As a website creator, you might feel a bit overwhelmed with all the steps you need to take in order to bring your vision to life. From how to create a website to what colors and fonts you can use, from where to source images to what platforms are available to you, we’ve compiled a list to get you from ideation to creation in no time.
Here’s our list of 54 free or cheap tools to make a custom website. These aren’t in any particular order and we admit, some will be better than others depending on your needs. There are a lot of tools out there so use these as a jumping-off point. Enjoy, and best of luck!
Get a Domain Name
Hover… duh. You want to own your domain name yourself, not tie it to any one service or platform. With Hover, you register your domain, then use it with any services you want. This gives you the flexibility to move without the hassle of moving your domain name.
Create a Website
Website builders help—yep—build your website from scratch. They offer the templates and tools to help make it happen. Here are some of our favorites:
Wix – A well-known, free drag-and-drop website builder. Premium features cost extra, starting at $5/month for basic upgrades up to $29 per month for sites requiring massive storage, video capability, logo design and removal of all Wix ads.
Webflow – Build your website with +100 customizable templates. Webflow makes things simple with automatic updates, customized SEO capability, on-page editing and more. All the personalization you would want without any coding required on your part.
Squarespace – Another popular and powerful drag-and-drop website builder with many sleek customizable themes and a free logo maker. Plans start at $12/mo for basic and climb up to $40 per month for full use of a slew of e-commerce and marketing tools.
Weebly – A free drag-and-drop builder that includes a shopping cart, SEO, as well as chat and email support. Optional premium features start from $7 up to $30 a month for unlimited storage, more commerce and security features as well as priority support.
Pixpa – Portfolio website builder with integrated client galleries, blogs, eCommerce store and 24/7 support. Prices start from $7 per month and go up to $16 per month for unlimited pages, inventory management and advanced mailing lists.
Pixieset – This builder offers free and subscription-based memberships up to $40 per month with a focus on image-based templates. Membership tiers seem to rely primarily on storage space.
Design Your Website
These tools can help you figure out how to truly customize your website if you forgo templates and like to code.
Color wheels help you figure out what color combinations work best for your aesthetic.
Adobe Color – An advanced color wheel with many options and moving parts to help you create the perfect color palette.
Paletton – Another color wheel with a very simple interface.
Coolors – Your spacebar will generate random colors and you can lock them in or remove them while pressing the spacebar to generate more to compliment your choices. You can also use the Coolers for iOS app.
Colourcode – Rather than dragging points around a wheel, simply move your mouse across the screen to generate colors and the side menu to add options. Also free.
COLOURlovers – While it appears a bit basic, this free community-generated collection has great color schemes, patterns and unique images.
Create a website as unique as you are with a variety of fonts to show off your personality or brand. Here are some tools to help:
Font Squirrel – An extensive collection of free hand-picked high-quality fonts.
MyFonts – If you’ve seen a font you like but don’t know its name, upload a screenshot of it and let the site find it, or a similar one, for you using their What The Font! search box.
Google Fonts – Discover and fine-tune highly customized fonts and easily integrate them into your site. Simply type in your word or sentence and see it in any of the 999 fonts available—all for free.
Typetester – An excellent tool to compare fonts side-by-side so you can design fonts, narrow down options or test which fonts go well together.
Stock Images and Vectors
Images and icons to make your website stand out:
Pixabay – An extensive (boasting over 1.8 million) collection of free and royalty-free stock images, vectors, illustrations and videos.
NounProject – Community-generated vector icons, free with attribution to the artist or $1 without attribution. Over 1 million icons are available with new icons added daily. The paid option allows for royalty-free icons.
Photo Pin – Search through images via Flickr API that are approved for repurposing (with attribution to the author). See their FAQ to find out about licensing and permissions before you download to make sure you understand how attribution works!
Findicons – A large collection (+500,000) of free icons and illustrations as well as a free icon converter to convert your icon to any format you need.
Nappy – Still growing, this is a free collection of aesthetically pleasing hi-res images, featuring people of color.
Pexels – Beautiful, modern, on-trend images provided for free with attribution to the photographer. All images can be downloaded in various sizes to suit your needs.
Unsplash – Last but definitely not least, this site features high quality, editorial images from a world-wide photographer community, contributing to over 1 million photos for your branding needs. Images can be downloaded in different sizes and credit to the photographer is encouraged.
Photoshop/Lightroom – The gold standard in image editing used by top professionals, now has a new price point of $9.99 per month as part of Adobe Creative Cloud, making it slightly more accessible to new users than before.
GIMP – A completely free, open-source editor and popular alternative to Photoshop, compatible with Mac, Windows and Linux.
Pixlr – A free browser-based alternative to software image editors. For $3.99 a month, users can upgrade to more features (3,000 overlays, plus stickers and texts) and for $14.99 per month, users can experience zero ads, more features (over 28,000 overlays!) as well as 24/7 support.
Canva – A browser-based drag-and-drop image editor created for non-designers. Select layouts, background images and add text to create impressive images and loop videos. Upload your own images, use the free ones included or purchase premium images for a small fee.
BeFunky – An easy-to-use browser-based photo editor that can also be used to make collages and create templates for marketing materials. Get it free if you don’t mind ads or pay a subscription to go ad-free.
