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The Beginners Guide to Paid vs. Free Website Builders

 Pete Griffin
 Paid vs free website builder
The latest advancements in free website builders imeans it’s never been a better time to build your own website.

In the past free website builders tended to be rather basic with enough functionality to just get the job done, but unsuitable for those looking for more advanced options. New advancements in these platforms means it’s never been a better time to build your own website.

Most of these website building platforms, including Wix and Weebly , offer a completely free entry point, but the trade-off is that you have to accept certain limitations that free website builders put in place.

Sure, you can still build a functional site without these some of the premium features on offer, but if you want to project a professional image, then a small investment each month is money well spent.

Why Upgrade to a Paid Plan?

When you upgrade from a free to a paid tier, you get access to additional perks such as unlimited customization, domain hosting, custom URL registration, and much more. Different companies offer different bonuses along with their services including for vulnerable and hackable websites.

Wix.com – Free vs Paid Options

Wix is one of the most popular web builders out there. It’s growing every day and is a home to more than 110 million users; the site is well loved. More importantly that that, it offers a wide range of features on both its free and paid options.

With a free user account, Wix offers tons of templates to choose from. Once you've selected a template, you replace the text with your own. If you have a one-page site and just need to edit the template’s default text, you can be all-set in a couple of hours. It can be that quick!

If you have a 5-page website, and have some of the content ready, you can customise a Wix site in as little as a few hours, but the more time you spend, the better it will be.

Wix allows you access to all of the editing tools in the free version, and there are a lot of tools available right out of the box, making it perfect for starters. 

It offers a huge variety of tools such as slideshows, interactive galleries, animations, image editors, blog elements, tons of bandwidth and more. Wix evolves almost daily and has gained in popularity because of this.

The only things that set the free apart from the paid option, are a small ad in the upper right hand corner, a small banner in the page footer that says “made using Wix,” and the ability to use a custom URL.

So, it’s a perfect playground to test out your ideas before you’re ready to pay just a few dollars a month and remove the advertisements. You don’t have to make the decision to upgrade right away, and you can go with a month-to-month plan if that suits your needs best.

With a paid account, Wix opens a few additional features. The user can remove advertisements and they can customize their own domain name, as well as access more storage and bandwidth than free users can. This is a better option for users who intend to run ecommerce sites.

Weebly – Free vs Paid Options

Weebly 's free website builder option allows users to create unlimited pages, but only 6 can be displayed at any given time. It also provides free hosting. Wix also offers numerous themes to choose from, all of which are divided into categories based on the type of website.

The paid options have varying ranges of benefits. At $4 per month, Weebly allows users to connect their site to their own domain and to remove the branding from the site, in addition to premium support from a specialist team. The $8 per month option adds more multimedia features and a site search function, and the $25 per month pro package includes extra security features. And finally, the business version, at $25 per month, offers everything you could think of. It's the full package, and includes Ecommerce and every other possible feature.

The Weebly editor is nice and neat. It offers the standard set of tools for a do-it-yourself site. Experienced designers will find out its limitations pretty quickly, but as long as you’re happy to find workarounds, Weebly does just fine.

You can edit footer and header code, and that can come in handy for things like analytics plugins and 3rd-party integrations.

Another cool feature of Weebly , is the ability to work on what it calls the “Designer Platform.”

The Designer Platform is a white label solution for designers to easily build websites for clients using Weebly 's CMS. Your clients can update their own sites through a portal branded with your company's colours and logo.

Additionally, you can add and edit the HTML and CSS, if you know what you’re doing, you can make add kinds of beautiful animations and more – but it’s also easier to break, so be wary of using this feature unless you have expert skills.

Should You Choose Paid or Free Website Builders?

These two website builders are examples of the differences between free and paid versions of top website builders. While many goals of website owners can be met with the free option, people who want to generate revenue through their site and present established businesses would be better off investing in a paid option.

There are a number of free website builders available, and many of them have additional paid options that users can employ in order to enhance their pages. On the other hand, there are website builders which require payment each month, but the additional benefit they provide is typically worth it.

In the end, whether you choose a free website builder or a paid one is dependent on your needs. And bear in mind that the prices are very affordable, even for the smallest of businesses, and the boost a professionally branded website will give you is surely worth the cost.

Top 5 Paid Website Builders Pricing Comparison: 


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*Prices last updated April 2018

For personal projects, and early stage businesses, you can do just about everything with a free website builder, and Wix is a great option.

Both Weebly and Wix have very intuitive interfaces and you’ll get to work the WYSIWYG editors in no time – to master these tools you need to spend more and more time getting to know their capabilities, and that’s fun – so don’t waste anymore time. Compare the best website builders and choose one now.

 Pete Griffin
Pete is a digital strategist with 15 years of experience in media production and web project management, in PR and broadcast media environments. He’s the owner of "We Are Digital Vision," a Cardiff based digital communications consultancy the offer consultancy, content and design services.