features, but you have to read the fine print.

Squarespace

While Squarespace is an excellent choice of a website builder with both pre-designed templates and themes or even building your website from scratch, they don’t have a free plan, only a 14-day free trial.

Plans range from $12 – $40/month.

Site 1-2-3

This website builder is considered one of the easiest to use and allows extreme customization including extensive customer support services. But while you can design your website, you won’t have access to promoting and using it until you upgrade to at least their middle-priced plan. All of this is not prominently featured on their website.  I had to create my own account before I could find their payment plans and correlating features.  There was no “free” option listed.

Their upgrade plans range from $13 – $35/ month.

So we created Launch Kits

The goal was the be the perfect option between free-and-not-worth-it and costs-too-much-so-why-even-bother and give small businesses and startups actually helpful designs, content, strategy, and support that they can afford.

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