The Best Free Website Builders
A roundup of the strengths and weakness of the best free website builders.
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By Steve Benjamins | Fact checked by Juhil Mendpara | Updated Apr 24 2023
It is definitely possible to use a free website builder in 2023—if you are okay with some tradeoffs.
We spent the last month testing the free plans of website builders (and have been testing website builders and their free plans in general for nearly a decade), and here’s the truth:
Website builders aren’t scrambling to give away something for free, but with a little research, you can make it work.
To be clear, free means a free website indefinitely—not a free trial that expires after 14 days.
Our Methodology: How We Ranked The Free Website Builders
We considered three main things when evaluating the free plans of all website builders. Here they are, from the highest priority:
Presentable website: The free website should actually look good and be functional.
This means if there’s a big ad on the free site, it’s a big no. If the free domain name is bad, that’s a minus. If the templates are bad or the editor limits the features essential for making a good website, we deduct some points.
Essential features: Some features are an absolute must — for example, websites should be mobile-friendly/responsive, the free website should come with an SSL certificate and basic SEO features, the free plan should have decent storage and bandwidth, etc.
Then, there are features like blogging that everyone doesn’t want, so we give them slightly less priority; similarly, even fewer people want/expect ecommerce on a free plan, so it’s comparatively lower priority + we have a free ecommerce builders list for that.
Paid plans: We’ve found many people upgrade to a paid plan (mostly for a custom domain name or ad-free website) once they are ready.
Considering this, we gave a tiny weight to paid plans and what you get for your money in case you decide to upgrade. Though, it mostly comes into evaluation only in edge cases.
Below are the 8 best and 8 worst free website builders.
At a Glance: The Best Free Website Builders
- Square Online — The best overall free plan.
- Webflow — The best free website builder for custom web design.
- Carrd — Great for one-page websites.
- Google Sites — Allows connecting a custom domain.
- Jimdo — A simple website builder with a good free plan.
- IM Creator — No ad on the free website.
- Mailchimp — Includes a nice free plan, but it's only good for a very basic site.
- Wix — The most featureful website builder for free but with many other limitations.
Website Builder Rankings
Best Free Website Builders
Best-in-class. Highly recommended.
Square OnlineTry Square Online
Square Online is the best overall free website builder (and the best free ecommerce builder!).
And it’s despite the fact that Square Online doesn’t have the most features, the best templates, or the customizability of many other site builders in this list.
There are two primary reasons why Square Online tops this list:
Generous free plan: The free Square Online plan includes many features, such as ecommerce, SEO tools, blogging, lead-capture forms, etc.
The website builder is just a part of the offering, and Square Online gives pretty much its whole website builder (previously Weebly) for free — you can use all the elements and sections and create unlimited pages.
The only thing you won’t have access to is its ‘advanced design controls’ feature.
No passive-aggressive tricks to get your money: All website builder companies want you to subscribe to a paid plan, and free plans are just a means to an end for most. So they employ passive-aggressive tactics that affect the result, i.e., the website.
The most common tactics website builders use to annoy users include irritating ads (example: free WordPress.com sites have page-covering ads both at the top and bottom), bad domain names (example: Wix’s free subdomain, username.wixsite.com/mysite, is not ideal), and limiting the essential features (example: Jimdo allows only five website pages).
Square Online, unlike most, gives a clean domain name, has a minimal ad, and packs most of the essential features with its free plan.
Our theory as to why Square Online’s free plan is superior to most is based on three separate sentences we found in shareholder letters of Block, the parent company of Square - the financial services platform that owns Square Online:
“We prioritized omnichannel product launches to help sellers transition to serving more of their customers online and through contactless commerce, including curbside pickup and delivery for Square Online and a website….”
Square is primarily a financial services company and a company behind the POS systems of many small retail businesses. When COVID hit, Square wanted to help retailers switch to ecommerce (without losing them to competitors like Shopify that also offer deeply integrated POS services). Therefore, they offered a generous free website & ecommerce plan and have still kept it.
“All online products have a free tier without a subscription fee, which we monetize only through transaction fees on payments.”
Even if Square offers the website builder for free, the company can earn revenue through transaction fees, i.e., its primary source of income. Fact: Square Online is primarily an ecommerce builder…but you can also use it for a website alone.
“We continue to focus on our three strategic priorities: omnichannel, growing upmarket, and expanding globally.”
