Creating a website can be expensive, especially if you lack the technical know-how and financial resources. When you need to hire a professional web developer to design your site, buy a domain name, pay for web hosting, premium themes and plugins, and content creation— all these expenses can be overwhelming.
However, would you believe it if I told you you can create a website for free?
In this blog post, we’ve created a frugal guide on how to create a website for free. With the best hosting providers and website builders, this guide will help you create a professional-looking website quickly without breaking the bank.
- There are several costs associated with creating a website, but you can utilize free resources if you don’t have a budget
- Potential costs of creating a website include buying a domain name, paying for web hosting, design, content creation, and web maintenance
- You can create a free website on platforms like Wix, Weebly, and WordPress.com
- To choose the right platform, consider the cost, ease of use, features, customization options, and available support
- To set up your site, register a domain name, select a template, customize the template, create web pages, and set up navigation menus
- You can add functionality like forms, e-commerce, blog, and social media integration on your site using widgets and plugins
What Are the Potential Costs Associated With Creating a Website?
Building a website involves several expenses. Whether you’re a commercial web designer or designing a personal website, it’s important to understand the associated costs to set an appropriate budget for it.
However, the exact cost will vary depending on your needs, preferences, and the web company you choose to work with. So, let’s explore some of the potential costs associated with creating a website:
Domain Name Registration
When creating a website, the first step is registering a domain name, which usually comes with an annual fee. Your domain name is the web address that people will use to find your site online.
The cost of registering a domain name can range between $10 to $50 per year, depending on the extension and the domain registrar. Some domain registrars may charge additional costs for domain privacy protection, domain transfer, or premium domain names.
Privacy protection, for instance, can cost up to $100 annually and is essential for hiding the owner’s personal information from the public database.
Web hosting is another significant cost associated with website creation. Web hosting is the online ‘house’ that stores your website’s files and makes them available to your visitors on request. The cost of web hosting can vary depending on the type of hosting you choose and the web hosting provider. There are three main hosting types you can go with: Shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated hosting.
- Shared hosting is the most common type of hosting that’s most suitable for beginners. Depending on the package, it can cost $2 to $15 monthly.
- VPS hosting offers more resources and flexibility and can cost between $20 to $100 per month
- Dedicated hosting, which provides the highest level of customization and privacy, can cost around $100 to $150 per month
However, if you have no budget for hosting your site, you can get free hosting from our list of free web hosting providers to host your site at no cost.
Website Design and Development
Once you have a domain name and hosting, the next step is website design and development. The cost of website design and development can vary widely depending on the complexity of the project and the experience of the designer or developer.
While a simple website may cost $500 to $1,500, a more complex one, such as an e-commerce site, may require a budget of $5,000 upwards.
However, if you have the necessary skills, you can use a website builder to build your own website, which costs around $2 to $50 monthly, depending on the provider and the features you need. Website platforms like WordPress and Wix have free website builders you can use as a beginner.
Content creation is another critical element of a website that may require some expenses. Once you’ve built your website and launched it to the public, you have no option but to create and publish content regularly. Your website content will help to attract and engage your site visitors.
You can avoid the cost of content creation by creating content for yourself. However, if you don’t have the necessary skills to create content by yourself, you may need to hire a writer to do it for you.
Hiring a professional writer may cost between $50 to $500 per page, depending on the complexity of the topic and the writer’s proficiency level. Other additional costs associated with content creation include: Purchasing stock images or videos or hiring a graphic designer to create custom graphics.
After developing and launching a website, continuous maintenance is required for it to run smoothly, securely, and stay up-to-date.
The cost of website maintenance may include regular updates, backups, security measures, and ongoing support. This can cost between $50 to $300 per month, depending on the level of support required.
Some web companies may offer ongoing maintenance packages that may be less expensive than individual service costs.
