I found CMS Made Simple to be very easy to template, for instance. And I used ModX for years before using WP, and it is also very easy to template, and offers a lot of nice features. They will appeal to someone who wants to develop, but is generally uncomfortable in PHP. You can mostly get by with HTML and template tags. This tends to prevent the “white screen of death”.
That said, there are some elements that you should pay close attention to when deciding on which free website builder you choose – which is exactly what we do To create this ranking of the best free website builders, we drew upon our extensive research and user testing for each website builder as a whole, and combined this with a specific focus on their free plans, paying close attention to whether or not the builder ticked these boxes:
You can create a free website with Wix that comes with a Wix domain. To instantly look more professional online, get a custom domain name. It adds credibility to your brand and helps visitors find you online. You can start building your brand by using your domain in a custom email address ([email protected]), your social channels, email marketing campaigns and more.
As the Weebly team states, the idea behind the platform is to make website creation available for everyone — not only programmers. Weebly remains one of the easiest-to-use site-building solutions out there. It delivers great tools for creating straightforward sites that serve specific purposes. Weebly is another hosted solution, which means that it takes care of housing your site and all the technical details related to it.
Joomla is one of the more popular WordPress alternatives, and it’s easy to see why. The platform gives you a great deal of control over content workflows and template layouts, which dictate the appearance of your Joomla site in a similar fashion to WordPress themes. Another popular feature of Joomla is its built-in Access Control List (ACL), which makes site administration and granting contributor access an easy process.
Joomla is ideal if you’re looking to build a large-scale or complex site, without the need to do any excessive coding. The default platform has a slight edge on WordPress when it comes to group administration and development. For instance, there’s even a dedicated messenger function to enhance collaboration. If you are interested in setting up a Joomla website, check out our Joomla tutorial.
When we say online business and eCommerce, the first thing that comes to mind is surely Shopify! It is an amazing alternative to WordPress that allows any users to easily create your online shop! It is a simple, secure and stable platform where you can start and grow your business with very less effort. While comparing with other web hosts, it surely does not offer the same level of robustness. However, it is best known for its amazing eCommerce based features more than anything else.
While WordPress offers an unbelievably wide range of designs, we had to realize that customizing these designs to match our needs meant loads of tedious work and custom code. Building a Wix site is different. You move the elements around with a click of the mouse, dropping them right where you want them. All plans (even the free one!) come with the same design options.
Hi Gina, Thanks for your comment and sharing your thoughts. Hiring an expert developer is always good, but it does have its challenges. Financial investment is just one of them. It's not a big problem if a company is well established already and is cash flowing to re-invest its profits into technology. But not all companies have that level of budget to commit, and not all companies are well established (yet). A lot of users are just starting out and just don't have that level of resource to get their websites off the ground. In such circumstance, I think our list above makes a lot of sense. No doubt, your comment is also valid, but I think that's more applicable for well established businesses. We have a full discussion of the cost of building a website that compares the cost of hiring a developer versus using a DIY website builder such as the ones I suggested above. I also wrote an article about the idea of hiring a designer / developer - when it's appropriate, and when it isn't appropriate. It's just my own view and what I would advise my friends and family if they were to ask me. Of course, every single person that's looking to build a website has different needs, motivations and resources. Thanks for adding to this discussion! Jeremy
Hi Eric, Thanks so much for your comment! Wix and Weebly both have integrations with POS systems - but only if you're based in the US. However, you won't be able to use this on a free plan - you'll need an ecommerce plan, which lets you accept payments and orders through your website, or to connect a POS sytem as you said. On Wix, the cheapest option would be the $23 per month Business plan (billed annually), and on Weebly this would be the $12 per month Pro plan (also billed annually). If you're setting up a serious ecommerce business and you want more selling features to support you, I recommend checking out Shopify, as it's specifically designed to support online stores. I hope this has helped, and I'll link to some reviews I hope you find helpful too: - Wix eCommerce Review - Weebly Ecommerce Review- Shopify Review Many thanks for reading, and all the best! Lucy
Ghost is another popular open-source CMS, geared more towards creating stylish blogs or online publications (as opposed to complex websites). It comes with versatile features for customizing page layouts, scheduling posts, injecting analytics code, and more – all from one streamlined interface. Ghost also makes it easy to optimize and produce content on multiple distribution channels (maximizing your readership in the process).
Hi Tarang, Interesting infographic - thanks for sharing. WordPress is very popular and will probably get even more popular. I'm not saying that it is a bad website building platform at all, as it is very powerful and flexible. But learning how to use WordPress proficiently is much more challenging than using a drag & drop website builder, such as the ones I listed above. So it all comes down to what you want to do. If you have the luxury of time and money and can afford to invest it into learning how to tackle all the technical aspects of running a website, or hire someone to do that for you, then by all means consider WordPress. We have are more in-depth discussion about that topic here. Wix, Squarespace, Weebly or Shopify are what we call DIY website builders, as you can do it all by yourself and not have to worry about most technical aspects of operating a website. So they are very user friendly and can get you off the ground in days, which can't be done if you are new to WordPress. So what's appropriate to a user is very dependent on the user him/herself! Jeremy
Joomla is the second-most popular content management system behind WordPress. Similar to WP, it can be used to build a variety of websites and applications for businesses, schools, non-profits, online stores, and so much more. Because Joomla doesn’t offer a paid option like WP and is geared towards a more experienced user, your only means of support is searching through their forums and developer communities for help.
Although you can access many great features on the free plan, including adding a messaging system and pop-up in just a couple of clicks, much of what makes GoDaddy a great platform (namely a ton of extra marketing features) are kept under the lock and key of a premium subscription, which is fair enough. Upgrading for these extras is simple, and prices start at just $10/month.
For anyone accustomed to a great variety of free templates in Wix, Weebly, and Webnode, it’s very difficult to choose within only 12 Wild Apricot themes. Besides, despite their being responsive, the web design in some of them appears obsolete. I think it’s the weakest point for Wild Apricot. I hope that the developers will take notice of what I write and correct such comissions.
While there are modules and themes that extend the features and looks, novices find it a bit difficult to create a detailed site with it. However, the complexity of Drupal is appropriate for handling huge amounts of data. This makes it ideal for larger corporate and enterprise websites. Just like in WordPress and Joomla, Drupal also allows various extensions in the form of modules. But the difference here is, unlike WordPress users need to leave the system and manually search for the modules before installing them.
It is preferably more simple, light-weight and is a clutter-free content management system. The flexibility is obviously not great as WordPress. But it is surely an amazing platform if you are willing to forgo the large but complex marketplace of WordPress. Best suited for beginners, bloggers or anyone looking to create a simple, elegant and easy-to-manage website, Ghost can be an awesome alternative for WordPress if you are looking for one!
Thanks for the comment. Yes, it is – people are always happy to get something for free. It’s right. But you need to understand that for free you always have to pay. Often not money, somehow differently, but have to. In the case of free website builders, such a fee is the availability of brand ads on the website. And in my opinion this is not a very high fee for a completely free website.
Wix vs Squarespace: What's the best website builder?