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The Truth About Free Website Builders: An In-Depth Look at What You Really Get

By The Leadpages Team  |  Published Oct 20, 2021  |  Updated Oct 06, 2023
Leadpages Team
By The Leadpages Team
Learn why free website builders may not be worth it

If you own a business you need a website. 75% of consumers say they judge the credibility of a business based on their website, so if you have no digital presence your business will appear less legitimate. You’ll also miss out on valuable online sales.

Luckily, building your own website has never been easier, or more affordable. Drag and drop website builders allow anyone to do it, even if you don’t know anything about coding or design. In most cases, you simply choose a template, edit the text and images, and publish.

Free website builders are also available, meaning you could potentially create a website at no cost to your business. But what exactly do you get with these free builders and would you be better off with a paid option?

We’ll go over the pros and cons of free website builders, including the hidden costs you might not be aware of. We’ll also review the most popular free options available to help you determine if any of them are right for your business.

What are free website builders?

Website builders are platforms that allow you to create a site quickly and easily, without the need for coding or design tools. Most come with a library of professionally designed templates for you to choose from, and a drag and drop editor that lets you add, remove, and change elements.

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The goal of these services is to make it possible for anyone to build a website, even if you’re a complete beginner when it comes to web design.

Many providers offer free plans. As you might expect, these options only contain the most basic options and tools. While they will allow you to build a website for your business they come with a number of drawbacks that we’ll discuss later.

The best free website builders

Thinking of trying a free website builder? We’ve assembled a list of the ten best free builders available. We’ll let you know what they offer and what they don’t, and whether they’re worth using.


Learn why free website builders may not be worth it

Wix is one of the most well-known website builders on the market, thanks to their user-friendly drag and drop builder and massive template library. The free plan gives you access to over 900 attractive templates, but it will force you to display Wix ads all over your site.

You’ll also only have 500 MB of storage and bandwidth. This will both limit the size of your site and the amount of traffic you’re able to receive.

Finally, you can’t use your own custom domain with Wix’s free plan. Instead, you’ll be assigned a subdomain (accountname.wixsite.com/siteaddress).

Still, if you’re determined to use a free option the Wix website builder is certainly one of the best choices.


Learn why free website builders may not be worth it

WordPress is one of the most popular ways to build a website. Thousands of free templates are available, which is by far the most on this list, making it easy to find a theme that suits your business.

However, it’s important to note that WordPress is more of a content management system (CMS) than a website builder. While you can choose and edit templates, there’s no drag and drop editor. This greatly limits your ability to customize your site to your liking.

You should also know that while WordPress.org is free you’ll have to pay for your domain and hosting. These costs can often equal what you’d pay for a premium website builder.

If you really want a free website you can use WordPress.com, which includes hosting. However, you’ll have to display ads and you’ll have a WordPress domain (yourwebsite.wordpress.com).


Learn why free website builders may not be worth it

If you like WordPress but want more ways to customize the look of your site then Elementor might be for you. This drag and drop builder is a WordPress plugin, meaning you can install it on your WordPress site to give yourself more ways to edit your website templates.

The one drawback of Elementor is that not all WordPress themes work with the builder. If you want to be sure your theme will work with the drag and drop editor you’ll need to stick to Elementor themes, of which 150 are free.

Elementor comes with the same drawbacks as WordPress. You’ll have to choose between paying for your hosting or using a WordPress domain and displaying ads on your site. It’s also worth mentioning that the free version of Elementor doesn’t come with support.


Learn why free website builders may not be worth it

Weebly is one of the most well-established free website builders, having been around since 2006. It also offers a lot of features that other free options don’t.

Most impressively, their free plan includes ecommerce functionality. You can add a shopping cart and unlimited items to your online store. Just keep in mind that like any ecommerce platform they’ll take a percentage of your sales.

In addition to ecommerce, Weebly includes some basic SEO tools and support with their free plan as well.

However, like any free option you’ll have Weebly advertisements on your site. You also won’t be able to connect a custom domain.


Learn why free website builders may not be worth it

If you want to get online fast, Webnode is a great choice. Choosing and editing a template is easy and straightforward, thanks to their large theme library and effective drag and drop editor.

The biggest advantage Webnode has is that they support 20 different languages. So, if you plan on promoting your business to a wide array of international customers this might be your best option.

Unfortunately, Webnode’s free plan only includes 100 MB of storage, which is extremely limiting. You’ll also have to display a small Webnode ad and you won’t be able to connect a custom domain.


Learn why free website builders may not be worth it

In addition to letting you choose and edit a pre-designed template, Jimdo also offers an AI-generated option. You’ll answer some questions about your business and then Jimdo will generate a personalized website based on the information you provide them.

