Free website builder: make your own website

Many hobbies, associations, blogs or even new business ideas require a website. Often, a good-sounding business idea remains untested due to the expensive price tag of a website. It’s not always worth saving money on a website and having it done by a professional, but in some situations it makes sense to build a website yourself and it can even be done for free – as long as you have some time to learn how to use the tools.

In this article, we’ll look at some options that can help you build your own website, even for free!

Factors affecting the cost of a website

A website usually has a few small costs, especially if you want a website with your own domain name. In this case, the main costs are the domain name (.fi/.com/.net/.eu etc.) and the web hosting or website platform from your provider.

If you do not need your own domain name, this article presents two completely free options that do not require a domain name.

A web hosting is a server from which you rent disk space and a database, which you need to install and use the website software. Popular web hosting applications for building a website include the WordPress.org publishing management system and website engines.

You can build a website without coding skills, but a basic knowledge of HTML/CSS will help.

Price of a website with your own domain name

If you want your website to have its own domain name, be prepared to buy a web hosting service. The annual fee for a domain name starts at €12/year + VAT (FI domain) and the cheapest price for a Finnish XetNET webhosting is €1.37/month + VAT. These two costs cover the main criteria to install your own applications for building your own website, on your own server space, with your own domain name.

An additional advantage of subscribing to your own domain is that you can also set up an email address for your web hosting with your own domain, e.g. firstname.lastname@yourdomain.fi. Check domain availability before you buy a domain for your website.

Free website builder without your own domain name

If you are a person of exact marks or euros, do not want to invest a single euro in your website and do not need your own domain name, consider the following options (with reservations):

WordPress.com blogging service

  • The slightly less popular “little sister” of the world’s most popular publishing platform, WordPress.org.
  • You can build a free blog on the company.wordpress.com website.
  • Limited environment: you cannot install WordPress.org plug-ins and themes, among other things, on the free version
  • Display ads on your site. Technical support for the free version is modest.
  • You do not fully own your site: your provider can shut down your site with a unilateral notice if, among other things, you violate the terms of use.
  • If you run a business, an address such as company.wordpress.com may appear untrustworthy from the customer’s point of view.

Blogger.com blogging service

  • A Google alternative that is somewhat similar to the WordPress.com blogging service in its free version.
  • Your blog or website address is company.blogspot.com.
  • Like WordPress.com, you don’t own your site or edit it completely freely. Blogger can shut down your site with a one-way notice.
  • Fewer features than the WordPress.com blog service.

The above services are officially blog platforms and not full-blooded web platforms, so their functionality can be very limited, especially in the free version. However, we have seen lightweight websites set up on such services, as the basic features are sufficient for many beginners and amateurs. If nothing else, they serve as a good training platform.

Blog platforms offer a completely free way to try out a blogging platform – but are they fully adequate for building a website?

Website builders like Wix and Squarespace

You may have come across popular website platforms and publishing systems like Wix.com and Squarespace.com. These platforms allow you to build your site in much the same way as many website engines, but with a few important caveats.

Web platforms like Wix and Squarespace can set limits on how much you can customise your site. Whereas the WordPress.org publishing platform offers many more free plugins, themes and opportunities to customise your site, Wix and Squarespace are largely based on pre-built templates to which you add your own text and images.

Customizing the look and feel or editing the elements that affect the look and feel is therefore not as freely possible on these services. As a result, your site may look like many others.

However, the user experience is refined to meet simple needs and the threshold to start building a site is low. Constraints can also be beneficial: they also prevent problems with site design, so that technically and visually, sites look polished.

Moreover, in terms of SEO, these platforms are not the most versatile.

Squarespace offers ready-made templates for website bodies, where you can change your own images and texts.

Websites with a website builders: more freedom at no extra cost

Website hosts are popular because hosting providers can often offer them for an extra fee, or some even for free: for example, the WebbiVelho website host is free for XetNET web hosting customers.

