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The 5 Best Free Website Builders... And The Worst

It is definitely possible to use a free website builder— if you are okay with some tradeoffs.

Updated Jan 12 2021 Steve Benjamins Steve Benjamins

I spent the last month testing the free plans of website builders and here’s the truth: website builders aren’t scrambling to give away something for free but with a little research you can definitely make it work.

This article will outline the strengths and weakness of the top free website builders.

To be clear, free means a free website indefinitely— not a free trial that expires after 14 days.

Note: My work is supported by affiliate commissions. Read more »

Best Rated

Square Online

Best overall free website builder.

Try Square Online →

Webflow

Custom Design Tool

Try Webflow →

Carrd

Great for one page websites.

Try Carrd →

Google Sites

Can connect to domain names.

Try Google Sites →
  • Square is the best overall free website builder.

    What To Like

    • Excellent Ecommerce Features — Most website builders lock up critical features like ecommerce on free plans in hopes that it drive users to upgrade. Not Square. Square includes curbside pickup, Apple Pay, digital products, Instagram shops, gift cards and shipping calculator in free plans. Plus, unlimited products.
    • Easy To Use — Square Online is what I’d recommend to anyone who doesn’t feel tech savvy.
    • Customer Support — Unlike other website builders, Square includes customer support including phone support!) on free plans.

    What Not To Like

    • Customization — Pages are built by adding pre-designed sections. You can toggle individual elements on and off but you can’t add additional elements.

    Advertisement

    The free plan includes a small ad in the footer of your website:

    Video Overview

    Demo Website

    sbrtests.square.site

  • Webflow is powerful but has a learning curve. It’s what I recommend if you would like to design your own theme from scratch.

    What To Like

    • Design Your Theme From Scratch — Webflow gives you the flexibility of front-end coding without actually requiring you to code.
    • CMS — Webflow also includes a CMS in the free plan. This CMS lets you create custom content types called Collections. For example, you could create a Collection of articles that will automatically generate new pages for every new article.

    What Not To Like

    • Learning Curve — Understanding the fundamentals of web design will help.

    Advertisement

    Webflow includes a small ad that scrolls with your website. It’s not very noticeable.

    Video

    Demo Website

    sbrtests.webflow.io

    Note: Webflow’s Free Plan Is Called ‘Staging’

    Navigating Webflow’s pricing plans can be confusing.

    You’ll want to sign up for their free Account plan and then choose the Staging plan for a free website.

    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.

  • Carrd is a website builder for one-page websites. It has an excellent free plan— so if you need a free one page website, I’d recommend Carrd.

    What To Like

    • Built For One Page Sites — Unlike other website builders, Carrd is just for one-page websites. So themes and features are all purpose built.
    • Affordable — If you do decide to upgrade, you’ll find that Carrd is extremely affordable. Plans start a $9 per year. That is WAY, WAY cheaper than website builders with multiple pages such as Squarespace or Wix.
    • Customizable — There’s a wide variety of style customizations that you can make— people have even re-created Amazon pages with Carrd.

    What Not To Like

    • Learning Curve — You’ll need to wrap your head around concepts like containers and CSS classes. 

    Advertisement

    Carrd includes an extremely small ad on free websites:

    Video

    Demo Website

    sbrtests.carrd.co

  • Google Sites is the only website builder that is 100% free. They don’t even offer paid plans.

    What To Like

    • Connect Custom Domains — It requires some technical understanding. but Google Sites lets you connect a custom domain name.
    • Integration With Google Products — One interesting thing is that Google Sites integrates well with other Google products like: Google Calendar, Maps, Docs, Slides, Sheets and Forms. Plus you can restrict your website to users in your Google Apps organization.

    What Not To Like

    • Lame Themes & Theme Customization — 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.
    • No blogging and no ecommerce. Features that are standard on other website builders are missing from Google Sites.

    Advertisement

    Ad isn’t even the right word. It’s more a scrolling icon that the visitor has to hover for more information. Here’s what it looks like:

    Video

    Demo Site

    sites.google.com/view/sbrtests/

Honorable Mentions

Ucraft

Can connect domain names but a big ad. Try Ucraft →

Jimdo

Small ad but 5 page limit. Try Jimdo →

IM Creator

No ads but poor subdomain. Try IM Creator →

Webnode

Bandwidth limitations. Try Webnode →
  • What To Like:

    • Connect Domain Names — Ucraft lets you connect a custom domain name on their free plan. That’s huge!

