Wix

Wix

The combination of its excellent drag-and-drop editor, the freedom to customize everything, support for websites of all kinds, and the availability of ancillary applications like as Bookings or Events make Wix.com easily our top recommendation for the best overall free website builder.

First and foremost, it’s not just that the site builder is drag-and-drop, it’s that you can do that anywhere. For those new to creating websites, concepts like “page template” or “sidebar menu” may not make much sense. Wix pages are more like a blank sheet of paper, where you can start jotting down your content wherever you please.

Like most other services on this list, you can always upgrade from the free version to a premium plan, which comes with additional benefits. The biggest problem with the free version of Wix is that they run ads on your site, but can choose to remove those ads at any time by upgrading.

Upgrading also gets you additional storage and bandwidth (the free version comes with just 500 MB of each), the ability to take commerce payments, and add rich media, including video, to your site.

Many of Wix’s chief competitors have similar functionality, but none of them bring it all under one easy-to-use banner without having to either do your own installation or start tack on lots of premium add-ons to your hosting bill.

Weebly

Weebly

Weebly is Wix’s closest competitor, and a close runner up for the best free website builder. We like Wix’s site builder more, but Weebly is very easy to pick up and use. You can also use the free Weebly site builder through a number of hosts, including popular options like Bluehost, in addition to the integrated service we’re specifically talking about here.

When you use Weebly’s integrated service, you get 500 MB of storage and a free SSL certificate, which is sufficient for a personal blog or small business website. You will need to be careful with images and other large files though, as you’re not only limited to total size, but also on the size of individual uploads at 10 MB each.

The site builder itself is the key here, and it’s very functional, with intuitive drag-and-drop editing, a selection of templates and fonts, and advanced effects such as parallax scrolling.

Weebly also provides a bunch of free themes to choose from in categories like Business, Portfolio, Event, and Blog. There are also themes for online stores, but you can’t run an ecommerce site with the free version of Weebly.

Like other integrated services, advantages of going with Weebly include being completely free of any sort of maintenance, either at the server level or with a website builder application or CMS. You also aren’t restricted in any way in terms of performance, which can become an issue on shared web hosting accounts in the free category.

Free Web Store

Free Web Store

E-commerce is all about making money, and there’s truth in the old adage that you have to spend money to make money. The best e-commerce platforms are quite expensive, but FreeWebStore easily takes our recommendation for best free e-commerce host as a truly free option that doesn’t cut too many corners.

While FreeWebStore is totally free to use, it does have limitations. You can only list a maximum of 30 different items in your store, which is significantly less than you get with premium e-commerce solutions. That makes this a great way to get started in e-commerce, but you should plan on migrating to a paid option at some point.

Aside from limiting your listings, FreeWebStore does provide an otherwise capable solution, including the ability to creating products and pages, assistance with inventory management, fulfillment notifications, order tracking and more.

The best part is that you get unlimited storage and bandwidth, allowing you to serve your handful of products to as many customers as possible.

FreeWebStore doesn’t have a paid tier, but the developers do offer an enterprise-level platform called Ridge that you can check out if your store is successful.

WordPress

WordPress

We’ve extolled the virtues of WordPress on many occasions, as it strikes a great balance between power and ease of use. It’s typically associated with blogs, but the level of customization, and the diverse selection of plugins, makes WordPress an easy choice for the best free website builder that requires self-installation.

The catch is that WordPress.org just provides the software, they don’t provide hosting. If you want to take advantage of this free site builder, you’ll need to find your own free web hosting that either includes a WordPress one-click installer, or provides shell access so you can install it yourself.

Whether you use a one-click installer or bite the bullet and install WordPress yourself, you’ll find it to be one of the easiest website building tools around. It doesn’t have a drag-and-drop interface, but there are plugins for that. The default interface is very easy to get around though, and you can achieve a pretty high level of customization just by installing free themes.

Webflow

Webflow

The focus for many of the above services has been ease-of-use and accommodating new users, but Webflow targets more advanced users like web designers and developers. After all, just because some people can code a site from scratch doesn’t mean they always need to.

Webflow is a service for these individuals, as it provides tools to build pages visually. Using these tools results in web code just like the other alternatives. The difference is that Webflow also gives users access to this underlying code, so they can further tweak it to taste.

Webflow users can build a page using raw ingredients and style them from scratch or use something already pre-baked. For technical users, this access to the what’s under the hood is the best of both worlds.

The free tier limits you to two projects as well as restriction to webflow.io for your domain. This is technically a testing area, but there’s nothing stopping you from using this as the destination for your site, or taking the work you create through Webflow and publishing it through a free web host.

Google Sites

Google Sites

One of the top reasons to consider Google Sites is simple: Just about everyone has a Google account. Maybe it’s not your go-to for e-mail or calendaring, but chances are you’ve got a Gmail address sitting around somewhere. This gives you access to Sites among all the other great Google services, which makes this our top recommendation for building simple, free sites.

Sites is a straightforward drag-and-drop site builder. You create pages to which you can add text, graphics, or video. There are also Layouts that let you create, for example, a section with three columns to highlight your service menu. As you might expect, it’s easy to integrate content from other Google services, notably documents, spreadsheets, or other items from Docs.

The catch is that Sites is extremely basic as site builders go. The Layouts mentioned above are really just blocks of content where text wraps around an image in some way, and there are precious few of them. These all get placed on a full-width site, with no options for sidebars or other common website structures.

The key here is that if you need to build out a simple site quickly to convey some basic information, Sites is a fantastic option. If you need to build a more complicated website, you’re better off looking elsewhere.