Alex Williams
Alex Williams  —

Last updated:

Share this Post

How to Create a Website Free of Cost badgeGone are the days when you had to master at least programming language to have your own website — and that’s a good thing:

The ever-growing number of tools and platforms for site creation has made it easier for individuals and traditional businesses to enter and compete in the digital landscape.

Thanks to the internet, you can now easily and instantly market your skills and services to people around the world. You’ve got to turn your website into a speed-loading machine at any cost.

Well, maybe not ANY cost, but it’s pretty important.

But how and where exactly do you start? 

Well, it all begins with having your own website. No, you don’t need to empty your bank account (unless you want to). 

Below is our essential four-step guide:


#1 Identify Your Content 🔍

Think of this as the pre-production stage, just like in the filmmaking process. It’s when you sit down, grab a cup of coffee, and identify what it is exactly you want to have on the website.

For starters, ask yourself the following ✔️:

  • Is it a personal or work-related website? Is it mainly for displaying your portfolio?
  • Who’s your target audience and what can you offer to make them regular visitors?
  • If you have a general topic in mind, which specific part/s do you intend to discuss the most?

Furthermore, the type of content matters ✔️

Perhaps you primarily want to have short yet frequent posts, which is common in personal blogs. Maybe you prefer long-form content to establish authority and credibility in a given topic. 

Will you have video, audio, and audiovisual content such as infographics or podcasts

If so, are these your own creations or will they be from other creators and merely embedded or shared on your website?

Imagine how you’d market the website or how you want it to be shared on social media ✔️

Do you want a professional-looking, text-heavy website with equally polished article thumbnails? How about something more casual, colourful, and adorned with trendy titles and images?


#2 Name Your Website 🏷️

Your domain name is crucial. domains

You might not want to name it after yourself unless it’s a portfolio website or some sort of hybrid mix of this with professional topics, like David Walsh’s programming blog, or even The Khan Academy.

Even though you’re not buying a full domain (you’ll be using a subdomain eg. yoursitename.freewebsitebuilder.com) a word or two can improve the relevance and chances of your website appearing and actually getting clicks on a given Google search results page.

For example:

People will likely click on “ukfilmreview.com” than “johnsmith.com” if they’re looking for quality movie discussions even if the latter has the same content. That said, providing quality information can talk the loudest, especially if covering topics with lots of demand and not enough supply (usually highly technical topics).✔️

Once you have a name (or two) in mind for your website and have an idea of how it should look like and be about, you can proceed to the third step.


#3 Choose a Website Builder ⛏️

website builderThis is the construction phase. The point of identifying your website’s identity and general content is to prevent getting stuck on this step.

The earlier step should make it simpler to choose your free website builder. ✔

You won’t be spending hours staring at the screen, repetitively typing and deleting words because you can’t figure out the website name (that’s already done). 

Likewise, you won’t be overwhelmed with the available themes and layout options — you’re focused on turning what you’ve visualized into (digital) reality.

Factors to Consider 🤔

There are tons of website builders out there fighting for your attention. Thus, even their free services are designed to give them a competitive edge. 

Remember 💡: Website builders are a business. 

They want to earn sooner or later so many of the best features are locked. But we’ve looked into website builders that are willing to offer a lot of great features for free. 

No matter the kind of website you’re crafting, it’s best to keep the following aspects in mind: ✔

Quantity and Quality of Templates 📄

First impressions are important. Apart from the number of website templates, quality and variety should be considered. 

Does the website builder have a template suitable for your CV or portfolio? Is there one made for photographers, artists, and fashion designers? What about consultants and agencies?

Even if there’s a template for a particular industry, inspect it. Sometimes, it’s severely outdated and unprofessional. We’ve seen business sites still stuck with bright yellow backgrounds, Comic Sans, and an overall look akin to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet from 2003.

Flexibility and Customization 🎨

Once you’ve got select templates in mind, see how you can make it your own.  The simple option to change background colours, fonts and text size can do wonders in reflecting your personality and vision. 

