Free vs. Paid Website Builders: What’s Best for Businesses?

The best website builders allow anyone to build a feature-rich website in no time, with no coding experience required. For a few dollars a month, you’ll usually have access to a suite of features, including professionally designed templates, drag-and-drop editing capabilities, and e-commerce tools to help you build a fully functional online store. .

But there are also several free website builders out there that can help you build a simple site. But are these free options good for business? And are they as easy to use as the best easy website builders?

In this article, we compare some of the free and paid plans from the top providers, to help you decide which one is best for your business. We take everyone’s features, performance, support, pricing and plans into account, so you can determine whether you should buy a subscription or if you can get by without paying.

Free vs Paid Website Builders: Features

The Wix Home Page

Like many website builders, Wix offers both free and paid options. (Image credit: Wix)

While all free website builders come with some basic site building tools, you will likely find that they don’t have the advanced features needed to run and grow an online business. We’ve taken a look at some of the notable tools offered by popular free and paid website builders from Wix and Weebly.

Areas

In most cases, you can’t connect a custom domain name when opting for a free website builder, leaving you with a URL that doesn’t look professional. For example, if you choose Wix’s free plan, your URL will display something like www.yoursite.wixsite.com, which will cast doubt on the credibility of your business.

In comparison, Wix paid plans allow you to connect an unlimited number of domains purchased by Wix and six domains from other manufacturers to your site, as well as a custom domain name.

Website editors

Generally speaking, free website builders will allow you to use a drag and drop editor to build your site. The publisher of Wix stands out as excellent in the website creation market. But if you prefer a hands-off approach that requires the use of intuitive tools like AI builders like Wix Velo and Wix ADI, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan. These two handy features can completely build your website for you once you enter a few basic details.

Templates

When it comes to templates, generally speaking, there isn’t much of a difference between free and paid website builders. Taking Wix as an example again, it offers all of its more than 500 professionally designed templates for free. Weebly does the same, giving users free access to all of its more than 40 templates.

E-commerce

If you want to start an online store, you will probably find that ecommerce features, or at least advanced tools, are not supported by free website builders. You can use Wix’s free plan to create an online store and list products, but you won’t be able to receive payments online unless you upgrade to a paid plan.

Paying for your service allows you to offer subscriptions, drop shipping products, manage your inventory, and even automate your taxes. So it’s definitely worth considering an upgrade if your primary goal is to sell online. Take a look at our guide to the best ecommerce website builders to find out which vendors are the best.

Integrations

Third-party integrations help improve the functionality of your site. Unfortunately, free website builders tend not to offer much in terms of third-party plugins or integrations. They are also light on things like analytics tools which can be incredibly valuable to businesses of all shapes and sizes. But you will get more with the paid plans.

Example: Wix premium plans give you access to over 200 apps, including HubSpot, PayPal, and Mailchimp, all of which can help you grow your business.

Wix: the best all-around website builder
Wix tops our guide to the best website builders, thanks to its great degree of flexibility and its library of hundreds of templates to choose from. Its drag-and-drop interface is incredibly user-friendly, while its range of pricing options are also fair: the full website builder is included in the free plan, while paid upgrades offer ad-free sites and a refund. 14 days. guarantee.
See the offer

Performance

The Wix Home Page

A successful website builder can help you sell products with ease (Image credit: Wix)

You would expect premium plans to perform much better than free services in the market. To test this theory, we compared the performance of the free and paid plans of Wix and Weebly.

Customization

First of all, while Wix and Weebly provide users with access to their editors, there are some restrictions with the free plans in terms of customization tools. As mentioned earlier, you won’t be able to add various features, including apps and integrations, to your site unless you pay for your service.

Plus, it’s not necessarily clear what features are available for free when you start building your site. So, you might find that you are at the heart of your site design before you realize that you can’t add some essential features.

Additionally, free website builders tend to place advertisements on your site. These ads are not only intrusive, but also slow down your website loading speed, making the user experience less than ideal.

Storage and bandwidth

Another consideration is how much storage and bandwidth you get with the free and paid plans, as this will affect how much content you can put on your site and how fast your website loads. Typically, free website builders have limited storage and bandwidth.

Wix’s free website builder, for example, only packs 500MB of storage and 500MB of bandwidth, while its seven premium plans offer storage ranging from 1GB to unlimited.

Weebly doesn’t offer a lot of free storage either. You’ll get 500MB without a subscription, but its Professional plan gives you unlimited storage. If your site has a lot of content or media and needs to run fast, you may find that you are limited by the restrictions on free offers.

Weebly: Leader in Popular and User-Friendly Ecommerce
Weebly focuses on professional designs and high-quality e-commerce integrations, offering a strong library of templates as well as some of the best online features available. These elements, along with a bit of ecommerce included in its free plan, allow inexperienced users to build engaging online stores.
See the offer

Support

Weebly online support page

Most website builders have a knowledge base that is accessible to all users (Image credit: weebly)

Typically, users of the Free Website Building Plan can access a knowledge base of self-help resources. This includes how-to articles, how-to guides, and tutorials. But priority support is usually only provided with paid plans, as is the case with Wix and Weebly.

While Wix and Weebly both offered email support with their free plans, we found that they had pretty slow response times. It took two to three business days to get a response from each supplier. On the other hand, paying customers are promised a response within one working day. Plus, those who subscribe to a paid plan get phone and live chat support, giving them access to real-time support.

Tariffs and packages

Wix pricing plans

Wix offers premium plans tailored to businesses (Image credit: Wix)

A free website builder is just that: free for as long as you use it. However, these economical website builder tools have limitations that can affect the performance of your business website.

Prices for paid website builder platforms will vary. Wix offers some of the best plans on the market for businesses. The Business Basic plan ($ 17 per month) offers users unlimited bandwidth, 20GB storage, a host of third-party integrations, and e-commerce features like abandoned cart recovery, unlimited products, and sales. on social networks.

If you want additional features like dropshipping, subscriptions, multiple currencies, and priority customer support, you can go for the Business Unlimited plan ($ 35 per month).

Small and medium-sized businesses could benefit from Weebly’s professional plan, starting at $ 12 per month. With it, you will get lots of attractive templates, advanced site analytics, password protection, and a host of e-commerce features like inventory management, digital products, and a shipping calculator.

Free vs Paid Website Builders: Verdict

The paid website builders we reviewed offer much more business value than their free counterparts. This doesn’t mean that free website builders aren’t helpful. For example, if you are a small business owner or freelance and just need to get a simple site up and running quickly and inexpensively, a free website builder can help get your name and services out there.

However, as your business grows, you will need some advanced features that are only available with paid plans. If you want to have more control over the design and functionality of your site, we recommend using a paid website builder such as Wix or Weebly. They are feature rich and have the features you need to build a robust site that can handle thousands or even millions of visitors.

Learn more about the two platforms analyzed in this feature in our Wix review and our Weebly review: We also compared the two in our Wix vs Weebly vs Squarespace comparison feature, if you want to learn more about their features. If you still want to use a free website builder, be sure to check out our guide to the best free website builders and read our step-by-step guide on how to build a website for free.


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Virginia C. Taylor

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