Free websites and DIY choices
Making your own website can be a lot of fun and a cost-effective way to have your name on the internet, whether it’s for a home business, or even if it’s just a single page for a hobby or family website.
There are a few DIY sites that give you free templates to work with if you’re not overly confident working with code, but these can range from thoroughly awesome to thoroughly boring, depending on which site you choose.
Any hidden costs
Getting the right tools for free websites is half the story, you need to make sure you have quality pictures and content sorted and don’t forget to think about your ongoing costs, including online hosting costs.
The web building tools.
Of all of the website builders trialled, this one is by far the easiest to use. The free template options are all varying degrees of awesome, the SEO maximising option is free to apply to your site instead of having to pay for it like the other website builders, and the design features for mobile and computer are easily swapped between so you can see what it will look like on either device at the click of a button. There was a slight problem trying to attach the link from the test facebook page created for the exercise; however this may be because there’s a glitch when it comes to Wix recognising non-English letters in links. The other links attached worked perfectly though. There is a slight annoyance factor with the Wix advertising banners at the bottom of the page and the button to the Wix website at the top right corner of the page inciting your viewers to make their own pages, however.
Weebly does have a large number of shiny free templates to use, but it seems that it’s primarily designed for people that work from tablets. The drag-and-drop interface is quite irritating because it interferes with the page layout when you’re working on a computer, and despite the fact that Weebly seems designed for people working on tablets, there’s no option to check how the website looks on one, only for computer and mobile phone. Also, if you are using it, make sure you have your pop-up blocker disabled as it performs actions via pop-up. Also, there was no preview button so you couldn’t check that you’d gotten everything exactly how you wanted before having it go live. It does have the option of editing the HTML/CSS code yourself so you can tweak anything you don’t like to your particular specifications though, which is good if you’re a confident coder.
Possibly the least attractive of all the DIY website builders, Yola does have a slight advantage in that its option layout is tabbed at the top of the page, much like when you’re operating in multiple webpages. It doesn’t give you an option for mobile design, and to get even the basic page searching functions costs extra. You also have to pay extra to get any SEO tools attached.
Primarily a blogging platform, WordPress does lend itself to being used as a professional website builder if you lay it out right. The free templates are pretty, and the site itself is easy to work with. The instructions are in both video and document format. You don’t get a lot of options with fonts and colours in the free templates, but if you upgrade to premium you do get a range of fancy things. At first glance it doesn’t seem to have any search engine optimisation tools in the free templates, however as WordPress is a blogging site that’s not really surprising. It’s also the only website builder that has included tablets into its interface viewing options, everything else only allows you to design for computer or mobile phone. WordPress also really doesn’t like it when you type in your own HTML code in the blogging window, and creates a big mess on the page when you do, so it’s best to use their rich text mode and let them handle the coding side.
Kiwis love nothing better than DIY, and this extends to websites as well. There are plenty of build-your-own web options for free websites. There are plenty of options whether you are a blogger or looking to build a business website.