July 1, 2019
Yes, you can make a website for free. But should you? Sure, a free website will work, it will look ok, and people might even visit it. But, all the compromises you’ll have to make could make you regret going free with your website.
If you want your website to be any good, you will need to pay for it. Given that you can do almost anything for free on the internet, it seems like not being able to make a free website is a bit of an sore point.
But, there are several downsides to using a free website and, when it only costs a few dollars a month to make a brilliant site with none of these issues, there’s no reason compromise with a free site.
We'll explain why you should pay to create a great website, and set out the downsides of trying to do it all for free.
- Hosting Adverts – A free site will be covered in ads (and no, you won't make money from them)
- Poor Domain Name – It's hard to impress site visitors to “yourfreewebsite.buildername.com”
- Limited Bandwidth – This will choke the growth potential of your website
- Facebook Won't Help – Don't be tempted to use a free Facebook page to promote your brand instead
- A Proper Site for a Few Dollars – For a small monthly fee, you can avoid the drawbacks of a free site
So, how much does it cost when paying for a website builder? And what do you get in return, versus on a free plan? Let's start by comparing the plans on Wix, our top-rated website builder in our independent tests:
|Monthly Cost (paid monthly)||$0||$14.50||$16||$35|
|Monthly Cost (paid annually)||$0||$8.50 (3-yr plan)||$14||$29|
|Free domain||✗||✔ (if paid annually)||✔ (if paid annually)||✔ (if paid annually)|
|Video upload (minutes)||0||30||60||120|
|Site Booster & Form Builder App||✗||✗||✔||✔|
|Email Campaigns and Emails Sent per Month||✗||✗||✗||10 campaigns/50,000 emails|
|Click to Compare||See Plan||See Deals||See Deals||See Deals|
Our Wix recommendation is based on thorough independent testing. We challenged website first-timers and experienced web designers to use Wix, and took on board their thorough feedback about its ease-of-use and features.
We also rate the help and support, plug-ins, value-for-money and more when rating a website builder.
For more, see our full Tech.co review of Wix
The True Cost of a Free Website
Remember, your website is your brand – it's your first chance to make an impression on potential customers, clients or followers. The drawbacks of a free website mean that this first impression could be a poor one. Below, we explain in more detail each of the reasons why you should consider spending just a few dollars per month, rather than compromise your website by creating it for free:
1. Free Websites Host Adverts
If you’re trying to run a website for free – whether that’s with WordPress, Wix or any other type of website building platform, you’ll have to host adverts on your site.
You might think that the internet is littered with adverts, and having adverts on your site in order to save a few dollars wouldn’t be a problem, right? Wrong. If you’re building your site to help your business, or you’re looking to run a blog or even if your website is your business, having adverts on your site will harm its performance for a number of reasons.
Adverts make websites run slower. Every time a user visits your website, they will need to load all the adverts on your site as well as all of your great content. This means that, through no fault of your own, users will lose interest in your site and leave.
53% of mobile site visits leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load – Google
Adverts will make your site look worse – this is true for all sites. If you’ve sunk hours into designing the layout and style of all your pages, it makes no sense to have them covered in adverts.
Adverts might make your site seem untrustworthy. This is subjective, but if your site has lots of low-quality, seemingly unrelated adverts, it will likely turn users off, and make them try to find a different website.
But hey, isn’t there at least some money in it for you? Sadly not. In most cases, the adverts will be for the free website builder you’re using – you won’t make any money from visitors clicking on them.
2. You Won’t Get a Good Domain Name on a Free Website
Your domain name is the main part of the URL web address (everything that comes before ‘.com’ or ‘co.uk’, for example).
A poor URL doesn’t look good, it won’t be memorable, and your site will be penalised by Google
With a clear and simple URL, users will be able to work out exactly what your site is about, and what they can expect. However, with a free site, you won’t get a URL like this. Instead, you’ll likely get something similar to your desired website name, along with a string of letters or numbers, and the name of the service you used to create your site.
It doesn’t look good. It won’t be memorable, and your site will be penalised by Google in its search results – the search engine giant considers websites with URLs like the below to be untrustworthy.
Overall, the effect of not having a good domain name will be twofold – Google will make your site harder to find, and, if users do find it, they will think your site looks unprofessional and untrustworthy.
3. You’ll Have Limited Bandwidth on a Free Site
If you try to use a free website builder, or a free hosting service, your site’s bandwidth will be limited.
If there’s one reason why you should avoid a free website, above all others, it’s probably this one.
This essentially means that only a certain number of users will be able to visit your site within a given period. If you’re limited to 5GB bandwidth per month, this means that after users have loaded 5GB’s worth of data from your site, it will stop responding.
As you can probably imagine, this will leave a bitter taste in the mouth, and these users certainly won’t be giving your site a second chance.
If there’s one reason why you should avoid a free website, above all others, it’s probably this one. The fact that your website will simply stop responding should be enough to make you think twice about a free website.
4. You Won’t Get By With a Facebook Page, Either
With sites such as Facebook or Twitter allowing you to host pages for business or personal use for free, it’s tempting to use these in place of a website. A Facebook business page will still be surfaced easily, after all.
However, you should, social media pages are limited in terms of features. Sure, you can list your business address and contact information on your pages but, again, it will be harder for users to find your pages via Google – a potentially important source of traffic.
You won’t get access to some features that would be thrown in with a website builder such as food menus if you’re running a restaurant or cafe, for example.
5. A Great Website Will Only Cost You a Few Dollars Per Month
Creating your own website needn’t cost the earth. In fact, most website builders start from as little as $5 per month. For this, you can get a feature-laden site, including website hosting, from around $8 per month.
Some website builders start from as little as $5 per month, though you'll usually still have to put up with adverts or a poor URL. Push this to $7-$8 per month and you can build a site on your own terms
If you’re committed to your site, there’s no reason not to pay for it. You’ll receive get a proper URL, no adverts, more and better features and it will be super easy to find your site online.
You might be worried that creating an entire website is hard. However, creating site with a website builder – Wix is our favorite, but Squarespace and Weebly are great alternatives – is incredibly easy. You won’t need to do any coding, and these builders will throw in domain hosting with their packages.
Remember, when the service is free, you’re the product. Creating a paid-for site will give you a better website, with more features, and it won’t cost a fortune.
- Affordable plans starting from $8.50 per month
- No need for adverts or a poor URL
- Simple to use, with great support
- Professional designs that even first-timers can master
- Free version limits your bandwidth
- Adverts on the free Wix plans (that make you no money)
- No custom URL on free Wix plans
Build your dream website in less than half an hour for as little as $8.50 per month
Some of the links on our page will take you directly to a provider or retail website, where you may find deals and discounts. If you make a purchase at this stage, we may receive a payment. This has no additional cost to you, and never affects the editorial independence of our reviews.
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