Sometimes, an otherwise great template has minor flaws. Examples include the inconvenient placement of social media icons and bloated slideshows affecting navigation and page loading speed. See if you can move, edit, add and delete sliders, navigation menus, sidebars, and headers and footers. 

Multimedia Upload and Galleries 🖼️

web galleryWe all know that YouTube (or Vimeo) is always around if you ever need to upload videos and embed them to your site. Similarly, Flickr and Google Photos are the go-to services for photos.

But wouldn’t it be great if you could upload images and videos to the website builder, i.e., place it in a native content library specifically made for that website? It’s better if you can edit the tags, title, and alt text. 

There are website builders that allow video backgrounds, which are at times better than sliders. Some have their own sizable image and video libraries. Not all files there are free, but even the non-premium choices these days have great resolution.

If you’re planning to showcase products, it would help if the platform can suggest slideshow and gallery formats. Cropping, automatic resizing, transition effects, and border options are welcome features too.

Ease of Use ⚙️

Drag-and-drop builders’ are remarkably easy to use (you can have a decent site up in 30 minutes). As the name implies, you just drag whatever element you want on your website and drop it into your preferred location. 

Yes, website builders allow customization by coding. But more often than not, they’ll primarily advertise themselves with the lure of a drag-and-drop builder. It’s a fantastic method for new users and it efficiently lays the site groundwork for more advanced users.

Texts are changed the same way you would on Google Docs or Microsoft Word. No components need to be installed on your computer — you build your site right on your internet browser.

Mobile Use and Responsiveness 📱

More people each year prefer to use their smartphones and tablets to browse the Internet most of the time. 

This is both a challenge and an opportunity. 

You should be able to edit posts and your website layout while you’re out and about. 

If you have forms and comment sections, you may want to review/respond to them ASAP (for instance, if you’re a small business). This is to manage spam and improve relations with site visitors (and prospective clients if you’re selling goods and services).

The website builder should work seamlessly when you open it on your phone. Thankfully, many already have fully-featured Android and iOS apps. 

And from the site visitor’s side, they should have no problem browsing your website on mobile no matter the screen size and resolution. The text should neither be too big or too small. Lastly, they should be able to scroll through pages with ease.

Statistics and Reports 📊
statistics and report

Data matters no matter how big or small. Even if it’s just two page visits a day, you’re better off knowing how they got to your website. 

Was it through a link you shared on Twitter or from a Google search? If it’s the latter, are there keywords you can capitalize on?

Sure, Google Search Console is there to use for anyone with a website. But it would be sweet if you can spot real-time site data from your dashboard. 

Who knows, maybe you already have a decent following in a country thousands of miles away. Is it because of the time you post? How long do they stay on your website? Stats and analytics help you understand your audience. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 🔆

Removing coding knowledge as a requirement for creating a website is amazing. But free website builders should take it a step further and manage the SEO aspect as well.

Mobile responsiveness and automatic data structuring for dynamic pages all add to one’s SEO ranking. Website builders should provide bulk 301 redirects and options to modify alt tags, page descriptions, meta tags, and URL slugs. 

Don’t underestimate the ability of a free website to reach the first page of a search results page. Great content combined with great SEO can have surprising results.

Security and Uptime 🔐
security

What’s the point of improving your website if it’s always down or is highly susceptible to DDoS attacks? Spam detection isn’t enough these days when it comes to security.

Even free websites that only have custom subdomains should be granted HTTPS certification and SSL protection. If a website suffers from a successful cyberattack, a website builder should have backups ready for the user to deploy.

Scalability and Pricing 🚀

Yes, we’re mainly talking about free websites. But as you (hopefully) get more views and develop your content, you’ll have to consider premium options. Upgrading can give you increased bandwidth allocation and more advanced website creation and maintenance tools.

