8 Free Design Platforms To Build Your Own Site

Wdd Logo.
January 15, 2009

Website builders have been gaining more popularity and traction lately, thanks to services such as Wix and Webnode.

These online website creators allow you to create a full website, free of charge, directly in your browser without any prior knowledge of website development.

Many of these services also offer premium packages with additional features, for a small cost per month, if you desire additional tools. The biggest advantage in using these services is the unbeatable development speed, as it all happens in your browser with click-and-drag functionality.

If you're not a web designer or a creative person but need an easy and affordable solution to creating a website, try one of these free programs.

Wix

Wix offers a simple, yet powerful online platform to make Flash websites, MySpace layouts and more. Using a browser-based interface, you can choose from a wide selection of design templates or start with a blank canvas. Wix provides more than enough tools to get the job done, with everything from animation effects and photo albums to Google maps and RSS feeds. You can also import photos from Flickr and videos from YouTube with only a few clicks.

The design interface is sleek and quick (on a high-speed connection). Tools are easy to access when needed and can be hidden when not necessary. Creating new pages and editing old ones is straightforward. Your website is hosted on Wix's server for quick and easy publishing, however unless you upgrade to a premium package (starting at $4.95/month), you don't have much control over your domain name. All in all, Wix is by far the best choice for free Flash websites.

Weebly

Weebly is another top choice and sports a simple click and drag interface that allows you to create a professional website very quickly. Content elements, such as videos, pictures, maps, and text are added to your website by simply dragging them from the Weebly bar to your webpage.

You must choose from one of their templates, yet each template is pretty flexible and customizable so there is some room for creativity. Adding and organizing your website's pages is surprisingly painless. When you add a new page to your website, it's automatically added to the navigation bar so there's no need to update your navigation, even if you add a new page at the last minute. Your website domain is in the format of 'pagename.weebly.com,' though if you wish, you can create and purchase your own domain name through the interface (the domain purchase process is handled by bestdomainever.net).

Webs (formerly FreeWebs)

With over 20 million websites created with Webs, this one is among the most popular free website creators available and features many of the same features of the other online website builders.

It's worth noting the ability to integrate your site with Paypal or Google Checkout. It only takes a few clicks and your account information in order to add e-commerce functionality to your website. Also, you can create your own social network by requiring visitors to "join" your site, all with a just a couple of clicks. How cool is that?

Webs is probably not the easiest free website builder to use, however with the extra features available, Webs is a viable option for creating a powerful, free website.

Webnode

Webnode has an interface that could easily be mistaken for Microsoft Word and it's incredibly ease to use. It's a phenomenal package and if you're a Word user, you should be up and running in a few minutes.

What sets Webnode apart is the way that you create and edit your website. It operates more like a content management system. You edit pages by browsing to that page first, then making the necessary changes. This helps to better visualize how your website will look and function exactly. You can change your page layout and design at anytime using the toolbar. The benefit of creating and editing your site with Webnode is that it allows for automatic linking and navigation, so it can be particularly useful when creating large websites with lots of content.

Webnode is the most intuitive program among these website creators, with powerful content management system capabilities and a user friendly interface.

Jimdo

Jimdo operates much like Webnode, by browsing to each page before editing. You practically won't notice a difference between the site as it appears online and the site as it appears in editing mode. Jimdo however, is not quite as powerful or as easy to use as Webnode.

On the other hand, Jimdo does offer greater design possibilities with a broad range of customization options.

Sprout Builder

Sprout has a range of features that will allow you to quickly and easily build, publish and manage rich media Web content including widgets, banners, mashups and more.

Sprout has a powerful design interface, though it's a bit difficult to use the first time. The interface consists of dragable toolbars with a surprising amount of design options such as opacity, bevel, emboss, drop shadow, etc.

Despite a bit of a learning curve, Sprout is still a solid choice and offers many powerful design tools that allow you to create a unique website.

Viviti

Viviti is primarily a content management system with less focus on design and customization, however it does a good job at getting you on the web quickly and easily.

Select from one of their templates, then create the pages you need and add content. Pretty simple, though if you're looking for an extremely powerful website creator with endless possibilities, then this is not the best application for you.

SynthaSite

Synthasite has functionality that is similar to that of desktop publishing software such as Microsoft Publisher. It offers drag and drop editing features that rival many others on this list. Most remarkable is SynthaSite's online photo editing through a partnership with picnik.com, which is an extremely powerful browser-based image editing program.

Synthasite service is very reliant on templates, but there are plenty to choose from and they vary from fun and funky to classy and cool. Every now and then you'll stumble upon a template that has a bit of flexibility – offering the ability to change the background image, for example – but those who want to exercise their design talents will find it restrictive.

Written exclusively for WDD by Michael Shelton. Michael is a freelancer web designer and runs his own website at http://michaeladesigns.com/

Have you used this website builders? Which one is your favorite? Please leave your comments below...

WDD Staff

WDD staff are proud to be able to bring you this daily blog about web design and development. If there's something you think we should be talking about let us know @DesignerDepot.

Read Next

6 Best AI Productivity Apps in 2024

There’s no escaping it: if you want to be successful, you need to be productive. The more you work, the more you…

3 Essential Design Trends, February 2024

From atypical typefaces to neutral colors to unusual user patterns, there are plenty of new website design trends to…

Surviving the Leap from College to Real-World Design

So, you’ve finished college and are ready to showcase your design skills to the world. This is a pivotal moment that…

20 Mind-Bending Illusions That Will Make You Question Reality

Mind-bending videos. Divisive Images. Eye-straining visuals. This list of optical illusions has it all. Join us as we…

15 Best New Fonts, February 2024

Welcome to February’s roundup of the best new fonts for designers. This month’s compilation includes some innovative…

The 10 Best WordPress Quiz Plugins in 2024

Whether it’s boosting your organic search visibility or collecting data for targeted email marketing campaigns, a great…

20 Best New Websites, February 2024

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, so this latest collection is a billet-doux celebrating the best of the web this month.

Everything You Need to Know About Image Formats In 2024

Always trying to walk the tightrope between image quality and file size? Looking to branch out from JPGs and PNGs this…

The 10 Best Logos of 2023 - Ranked

From vintage aesthetics to innovative new color schemes, we’ve seen a lot of creative logo designs this year. In this…

Exciting New Tools for Designers, February 2024

2024 is well underway and shaping up to be an interesting year. So, to help you keep your focus on working hard and…

The Art of Engineering AI Prompts

In the rapidly evolving world of artificial intelligence, the ability to communicate effectively with AI tools has…

15 Best New Fonts, January 2024

In this month’s roundup of the best new fonts, we find a large number of vintage, retro, and revival typefaces. Is it…