Building a free or cheap website is desirable for many reasons. Perhaps you are a first-timer who has never had a website before, and aren’t sure what you want to do with it. Or, you plan to write a personal blog. Maybe you just want a temporary website, to use as an online resume while you look for a job or to show off your wedding plans. Or, you have a micro business with no employees or very few employees and simply want a basic web presence.
There are many free or cheap website building services. However, many free website building services are offered by web hosting companies, using their proprietary software. If you wish to change web hosting companies, you will have to abandon the “free” website and build a new one.
In some cases, if that personal blog goes viral or your business starts to expand, you may need to expand the website as well. Therefore, you may want to ensure that your website can grow with you.
So here are our suggestions for building not only a free or cheap website, but one that serves your needs and is hassle-free if it needs to grow.
Totally free websites
Many web hosting companies offer a free website and free hosting. A free website can be a good option for a personal blog or other non-business use.
However, one of the main disadvantages of a free website with free hosting is that you can’t use a custom domain name. Rather than yourname.com, it will be yourname.theirname.com. If email is included, your email will also be @yourname.theirname.com. Therefore, if one of your needs is to build a brand, then you need to consider purchasing a domain name (yourname.com) and a web hosting plan that supports a custom domain. These web hosting plans usually cost less than $10 per month.
Another disadvantage of totally free websites with free hosting is your website may be required to run the provider’s ads. Running ads might be OK for a personal blog or a wedding website, but not for any business use, including a résumé website.
Other things to consider with free websites include limits on the size of your site, including the number of pages or amount of content; and the amount of traffic to your website (also known as storage or bandwidth). In addition, the website may come with limited features and customization options, may restrict the number of users or contributors, and provide no website traffic data.
Even with these limitations, a free website can be a good way to start. Just make sure your chosen website building software offers reasonably priced “pro” options for growing your website beyond the basic freebies.
Free or cheap websites
Weebly.com: Weebly offers free options, an easy-to-use website builder, many design features, e-commerce capabilities and portability to another host. If you progress to paid options, Weebly is still one of the most affordable options.
WIX.com: WIX free websites are popular for free online résumés. It’s also a great option for simple business or e-commerce websites. If you want to grow, you might be better off with Weebly or paying more for something like SquareSpace.com, which offers a limited free trial before you start paying a monthly fee.
WordPress.com: WordPress is fast becoming the worldwide standard in free, open-source website building software. While WordPress.org is generally used by developers, WordPress.com is for anyone who needs a free website fast. WordPress excels at blogging features (which is how it started). But it can expand into any business need, usually for a lower cost than other website builders.
There are many other often recommended website builders, including CoffeeCup.com, Jimdo.com, Moonfruit.com, DudaMobile.com, Website Builder from GoDaddy.com, Webstarts.com, Yola.com and others. But Weebly, WIX and WordPress offer the best free and cheap options, are easy to use, and grow economically if your needs change.