5 best free website builders for small businesses

The best things in life aren’t free – but you can still set up a pretty decent website using the free plans or trial versions offered by these five platforms.

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Out of the five best free website builders for small businesses on our shortlist, our top choice is Wix, followed closely by GoDaddy.

With an incredible 4.8/5 overall score, Wix is by far the elite website builder. The fact it offers a free plan that gives you access to its abundance of great features, high level of support and ease of use, makes it our number one choice for those businesses needing a free website builder.

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BEST FOR
Free plan
Free trial
Cheapest paid plan
Visit

Wix

GoDaddy

Weebly

Jimdo

Squarespace

Best all-round website builder for small businesses

Ease of use and simplicity

Value for money

Creating a website in under an hour (thanks to its ADI platform)

Design flexibility & businesses looking to scale

Connect Domain – £4 per month

Basic – £4.99 per month

Connect – £4 per month

Start – £9 per month

Personal – £10 per month

10% off with code STARTUPS10

GoDaddy isn't far behind in second place and is a solid all-round choice with an array of relevant features for those with small site offerings, scoring an overall rating of 4.4/5.

In comparison to Wix however it falls slightly short, not least because of its lack of templates, but also because of the limitations of its marketing tools, and features in general compared to Wix, our number one free website builder.

The majority of website builders we recommend have free plans to get you started, which is why the likes of Wix and GoDaddy score so highly. However other providers on our list, including Squarespace, only offer a free trial, which has an effect on our overall rankings.

The free versions/trials mentioned in our review usually limit the number of features you can access, or force you to host banner ads on your website pages. Some will also still charge you for a custom domain.

However, you can rest assured that we’ve really put these platforms through their paces to compile this list of the best free website builders.

Each website builder has been subjected to rigorous user testing, and then ranked on the six key factors that our small business audience told us matter most: ease of use, features, value for money, design flexibility, help and support, and customer score (i.e. how likely a user would be to recommend the product to a friend).

So, whether you’re looking for a low-cost way to get your business online or a free version of a website builder to test your options before committing, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about choosing the best free website builder for your business.

Wix website builder
Our top pick: Wix

We think Wix's free trial and plan make it the best choice of free web builder for small businesses. Start with a free trial today.

Free Trial Find out why Wix is number one

1. Wix

wix ad website example

Feature-rich, easy to use, offering heaps of support, and with universal approval from its own customers, Wix is our highest ranked website builder overall scoring a solid 4.8/5, and the platform we think offers the most for non-paying users.

You can get your Wix website up and running without spending a penny, and you’ll never be obliged to upgrade to a paid plan. Squarespace on the other hand limits visitors to your site by keeping it private, forcing your hand to upgrade to a paid plan so you can outreach to customers and begin growing your audience online.

Most of its over 800 templates are available with the free version, as well as a range of essential tools and services that include blog creation and online booking functionality.

In fact its features are what makes Wix so special – and it only keeps getting better. Since our last round of research back in 2020, the web builder has improved its website features score by a respectable 18% in 2022.

Unfortunately with Wix's free plan, you will be subjected to Wix banner ads damaging the aesthetic of your website, and you'll also be forced to use a Wix branded domain name… which isn't the most professional approach to creating a business website.

Pros:
  • Majority of its 800-plus templates are available to use
  • Blog post functionality is available on the free plan
  • Can add an online booking feature so customers can easily arrange appointments online
Cons:
  • Visitors to your website will be exposed to Wix banner ads, which follow you as you scroll down the page
  • You’ll also be forced to use a branded domain, e.g. www.startups.wixsite.co.uk, instead of www.startups.co.uk
  • You won’t be able to set up an online shop

How much does it cost to upgrade to a paid plan?

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Price
Features
Free trial?

Connect Domain

Combo

Unlimited

VIP

  • Low-cost plan
  • Adds custom domain
  • 24/7 customer care
  • Custom domain
  • Remove Wix ads
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • 10GB storage
  • 1 hour of video
  • 35GB storage
  • 5 hours of video
  • Priority customer care

2. GoDaddy

GoDaddy has made big strides since we reviewed the website builder back in 2021. Its overall score has seen an impressive 33% increase, jumping from 3.3 to 4.4/5 stars and making it the second best free website builder on our list.

There are plenty of reasons why, but its array of small business centric features, and user-friendly design make it the ideal choice for those startups and micro businesses requiring small site offerings.

It certainly offers the quickest and most efficient website building experience, and its free plan comes with 100s of modern, professional templates and built-in tools for SEO, social media and email marketing to help your business grow at zero cost to your business.

