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How to build a website for free

build a website
(Image credit: Unsplash)

Building a website used to be an expensive endeavor, requiring you to hire a slew of web developers, web designers, back-end coders, and database experts. You also needed to pay for website hosting, email servers, and domain registration.

Nowadays, you can build a website and publish it without spending a penny. The best website builders enable you to design and edit an entire site without touching a line of code.

build a website

Websites are written in HTML code, but with a website builder, you’ll rarely need to touch it (Image credit: Future)

Step 1: Understand your options

Even if you’re not able to spend anything on a new website, you still have a few options. You could write every line of code yourself in a tool like Notepad++ or an IDE (Integrated Development Environment), like CoffeeCup HTML Editor. Then, you can upload your website to a free hosting provider. Some of the best providers, such as InfinityFree, ByetHost, and FreeHostingNoAds, won’t display any advertising on your website but have other restrictions, such as limited disk space.

If you don’t feel like writing every line of code, you can use an open-source content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal. Install a free CMS on your free hosting, and you can upload your content without editing code. 

A third option is a website builder. Sites like Wix, Constant Contact, GoDaddy, and Webnode all have modern editors to create websites and only charge for domain names and advanced features.

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WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (Image credit: Wordpress)

Step 2: Choose a free website builder

If you go the free website builder route, you have many choices. Webnode has an advanced interface but places a small ad on your site. Wix frequently tops website builder lists because of its unique features and great templates, but it also requires a small ad on free sites. Jimdo is easy to use but limited in features. 

For this guide, we’ll use Weebly, another top website builder with a free tier. There’s ad placement on free Weebly sites, but if you ultimately decide to upgrade to a paid plan, Weebly is one of the cheapest, starting at $6/month.

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Jimdo is a website builder with a free tier, but it lacks advanced functionality (Image credit: Jimdo)

Step 3: Sign up for your website builder

First, sign up with your website builder. In our case, this entails heading to weebly.com, clicking on Sign Up, and entering your full name, email address, and country. You also need to set a password for your account.

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First, sign up for your website builder of choice (Image credit: Weebly)

Step 4: Choose a site template

Weebly has a four-part website startup wizard. First, choose whether you want a standard website or an online store. You’ll be presented with a gallery of 55 themes to use as a template for your website. Choose a design that speaks to you, as you can always change the images and text later.

You’ll be shown a preview of your site. If you’re happy with the theme, hit Start Editing.

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Weebly has 55 templates from which to choose (Image credit: Weebly)

Step 5: Set a subdomain

Weebly will ask you to connect a domain name. If you have your own domain name, you can transfer it to Weebly or you can purchase one now. But as we’re creating a free website, we’ll use a Weebly subdomain instead.

Enter a name for your website and click Search. Select the Weebly subdomain at the bottom of the list. In our example, we call the website myfruitsite, so it will be available to visitors at myfruitsite.weebly.com.

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You can buy a professional domain or use a free Weebly subdomain (Image credit: Weebly)

Step 6: Set your site’s fonts and colors

Click on Theme on Weebly’s top menu. Here, you can choose a different color scheme for your website and edit the fonts.

If you decide that you want a different theme completely, click Change Theme and choose a new option.

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Weebly gives you fine-grained control over the fonts on your website (Image credit: Weebly)

Step 7: Change text and images

You can change any of the text and images on your website simply by clicking on it. Text can be dragged and dropped anywhere on the page, and you can edit or replace images. Images can be cropped and adjusted, and there are several filters that you can apply.

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Weebly’s drag-and-drop site editor is easy to use (Image credit: Weebly)

Step 8: Change page elements

Besides editing the text and images, you can drag-and-drop rich elements onto your pages. Choose Build from the top menu. On the left-hand-side menu, there are over 30 elements that you can drag and drop onto your pages. From YouTube videos and surveys to social icons and maps, you can use these to mold your site to your vision.

If you can’t find the exact feature that you need, you can add a custom HTML code element with the desired functionality.

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You can drag and drop rich elements onto your pages (Image credit: Weebly)

Step 9: Add and remove pages

By clicking on Pages at the top of the screen, you can add, remove, and re-order the pages of your website. Whenever you make changes to your website’s pages, these are automatically reflected in the navigation menu.

If you drag a page label to the right, it becomes a sub-page. Sub-pages don’t appear in your website’s main navigation. Instead, they are linked from your main pages. 

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Add and remove pages in the Pages editor (Image credit: Weebly)

Step 10: Publish your website

When you’re happy with your site, hit the blue Publish button at the top right. Your site will now be available for all to see. You can add a professional domain name later, but right now, your website will be available at the subdomain that you chose earlier.

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Put your website live by pressing the Publish button (Image credit: Weebly)

Summary

You can build a website for free, but as your business grows, you’ll probably want to upgrade to a paid plan to gain access to more advanced features. Free website hosting usually has severe limitations on bandwidth, maximum file size, and storage space.

One of the best ways to build a website for free is to use the free tier of a website builder like Wix, GoDaddy Website Builder, or Weebly. In this article, we showed you the steps to make a website for free on Weebly, but the process is roughly the same for all website builders. Once the traffic to your website begins to flow, you can upgrade to a paid plan to meet the needs of your customers better.