Choosing a Platform
Choosing the right platform for your website is crucial, as it will impact its functionality, usability, and overall success. Some popular platforms for creating a website include:
Here are some factors to consider when choosing a platform on which to build and design your website:
One of the most significant factors to consider when choosing a platform for your website is cost. Some platforms, like Wix and Weebly, offer free plans, while others, like Shopify, can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars monthly. The associated costs include subscription fees, transaction fees, and hosting fees.
Consider your budget and what you can realistically afford. If you’re just starting, a free platform like WordPress.com may be a good starting point. However, if you’re looking for more advanced features, you may need to invest in a paid plan.
Ease of Use
Another factor to consider is how easy the platform is to use. If you’re a beginner who’s not particularly tech-savvy, you’ll want a platform that’s user-friendly and intuitive.
Platforms like Squarespace and WordPress have simple drag-and-drop editors that make designing your website a breeze. Others, like Shopify, have a steeper learning curve and may require coding knowledge, more time, and effort.
Depending on your business needs, customization may be a top priority for your website. You may need to customize your site to fit your unique branding or design needs.
When selecting a platform, consider how much control you want over your site’s layout, design, and functionality. Platforms like Wix and WordPress offer hundreds of templates, themes, and plugins, which make customization easy. Others, like Shopify, have more limited customization options.
Therefore, if you’re a business owner, you must search carefully to determine which options suit your company’s brand and unique style.
Different website platforms have different features, so consider what you need for your business. Features like e-commerce functionality, SEO tools, and social media integration may be particularly important for your website.
For instance, if you plan on selling products online, you’ll need a platform with e-commerce capabilities like Shopify or WooCommerce.
If you want to create a blog or forum, a platform like WordPress may be a better fit. Review each platform’s features closely, and make a list of what is most important for your website before making up your mind.
Lastly, support is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a platform for your website. What will you do if you get stuck or if things go wrong along the way? Will you receive the help you need quickly and efficiently?
If you’re a beginner, look for a platform with good customer service, comprehensive documentation, and an active online community.
Different platforms offer different support options, including email support, live chat, phone support, and online community forums. You’ll rest well knowing you can always get the support you need whenever you experience problems with your website.
Setting Up Your Website
Setting up a website to be fully functional can be challenging, especially if it’s your first time.
However, once you understand the steps involved and the right tools to use, your website can be up and running in a matter of hours. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to set up your website from scratch to finish:
Choose a Domain Name
The first step in setting up your website is to choose a domain name. Your domain name is the URL that people will type in to access your website.
It’s always advisable to choose a domain name that’s easy to remember and reflects your brand or business. You can use domain name generators like Namecheap or GoDaddy to help you find available domain names.
Once you’ve chosen a domain name, you’ll need to register it with a domain registrar. Some popular domain registrars include GoDaddy, Namecheap, and Bluehost.
Select a Template
After registering your domain name, you’ll need to select a template for your website. A template is a pre-designed layout that helps you create a professional-looking website quickly.
Platforms like WordPress or Wix offer several free and premium templates you can choose from and customize. When selecting a template, consider your website’s purpose and audience. For example, if you’re creating a blog, you may want to choose a template that’s easy to navigate and focuses on content.
On the other hand, if you’re starting an e-commerce website, you may want a template that’s designed to showcase products.
Customize Your Website
Next, you need to customize your website to reflect your brand.
Customizing your website includes choosing the right color schemes, adding images, and customizing content to reflect your brand or business. You can also add brand-specific logos and design elements to make your site stand out.
Platforms like WordPress and Wix offer drag-and-drop features that make customization easy. They have different customization options, including the ability to adjust page layouts, add widgets, and change fonts.
When customizing your site, ensure it’s visually appealing, and the content is engaging and informative. This will attract more visitors and keep them on your website longer.
The next step is to create pages for your website. Pages are the content visitors will navigate to when visiting your website. Start by creating a homepage that’s welcoming and easy for users to navigate. Then create other pages like:
- About us
- Contact us
Depending on your niche, you can add more relevant pages to your audience. Ensure your pages are well-organized and easy to navigate. Also, add clear calls to action (CTAs) on every page to encourage visitors to engage with your brand.