For an introduction to search engine optimisation, check out this SEO for beginners guide by the Search Engine Journal.

Unlike Jimdo's free plan offering, which offers little marketing functionality and zero SEO guidance, leaving you struggling to grow your online presence before you've even upgraded to a paid plan.

Similar to Wix, with GoDaddy you'll be subject to a branded domain until you begin paying for its service. You also won't be able to open an online store or use any ecommerce functions on the free plan.

GoDaddy free plan pros and cons

Pros:
  • Free professional images available for you to use to spruce up your site
  • Access to 100's of modern templates to help you create a slick website
  • Built-in tools for SEO, social media and email marketing to help your business grow and prepare you for opening an online store
Cons:
  • You won't be able to use a custom domain until you upgrade to a paid plan
  • Marketing tools are very limited, and you'll need to upgrade to access the better options
  • Can't open an online store on the free plan

How much does it cost to upgrade to a paid plan?

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Price

Basic

Standard

Premium

GoDaddy Ecommerce

Want to know how to set up your own business website?

Visit our dedicated guide to find out how to create a business website here.

3. Weebly

weebly mobile

If you’re looking for an intuitive design process, a decent range of features, and great value for money, Weebly is the website builder for you.

But don’t just take our word for it: 90% of its customers say they would recommend it to a friend, and in light of our recent research Weebly scored a solid overall 4 out of 5 score rating, with our user testers appreciating the web builders website features and value for money.

With the free version, you get to choose from a selection of quality templates – all of which are mobile responsive. You can also access an easy to use dashboard of tools, including SEO optimisation.

Like Wix, you’ll have to use an assigned URL with the free plan, but the on-page ads are far more subtle. The more advanced features offered by Weebly are only available with paid plans, and you won’t be able to use its ecommerce functions.

However, when it comes to upgrading to a paid plan, no other website builder scored so highly in the value for money category of our research. In fact, Weebly scored a perfect 5 out of 5 in this category, in contrast to Squarespace, which charges higher rates and achieved only a score of 3.9 in terms of its value for money.

Weebly free plan pros and cons

Pros:
  • Free expert starter guides and planning tools to help you get started
  • Search engine optimisation (SEO) features to help your site and your brand get noticed and appear on search engines
  • Lead capture and contact forms are available with Weebly's free plan - so you can't start building a customer base before building an online store with a paid plan
Cons:
  • No ecommerce functionality on the free plan - so you won't be able to set up an online store
  • Domain cannot be custom - must have Weebly branding

How much does it cost to upgrade to a paid plan?

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Price
Features

Weebly Connect

Weebly Pro

Weebly Business

Weebly Business Plus

  • Low cost plan
  • Adds custom domain
  • Cheapest plan that removes Weebly ads
  • Lets you sell online
  • Phone support
  • Comprehensive ecommerce features
  • Pop-up notifications
  • Advanced ecommerce statistics
  • Abandoned cart emails
  • Real-time shipping calculator

4. Jimdo Dolphin

Jimdo Dolphin is a great option for small business owners that want to get their website up and running quickly and with little fuss. However, its lacklustre features and below-par help and support for its customers have kept its scoring low, achieving only 3.6 out of 5 stars in our most recent round of research.

Its ADI functionality means it will ask you a series of questions to figure out the type of website you want before you select some simple options (such as colour palettes). From this it will create your website for you, saving you time and effort dealing with complex designs and editing processes.

The ADI functionality is available on the free plan, which is great for those businesses who want a simple, basic website that does the job. This automation, unfortunately, makes Jimdo's website builder capabilities limited compared to its competitors, especially when it comes to customisation and feature offering.

The free plan also comes with a dedicated mobile editor view to help optimise your site for mobile formatting. But it lacks the all-important free plan features that other competitors provide, such as Weebly's lead capture and contact forms.

Jimdo Dolphin free plan pros and cons

Pros:
  • ADI functionality makes it easy to start your website in just minutes by answering a few simple questions
  • Dedicated mobile editor viewpoint so you can optimise your site and make it ideal for mobile viewing
Cons:
  • Social marketing and SEO aren't available on the free plan
  • Visitors to your website will be subject to Jimdo ads
  • You'll need to upgrade to have access to a custom domain

How much does it cost to upgrade to a paid plan?

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Price

Start

Grow

Grow + Legal

Unlimited

£9 per month

£15 per month

£20 per month

£39 per month

5. Squarespace

Squarespace homepage

Unlike Wix and the other providers included in this list, the only free option offered by Squarespace is a 14-day trial.

