Free Website Builder

Unlike a free website template, which you download and fill in on your own, a free website builder is a tool, often proprietary, that a web hosting company provides to take you step-by-step through the process of using a template to build your website. To learn more, keep reading.
Related article: Free Website Templates

Best Free Web Hosts

  1. 150m - 150MB Web Space / Ads
  2. 20m - 20MB Disk Space / Ads
  3. StormLoader - 50MB Web Space

Top Cheap Web Hosts

  1. BlueHost - $3.49 Unlimited Sites
  2. FatCow - $4.08 Free Domain
  3. JustHost - $2.95 Free Site Builder

Free Website Builder Basics

The first important thing to know about a free website builder is that the existence of a free website builder does not mean that the website itself is free. The free website builder may be a convenience offered to paying customers (i.e., those who have paid for a domain name registration that comes with free web hosting or those who are paying for web hosting.)

Free website builders differ from templates (free or not) in at least one important way that you should be aware of: the website builder may limit your access to certain areas, so that you do not have the flexibility to change the source code that determines certain elements of the site. Some website builders do, but others don't.

An analogy would be if you bought gift wrap for a present and it was Christmas gift wrap. When you are allowed access to the source code you could, so to speak, turn the Christmas wrapping paper into a design appropriate for a birthday, a wedding, or even Hanukah. With a more limiting website builder, if you choose Christmas wrap, then there's the end of it: that's what you've got.

Some free website builders have better support than others, like articles or video instructions that take you step-by-step through the process. Some are very limited and others have powerful tools to rival expensive website-building software.

Other features you may wish to check for include:

  • its computer requirements (e.g., will it work with your Mac?)
  • number of templates provided
  • instant, one-click publishing vs. requiring FTP software to upload the site
  • types of pages you can add
  • hosting requirements (e.g., Unix/Linux hosting vs. Windows, or compatible with both)
  • how easy the interface is to use (BlueVoda, for example, aims at an interface similar to Microsoft products so it will be familiar to many customers, but it also has a lot more possibilities than some first-time web builders may want.)
  • extended capabilities, such as Flash or Java

Types of Free Website Builders

The majority of free website builders are for websites proper: that is, an Internet presence with a home page and at least one other page that exists under a domain name or subdomain. But there are also free website builders for web 2.0, such as blogs, wikis, photo-sharing,

Types of Free Website Builder Tools

Free website builders may have tools for the following functions:

  • text formatting
  • creating frames
  • a template selector with an image gallery
  • hyperlink generator
  • a form wizard
  • adding code, such as Flash or Java
  • importing existing HTML
  • adding a shopping cart
  • sitemap generator
  • publishing

Free Website Builder Advantages

There are several notable advantages to free website builders. Obviously, unlike custom-designed websites, web-building software like Adobe DreamWeaver, or even templates that you have to pay for, they're free. Beyond that, they provide an opportunity for someone who doesn't know HTML or XHTML or anything about coding to have a nice-looking site. Additionally, the streamlined type make setting up a site quick and easy, so that you can get going on the World Wide Web in a hurry, if that's what you need to do, while the more sophisticated ones give you a lot of control and possibilities to work with, should that be your preference.

Related article: Free Website Templates