    What Not To Like:

    • Free plan is difficult to find — Readers have complained to me that Ucraft funnels them to paid free trial when they are trying to sign up for a free plan. In my tests I’ve found it confusing too!
    • Big Advertisements — Big ad that scrolls alongside your website. The free website builders I recommend all have smaller ads.

    Advertisement

    An example of the Ucraft ad:

    Demo Website

    https://sbrtests.ucraft.site/

  • Jimdo is simple and straightforward with a small ad on free websites.

    The main reason isn’t in my recommended free website builders is Jimdo’s free plan has a 5 page limit.

    Demo Website

    https://sbrtests.jimdosite.com/

  • IM Creator has no ad on free websites. That’s awesome.

    Unfortunately the subdomain they give free websites is long and difficult to read. Unfortunately there is no way to edit it:

    im-creator.com/free/yourusername/yourwebsitename

    Demo Website

    https://www.im-creator.com/free/bensbrtests/sbrtest

  • Webnode is a basic website builder with excellent templates and a small ad on free websites:

    Unfortunately Webnode limits free sites to 1 GB of bandwidth— which doesn’t get you very far. None of the free website builders I recommend have a bandwidth limit.

    Demo Website

    https://sbr-tests.webnode.com/

Lowest Rated

Wix

Large ad and bandwidth limits. Try Wix →

GoDaddy

Large ad. Try GoDaddy →

Strikingly

Large ad. Try Strikingly →

Site123

Large ad and poor subdomain. Try Site123 →

Wordpress.com

Large ad. Try Wordpress.com →
  • Wix’s free plan is too limited to recommend.

    For starters, there’s an ad that scrolls alongside the top of free websites:

    And the free subdomain is not as friendly as other website builders:

    username.wixsite.com/mysite.

    A better URL would be something like:

    mysite.wix.com.

    Finally 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.

    Demo Website

    https://bensbrtests.wixsite.com/sbrtests

  • GoDaddy has a sections-based editor similar to Square Online.

    But unlike Square Online, GoDaddy doesn’t include ecommerce features and has a large ad that scrolls alongside your website:

    Demo Website

    https://sbrtests.godaddysites.com/

  • Strikingly is a one-page website builder— similar to Carrd.

    But unlike Carrd, Strikingly includes a pretty large ad on their free plans.

    Demo Website

    https://sbrtests.mystrikingly.com/

  • Site123 has a free plan but I don’t recommend it.

    For starters the free subdomain is a random string of numbers. When we signed up, our website was:

    http://5fb7ef6699e63.site123.me/

    Plus the advertisement on free websites scrolls alongside your website:

    Finally even if Site123 didn’t have a large ad and a bad subdomain, I still would not recommend it because Site123 isn’t a visual, drag-and-drop editor. Instead you edit your website by filling out forms. It’s not ideal.

    Demo Website

    https://5fb7ef6699e63.site123.me/

  • The ad Wordpress.com puts on free websites is just too intrusive for me to recommend:

    Note: 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.

    Demo Website

    https://sbrtests.wordpress.com/

Bandwidth & Storage Limits

To the best of our knowledge this the bandwidth and storage limits for each website builder as of December 2020.

Website Builder Bandwidth Storage
Square Online Not Known Not Known
Webflow Unlimited Not Known
Carrd Not Known Not Known
Google Sites Unlimited Unlimited
Jimdo 2 GB 500 MB
GoDaddy Not Known Not Known
Ucraft Unlimited Not Known
IM Creator 100 visits per day 50 MB
Strikingly 5 GB / month 500 MB
Wix 500 MB 500 MB
Wordpress.com Unlimited 3 GB
Site123 1 GB 500 MB
Webnode 1 GB 100 MB

Common Questions

Are there free domain names?

No.

Unfortunately there is no way to get a domain name for free.

Most website builders make the first year of your domain name free— but only for paid plans.

What about Wordpress?

Isn’t Wordpress free?

Technically, yes but there are two reasons why I haven’t included it:

1. Hosting Wordpress costs money. Wordpress is free for anyone to download and use but in order to launch a Wordpress website you will need a host. And there are really no good free Wordpress hosts that I’ve seen.

2. Wordpress is a CMS— not a website builder. My definition of a website builder is a hosted, no-code tool for building a website. While Wordpress doesn’t necessarily require you to code, it definitely does not providing hosting.

Note: I’m talking about Wordpress.org here— not Wordpress.com. 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.

Written By Steve Benjamins

I’ve been building websites for over 20 years and websites have been featured in Wired, The Next Web, Smashing Magazine, The Huffington Post and Forbes. Read More →