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)?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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...
Other's have already spoken about the value of hiring a professional and given, what I feel is good advice on what to do if you really have no money to do that. So I'll just add my 2 cents for what it's worth as I've actually written articles on what the actual cost of "free" can be for your business. Here's a few that I think apply:
"You Get What You Pay For"
"The high cost of 'free' when it comes to web design."
(This one was written by one of my team)
"The DIY Dilemma: Why a Do-it-yourself Website May be a Bad Idea: Part 1"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just make sure that you register your domain in a register and not with the free site builder provider or you might end up tied up when you want to move on to a decent site, quite often you will find that you will have to wait for the domain to expire to buy it again and point it to your desired name servers, you risk loosing it if that ends up by being the case, otherwise you might have down time if they allow you to transfer the domain.
People always think free is good enough, I don't. With free-ware I've to do it myself. Hiring a professional web designer doesn't cost that much. And don't forget the hours you are learning the free-ware and creating your site, you could also do what you're good in "consulting restaurants". So using free-ware still costs you time and money. I would suggest to look around for a good web designer.
By the way hiring means knowing what you want to get delivered ;-) !
Squarespace is my favourite free website builder. But is you want to build a professionally looking website, I recommend you to go with one of these bootstrap themes: https://www.templatemonster.com/bootstrap-website-templates/ . Using it will save you hours in developing your project.
Try Wordpress. It's better than Wix but Wix works ok. Hope this helps!'
If you don't mind getting your hands a bit "dirty" I'd suggest starting with WIX.
You can develop & deploy a site for absolutely $0.00 including a theme.
Many add-ins are available to support Mailchimp, blogs, etc.
From this you can obtain some potential client feedback.
At this point you can make an informed decision - upgrade WIX (you'll need at least Google Analytics) or switch to a pro for development.
Will people find your website? From my experience, actually, a professional Facebook Page with a strategic advertising campaign drives orders of magnitude more customers to Restaurants than static websites (through which customer engagement and feedback is basically zero). I would strongly suggest trying this out for yourself and doing a compare and contrast with any website you choose to build. Remember, FB is where people socially are and Restaurants are, in the main, a social not corporate affair.
Hi Evan ,
You can check list and reviews of some famous website builder here:- http://fatbit-tech.weebly.com/blog/fatbit-shares-best-website-builder-reviews-to-help-you-choose-the-best
From my experience, and I'm a senior web developer/designer, free websites are very limited and made for very very simple businesses.
If money is an issue and you don't have budget for website, and still want to have something online, then go with free websites builders. I think GoDaddy is probably the worse, Squarespace is probably the best.
If you are making money from your service and want to make money with your website then forget about free websites. They can't be complex and can't solve detailed problems-which is something you have listed as your idea or requirement. You can't make them interactive either.
My suggestion is purchase a hosting and install WordPress. Depending on your budget you can buy a premium theme and find a unicorn (designer and developer in one person) or build custom theme from scratch. Premium themes can be buggy and robust and might have way too many things that you will never use, but they usually have very good design.
Custom theme from scratch is highly customizable and will look exactly the way you want it to look. Since you need some custom coding you will probably need a developer with advanced coding skills. If you don't write content yourself, then you will need a copywriter too.
You will have much more chances to monetize your site now since WordPress is very SEO friendly. There are also many free plugins and learning curve is not that steep.
In conclusion, I'd like to say that I don't think free websites are worth it as I have moved a few clients from Squarespace to WordPress upon their request (they were not happy with SS).
I'd say any text editor along with great understand in Web coding in general. But for most starters WordPress has helped quite a lot and is the best recognised tool for Web Dev with friendly UI.