You gain the most web-building functionality if you create a self-hosted site. This typically involves transfering the free WordPress CMS to server or signing up for a web host's optimized WordPress plan. With an optimized plan, the host automatically handles backend stuff, so you don't have to worry about updating the plug-ins and CMS, and enabling automatic backups. In these instances, the WordPress environment typically comes pre-installed on the server.
PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): InMotion Hosting, long known for affordable and high-performance shared hosting options, entered the WordPress space with a solid option built upon the company's reputation for great support and reliability. Costing a small premium over other budget-minded options, InMotion does include some nice features to help justify that cost difference. Go to full review »
Weebly has a similar ‘drag-and-drop’ editor to Wix, which is extremely user-friendly. Combine this ease of use with its great SEO tools, plus lots of room for growth to scale your website, and Weebly stands out as the best free website builder for small businesses. It achieved the best features score of any builder we’ve tested (4.2/5). If you’re in the US, you can even sell from your free Weebly site, although you’ll pay a 3% transaction fee on each sale.
Hosting that is aimed at specific CMS platforms and tweaked optimally for them: e.g., WordPress hosting, Drupal hosting, Magento hosting, etc. In these cases, the best hosts do far more than just provide the minimal requirements for those platforms. They provide a rich, and fully managed environment so your site can perform like a well-tuned machine.
The best web hosts on the market include these web builders in their service offerings. Some include popular existing site builders like Weebly, while other hosting teams have engineered their own platforms for website design and development. For example, 1&1 has 1&1 MyWebsite, and InMotion’s BoldGrid sits atop WordPress for a more intuitive experience, whether you’re building your first site or your fourteenth.
Hi Mark, I'm sorry to hear you're unhappy with the free plans! However, I like to think we make it clear about the downsides to free plans, so that our readers know fully what to expect - from advertising to clunky domains. These plans are free in the sense you truly don't have to pay anything, but you're right in thinking they come at a different price - professionalism! It's why we always suggest starting out on the free plan, but upgrading when you want to share your site with others. Can I direct you to our Best Cheap Website Builders review instead? It might be more in-line with the sort of service you're looking for. I hope this has helped! Best, Lucy