Square Online helps the company achieve its goals of growing omnichannel, growing globally, and being accepted by bigger companies.
- Excellent Ecommerce Features — Most website builders lock up critical features like ecommerce on free plans in hopes that it drives users to upgrade. Not Square. Square includes curbside pickup, Apple Pay, digital products, Instagram shops, gift cards, and a shipping calculator in the free plan. Plus, unlimited products.
- Easy To Use — Square Online is what I’d recommend to anyone who doesn’t feel tech-savvy. It’s among the top easiest website builders. (Demo video below)
- Customer Support — Unlike other website builders, Square includes customer support (including phone support!) on free plans.
- Sleek Free Subdomain Name — Square’s name.square.site domain looks good and easy to remember, unlike many other website builders’ free domain names. Note: No half-decent website builder allows a custom domain name on a free plan; all have some version of their branding in the free domain name.
- Limited Customization — Square Online pages are built by adding pre-designed sections. You can toggle individual elements on and off but can’t add additional elements.
- Basic Features — Square Online isn’t the most comprehensive website builder. You can make a simple website or store with it (for free), but it doesn’t have many advanced features. For example, you can add a blog with its Stories feature, but it is basic to the point that you can’t even properly format the body text of your stories.
The free plan includes a small ad in the footer of your website:
Plans & Pricing
If you want to connect a custom domain or use its advanced design and ecommerce tools, you may want to switch to its paid plans.
- Professional: $16/month
- Plus: $29/month
- Premium: $79/month
If you just want a website and are considering getting a paid plan later, we’d suggest you skip Square Online. For Square Online’s paid plan price, you can get the absolute best website builders (like Squarespace or Wix) — the ones with better templates, a lot more customizability, and superior website-building features.
In our best website builders comparison, Square Online comes out as pretty average.
Great Free Website Builders
These are an excellent choice.
Webflow is powerful but has a learning curve. It’s what we recommend if you would like to design your own theme from scratch.
Webflow is opposite to Square Online in the ease of use, customization, and features department. Webflow’s primary users are web developers and designers who want complete control over the website, so it’s highly customizable and consequently “difficult to use” for non-technical users.
Its free plan, though, is comparable to Square Online in terms of how much of the platform you can use.
The free Webflow plan is designed to help you learn how to use Webflow, so you can build a website using all fundamental Webflow functionalities. Plus, the Webflow ad and domain name are not annoying.
Unlike Square, though, Webflow has limits that push you to get the paid plan. For example, there’s a bandwidth limit and a CMS items limit; ecommerce is only available on the paid plan; etc.
- Design Your Theme From Scratch — Webflow gives you the flexibility of front-end coding without actually requiring you to code. Besides, you can also get one of the 1500+ Webflow templates if you don’t want to start from scratch.
- 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.
- Good subdomain name — Each free Webflow site gets a websitename.webflow.io domain name.
- Minimal ad — There’s a fixed “Made in Webflow” ad at the bottom right that scrolls alongside, but it’s tiny and non-intrusive for the most part.
- Learning Curve — Webflow is not for beginners. You must first understand web design fundamentals to create a good website with Webflow.
- 1 GB bandwidth limit — This means Webflow will only send a total of 1 GB of data to website visitors every month. Depending on the size of the page and the number of pages each visitor scroll through, it roughly translates to only 100 to 500 monthly visitors being allowed on your Webflow site before you get a “bandwidth exceeded” notice.
- 50 CMS items limit — 50 CMS items would be good enough for you if you don’t want to continuously store content/collections on the database. However, if you want to use the free plan for something like blogging, you’ll hit the limit pretty soon.
Webflow includes a small ad that scrolls with your website. It’s not very noticeable.
Plans & Pricing
Switch to a Webflow paid plan if you run out of bandwidth or CMS limit or need a custom domain.
Annual plans (General/website):
- Basic: $14/month. This does not include the CMS!
- CMS: $23/month
- Business: $39/month
Its ecommerce plans are separate.
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.
Carrd is an excellent option for things like landing pages, personal websites, link-in-bio pages, etc.
There are some limits, such as images/GIFs shouldn’t exceed 2 MB; you can only use 50 elements in your website; etc. However, these limits likely won’t disturb you unless you want a complex single-page website.
- 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 — it’s the cheapest website builder. 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.
- Unnoticeable Ad — There’s just a tiny “(Made with Carrd)” text at the bottom of each free Carrd website. Also, the domain branding is clean: sitename.carrd.co
- No Multi-Page Functionality — You can’t create multiple web pages with Carrd.