Content for Your Website
If you’re creating a website, we’re going to assume you might want to add content to it. Get started with these tools:
Tumblr – The standard for microblogging allows you to quickly share images, audio, video, text and anything else you can think of with your audience. It’s also free.
Svbtle – A stripped-down interface lets you focus on writing instead of overwhelming you with a ton of widgets, menus and other distractions. This one will set you back $6 a month.
Ghost – Another distraction-free blogging platform, Ghost has a great side-by-side view of your writing and a preview of the final product. Free if hosting on your own or paid plans starting at $29 per month, which include plugins for memberships, subscriptions, newsletters and security.
Posthaven – Making things all the simpler, Posthaven is unique in that it lets you post to your blog by sending an email. Simply write your content, add attachments and send. Even simpler is its pricing—just $5 per month.
Postach.io – Easily post articles from other apps you’re already using, including Dropbox, Evernote and Pocket. Free or $5 per month for additional features like multiple sites, password-protected sites and multiple authors. Bonus points for using a domain hack.
Reformed – A free bare-bones form editor that’ll populate whatever elements you’d like and generate the HTML. You’ll need to know a bit of HTML to further customize the form, and it’ll be up to you to collect and manage entries.
Google Forms – Just like most things Google, Google Forms is a feature-packed form creator available completely free of charge. Create polls, collect email addresses, pop quizzes and more with a super-simple interface.
pForm – A quick and free tool to create HTML forms. Select a style, elements to include and then download the HTML. Add more features using MachForm to include automatically sending results to your email, auto-responder emails, file uploads and PayPal payments for $15 a month.
Wufoo – Use their templates or simply click what elements you’d like to include in your form and customize to your heart’s content. Integrates with Twitter, MailChimp, WordPress and offers reporting and analysis tools. Free for one user with three forms, three reports and 10 fields. Paid plans start at around $14 per month.
JotForm – A feature-packed editor that’ll let you design highly customized forms and even host them for you. Free with 100 monthly submissions. Paid plans start at $9.95 a month to include more submissions, payments, storage and sub-user accounts.
Zoho – A drag-and-drop editor that makes designing forms a breeze. Zoho will also collect and manage form submissions. Available for free or paid plans starting at $8 per month for more records, storage, custom branding and other features.
Disqus – Add a beautiful commenting section to any section of your site. Disqus lets visitors discover other great content from your site that are sparking discussions and allows you to set notifications and monitor engagement. It’s easy to use and best of all, free.
IntenseDebate – A free commenting platform brought to you by the people behind WordPress, PollDaddy and Akismet. Features include the ability to tweet a comment, auto-delete or auto-filter comments, get email notifications and keep spam comments at bay.
MailChimp – A feature-packed service that’ll let you create beautiful emails and surveys, organize subscribers into different lists, use A/B testing, analyze the success of your campaigns and many other features. Beyond 2000 subscribers, upgrade to a monthly account for as little as $9.99 or buy credits to pay per send.
Campaign Monitor – A great drag-and-drop email creator with meaningful analytics and social media integrations. Plans start at $9 monthly.
AWeber – A full-featured platform with a drag-and-drop editor, subscriber segmenting, analytics, and even RSS-to-email to automatically keep people in the loop. Free if you have under 500 subscribers.
Web Analytic Tools
After you create a website, you’ll need to monitor site activity. Here are the tools to help you do it:
Google Analytics – Google’s free tool will allow you to learn everything there is to know about the success of your website such as where visitors spent the most time, where they left and where they came from to help you optimize your site based on visitor behavior.
Matomo Analytics – An open-source web analytics platform that promises to protect your data and privacy, giving the user 100 percent ownership. This one provides great insight into what’s working (and, more importantly, what isn’t) and is free if you host it yourself. Otherwise, prices depend on page traffic, starting at $29 a month for 50K page views.
Ubersuggest – A free analytics tool to help with keyword identification, content ideation and increasing traffic flow. Pricing packages start at $29 per month and include training videos, templates, tracking and heaps of customer support. Sign up for the newsletter to receive free expert advice.
Crazy Egg – See how visitors interact with your website with heatmaps of where people clicked and have a bird’s eye view of where people engage with your website and where they trail off. Use that information and edit your website to increase engagement, traffic or conversions. Plans start at $9 per month.
Open Web Analytics – A completely free and open-source web analytics platform that includes heatmaps, geo-location, and search term tracking to understand visitors, their journey and navigation on your site. Best of all, there’s no upselling—the service relies entirely on donations from its users.
Google Alerts – A free and simple tool that will send you a notification whenever you’re mentioned on the web—by name, your brand or company name or whatever keyword you choose.
BuzzSumo – See where you’ve been mentioned or how many times articles have been shared on different social networks. Check out what related content is trending or what questions people are asking online. This tool is free for top results. Paid plans with full results, multiple users, alerts, content analysis and more start at $99 a month.
Hootsuite – A great all-in-one social media management platform, Hootsuite allows you to set up a custom dashboard so you never miss a mention and grow your online presence. You should be able to get all you’ll need out of the free plan but if not, the first tier package starts at $29 per month.
Sprout Social – Streamline your social media and understand your followers. Much like Hootsuite, this tool collects a lot of data to analyze engagement and following in addition to helping you organize your workflow. Sprout Social will set you back $99 each month to schedule your posts, emails and manage your social media calendar.