The AI option certainly saves time and will help you get up and running quickly. However, it does limit the creative control you have over the look of your site.

Their free plan comes with the usual restrictions. You’ll only have 500 MB of space and you’ll be forced to use a Jimdo domain. You’ll also be limited to just five pages for your site. And of course, you’ll have to display Jimdo ads.


Learn why free website builders may not be worth it

Webflow is unique in that it’s designed for both beginners and more technical users. While it offers a drag and drop editor it also has more complex functionality for coders and designers.

The editor is certainly easier to use than building a site from scratch, but the interface isn’t the most user-friendly. It looks more like graphic design software than a website builder, which can be intimidating.

There’s also an important note that comes with our Webflow review. While it markets itself as a free website builder, it’s not really. You can build and edit your site for free for as long as you like. But when you’re finally ready to publish you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan and buy a domain name.


Learn why free website builders may not be worth it

Like Jimdo, Site123 offers AI-generated websites. Simply answer some questions about the kind of site you want and they’ll automatically generate one based on your preferences. Once you have your site you can edit it how you like.

Unfortunately, the interface isn’t drag and drop which means making changes is a little more difficult. Instead, you use a menu to select what page elements you want to change.

Their free version limits you to just 250 MB of storage and bandwidth, and you’ll have to use a Site123 subdomain rather than your own custom domain. You’ll also have ads on your site. The free plan does allow for ecommerce functionality, but you’re limited to just 10 orders a month.


Learn why free website builders may not be worth it

Ucraft offers everything you’d expect from a website builder. They have modern and attractive templates, a drag and drop editor, and 24/7 support. Ucraft’s free plan also has many features you won’t find with other entries on our list.

Most impressive is the fact that you can connect a custom domain to your free site. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to pay for that domain. You also have unlimited bandwidth and access to Google Analytics.

Despite these features, there are drawbacks. Your design and customization options are limited with the free plan and you’ll have to display Ucraft branding across your site. You’re also restricted to just 15 pages.


Learn why free website builders may not be worth it

Webstarts is a solid website builder that provides you with everything necessary to create a functional website. However, when compared with the other top builders available it falls short in a number of different areas.

Most importantly, its interface has a bigger learning curve than most. While it works well once you get the hang of it, it’s not as intuitive as you would hope.

That being said, it does offer an excellent image editor that comes in very handy when you’re trying to customize the photos on your site. The free version also includes unlimited pages and 1 GB of bandwidth, which is more than most free website builders.

The drawbacks of free website builders

Free website builders are attractive to many small business owners because of their perceived cost savings. The idea of getting a website for free is tempting, but the truth is that you’ll almost always be better off paying for a premium option.

Here are the main reasons why free website builders usually aren’t worth it:


The truth is, there’s no such thing as a free website builder. Sure, the developer of the software may not be charging you money. But you pay them in a different way: with ad space.

By using free website builders you’re forced to display ads all over your site. This is a telltale sign to customers that you’re using a free website, which makes them question what other cost-cutting measures you’re implementing.

Most of all though, ads are unsightly and negatively impact the user experience. This can cause customers to leave your site prematurely, which hurts your ability to make sales.

Domain name issues

The next biggest drawback is the inability to use a custom domain with your website. If you want a site that’s completely free you’ll have to use a subdomain that includes the name of your website builder provider.

When it comes to websites, your domain name has a big impact on your credibility. A subdomain is a red flag for consumers that you’re using a free or cheap website solution.

Customers expect you to have your own custom domain (ideally a .com domain). Without this, they will begin to question the legitimacy of your business. Plus, a short and catchy custom domain is easier to remember than a longer subdomain.

Limited storage space

If you’re on a free website builder plan you can’t expect to get many perks. And one of the first things your provider will take away is your storage space.

Website builders host your site on servers, and space is at a premium. So it’s only natural that they’re not going to waste that space on free users. As a result, free sites are usually limited to 500 MB of space or less. This reduces the number of pages, images, and files that can be included on your site. In fact, some providers even limit the number of pages you can have on your site.

While these restrictions might be okay right now, if your business keeps expanding it’s likely you’ll quickly outgrow your storage space and have to upgrade.

Limited bandwidth

Bandwidth refers to the amount of data that can be transferred between your website and your visitors. In simple terms, the more bandwidth you have the more visitors your site can handle at once.

In most cases, if you’re using a free website builder you’ll be limited to 500 MB of bandwidth. This might be fine when there are only one or two people on your site. But ideally, you’d like to get to the point where dozens, even hundreds of people are on your site at once.

If you don’t have enough bandwidth your site will crash when your traffic increases, costing you valuable sales and revenue.

Poor SEO features

Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical for getting your website to appear in online searches.