Set Up Navigation
The final step is to set up navigation menus on your website. Navigation helps visitors find their way around your website easily. A well-organized navigation menu includes links to all your web pages and other essential items like a search bar and social media links.
Most web templates often have built-in navigation, allowing you to create menus with features like drop-down boxes.
Ensure your navigation menu is easy to use and placed in an easily accessible area of your website. Also, use clear and descriptive labels, and organize your pages logically to make it easy for visitors to find what they want.
Adding Functionality to Your Website
Having a website alone is never enough. For your website to stand out from the crowd and meet its purpose, it’s essential to add some functionality and flavor. Adding functionality enables you to enhance user experience, generate leads, and achieve your business goals.
Let’s explore how you can add more functionality to your website to enhance its performance:
Forms are an essential part of any website. Webforms are important in that they provide an excellent way of generating leads and collecting valuable information from site visitors.
For instance, you can use forms to collect email addresses, phone numbers, and names, which you can use to personalize your marketing efforts. Forms also enable you to provide online customer support (e.g., feedback forms, surveys, and contact forms).
Adding forms to a website is not complicated. Most website builders, such as Wix, Shopify, and WordPress, have built-in form builders and plugins that you can use to create custom forms with multiple fields.
To add forms to your website, follow these basic steps:
- Select a form builder that matches your needs
- Add form fields such as text boxes, dropdown lists, and checkboxes
- Select the notification settings that enable you to receive form entry notifications
- Embed your form on your website pages
You can also use third-party solutions like Google Forms to create and embed a form on your website.
Adding E-Commerce Functionality
For businesses looking to sell products or services online, it’s essential to add e-commerce functionality to your website.
E-commerce functionality gives users a seamless buying experience, from shopping carts to payment processing and order management. In essence, you need to create a modern, user-friendly e-commerce store that provides customers with easy-to-use category navigation, detailed product pages, and intuitive checkout procedures.
Fortunately, implementing e-commerce functionality into your website is now easier, thanks to online platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and Magento. With these platforms, you can create a secure, scalable online store, manage your inventory, process payments securely, and track orders and shipping.
Here are the basic steps to add e-commerce functionality to your website:
- Choose an e-commerce platform that meets your business needs and set up your online shop
- Add product listings, including product details and images
- Integrate payment processing systems
- Set up shipping options
- Manage orders and inventory
- Embed the eCommerce plugin into your website
Adding a Blog
A blog is one of the most useful and popular functionalities businesses add to their websites.
Adding a blog can help you share important news and updates, establish thought leadership and expertise in your industry, and drive traffic to your website. If you’re using a website builder, adding a blog to your website is simple.
Most website builders like WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, and Shopify have a built-in blog feature that allows you to create and manage blog posts on your website.
Here are the simple steps to follow when creating a blog page:
- Choose the right builder that allows you to add a blog page
- Set up the blog page in the backend with your preferred layout and theme
- Start publishing blog posts with catchy titles, helpful content, and relevant tags
- Categorize your blog posts to make it easy for your visitors to find related content they may be interested in
Adding Social Media Integration
Social media integration is another functionality that’s essential for any website. It enables you to connect your website visitors to your social media pages.
It also allows visitors to easily share your content with their social networks and enables you to engage with your audience across different platforms. This increases your brand exposure and drives potential traffic to your website.
Most website builders provide social media widgets that enable you to add social media icons, content feeds, and sharing buttons to your website.
You can add widgets for social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn on your site’s sidebar, header, or footer and customize their look and feel to suit your preferences.
Launching Your Website
Previewing Your Website
Previewing your website is a vital step before launching it.
Previewing will help you check for errors and ensure the site looks and functions as intended. The preview mode on website builders also allows you to make changes and see how they look before going live.
