Modern Free Website Builders

Google Sites, Jimdo, Yola, uCoz, Weebly

When you need to create your own website, the choice seems to be endless; there are millions of ways to do that. So what will you do? The amounts of money and time spent on creating a website, as well as its functionality, depend on your choice.

If you don’t have a lot of experience in web design and don’t want to spend money, and, at the same time, the website has to look professionally, then your choice is narrowed to free website builders. The very first services of this kind were Geocites and Blogger. There is no doubt that their contribution towards the Internet development was extremely important at that time. The key to success was in the simplicity of usage on the free-of-charge basis.

However, time flies, and new tools for creating personal pages on the Internet enter the market. Blogger chose a conservative way and made only few changes in these years. Geocities, which was used by many people to create their first web-pages, couldn’t compete with the new CMSs and went out of business.

So who has replaced them? Among the new generation of website builders, we can single out the following: Google Sites, Jimdo, Yola (ex-SynthaSite), uCoz, Weebly. Each of them is free and has advanced premium features.

The selected Web services are the fastest growing free web builders today. Except for Google Sites, which is more of an example of a passive market penetration by a large corporation.

Comparing to Blogger and Geocites, the progress is obvious, especially, towards Web 2.0. The modern features, such as RSS, comment systems, customizable templates, drag&drop tools have been added.

Despite the fact that all these Web services solve the same task, help to create a website, they are all different and offer different functionality.

Google Sites announces 10Gb of disk space. However, this amount is assigned to the whole account, including email. And this is the main advantage of this website builder. Even integration with the other Google tools cannot make up for the primitive functionality that did not come a long way from the closed Geocities.

Jimdo is a Web service that appeared rapidly and that offers basic features for quick website creation. Modern drag&drop technologies allow to create a website easily. However, the selection of templates isn’t large, and there is a number of limitations that incline to use the premium package. The limitations include such “exotic” ones as customization of the website logo.

Yola is an interesting website builder with a number of various add-ons. But some of the modules are realized on the basis of widgets, which affects the general integrity and logic of the website’s work.

uCoz. Despite its peculiar page password protection and poor chat, it is the only Web service that offers end-to-end User Management in all website modules: from Forum and Blog to E-Shop.

Weebly’s announced unlimited disk space loses its meaning because of the limitation on the maximum upload file size (5 Mb). But in general, we can see quite a wide choice of website add-ons. However, the forum module is realized as a widget.

The detailed differences are listed in the following table:

Website builders

The common features offered by all of these Web services include:

  • Page editor;
  • Blog;
  • Photo gallery;
  • Online store (except Google Sites).

Bonus Free Website Builder: Prestashop Ecommerce Platform

PrestaShop is an open source ecommerce platform powering over 185,000 stores across 160 different countries in over 60 different languages, making PrestaShop easily the most international ecommerce platform available. It is “free to download and free to use” according to the company. Unlike similar platforms which charge a monthly fee and/or a percentage cut on top of all your sales. Being open source, we also don’t have any limitation for your site. You can have as many products as you would like as well as many employees working through the back office as well. Now just because the software is free doesn’t mean it is some watered down version.

PrestaShop comes out of the box with over 310 built in features that will provide you everything you need to get your store up and running and most importantly highly successful. We have a demo right on our site where you can play around with the software through the back office and also check out the front office default theme, both of which are fully responsive.

What makes us different from other platforms in particular?

Magento enterprise edition will run you over 15k a year, so I don’t think I need to say much more there. Magneto community edition (CE) would be their open source version, but it is no comparison to PrestaShop. CE does not have half the available features PrestaShop has and is rarely updated as it is not their main focus. If you have ever used Magento before, it is as far from user friendly as you could imagine and requires high-level development skills which you will not need when using PrestaShop.

Shopify will cost you anywhere from $14-$179 a month PLUS they take anywhere from 2.25-2.9% of all your online sales, and most merchants cant afford to being giving away 3% of their sales off the top just to have a running store. Shopify also has limitations on many aspects of your store depending on your plan. As you can see in the above link, depending on your plan depends on how much storage you receive, so yes they say you can have unlimited products, but with limited storage there is obviously a limit.

Big Commerce will cost you a $30-$200 a month and on some plans a transaction fee like Shopify. Big Commerce only supports the English language, and has limits on number of admin logins. Since Big Commerce and Shopify are not open source, you have no access to the core files of your store, so take that as you will.

Today’s generation of website builders shows a considerable progress. Having such a significant choice in hand, it is important to compare the variety of tasks your website will be needed to perform with the abilities and the restrictions of the selected Web service. Otherwise, you may spend a lot of time on the website building and then be held back by a limitation that does not allow its further development. Be careful when choosing a builder for your website!

See the website builders and website examples.

Website Builder Examples
Google Sites example
Jimdo example
Yola example
uCoz example
Weebly example
Mike

Mike writes in detail on the topic of website building.

11 comments

  1. Becky

    Thanks for this review. It was helpful and the table is very nice for comparing sites.

    I believe there is a mistake in the table though. I have been researching Yola and Weebly a lot, and the table shows that you have to pay to have a custom domain in Yola but not in Weebly. From what I have found, Weebly also charges for a custom domain name! Just thought that was an important distinction.

    • Emory Rowland

      Becky, I checked the Weebly site and it states “Free domain hosting” on the main page. I haven’t found anything further. Anyone else know if Weebly charges for domain hosting and if so what the price for hosting is?

  2. There are couple of oversights in the table regarding Jimdo as well –

    Jimdo does offer password protection, meta tags, and you can definitely add a forum (like one from tal.ki) using our widget/html module.

    We’re constantly adding templates (another 13 earlier this month), and our system is flexible enough that it’s easy to make really great looking sites. Some examples:
    http://www.taylorlackie.com/
    http://www.laceiba.us/
    http://www.cometpingpong.com/

  3. Thank you, Powen. I fixed the table.

  4. Hi Mike. Thanks for this detailed table. In case anyone wants to see and try even more options I have created an overview of website builders here: (www.websitetooltester.com/en/website-builders/) uCoz is missing but will be added as well.

  5. RAQgig

    Hey that’s a pretty comprehensive table. I think you should include a pricing section because some features are only included if you select different packages with some of those builders (I do acknowledge that some are free). Personally I’ve been using a builder not listed on this table, Cubender. I think it’s more simple to use than yola, which I was using previously. Plus, even though it has less templates, I seem to be able to make clear websites with the Cubender templates. Can anyone else vouch for them?

  6. Jason

    Cubender is pretty d*** cool but takes a bit more to get into. Completely modular though so you can build your site exactly the way u want. Good for designers.

  7. josue

    ucoz is the best of them all. you can believe me. no charges anywhere and it is easy to use. the only question i would have is about the protection, because my website disappeared from the web. i can’t find it anymore. i just have a blank space when i type my web address. so if someone understands what happened… thank you

  8. Zack

    @Josue, Check your E-mail as Ucoz might have shut down your site due to “No Activty”. So check the email that your sites registured with and Re-Activate it. Everything you have will still be there so theres no worrys mate :)

  9. william

    I found that uCoz also has unlimited free diskspace, they mention at (www.ucoz.com/about/)

  10. Anthony Miller

    I still think that Jimdo is the best for making a free website. It’s a powerful tool if you take the time to learn it.

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