Unfortunately, most free website builders don’t provide you with the tools you need to optimize your site for search, such as customizable meta titles, image alt attributes, social media integration, keyword support, and more.

Without these features, you’ll be hard-pressed to rank for your desired search terms.

Reduced customer support

Customer support requires a large amount of time and resources. So, it’s only natural that website builders will prioritize paying customers over free ones.

If you’re on a free plan expect to be waiting behind premium users to get your questions answered. In almost all cases you’ll also have fewer support channels available to you. And with some free website builders, you may not have any customer support at all.

This might be okay if you know what you’re doing. But if you’ve never built a website before you’ll likely get stuck at one point or another, and you’ll be left with very few ways to get the help you need.

Fewer ways to customize your site

Website builders want you to move to one of their paid plans. In order to do this, they often limit the number of features available to you with a free plan. This often includes tools that help you customize the look of your site.

One of the ways they might do this is to limit the number of templates you have access to. Or they could remove tools like image editors or drag and drop functionality.

Either way, if you’re using a free website builder you’ll likely have a difficult time customizing the look of your site and aligning it with your brand.

A less professional look

All the drawbacks we’ve talked about so far essentially amount to one thing: an unprofessional-looking website. Whether it’s the ads on your site, the subdomain, the design that looks the same as hundreds of other sites, or all of the above, using a free website builder leaves you with a site that just looks amateur.

In today’s digital world, your website is your business’ storefront. Just like you wouldn’t go into a brick-and-mortar store with cheap unprofessional signage, people don’t want to visit a site that looks like someone threw it together in less than an hour.

For just a small monthly investment you can radically improve the look of your site, which will in turn make it easier to win new customers and drive sales.

What’s the best website builder for small businesses?

After all this, you’re probably asking yourself “if a free website builder isn’t the answer what is?”

For most small businesses, the best solution is one that’s affordable, has a wide array of tools and features, and is conversion-focused. While there are lots of great choices, a growing number of business owners are choosing Leadpages.

Starting at just $27 a month, Leadpages’ website and landing page builder is extremely cost-effective. It also delivers great value with unlimited traffic and leads, a free custom domain, renowned customer support, and over 40 integrations with popular digital marketing and sales tools.

Learn why free website builders may not be worth it

Leadpages helps you create a professional modern website for your business. Choose from a large library of templates that have been specifically designed for many different industries and applications. The Drag & Drop Website Builder makes it easy to add and remove elements, allowing you to create a beautiful website that fits your brand perfectly.

Most importantly, all of Leadpages’ templates have been built with conversions in mind. The Leadmeter gives you real-time conversion advice to optimize your pages, and easy-to-implement pop-ups and alert bars help you collect leads and find new customers for your business.

How Leadpages solves the problems associated with free website builders

As we’ve already discussed, free website builders have quite a few drawbacks. So, how does Leadpages deal with these issues?

  • No advertising: When you build your site on Leadpages your site will be ad-free. That way, visitors will focus on your content rather than other people’s advertisements.
  • Free custom domain: Every Leadpages user gets a free custom domain name from Hover.
  • Unlimited storage and bandwidth: Add as many pages, images, and media to your site as you like. There are no storage limits placed on your website. You’ll also enjoy unlimited bandwidth, so you never have to worry about your site crashing when it gets busy.
  • SEO-friendly pages: Easily edit your meta titles, meta descriptions, and target keywords. Leadpages templates are designed to conform with Google’s best practices, giving them a better chance of ranking for search terms.
Learn why free website builders may not be worth it
  • Helpful customer support: Leadpages’ support team is happy to walk you through any issues you might have. Use one of our many support channels to speak to a specialist and get answers to your questions. Or check out our Knowledge Base to learn more about Leadpages.
  • Fully customizable: Once you choose a template, use the Drag & Drop Website Builder to customize your pages however you like. Add and remove elements, edit text and images, and change colors and fonts with ease.
  • Professional look: All our templates are created to convey a professional image. The clean designs, combined with your own custom domain, will make a great first impression on your customers.

Are you ready to build your website?

Your business deserves a website you can be proud of. Sure, a free website builder will get the job done, but at what cost? A cheap-looking site will not only impede your ability to generate leads and customers, but will also harm your reputation.
A free builder might seem like the more cost-effective solution now, but a premium website will pay for itself in the long run. And luckily, you don’t have to commit to anything right away. You can try Leadpages free for 14 days to see if it’s the right website builder for your business.

Leadpages Sites

Beautiful websites with the full conversion power of Leadpages

Experience the only online website builder that lets you easily create a high-converting website with code-free customizations.

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Leadpages Team
By The Leadpages Team
Learn why free website builders may not be worth it
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