However, you can save 10% off Squarespace when users enter the code STARTUPS10 when purchasing a plan.

With the 14-day free trial, you’ll be able to access a wide range of features, templates, and tools during that trial period, and Squarespace won’t take your credit card details until you decide that it’s the right platform for you.

Squarespace came second in our ranking of the best website builders, scoring highest for design flexibility, as well as second highest for help and support and value for money. It offers a great range of slick and stylish templates, as well as advanced ecommerce functionality, so no wonder it scored a very impressive 4.8 out of 5 star rating.

Its free trial does leave a lot to be desired, however, and the fact your customers cannot access the site unless you share them a password link is in stark contrast to Wix's free plan website visibility, along with the support it provides help get you found on search engines and begin growing your audience and online presence.

Squarespace free trial pros and cons

Pros:
  • Access to Squarespace's free 'getting started' webinar - where you'll be shown the basics of setting up a site
  • Access to nearly every premium feature - including announcement block and promotional pop ups
  • Can test out integrations with other products like Mailchimp for email communication and newsletters
Cons:
  • Our user testing has revealed that it isn't the easiest platform to use, and its editing tools can be challenging
  • Your site is private during your trial, but you can allow certain visitors by adding a password
  • Can't use ecommerce features and can't sell online

How much does it cost to upgrade to a paid plan?

0 out of 0
Price

Personal Plan

Business Plan

Basic Commerce

Advanced Commerce

Next steps and roundup of the best free website builders

From our review of each free website builder, it is clear to see why Wix is the best on our list.

Not only do you get to enjoy the vast majority of excellent features that make Wix the best website builder for small businesses, but you aren't put under any pressure to upgrade and with the functionality available at the free plan level, you don't need to.

You also get the option of a free trial once you do make the decision to upgrade and this makes Wix the only provider on our list to do this.

GoDaddy has really stepped up its game since our last deep dive analysis in 2021. Its 33% increase in overall score earned it a second-place position in our best free list, owing to vast improvements in UX and design functionalities.

Squarespace however in comparison with GoDaddy, although a brilliant website builder, doesn't quite hit the mark as it doesn't offer a free plan, let alone one with such excellent features.

It only offers a free trial, but the good news is that you can use the code STARTUPS10 to save 10% off any Squarespace plan.

As you’ve seen, whichever option you choose, you’re going to be limited in some way. Depending on your ambitions for your online presence, this may or may not matter.

But if you want to build a professional-looking website, and have access to all the tools and features you need to make your online presence a success, then it’s worth upgrading to a paid plan sooner rather than later.

Plus you can't sell your products and services online until you upgrade to a premium, paid plan – no matter which provider you choose.

Whether you think a free or premium plan is the way to go for your visit, the next step is to visit Wix or the best-sounding web builder from our list above (just click their links) to find out more and choose a plan that suits you.

Wix website builder
Our top pick: Wix

We think Wix's free trial and plan make it the best choice of free web builder for small businesses. Start with a free trial today.

Free Trial Find out why Wix is number one

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FAQs
  • Is Wix actually free?
    Wix is indeed free if you choose the free plan. However we don't recommend this as an option for businesses, as you can't sell online and your site will be littered with Wix ads. You'll also have no custom domain - which doesn't exactly scream professionalism. We would however suggest you use a Wix free plan to test out the features and have a play around - although you can also do this using a Wix free trial option.
  • Can I make a completely free website?
    Yes, indeed you can. But there are limitations to what you can do with any website that you create using a free plan that you must be aware of. For every website builder, including Wix, you aren't able to sell online until you purchase a paid/premium plan. However you can still create a website and begin building your audience base and attracting customers to your website, as well as taking bookings and capturing leads (for platforms like Wix and Weebly).
  • How do I build my website for free?
    To build a website for free, simply select the free plan option on the website builders pricing or plan page. Be sure to select the free plan option instead of the free trial option for some providers, as there is typically a limit on how long you can use a free trial website for (14 days in most cases) before you will have to upgrade to a premium plan or lose access to your website.
  • Is WordPress better than Wix?
    For most small business owners, WordPress is not better than Wix. The only time WordPress may out perform Wix is when you have a solid level of coding experience, and can build using an open source platform (which is how WordPress operates). If you have no coding experience however, Wix is the outright winner every time as it is much easier to use.
Henry Williams headshot
Henry Williams Content Manager

Henry has been writing for Startups.co.uk since 2015, covering everything from business finance and web builders to tax and red tape. He’s also acted as project lead on many of our industry-renowned annual indexes, including Startups 100 and Business Ideas, and created a number of the site’s popular how to guides.

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