Thus, it matters for a free website builder to provide a seamless transition to its paid offerings.  

Searching for and buying a domain shouldn’t require visiting another website or spending hours setting things up. But if you got a domain from a different domain provider, the website builder should have a quick import feature. 

And once you move from a free subdomain to a full domain, traffic should seamlessly go toward the new domain.

Free Website Builders Worth Mentioning 🆓

We’ve reviewed many website builders over the years. Thus, we’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s good and what’s not even worth using for free.

#1 Weebly

This is one of the easiest and beginner-friendly website builders. It’s the first platform that comes to mind when we think of drag-and-drop builders.

For the price of literally nothing, you get a site with SSL security, search engine optimization, chat and email support, access to the community forum, and 500MB storage.

Does Weebly have the most professional templates and advanced SEO tools? No, but it’s amazing as a starting point for budding website administrators.

#2 Wix 

wixJust like Weebly, its free plan includes customer support and 500MB storage. Its mobile editor (along with its mobile-ready templates) is excellent.

Once you compare the two in terms of scalability, however, Wix falls a little behind: 

Weebly’s cheapest paid plan (£4.80/mo) discards storage restrictions altogether while Wix’s plan (£4.40/mo) only increases storage to 3GB. 

Yes, these aren’t free plans. But we want to mention them here because, admittedly, are they not highly affordable options? They’re practically free and won’t eat up your budget. 

#3 Site123

site123A free website from Site 123 already has SEO, mobile optimization, a subdomain, and 250MB each of storage and bandwidth.

It doesn’t use the drag-and-drop method. On the bright side, its templates are diverse and professional-looking.

Also, we know how annoying it is when companies ask for credit cards even for free and trial services. So we’re happy to report that Site 123 will not request one if you’re on its free plan.

#4 Strikingly

As expected of any decent website builder, its free option has customer support, 500MB storage, and 5GB monthly bandwidth.

But that’s not all: 

Strikingly allows free users to sell one product on their website. 

Scalability might be an issue, as the next plan will already cost you $12/mo — and that only increases your product count to five. 

#5 Zyro

zyroTechnically speaking, Zyro doesn’t have a no-cost plan.

But its basic plan significantly goes down from £11.08/mo to just £1.40/mo from time to time. That’s chump change and practically free.

For that low price, you won’t get ads on your website. Plus, it earns you a full domain, which is much more professional-looking than a subdomain. 

Its cheapest plan also uses cloud hosting, ensuring a high uptime percentage for your website.


#4 Write and Publish ✍🏻

Now that you’ve established a subdomain name (probably not a domain, unless you’ve spent a few pounds) and found a suitable website builder, it’s time to put in the work and craft content.

Similar to how you’ve chosen a template and customize it to better represent your vision, you have to replace the placeholder text (i.e., get rid of all the “Lorem Ipsum” phrases) with your own words.

For starters, ensure that your About, Contact, and Home pages contain the necessary information.

If you already have many pages set up for each category, add enough content for each. You don’t want a site visitor clicking on a page label only to find a blank white space. 

Once you have enough multimedia content on your free website, utilize the stats page to see which ones are attracting visitors (and find out where those visitors are from) and which need improving.


Conclusion 💡

Creating a basic website today is easy when you know what you want to achieve and use the right tools, and doesn’t even have to cost a penny. However, you must first have a clear idea of what your website should be about. Identify your content and brand and work to improve them each time, keeping it simple.

Granted, knowing how to code is still valuable in refining your website. But if you’re just starting out, find a website builder with a free (or almost free) plan. Read our article on how much does a website cost in 2021?

The drag-and-drop builder is perfect for beginners and anyone who wants to efficiently customize and launch their own website. I’ve knocked out a business site in around an hour or two with Squarespace. 

And like any digital service, don’t underestimate the value of cybersecurity, mobile responsiveness, and scalability. A free website is a great value in itself, but you should also know the best-value options when moving to premium websites with advanced features.