Carrd includes an extremely small ad on free websites:
Plans & Pricing
You’ll likely want to switch to the paid plan for a custom domain or a feature like forms.
- Pro Lite: $9/YEAR
- Pro Standard: $19/YEAR
- Pro Plus: $49/YEAR.
Bonus Suggestion: Canva
The graphic design tool company Canva launched a one-page website builder, Canva Websites, recently.
In our experience, it has some downsides, but it’s worth checking out (see our Canva Websites review. If you already have a paid plan with Canva, you can even host a Canva Websites-built website on your own domain!
Also, the websites made with Canva look gorgeous (compared to just practically-sound sites of Carrd) — see some of the Canva-made websites in our free website examples collection.
Google SitesTry Google Sites
Google Sites is the only website builder that is 100% free. They don’t even offer paid plans.
If you don’t care much about your website, Google Sites can be a great option. It’s a good fit for student portfolios, internal help docs, a just-for-the-sake-of-it personal website, etc.
However, other options would be better if you want something pretty or professional. These are some of the best Google Sites websites we have found, and they won’t ever enter any of our best websites collection.
- Connect Custom Domains — It requires some technical understanding, but Google Sites lets you connect a custom domain name. It’s the only website builder on this list that lets you connect a custom domain!
- 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 organization.
- No Ad — There’s a tiny ‘i’ icon at the bottom-left that reveals the site uses Google Sites if someone clicks it.
- Lame Themes & Theme Customization — The title says it all. There are 10-something basic templates you can use to make a lame website. Also, there are some pre-made “themes” that are basically the same layouts with different colors.
- No Blogging or Ecommerce — Features that are standard on other website builders are missing from Google Sites.
- Bad Free Domain — Your website will be on a sites.google.com/view/website/ domain, which isn’t appealing.
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:
Average Free Website Builders
These can still work but may have a drawback.
Jimdo is simple and straightforward, with a small ad on free websites. The free subdomain is also quite clean (websitename.jimdosite.com).
But there are two downsides to using the Jimdo platform — one has to do with the platform itself, and the other has to do with the free plan:
- The Jimdo website builder as a whole is only meant for simple websites. Its simple editor makes it easy to use but also less customizable. Moreover, its features list only includes basic things.
- The free plan has a 5-page limit. This is the main reason why we don’t recommend it.
Overall, it’s still usable if you want a simple website with less than five pages. For example, a big one-page Carrd website with an ‘About’ section, a portfolio section, and a contact form section can be converted into a comparatively cleaner/easily navigable Jimdo site with three different pages.
Jimdo is simple and straightforward with a small ad on free websites.
Plans & Pricing
Jimdo has two paid website plans. Both allow you to connect a domain and include customer support.
- Start: $9/month. This can be restricting as you can only create 10 pages.
- Grow: $14/month. This one allows up to 50 pages.
IM CreatorTry IM Creator
IM Creator has no ad on free websites. That’s awesome.
Also awesome is the fact that students, artists, and non-profits can apply to get its premium account for free. In other words, these users’ free accounts will have unlimited hosting and the ability to connect a custom domain. However, we are not sure about the procedure and acceptance rate.
Apart from the two pros that keep IM Creator in the “average free website builder” category, pretty much everything about its free plan and the platform makes it a bad choice:
- The subdomain they give free websites is long and difficult to read, and there is no way to edit it!
- The templates are decent for some kinds of websites (like photography portfolios), but the editor for editing those templates looks so outdated and overwhelming—it’s simply not justified for a website builder that only makes a simple, section-based website.
Unfortunately, the subdomain they give free websites is long and difficult to read. Plus, there is no way to edit it:
Plans & Pricing
IM Creator has only one premium plan for individual users, costing $8/month.
Mailchimp started as an email marketing tool company. It now offers many marketing tools, including a website builder with an excellent free plan for very, very basic small business websites or online stores.
The Mailchimp website builder has some of the best elements of any top free website builder:
- a non-intrusive “created with Mailchimp” ad in the footer; clean-looking URL (sitename.mailchimpsites.com);
- unlimited pages for websites; unlimited products for online stores;
- unlimited bandwidth;
- decent styling options;
- features like appointment scheduling, SEO tools, and free access to many other Mailchimp’s marketing tools.
However, the website builder itself is very basic and lacks key features.
