Today I’m going to explain to you why you should use Square Online to build your own website — and you want it to be free.
Here is why I think Square is the best free website builder:
- Easy Drag-and-Drop Editor — Square’s drag and drop editor is really easy to use. Even beginners will feel comfortable using it.
- Tiny Advertisement — Almost all free website builders include an advertisement on your website. Square’s ad is small and at the very bottom of your website. Other website builders include much larger ads.
- Unlimited Bandwidth — Bandwidth is the amount of traffic your website can handle. Most free website builders put a limit on bandwidth because it’s a reliable way to you to upgrade to a paid plan — but Square offers unlimited bandwidth.
- Solid Custom Subdomain — Square gives free sites a solid subdomain: yourname.square.site.
- Excellent Ecommerce — Square includes more ecommerce tools and ecommerce functionality in a free version than any other website builder.
Let’s get into it!
Reason #1: Square’s Templates Don’t Have Large, Annoying Advertisements
One of the main problems with free website builders is that they almost always include an advertisement on your website.
Some ads are really intrusive. For example, this is Wix’s ad…
… and this is Strikingly’s ad …
I don’t think websites feel professional if they have advertisements like this. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your website template is if it’s obscured by an advertisement.
Square includes an ad on your website but it’s small and at the bottom of the page. It feels more subtle and less intrusive:
Reason #2: Square’s Drag-And-Drop Editor Is Really User-Friendly
Square’s drag-and-drop website builder is great for beginners.
Pages on Square are made up of sections that you can add or remove. For example, here we‘ve added a Contact form section:
There is a variety of sections to choose from — photo galleries, text blocks, videos, testimonials and many more.
Sections are customized by editing or removing elements.
For example if we want to hide the description we just hit this toggle…
… And now the description is hidden:
Square’s ease of use and simplicity is great — especially when compared to a more sophisticated site builder like Wix that can have a steeper learning curve.
The downside of this simplicity is that it can be at times too simple. Jump to the Customization section to read more of that criticism.
Reason #3: Square Has Excellent Ecommerce Features
Look no further if you are looking for a free ecommerce store builder. Square includes more ecommerce tools and ecommerce functionality in a free version than any other website builder.
Here are some examples:
- Unlimited Products — Most free plans will have a limit on total products (for example: Jimdo limits you to 5 products) but not Square.
- Social Media Integration — Sell on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and more.
- Curbside Pickup — Offer different fulfilment options such as curbside pickup, local delivery and more.
- Automatic Tax Calculator — More important than you think: you don’t want to waste time setting tax rates for different states and provinces.
In addition to this, Square is growing out their App Marketplace (a smaller version of Shopify’s App Store) that extends your online store functionality with apps for a range of uses: delivery, scheduling, point of sale and more.
Reason #4: Square’s Free Plan Is Great For Small Businesses
Square Online lets you create a business website and manage your online presence but it’s actually just one of many tools that Square offers:
What’s great about Square is that all these tools integrate with one another. No fuss. It all just works.
Here are just some of the other tools Square offers:
- Point of Sale System — Square is known for their user-friendly POS systems.
- Appointment Scheduling — A free all-in-one system for booking appointments. Helpful for small businesses like barbers, personal trainers and nail salons.
- Email Marketing — Square‘s email marketing tool is a simple, easy way to create email marketing campaigns.
- Team Management — Square includes free tools for team scheduling.
So Square Online is great if you need a new website and want it for free. But long-term, one reason to stick with Square is their ecosystem of tools.
Reason #5: Square Provides Unlimited Bandwidth
Another problem with many free website builders is that they limit bandwidth. Fortunately Square‘s free option does not limit bandwidth.
What is bandwidth? Well bandwidth is taken up any time a visitor comes to your website — so a limit on bandwidth means a limit on how many visitors you can have.
Here are examples of free website builders with a bandwidth limit:
|Jimdo||2 GB||500 MB|
|IM Creator||100 visits per day||50 MB|
|Strikingly||5 GB / month||500 MB|
|Wix||500 MB||500 MB|
|Site123||1 GB||500 MB|
|Webnode||1 GB||100 MB|
Reason #6: Square Offers Customer Support on Free Plans
Chat, email and phone support are all available to Square users on free plans!
This is definitely unusual — most website builders do not provide customer support on free plans.
Customer support can be a lifeline for many beginners who need help to bring their business online.
Square Online is for all websites — not just online stores
Square Online’s homepage describes it as a tool for making a free online store but you can build any type of website with it — not just online stores and ecommerce.
Just worth pointing out!
8. Downside? Square Isn’t Great For Customization
If there is a downside to Square, it’s that functionality can be too simple.
Sections can feel cookie-cutter because there aren’t many customization options.
Want to add an image to this Contact Form? Well you can’t:
Want to swap the position of these two elements? Well you can’t:
For a free site, this all might be fine but you should be aware that Square doesn‘t have as many customization options as website builders such as Squarespace or Wix.
What About Wix?
You will find lots of reviews recommending Wix if you search Google for best free website builders.
