I’d like to start by saying that I have nothing against do-it-yourself website builders such as Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace.
On the contrary.
I think they’re a fantastic way for “non-techies” to create a business website, online store, or even a personal website without the expense of hiring a professional.
In fact, I’ve dedicated this whole site to helping people do just that.
But is a free account the best way to go?
Come with me and I’ll walk you through what I believe to be the top 3 pros and cons to help you decide.
The Pros of Using Free Website Builders
#1 The price
Let’s begin with the glaringly obvious, it’s completely free.
You won’t have to spend hundreds or possibly thousands to have someone do it for you.
Most of the website building platforms out there today offer you a free website address (domain name) and hosting so you can get started right away without laying down so much as a penny.
A great start for your bank balance!
#2 So easy to use, just about anyone can do it
These companies understand that you don’t have any coding knowledge and have simplified the process so much, that if you can send an email, chances are you’ll be able to get your own website up and running with relative ease.
Many (not all) of the platforms have beginner friendly website editors that allow you to simply drag and drop elements such as text and images to wherever you want on the page.
I’ve reviewed a few website builders and so far, I’ve managed to build a fully functioning website in less than an hour with all of them.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, “That’s easy for you to say, you spend a lot more time messing around with this stuff than I do”.
And you’d be right.
But I like to spend some time inside the platform and have a proper look around, see what options are available, and consider the restrictions so I can write a well-balanced review.
Realistically, there’s no reason why you couldn’t have a basic website shell live on the internet in the same amount of time.
It’s the writing of your content and adding images that take the most time but once you have your initial pages in place, you can add the rest as and when you can.
#3 Your site will be live on the internet immediately
Once you have your site looking the way you want, all you have to do is hit the “publish” button and your site will be live on the internet for all to see.
It will take at least several days for Google and the other search engines to realize it exists, but anyone that has one of your business cards, flyers, brochures, or even an email with your website address listed, will be able to access it by hopping online and typing your website address into their browser.
It still blows my mind to think just how simple it is these days to build an online presence.
The Cons of Using Free Website Builders
#1 You won’t own the site
The whole point of building your website is to advertise your business or showcase your work right?
Well, as a free user, you’ll usually have no choice but to put up with advertisements from the website company themselves.
Okay, so they aren’t going to be in direct competition with you, but this can still be off-putting to your visitors’ and could easily draw attention away from your website.
Not all website builders place ads on your free site and some are definitely more subtle than others, but it’s still something you should be aware.
#2 There will definitely be restrictions
Don’t be fooled into thinking that you’ll be given full access to everything they have to offer as part of your free account.
I’m yet to come across one that offers this.
I’ve left a list below of some of the restrictions that I’ve personally encountered when building a free test website for my reviews;
- Unable to use a domain name (website address) that you own or wish to purchase.
- Restrictions on the amount of website template available to free users.
- A limited number of add-on features or plugins available.
- Website actively being blocked from appearing in search engine results.
#3 Last in line for support.
You may not know it yet, but regardless of how simple the website builder, sooner or later you’ll run into a problem or have a question.
When this happens, the most obvious place to turn for help is the support team.
Many of the companies will place free users at the back of the line and you could be forced to wait up to a week for a response to even the simplest of questions.
And yes, I’m talking from experience.
You can’t really blame them, they are a business after all so it makes sense they put their paying customers first but unfortunately, that doesn’t help you should you run into a problem.
(I should point out that not all of the platforms do this, and I’ve received responses to my questions in a little as 24 hours which is great, paying customer or not).
Final Thoughts and Some Advice if I May?
Free website builders are great for testing whilst deciding which one is the best fit for you.
Once you find one you’re happy with, should you continue with a free account?
The only reason that these companies are offering you a free website is to get you in the door and let you try before you buy.
Their end game is to have you sign up to a paid plan.
You can’t really blame them, they are a business and the aim of any business is to make a profit.
So, if you’re still intent on doing it yourself and can afford to invest some time, then choose a website builder that you like the look of and start off with a free account.
Get stuck in, get it live on the web, and if you’re happy with the result, then you can choose to purchase your own business domain name (one which you’ll own) and upgrade to a paid plan which allows you more features and flexibility.
Over To You
If you have any questions about the pros and cons that I’ve listed here, or you can think of some that I haven’t covered, please let me know in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.