It is definitely possible to use a free website builder in 2021— if you are okay with some tradeoffs.
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.
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 overall free website builder.
|Try Square Online →|
Custom Design Tool
|Try Webflow →|
Great for one page websites.
|Try Carrd →|
Can connect to domain names.
|Try Google Sites →|
1. Square OnlineTry Square Online →
Square is the best overall free website builder.
- 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.
- Customization — Pages are built by adding pre-designed sections. You can toggle individual elements on and off but you can’t add additional elements.
The free plan includes a small ad in the footer of your website:
2. WebflowTry Webflow →
Webflow is powerful but has a learning curve. It’s what I recommend if you would like to design your own theme from scratch.
- 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.
- Learning Curve — Understanding the fundamentals of web design will help.
Webflow includes a small ad that scrolls with your website. It’s not very noticeable.
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.
3. CarrdTry Carrd →
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.
- 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.
- Learning Curve — You’ll need to wrap your head around concepts like containers and CSS classes.
Carrd includes an extremely small ad on free websites:
4. Google SitesTry Google Sites →
Google Sites is the only website builder that is 100% free. They don’t even offer paid plans.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
|Can connect domain names but a big ad.||Try Ucraft →|
|Small ad but 5 page limit.||Try Jimdo →|
|No ads but poor subdomain.||Try IM Creator →|
|Bandwidth limitations.||Try Webnode →|
UcraftTry Ucraft →
- Connect Domain Names — Ucraft lets you connect a custom domain name on their free plan. That’s huge!
- 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.
An example of the Ucraft ad:
JimdoTry Jimdo →
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.
IM CreatorTry IM Creator →
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:
WebnodeTry Webnode →
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.
|Large ad and bandwidth limits.||Try Wix →|
|Large ad.||Try GoDaddy →|
|Large ad.||Try Strikingly →|
|Large ad and poor subdomain.||Try Site123 →|
|Large ad.||Try Wordpress.com →|
WixTry Wix →
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:
A better URL would be something like:
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.
GoDaddyTry GoDaddy →
StrikinglyTry Strikingly →
Site123Try Site123 →
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:
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.
Wordpress.comTry Wordpress.com →
The ad Wordpress.com puts on free websites is just too intrusive for me to recommend:
Bandwidth & Storage Limits
To the best of our knowledge this the bandwidth and storage limits for each website builder as of December 2020.
|Square Online||Not Known||Not Known|
|Carrd||Not Known||Not Known|
|Jimdo||2 GB||500 MB|
|GoDaddy||Not Known||Not Known|
|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|
Are there free domain names?
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.