What are the best free website builders?

I want to set up a website advertising my services as a Restaurant Consultant. I'm toying with website ideas. First and foremost, I want it to look professional, be fairly easy to find and navigate, and showcase my expertise. I also possibly want the website to be interactive with simple questions to restaurant owners, managers, chefs, etc. Later, I'd like it to be fully interactive so that complex and detailed problems could be solved online.

With those points in mind, are there any free website builders worth it (like Wix, .Com)?

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10

In my opinion, you need to have a professional build your site, especially if you are a consultant. You wouldn't go to a butcher to do brain surgery would you?

Free and cheap look exactly that way - free and cheap. We can spot them as soon as the site loads.

Have a copywriter do your copy and website developer do the site.

I am not a copywriter or website developer. I am a business coach/consultant and I know what I am talking about.

6

Hey there Evan. I'm going to chime in in this one since I work with clients to build powerful online presence every day. Here's the skinny on the free services. If you absolutely have no money, or are not sure that you are going to be able to take your business to the next level, start with something like SquareSpace. Stay away from Wix, Weebly or any other site builder like that. They are complete crap. SquareSpace is the only one that I would recommend if you fit into the two categories above.

Your next option is to spend a little bit of money, assuming you think you will be able to return the $100-$200 on your investment and go with what @Dana mentioned. Head over to Themeforest.net and buy a WordPress theme. Now, you may still want to hire a professional to get everything set up for you otherwise you will probably get pretty frustrated, leave the website half-ass put together and then you will do more harm to your business than good. You can normally hire someone off Fiverr.com to install and setup your WordPress theme for you.

Here is the problem with doing the above:

I've dealt with many of these themes before. Some are great, others are complete crap. When it comes to modifying the theme (which I hope you will someday do), you might start to uncover some pretty shady coding. This means that you will likely pay a mint later to have someone fix the code in question before they can actually modify the theme the way you wanted.

When it comes to working with a theme, you have to remember that you are not the only one sporting that theme. This puts you in a similar position to buying a templated business card from Vista Print. Cheap, crappy, and not unique.

So I ask you this - is your business unique? Do you want to stand out? Do you want to be recognized as a professional that took the time and spent a little money to do it right the first time or do you want to have the appearance of cutting corners to save a dime?

This leads up to the right way to do things:

Take the advice that @Felix left. Hire a professional. Hire a company that can listen to what you have to say, understand your business model, and translate that into a website that is not only going to look great, but also:

- Convert visitors to buyers
- Track your visitors (where they come from/where they go)
- Build in great call to actions
- Build in lead tracking
- Have a great understanding of SEO and at least be able to point you in the right direction.

This is what you get when you hire a professional. When you hire "FREE" it is you, a Restaurant Consultant, trying to build an online presence. You are not a Web Weveloper, UX/UI Designer, or Conversion Specialist. You consult with restaurant owners. Stick to what you are great at and hire someone who is great at getting your message out there on the internet.

Good luck and email me with any questions.

Some articles of interests:

http://zerozendesign.com/articles/create-a-web-design-that-works/
http://zerozendesign.com/articles/marketing-your-business-the-first-6-months/
http://zerozendesign.com/articles/how-to-create-a-low-cost-explainer-video-for-your-business/

5

I'ld like you to know that most free services are not so satisfactory, after all it is "free". When you pay someone to do a job for you, you get the luxury of actually making them do exactly what you want and how you want it. Considering what you want and how you want it, i'll advice you hire a professional to do it for you.

5

Some day I'm going to write an article about the cost of a "free" site. My advice is to hire a professional. They'll complete the work much faster, it'll look much more professional, and you'll avoid all the mistakes of a noob.

Image is everything, and a cheap site essentially means you are not the leader in your field. Yes, you'll get some clients through your cheap website, but you'll lose many more than you'll ever realize.

My 2 cents...

5

When you're using anything "free" there is someone or something paying the cost. The entity paying the cost has complete control. In this case, if you use a free site, that means someone has control over what you think is your website. They can take down your website all together without any kind of warning. I'm sure you don't want to give anyone that much power in your business.

With that said, even if you're on a small budget, you can find hosting for about $10 and get a nice Wordpress theme for less than $100. I like the Genesis platform, but there are other good ones out there.

I like Wordpress because it's very flexible and it can do pretty much anything you want it to with the right plug ins.

4

Purchase a WordPress theme - they are very easy to use and will give you a professional look. I like ThemeForest.net - themes are categorized and they have a nice variety.

4

I agree with Felix and David. I recommend hiring a web designer to layout your site for attracting the client base you are looking for. The best site for SEO is one designed in WordPress. I would stay away from Wix and Weebly and any other 'free' service. I think you will be disappointed in these 'free' services are they are very limited in options and are not professional. If you are a consultant the first thing you want to do is look like an "authority" in your field. I would suggest that you post a project on MosaicHub for professionals to quote. The more details you give for the project scope, the better. If you leave the price open, then you will get a range of pricing and you would be able to select the best professional for your needs.
Good luck with your project.

4

You get what you pay for. It might look alright, but your not going to get traffic and it won't benefit your business long-term.

4

Hi Evan,

Although most website builders may be free, they are certainly not best. In order to present a professional image, there are aspects of your business you simply cannot skimp on - one of them is your website. Three reasons why:

1) I would assume that part of the consulting services you're offering is advising restaurants on how to market themselves, and that would include their website. That being the case, your website absolutely must look modern and professional - how can you assure clients/prospects that you're the best person to hire if it does not?

2) Even if you could build a modern, aesthetically-pleasing website on your own that does all the things you would need it to do, it would take you far longer than hiring a professional web firm. What is your hourly rate? How much are you losing by spending your valuable time on something that is not your vocation? That time would be better spent servicing your clients.

3) I am going to disagree with David above, and state that you can acquire a Wordpress theme - but have a web firm choose it, then customize it for your business. The very point of themes is that they save you time and money because much of the foundational structure and functionality of the site is already done. Themes are also flexible and can be changed extensively enough so as to not resemble the final product of anyone else who has acquired the same theme. And if there are any issues with the coding, the web firm has the responsibility to deal with those issues.

One of the cornerstones of success is surrounding yourself with people who do something better than you. Have someone else create your website, because they can and will do it better than you.

4

Well here you go: http://www.top10webbuilders.com/free-website?s1-google/s2-us-search/s3-free-website-builder-p

Note quality generally does not come for free! Note how many are actually free on the top ten list.

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