Creating a website used to be the domain (geddit?) of professional designers and coders, but thanks to free website builders, these days it's something anyone can tackle.
The problem is that there are so many website creation applications and services vying for attention that it can be difficult to know which one to opt for – this is where we can help.
We've collated the very best free website builders available, including a mixture of offline software and online tools. It's usually quicker, easier and more efficient to create and edit a site entirely online with a WYSIWYG editor, but if you want complete control over every aspect of your site's design and hosting, you'll need a desktop-based free website builder.
So whether you're looking to create a site for your business, a new blog or you just fancy creating an online presence for yourself, here are the best website builders to help you out.
- Check out the best CMS on the net
- If you want website builders with more oomph and more features, check out our best website builders shortlist which includes paid for services.
The easiest way to build a website, with a wizard and a WYSIWYG editor
Wix offers you two ways to build your website. Both involve creating it online, and both are as quick and painless as possible.
The simplest option is to use the Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) website builder which will guide you through a series of questions before automatically creating a site for you. There is scope for customization, but the focus here is really on fast results for anyone who is terrified of designing websites.
A more hands-on approach is available if you decide to use the standard Wix Editor. There are literally hundreds of stylish templates to choose from — and, yes, they are genuinely impressive – which you can tweak and tailor to your needs using a beautiful WYSIWYG editor.
Despite being a cloud-based website builder, Wix gives you a great degree of control over the look of your site and placement of page elements. You can also liven it up using the App Market to add features such as a newsletter and live chat. This power and flexibility make Wix the best free website builder around for creating your own site.
WordPress is ideal for static sites, portfolios, online stores and blogs
Causing a slight degree of confusion, there are actually two different versions of WordPress. The more complex version can be downloaded from wordpress.org, and you will need to upload it to your own web space and install it using the automated online installer. You can then customize the templates and use add-ons to make the site your own. This is the route many bloggers go down, but there is a simpler option for people who don’t want the hassle of fiddling about with scripts and getting dirty with hardcore editing.
The hosted version of WordPress lets you create your own site on wordpress.com. You can create everything from a blog or photo site, to a fully fledged online store, and there are a number of templates to choose from.
Whether you're creating a static site, or a blog-style site with regularly updated content, the online editor is a joy to use and allows just about anyone to create an impressive, professional-looking site. With the only downside is the limited range of plugins and templates compared with the desktop website builder.
A flexible desktop website builder, free exclusively for TechRadar readers
Incomedia WebSite X5 normally sells for £14.90 (about US$20/AU$25), but it's free to download for TechRadar readers.
Unlike WordPress and Wix, WebSite X5 is a desktop website builder, which means you can work on your site offline and have more freedom to make your site look exactly the way you want.
There's a range of ready-made templates to choose from, or you can create your own design from scratch. Next, build up your site map, showing the hierarchy of your pages and how they connect to one another – a feature you won't find in most web-based site builders.
Once that's done, you're ready to start building your pages using Website X5's simple drag-and-drop interface, which includes tools for editing both rich text and photos.
If you don't want to be tied down to an online site builder, WebSite X5 is the tool for you.
Ideal for hand-coding, Free HTML Editor is packed with time-saving extras
CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor is one of a dying breed of web building programs that don't use a CMS (content management system). While not in the same league as the likes of Adobe Dreamweaver, Free HTML Editor packs quite a professional punch. With split screen code/preview views, it's possible to see the effect the changes you make have straight away.
To help you get started quickly, there are a number of templates built into the program, and there are some very nice features such as tag and code suggestions as you type. For absolute beginners the program might seem a little overwhelming to start with, but it's worth sticking with it – assuming you have some HTML knowledge. There is one slight issue; a number of features, such as spell-checking and code optimisation, are only included in the paid-for version of the program.
Another free website builder with online and offline versions
Joomla is a well-known name in the CMS world. It may not be as popular as WordPress, but it offers the same two options: build a site using the web app at joomla.com and having it hosted on the company's servers, or download the software from joomla.org and host it yourself.
If you choose the latter option, you'll notice that the interface is much less approachable than WordPress. It's not completely impenetrable, but there are lots of menus and options to work through and it doesn't feel quite as polished as WordPress.
Joomla's online website builder is nearly as complex, but doesn't involve the same setup process, making it a bette option for beginners. Its key selling point is its huge collection of themes and extensions, which provide endless ways to customize the way your site looks and works.