But I really think this is wrong.
Wix is a great website builder but their free plan sucks. Here’s why:
1. Ugly Ad
No matter how good your template is, Wix’s advertisement on free websites will ruin it. This scrolls alongside the user:
2. Bad Free Domain
Wix’s free subdomain is not as friendly as other website builders:
A better URL would be something like:
3. No Ecommerce
You’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan to use Wix’s ecommerce features.
4. Bandwidth Limit
Wix has a 500 MB bandwidth limit on free websites. That’s really low— especially since the Wix template we tested was 1.4 MB.
At that rate, if you had more than 10 visitors a day, you‘d be at risk to go over the bandwidth limit. It sucks to have to monitor that.
What About WordPress?
WordPress can mean different things.
Most people mean WordPress.org when they talk about WordPress. WordPress.org is the free, open source CMS (content management system) that powers a large chunk of the internet.
But there’s also WordPress.com, which is more like a hybrid website builder. It tries to take the best features of WordPress and offer a hosted experience (like a website builder).
You can download WordPress from WordPress.org for free— anyone can.
What you’ll need to pay for though is web hosting.
You see, WordPress is free but the web hosting is not. There aren‘t really any good free WordPress hosting services.
WordPress began as a blogging platform but has no become the world’s most popular content management system.
It‘s is a great website tool if you are willing to take the time to learn it.
So what kind of learning curve should you expect? Well you should be ready to install templates and plugins, keep WordPress up-to-date and occasionally maybe even tweak HTML and CSS. If you’re not willing to do this, you may want to consider a professional web design company to setup and manage your WordPress website.
WordPress.com used to offer a free plan but they no longer do.
WordPress.com is not WordPress.org. WordPress.org is what most people mean when they talk about WordPress— it’s the free, open-source CMS. WordPress.com is more like a website builder.
What About Google Sites?
Google Sites is the only website builder that is 100% free. They don’t even offer paid plans.
It even lets you connect a custom domain name (though it’s not exactly easy) and a very small ad on your website!
So why don‘t I recommend Google Sites as my top free website builder?
It‘s just not a good website builder. It‘s more of a tool to connect different Google products such as Google Calendar, Maps, Docs, Slides, Sheets and Forms.
There are 6 “themes” which aren’t really themes. They are just a tweak to the colors and fonts. No actual change to the layout. You can only choose one accent color. You can’t even choose a custom font. Text must also span the whole page— it can’t be organized into columns.
And plus there aren’t typical features that you would expect in a website builder like photo galleries, blogs and ecommerce.
Ucraft is definitely runner-up for best free website builder because they allow you to add a custom domain name on their free plan.
You‘ll still need to register the domain somewhere (which will cost around $15) but you can connect it to your free Ucraft website!
Unfortunately Ucraft has a large ad that scrolls alongside your website:
Jimdo is simple and straightforward with a small ad on free websites. The main limitation on it‘s free plans is that you can only have up to 5 pages.
The best part of IM Creator‘s free plan is that there is no ads! They are the only free website builder I‘ve come across with no ads.
The downside? The URL for free websites is pretty clunky:
I don‘t recommend GoDaddy‘s free plan.
GoDaddy‘s website editor is very similar to Square Online‘s — the only difference is they include a large advertisement that scrolls with your website and they do not include ecommerce features.
I don‘t recommend Site123 and that includes their free websites.
The URL they give free websites is really ugly — it just includes a random string of numbers and letters:
Plus the ad is large and scrolls alongside your website:
Carrd is a one-page website builder. So it’s not for multiple web pages. It‘s best used for personal website and landing pages.
I would recommend Carrd if you need a one-page website builder because it‘s purpose built for this.
Plus the ad they include on free websites is really, really small.
Webflow is what I recommend for professional website design — but it also has a pretty great free plan.
The free plan is a little tricky to find. It‘s called Staging.
I asked Webflow to confirm that the Staging plan could be used for publishing a website and here’s what they had to say:
I would think of it like this: Webflow is free until you want to have more than 2 projects, if you want to host a website on a custom domain, or if you want to export code from a project.
Webflow includes a small ad that scrolls along free websites. It’s not very noticeable.
I highly recommend Squarespace. I think it’s the best all-around website builder.
But it does not have a free plan. Instead you’ll have to choose one of their paid pricing plans.
If you’re interested in Squarespace, check out my step-by-step guide to creating a Squarespace website.
For a long time Strikingly did not include an SSL certificate in free websites but I’m happy to report that they now do!
Unfortunately their ad is just too large to make me recommend them:
Can I Get A Free Custom Domain Name?
Sorry! There is no way to get a domain name for free, though most website builders will give you a free first year of your domain name— if you’re on a paid plan.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Square good for SEO?
Square’s free plan provides everything you would expect for SEO (search engine optimization) on a free plan: SSL certificate, meta name and description, responsive design and more.
What about Squarespace?
Squarespace has a 14-day free trial but they do not have a free plan.
What about Shopify?
Shopify has a free 14-day trial too but they do not have a free plan.