In today’s day and age almost every aspiring entrepreneur or small business starts their journey by looking for a simple and quick way to establish themselves online, with a website. Many turn to popular free website builder sites like WordPress.com, Weebly, Wix or Squarespace but are unsure which one is best. To help, we’ve analyzed four of the top free builders below for your website design and weighed the pros and cons of each.
- It’s free for up to 3GB of space. After that you will have to pay for space ($19.95 per year for 5GB) or ($289.97 per year for 100GB)
- They make regular backups of your site
- You don’t have to get involved with finding a domain name and a host on your own, or hiring a web designer before you can start to add content to your site
- Similarly, WordPress.com supplies you with a choice of “themes” or layout styles
- They place ads on all free websites and it costs $29.97 per year to remove them
- You cannot use plugins. WordPress is well known for its flexibility due to the plugins but WordPress.com does not allow you to use plugins. You’ll have to get WordPress.org for them (their alternative more professional platform)
- You cannot use custom themes. They do offer a “design upgrade” for $30 per year. Meaning, you can change the color of your site. But if you want to add something really custom, you cannot
- Even if you pay for their upgrades, you still have to tell others that your site is powered on WordPress.com
- 500 MB of storage
- Best collection of professional caliber design templates
- Wix’s templates are already structured, formatted and pre-populated with content so you simply have to pick your favorite one and replace the pre-set content
- Most innovative drag & drop website builder – For example, you can build 1-pager parallax designs, insert video backgrounds, creating multiple sections on your pages, all without touching any codes
- Support and help available everywhere – help buttons, phone & email support
- Difficult to switch templates, once you’ve picked one to use you can’t switch to another template without losing your content
- Visible advertisements on the free plan – Using Wix’s free plan comes with noticeably large and prominent advertisement Wix logos on the side and at the bottom of the website after you publish
- Not designed to handle complex e-commerce needs – If you want to build an online shop, Wix’s e-commerce tools are not advanced enough to help you fully manage your store. They don’t include sending out automatic confirmation emails to your customers after they pay, configure taxes and shipping costs, and general management of orders such as marking orders as shipped or paid
- Super User-Friendly – Weebly doesn’t overwhelm its users with a ton of prep work prior to making their website. The instructions are clear concise and easy to use. You can literally drag and drop images, pieces of text etc. into your webpage without worrying about the constant uploading and downloading of images. A user can actually create a basic website model within 10 minutes of logging in
- Mobile Responsive
- Pre-Created Page Layouts – Weebly has included over 40 preset page layouts so that you will have a plethora of templates to choose from. And even then, you can pick a premade template and customize it to your preferences accordingly
- Weebly Elements Are Basic – You are given the option to further edit the design of the elements within a page, but ultimately Weebly lacks more options. Weebly doesn’t offer any advanced design options. Including, single page scrolling, parallax, background video players, or page transitioning effects (that you would see in Powerpoint; fading, sliding, bouncing etc)
- Limited Customization – Weebly allows you to change color schemes and font styles within a page, but doesn’t offer any other options such as adjusting content width or menu color design
- Blogging is Not that Great – Most often nowadays if you come across a blog, it will at least show you the most recent post, a related post to a topic you type in or at least some kind of news line of popular and related information. Weebly doesn’t incorporate these features
- Template Design – Squarespace’s tagline is “Build It Beautiful.” They live up to it with their design templates
- Backend Design – They build the beautiful brand in their ads and extend it to the user experience. Simply clicking around the admin section makes you think that Squarespace is really cool software. If you’ve ever used purely functional ugly software, it’s a bit of fresh air. It makes building the website interesting
- All-in-One Platform – Squarespace has all their features built-in. Everything is Squarespace owned and developed. That means that everything just works. There’s no figuring out if this app or extension is compatible. There’s no troubleshooting or topics outside their Knowledge Base and/or customer support
- Speed, Security & Data Export – Squarespace hosts the websites built with their software, and the cost of hosting is included in the monthly price. This bundled approach not only ensures that your hosting is compatible & optimized, but also that Squarespace handles all the technical needs of hosting. They take care of website speed
- Advanced Marketing Tools – If you build a website, people will not simply show up. You have to actively market your work. There’s thousands of marketing & advertising channels. Some are better than others. But all give an advantage to websites with the right tools for that channel. Squarespace has all the basics (aka, share buttons), and a few advanced ones (aka URL redirect options). Overall though, there are lots of marketing features that either aren’t there, or require some workarounds. For example, their SEO options are sort of present, but require workarounds to get the right meta data in place. Their support for Twitter Cards and Facebook Open Graph is touch and go. A/B Testing is not integrated.
- Apps & Extensions – Squarespace has a lack of support for 3rd party apps and extensions. This approach does ensure that everything just works. However, any features that can be rolled out have to be rolled out by Squarespace, which is a big disadvantage if you want seamless integration of specific functionality.
- Backend User Functionality – For a website builder that is advertised as simple, straightforward and easy, Squarespace’s backend functionality is not a breeze to use. Editing and adding content, opening new pages, adding blog functionality, editing the design template, moving elements around, etc. You never have to touch or edit HTML or CSS code, but the actual mechanics of building a website with Squarespace are not smooth at all. Compared to competitors like Weebly, finding the right touch elements can be frustrating
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