Firstly, you add sections made of pre-made layouts to make a website with Mailchimp. It means there’s very little customizability, which isn’t a massive problem for simple websites, but…
Mailchimp has insufficient sections, which can hinder designing even a simple website. The only sections in the Mailchimp free builder are intro, text, text & image, subscribe form, video, about, quote, and contact.
If you need anything other than these (and you probably do), you may want to skip Mailchimp. For instance, an image gallery is a common feature in most website builders because many websites need it, but Mailchimp doesn’t have it.
Many small businesses can have a successful site with the Mailchimp site builder, but it isn’t for everyone. Therefore, the otherwise great free plan resides among the “average free website builders.”
Plans & Pricing
Mailchimp has two free plans, and we recommend upgrading to them if you want to be a part of the Mailchimp ecosystem — otherwise, there are better website builders for a similar price.
- Core: $10/month
- Plus: $29/month
The Wix free plan sits on the opposite end of the Mailchimp site builder yet falls in the same category of “average free website builders.”
Wix gives you the most featureful website builder for free, but it has too many other limitations.
- 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.
- Also, unlike some listicles claim, you can’t use Wix eCommerce on its free plan. You can upload products and build a store, but when it comes to adding a payment method, Wix will ask you to upgrade to its business plan. This is a bit deceiving!
Wix’s 800+ beautiful templates and drag-and-drop unstructured editor, with its customizability and range of features, is doing the heavy lifting of keeping Wix’s free plan from being considered a “poor” choice. Still, choose Wix only if you don’t mind the ad, the subdomain, and the bandwidth limit.
Plans & Pricing
If you remove the free plan’s limitations, Wix is among the absolute top website builders from a features and functionalities standpoint. And with these great value-for-money annual plans pricing, Wix is a winner if you plan on paying for a website builder:
Annual Website Plans:
- Combo: $16/month
- Unlimited: $22/month
- Pro: $27/month
- VIP: $45/month
Wix’s business & ecommerce plans are separate.
Poor Free Website Builders
These have something that gives me pause.
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:
- Also, the editor is too simple to design even slightly complex pages.
- The free plan includes 24/7 customer support, but our experience with the support agent was not good. We started a live chat to understand the limitations of the free plan, but the agent didn’t even know there was a free GoDaddy website builder plan. This brings us to the next point:
- You can’t simply sign up for the free plan. You have to sign up for a free trial and wait for it to run out to be automatically switched to the free plan. It’s a scummy practice because you may think, ‘hey, the free GoDaddy website has no ad!’ if you test it during the trial period.
Ucraft used to be our top recommended free website builder a few years back. Since then, Ucraft has taken away all the good things we liked and kept/added inferior things/experiences.
There still are some good things about the free Ucraft plan. Example: It has a 15-page limit, which is plenty for many websites, including portfolio sites, personal websites, etc. We also like Ucraft’s customizability — you can move elements more freely than many of the editors above, like GoDaddy, Jimdo, Square Online, etc. Moreover, the free subdomain from Ucraft is nice (sitename.ucraft.site). And Ucraft is one of the only companies to offer 24/7 support on its free plan.
So why is it so down on the list? A few reasons:
- You can only use basic themes and elements. For example, you can’t use any of its pre-made blocks; you cannot use elements like contact forms, articles, social sharing buttons, etc.
- The platform is overwhelming, buggy, and slow. Ucraft’s editor is the slowest of all we tested. You have to wait for everything to sync after each change. If you are undoing with Ctrl+Z, you have to do one edit undo at a time. Otherwise, you’ll run into a sync error like this one (We tested Ucraft a few months back for our easiest website builders list and encountered the same error multiple times):
- The Ucraft ad is quite visible.
- Ucraft used to allow connecting a custom domain on its free plan. Now, it doesn’t.
Hubspot CMSTry Hubspot CMS
Hubspot’s free sites have a tiny, unintrusive ad; a decent drag-and-drop page builder; good templates for businesses; integration with its expansive range of marketing, sales, and customer support tools; and more. It could’ve been among the top names if it didn’t have a horrible, unchangeable free subdomain URL.
Here’s the URL of the free site we created:
The sad part about it is Hubspot’s website builder is targeted towards businesses. And Hubspot knows more than anyone that first impressions last, and that URL doesn’t leave a good impression!
