In this day and age, it’s nearly impossible for a small business to succeed without establishing some sort of digital presence. Unfortunately, not every would-be entrepreneur is a digital guru — and not every start-up can afford to spend money on a shiny, new website.
Thankfully, there are plenty of free website builders out there designed to arm small business owners with all the basic tools they need to get up-and-running and turn a few heads online.
In 2010, Small Business Trends compiled a list of its top seven website building platforms. But a lot has changed since then, and so, here’s an update, a listing of 2016’s top 20 free website builders.
20 Free Website Builders
Weebly has been around for a while, and so it’s definitely one of the most popular website builders out there. There are no hidden costs involved in constructing a new website — and although premium and ecommerce versions do exist, a vast majority of small businesses are unlikely to need them. Weebly’s top feature is its intuitive, drag-and-drop interface that makes Web creation dead simple for even the most IT-challenged individuals.
Wix boasts a similarly easy-to-use interface, and is immensely popular because the site offers users hundreds and hundreds of free design templates to choose from. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re operating in. Chances are, Wix will have a free template that caters specifically to your needs. After selecting a template, the site’s drag-and-drop feature makes drafting your first website a quick and painless process.
Webs is an ideal website builder for small businesses because it offers an unrivalled level of SEO functionality. Built-in search indicators can help you to optimize your new website so that your small business starts to generate organic traffic quicker. The platform’s themes are well-designed. Changes can be made instantly and all of the layouts are relatively intuitive.
DudaOne is an innovative website builder that focuses largely on producing responsive mobile sites. It has a clear interface, intelligent social media integration and a great built-in analytics system. By setting up a free site, small business owners gain a fast, natively responsive website, Web hosting on Amazon Cloud and crucial community support. From there, users can upgrade to various business and ecommerce packages that come with multi-language sites, push notifications and unlimited product categories for online stores.
SiteBuilder is still one of the simplest and most intuitive website design tools available online. Its platform is incredibly user-friendly, and comes with all of the tools you’ll need to get a dynamic small business website immediately live. SiteBuilder also includes basic ecommerce features and premium plans with a wide range of custom design tools.
Squarespace is a professional website building platform designed largely for those operating within creative industries. The site has loads of high-caliber templates geared at photographers, musicians, writers and art venues. Squarespace’s templates are extremely visual-based — and although they aren’t quite as customizable as the templates some other platforms may offer, small business websites built on Squarespace are some of the Web’s most clean and responsive.
WordPress is still a small business favorite, and for good reason. WordPress is one of the easiest building platforms for beginners, and it offers some of the Web’s most well-designed free templates. WordPress also comes with a wide selection of free analytics and SEO tools that make it fairly simple to keep track of how your site is performing. Bearing all that in mind, it’s little wonder around one in five sites on the Internet are now constructed using WordPress.
Yola is a Web-based tool that makes life easy for small business owners who are after a simple, code-free way of producing a professional commercial website. Yola operates a drag-and-drop interface with fully-integrated social features and quite a few handy widgets. It’s worth pointing out that Yola’s free accounts don’t include access to the platform’s useful blogging tool — and so small business owners may ultimately need to go premium in order to unlock Yola’s full potential.
9. IM Creator
IM Creator is another simple drag-and-drop system that offers a wide range of professionally-designed Web templates that are hugely responsive. With IM Creator’s free package, users can take advantage of a second level domain and a respectable 50MB of storage. The platform also updates its selection of templates on a regular basis — meaning it’s a relatively quick and painless process to give your small business website a complete makeover.
Sitey is an intuitive platform that offers small business owners incredibly professional-looking websites in the blink of an eye. With each free account, you’ll receive 50MB storage, 5MB file upload and 1GB worth of bandwidth. Better yet, you’ll gain access to Sitey’s database of excellent templates, image galleries and simple social media integration.
Jimdo is another well-established website builder, and is quite useful for those who are a little bit more comfortable with coding. Jimdo enables users to create free, mobile-friendly HTML5 sites. The platform’s top strength is its free online store as most website builders tend to charge an arm and a leg for this feature. Jimdo also offers a generous 500MB of storage and great customer support.
WebStarts provides a rapid solution for small business owners who need a website quick. The platform’s templates boast intelligent layouts, and its design interface is extremely easy-to-use. That said, those in need of a large website or more integrated features will most likely need to upgrade to a premium plan. WebStarts’ free version includes just 10MB of storage for a five page website.
Moonfruit is home to some of the Web’s most creative design templates. The platform’s free version enables small business owners to create a website of up to 15 pages on a second level domain. But Moonfruit does a whole lot more than host a few free templates. It also enables you to create an optimized mobile version of your site, and can be fully integrated with your company’s social media profiles.
DoodleKit offers some of the best editing functionality of any free website builder. Although its free version is limited, it does enable you to create a site up to five pages in under five minutes. You can also take advantage of the site’s free blogging platform, which is an immensely useful tool in order to expand your brand’s digital profile. DoodleKit includes a range of great design templates and hosts a useful forum that can help to inspire you when constructing your own site.
Established site Edicy has recently relaunched under the name ‘Voog’, but it’s still a fast and simple website builder that will help you to establish an online presence in the blink of an eye. Voog doesn’t come with the most all-encompassing user experience, but its free trial version does offer free lifetime hosting, generous storage space and allows you to register more than one editor in order to manage the site.
ezweb123 is an award-winner website builder that offers a wide array of package options for small business owners. The site’s free package will enable you to create a website of up to 15 pages that’s hosted on a second-level domain. ezweb123’s biggest draw is convenience. From a design point-of-view, the platform is extremely basic and very easy to use.
Webnode offers a dynamic solution for small businesses in need of a simple, online store. The platform’s free ecommerce package includes 1GB bandwidth, 10MB storage space and enables you to sell up to 10 products. In order to expand that store, you’ll need to upgrade to one of Webnode’s premium packages — but its free offerings are ideal for a part-time micro-business.
emyspot is an all-encompassing website builder with an attractive range of free features. A small business site on emyspot has got no page limit, and enjoys use of a blog and unlimited bandwidth. Meanwhile, the platform’s free version offers a generous 250MB worth of storage. Dynamic ecommerce templates are available for an additional fee.
GoDaddy might be better known for its hosting services, but the company also offers a user-friendly website construction platform. GoDaddy users enjoy quite generous storage limits, and a clear, drag-and-drop interface. The platform also includes decent photo editing software. That being said, users will need to go premium in order to take advantage of GoDaddy’s ecommerce, mobile and blog features.
20. Zoho Sites
Zoho Sites is another useful drag-and-drop editor. It’s a crystal clear building tool, and includes an ecommerce upgrade that is fully integrated with PayPal. The platform’s top feature is definitely its form builder. Users can take advantage of an unprecedented level of fields. Including drop-downs, URLs and file uploads.
Before committing to a website builder, you should always do your homework. After all, no two businesses are alike, and so you’ve got to come up with an idea of what it is you’re after in a website. But once you’ve figured that out, it doesn’t matter what industry you’re operating in or how comfortable you are with the Web. There’s definitely a website builder out there that’s perfect for you and your small business.
Web Construction Illustration via Shutterstock