It used to take a lot of knowledge (or considerable amount of cash) to create your own website, but not anymore. Thankfully, it is possible to create a basic website without ever having to delve into any HTML code or to spend a cent. For really professional results, it is still best to know your way around the inner workings of CSS and PHP, but free website builders give even complete amateurs a chance to design something great. There are a few options available on the market, but before you get started, it is best to compare the different services in order to see which one will suit you best. This allows you to make the best choice right of the bat instead of running into limitations half-way through your project.
The advantages of using a free website builder are numerous, especially if you are an individual or small business without a budget to hire a professional. First, there is no need to install anything on your computer as all you need is a browser. This also means that you can work on your site from any computer. You typically don’t have to worry about having to update software, access FTP servers or figure out hosting either. Let’s take a look at some of the well known names when it comes to website builders to see which one can provide you with all the tools you need.
Wix offers you the freedom to create your website using an intuitive drag and drop interface. This means that you can design your site layout by simply arranging where you want items to appear. Because what you see is what you get there are no surprises when viewing your site live after creating it.
Wix also offers a range of professional templates that you can use to make your site look even more eye-catching. With these pre-made templates, the layouts are all set and you simple start adding your own information and pictures.
In case you are wondering how Wix is able to offer the service for free, the answer is advertising. When using the free website builder to create your own site you will find that Wix automatically displays advertising logos quite prominently on your pages. This is a practice used by most free website builders, but the adverts are especially noticeable in Wix.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of using Wix is that once you commit to a certain template there is no going back. Some other site builders allow you to chance the theme without losing any information, which is useful if you find a new theme that better suits your content. Wix however does not support this which means you have to start from scratch should you ever become tired of your current template. Depending on the size of your site, this could range from a nuisance to a disaster.
Weebly is another popular free website builder that allows you to quickly design your site using a drag and drop interface. Weebly also has a large range of free templates available, but goes one step further than Wix by allowing you access to the HTML and CSS of the template. This means that you have far greater flexibility when it comes to customizing your site and even if you are using the same theme as someone else you can make changes to the code to make yours look unique.
Another area where Weebly has the upper hand over Wix is that you are free to switch themes at any time without losing any of your content. Unfortunately, unless you opt for a pad premium account, Weebly also features some prominent advertising logos on your site and withholds certain customization options until you hand over your credit card details.
Weebly is useful and easy to use for smaller websites, but the way that it handles blogs leaves a lot to be desired and for larger sites it can become difficult to manage.
Last up is Squarespace, which once again offers an intuitive drag and drop interface for designing your website. Everything you create is mobile ready, which is a huge boon in the connected world of today. Knowing that your site will look as good on mobile as it does on a computer screen is great and can help to drive more traffic to your site.
With brands such as HBO, Shutterstock, Wired and even Sony all making use of Squarespace there can be no denying that it is possible to create a professional looking site. Squarespace also takes the hassle out of customizing your site without having to delve into the code. This means that you have the flexibility to make alterations, but don’t have to know any code to do so.
As for downsides, what you see while editing the site might end up looking different once published which can lead to more time spent tweaking the site exactly how you want it. Also, while you don’t have to worry about obtrusive ads plastered on your site, Squarespace is only free for two weeks after which you have to pay for a subscription.
Which free website builder is right for you ultimately comes down to how involved you want to be in the coding of your site, how much content you have and how much you are ultimately willing to spent. The great things is that all three of these website builders can be tried out for free to give you some hands on experience which will help you to decide which one is the perfect match.