Here’s how to preview your website on different website builders before going live:
- WordPress: To preview your website on WordPress, click the “Preview” button in the top-right corner of the editor window. You can then view your website in preview mode or click “Preview in New Tab” to view it on a different device or browser.
- Wix: On Wix, you can preview your website by clicking the “Preview” button at the top-right corner of the editor window. You can then view your website in preview mode or click “Preview as Viewer” to see what it looks like for your visitors.
- Squarespace: To preview your Squarespace website, click the “Preview” button at the top of the editor window. You can then view your website in preview mode or click “New Window” to view it on a different device or browser.
Once you’ve previewed your website and checked for errors, it’s time to test its functionality. Testing will ensure that all links, forms, and e-commerce features work properly.
Here are the steps to test your website’s functionality using different website builders:
- WordPress: To test your website’s functionality on WordPress, you can use plugins like Broken Link Checker to check if there are any broken links on your website.
You can also use testing tools like GTmetrix to test loading times and Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to make sure your website is mobile-responsive.
- Wix: On Wix, you can use the “Site Checker” feature to check for any broken links or errors on your website.
You can also use testing tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to test loading times and improve your website’s speed.
- Squarespace: Squarespace has built-in capabilities for testing your website’s functionality. The “Activity Log” can show you any problems on your website. Additionally, its e-commerce features have built-in error handling to help troubleshoot any emerging issues.
Testing your website’s functionality will ensure your visitors can use your website without encountering any trouble.
Publishing Your Website
The first step towards launching your website is publishing it, which means making it available to the public. This process involves connecting your domain name to your website builder, setting up hosting, and finally launching your website. If you’re using WordPress, here’s a step-by-step guide to publishing your website:
- Choose and register a domain name with a domain registrar like GoDaddy or Namecheap
- Set up hosting by selecting a hosting provider like Bluehost or HostGator
- Install WordPress on your hosting account
- Choose a theme for your website and customize it to your liking
- Create pages like Home, About, Contact, and Blog for your website
- Add content to your pages using a page builder like Elementor or Beaver Builder
- Install essential plugins like Yoast SEO, Contact Form 7, and Jetpack
- Launch your website by clicking on the “Publish” button
Promoting Your Website
Publishing your website is not the end of the game! Now you need to promote it heavily to increase visibility and drive traffic. Here are some tips and best practices for promoting your website and driving more traffic to it:
- Optimize your website for search engines: Use keywords, meta descriptions, alt tags, and other SEO techniques to optimize your website for search engines
- Use social media and email marketing: Share your website links on your social media accounts, and create engaging email campaigns to drive traffic to your website
- Invest in advertising and promotions: Paid advertising is an effective way to promote your website quickly. Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and other ad platforms offer targeting tools to reach your specific audience.
- Monitor your website analytics: Use Google Analytics or other website analytics tools to monitor your website traffic, user behavior, and engagement. You can then use this data to optimize your website and promotional strategies.
Since your website will be open to all kinds of people, you also need to work on web accessibility to make it accessible to even people with disabilities. Here are some accessibility tips for designers to help make your site more accessible:
Now you know it’s possible to create a website without breaking the bank. Creating a website is an involving process that requires careful planning and execution. Fortunately, there are several tools and resources you can leverage to create a fully functional website for free or with minimal cost.
And you don’t even need to write any code. With hosted solutions like WordPress, you can create your website fast using drag-and-drop website builders. Always consider your budget, ease of use, and customization capabilities before choosing a platform on which to build your site.
Find the best website builders today and start creating an online presence for your business or personal brand.
Next Steps: What Now?
Here are some practical steps to take from this guide:
- Learn about Reseller Hosting For Web Designers
- Learn how to convert your website from Wix to WordPress
- Get free hosting from the best free web hosting providers of 2023
- Get the best website builders of 2023 and start building your site right away
Further Reading – Useful Resources
Here are more useful resources to learn more about how to create a free website: