Free Website Builders vs. Paid: Which Is Best for Your Business?
In a growing market, the best website builder allow virtually anyone, regardless of their level of experience, to create their own website. You can do this in just a few hours, and popular paid options from builders like Wix and Weebly are often accompanied by free plans with effective features and tools. There are also the best free blogging sites out there that are just made for this purpose.
With so many website builders available, some free options are attractive and functional, while others aren’t even worth considering. However, given the constraints and limitations of a number of website factors, how do free website builders hold their own against the premium competition? That is the question we want to answer.
We look at features, support, usability, and more with direct examples from some of our favorite free and paid website builders.
Free Website Builder vs. Paid: Features
As you’d expect, premium subscription-based website builders generally offer much more advanced features than free ones. Free plans tend to come with numerous limitations, including the size of your website, the space and bandwidth you can access, and how to use advanced tools to build a website.
In most cases, you won’t be able to connect a custom domain name using a free website builder. For example, Wix’s free builder limits you to one wixsite.com subdomain, which can look a little unprofessional for a corporate website. On the other hand, upgrading to a paid plan lets you join a custom domain. And some premium website builders, like HostGator Website Builder, even add a free domain with every new subscription.
Most free website builders also come with some sort of advertisement for the platform you are using. For example, both Weebly’s free plan and the cheapest premium plan come with ads from Square, its ecommerce partner. To get rid of these ads, you’ll need to upgrade to the second most expensive premium plan, which costs $ 12 a month.
Again, we see free website builders underperforming, with most coming with very limited space and bandwidth. For example, Site123’s free plan only comes with 250MB of storage and 250MB of bandwidth. The premium plans are also a bit limited, but still a lot more generous.
In many cases, you will find that free website builders do not provide the tools necessary to sell items or services through your new business website. A small percentage have very limited online store functionality, but you typically need to purchase a paid subscription to use all of the ecommerce features.
Free Website Builder vs. Paid: Performance
To compare the performance of free website builders and paid services, we took a close look at the editing interface and ease of use of three of our favorite options.
For one, Wix offers a selection of free and paid plans. And unlike many of its competitors, there are no restrictions on who has access to which website builder functions. Premium users can upgrade their SEO and marketing packages, but free users have access to all of the other design and editing tools.
On the other hand, Site123’s free website builder is very limited when compared to the paid alternatives. Numerous advanced editing tools are only available to premium users, which can be quite frustrating when creating a great business site.
For example, you can’t add plugins or custom code snippets to incorporate tools like Google Analytics – which many believe are essential to a successful website.
Another popular free website builder, Strikingly, is even more limited. While the premium plans are for those looking to build a simple but attractive website, the free plan is disappointing to say the least. With that, you’re limited to a one-page site with very basic ecommerce tools and not being able to add custom code snippets or even a site search bar.
Ultimately, most free website builders have pretty limited editing interfaces. There are some exceptions, such as B. Wix, but it is important that you do your research before choosing a platform.
Free Website Builders vs. Paid: Support
At the end of the day, the support services you have access to depend largely on the website builder you are using. However, we can safely say that free builders (and free plans of paid platforms) generally have much worse customer service than the paid alternatives.
Typically, free users have access to a comprehensive knowledge base, community forums when available, and in some cases email or telephone support. However, live support is usually reserved for paying customers, which can make it difficult to get help if you’re using a free option.
Free Website Builders vs. Paid: Pricing and Plans
Free website builders are generally 100% free and free forever, while the price of a paid subscription can vary from a few dollars per year to tens or even hundreds per month. However, free website builders generally have some limitations, and a premium option is likely the best choice for your business.
When it comes to paid website builders, HostGator builder offers some of the best value for money plans we’ve seen. For just $ 3.84 a month, you have access to virtually all of the features needed to build a fully functional website, and you even get a free domain name and the ability to create a small ecommerce store.
Meanwhile, Wix’s paid plans range from $ 14 to $ 49 per month, and Weebly’s range from $ 6 to $ 26 per month. As you can see, choosing a free website builder can save you a lot of money. But on the other hand, it’s not always worth it.
Free Website Builders vs. Paid: Verdict
Comparing popular free website builders to paid builders tells an interesting story. Of course, most free builders are less powerful than their premium alternatives, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not useful.
Unfortunately, however, we cannot recommend using a free website builder to create a business website. In general, they offer more limited features than paid builders, little or no ecommerce support, just basic customer support, and bandwidth and storage limitations.
Of course, you will benefit from saving a few dollars a month using a free builder, but it’s really not worth it at the end of the day.
Learn more about website builders
Be sure to check out our reviews of the website builders mentioned in this article, including Wix, Weebly, HostGator, Site123, and Strikingly, and our guide to the best cheap website builders.