Website engines like WebbiVelho differ from Wix and Squarespace in that they are webhosting applications that do not require a lot of technical know-how to install and maintain. There are plenty of ready-made templates available with much more freedom for customisation than web platforms. This may be an advantage for some, but a disadvantage for others: there are plenty of options for element placement and configuration.

In WebbiVelho, the site is built with a drag and drop page builder, which means that texts and images can be freely embedded in different parts of the webpage. This is not as flexible with Wix/Squarespace solutions, which add various predefined bases/templates, mainly per line, where you can change mainly texts/images.

With WebbiVelho you can even create a small online shop without much technical know-how and mobile-friendliness is taken into account.

With the WebbiVelho home page builder, you can choose a ready-made website as a frame, which can be customised to your liking.

Free website builder with WordPress – the world’s most popular publishing platform

We decided to save the most popular option for last in this article. The number of websites built on WordPress.org in 2023 will account for 43% of all websites worldwide (source: Colorlib). This makes it the most popular way to build a website in the world. WordPress.org differs from its little sister, WordPress.com, in the following ways:

  • The WordPress.org publishing management system is open source software that is installed on a dedicated server (like a web host). It is therefore the most popular way to build a WordPress site, and does not require expensive subscription fees like the WordPress.com service.
  • The WordPress.com service runs on WordPress.com’s own servers, which sells the website hosting solution, or server space. A less popular way to build a WordPress site, as you need a package costing $25 per month, for example, to install plug-ins and themes. (Price revised 25.4.2023.)

If you want the world’s most popular WordPress platform for your website, we recommend the WordPress.org option, especially for keen do-it-yourselfers. The learning curve has been lowered by the Gutenberg updates in the latest versions, which allow you to build sites using blocks in a modular way without any coding knowledge.

One of the advantages of the WordPress.org platform is its high level of community: you can ask for help with problems and questions in forums and Facebook groups.

Getting started with WordPress.org is easy: order your own domain name and our web host, which comes pre-installed with the WordPress.org publishing management system. After ordering, you will receive login credentials for the WordPress management tool and you are ready to develop your website! Read more in our article on how to set up a WordPress blog.

There is no extra cost to use the WordPress.org publishing management system. You can even install multiple WordPress sites on your web hosting; however, please note that each WordPress installation requires its own database and disk space. WordPress also allows you to set up a free online store with the popular Woocommerce plugin.

Thousands of themes are available for WordPress. Several new types of “Block Themes” have been released, which allow you to build your site in a modular way, similar to the way website builders do.

Make your own website: is it worth doing it yourself or using a professional?

Above are a few common and popular options for building your own website. Briefly summarised, here are a selection of the options on offer:

  • Blogger and WordPress.com, blogging services (without a domain name) that are completely free of charge.
  • Website platforms: Wix/Squarespace (for a fee)
  • Website engines: WebbiVelho (free of charge, requires web hosting + domain name)
  • WordPress.org publishing management system (free of charge, requires webhosting+domain)

When choosing a platform, it is also worth considering the future. If you do it yourself now, will you need to upgrade to a completely new platform in a few years when you get hungry or need more features?

In this case, it’s worth considering whether it’s worth choosing the most popular WordPress.org publishing management system, which you can install on your own web hosting, giving you 100% ownership of your website data. You can move the site to another server or domain if you wish. Further development of the site can be carried out by a professional, so you don’t have to do it all over again. However, it offers a wide range of possibilities for further development in the future. Moreover, as a completely free open source solution, it does not incur unexpected costs, as some of our examples might if the provider decides to change the content or pricing of the service.

WordPress.org seems to offer a lot, although there may be some learning curve in using it. Therefore, many people choose between either the WordPress.org alternative, or solutions with a lower learning threshold, such as Wix/Squarespace, or a free homepage builder such as WebbiVelho.

PS. Did you know that you can try WebbiVelho for free at WebbiVelho.fi? Use it first to see if you can get comfortable building a website before you consider other options!

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