Webnode is a basic website builder with excellent templates and a small ad on free websites. We tested it last year and found its free plan quite decent, but…
Unfortunately, we couldn’t test Webnode in 2023 because we couldn’t register with them. We tried multiple times, on multiple days, on multiple browsers, with and without VPN, and we got this error every single time: “Your registration wasn’t successful. Please contact us at email@example.com”. That’s a big minus.
Here’s our video of scrolling through the website from last year’s test:
The same website now has a significantly bigger ad that sticks at the bottom:
Besides the ad, Webnode limits free sites to 1 GB of bandwidth— which doesn’t get you very far.
Strikingly has grown from a one-page website builder to a more complex platform. Now, you can have 5 pages per website and 1 product online store for free.
- Strikingly includes a pretty large ad on their free plans.
- The website editor is clunky.
- There’s a 5% transaction fee for ecommerce.
In short, there are many downsides to choosing Strikingly’s free plan.
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:
- There’s a 250 MB bandwidth limit.
- 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.
- For starters, the free subdomain is a random string of numbers. When we signed up, our website was:
The ad WordPress.com puts on free websites is intrusive. Plus, WordPress randomly inserts page-covering third-party ads on the free websites:
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.
What about WordPress.Org?
WordPress.org is a CMS and technically not a website builder. However, it’s open source and free, so you may be thinking “How about a free WordPress site?” in that sense.
Here’s our answer: You will need to pay for other things like hosting, plugins, themes, page builder, etc., to get a good website with Wordpress.org. However, all of those central things are available for free:
- You can get free hosting from a company like 000WebHost
- Many essential plugins have free versions.
- There are MANY free WordPress themes.
- You can use a page builder like Elementor for free.
But…your resulting site will be subpar and include all the downsides of WordPress at the most extreme.
Bandwidth & Storage Limits
To the best of our knowledge, these are the bandwidth and storage limits for each website builder’s free plan as of January 2023.
|Website Builder||Bandwidth||Storage||Other relevant limits|
|Square Online||Not Known||500 MB|
|Webflow||1 GB||Not Known||50 CMS items|
|Carrd||Not Known||Not Known||50 blocks|
|Jimdo||2 GB||500 MB||5 website pages|
|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||250 MB||250 MB||Horrible, unchangeable URL|
|Hubspot||Not Known||Not Known||Horrible, unchangeable URL|
|Webnode||1 GB||100 MB|
About Free Niche Website Builders
All the website builders we tested are general-purpose website builders with free plans. However, depending on what you need the website for, you might find a good free niche website builder.
Here are some examples:
- For blogging, Medium is great!
- For a writer’s portfolio site, Clippings.me is a good option.
- For a wedding website, something like WithJoy can work. Here’s a sample free website: https://withjoy.com/sbr-and-test/
- If you are a designer/photographer who uses Adobe and is looking to build a portfolio, Adobe Portfolio might be free for you.
- Podia can be a good choice for people building communities and selling courses or digital products.
Tip: Custom Domain Name
This is a hack to add a custom domain name to your free website builder— even if it doesn’t allow them. It doesn’t work perfectly, but it gets you some of the way there.
Let’s say you built a free website on Square Online at yourwebsite.square.site.
You can actually register yourwebsite.com with a domain name provider such as Namecheap and set it to redirect to yourwebsite.square.site.
Now when visitors type in yourwebsite.com they are automatically forwarded to yourwebsite.square.site.
This isn’t a perfect solution— observant visitors will definitely notice the URL change in their browser— but it would let you put a domain name on your business card or Twitter bio.
Note: You will need to pay somewhere between $10 and $15 to get a domain name.
Frequently Asked Questions
What's the best non-free website builder?
In our tests, Squarespace has proven to be the best website builder that's not free. Though, it does give a 14-day free trial.
How can I get a free domain name?
You can't. 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 annual plan.
What about WordPress?
There are two reasons I have not included WordPress: (1) WordPress is free for download but you'll still need to pay for a host. (2) WordPress is a CMS— not a website builder.
Does Google have a free website builder?
They do— and it's quite good. It's called Google Sites.
What is the easiest free website builder?
We think Square Online is the easiest free website builder.
What is the cheapest website builder?
Carrd. Read more in my roundup of the Cheapest Website Builders.
Can you make a free Squarespace website?
Squarespace has a 14-day free trial but they do not have a free plan.
Is there a free version of Shopify?
No. The cheapest version of Shopify is Starter which costs $5/month.