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How to create and host a simple website for $20 a year

Website developers and hosting platforms have come a long way over the last decade. It used to take in-depth coding knowledge to create a site. These days, all it takes is a quick internet search and the right platform.

There are tons of easy DIY website options to choose from, and most make it simple to create and publish a site in just a few hours. As you know, though, not all of these products are created equally. Not all fall into the same price bracket, either.

If you aren’t careful, it can cost a hefty sum to access the right tools for building and hosting your website. There is a way to create and host a simple website for just $20 a year, though. Let’s take a look at what it is, how it works and whether it’s the right fit for your needs.

Related: 10 simple tips for building a better website

Can you create a simple website for cheap? Sure can!

Have you heard of Carrd? This website hosting and developing service is pretty new to the mix, but it’s quickly becoming the prime choice of small business owners or hobby website builders. Part of the popularity is due to its low cost. Carrd will only run you about $20 a year or so to use.

It’s also really easy to use. Carrd was created to be a simple way to build and host one-page websites that can be used for basic business or personal needs. This service makes it easy to build a basic site from scratch, and there are ready-to-use templates that you can choose from, too.

Template options range from basic profiles to forms and landing pages or portfolios. Some templates allow you to create sectioned breaks on your site if the one-page format isn’t the right fit for your needs.

These templates can be used to build things like writer or photographer work portfolios or basic landing pages for a business website when you want a web presence. They’re modern and sleek but are best for people who don’t need to offer much website functionality.

The user interface is easy to learn and navigate, thanks to the builder’s drag and drop functionality. It’s easy to add and move content blocks and buttons across the site, and the user guide isn’t difficult to follow either.

Everything is clearly labeled, so there’s no guesswork involved. A novice could easily conquer a website with Carrd. You can even add some cool features, like content animation, to the mix. 

Can you sense a theme? Simple is the name of the game with Carrd across the board. It’s popular because of its simplistic design and low price point, but simple isn’t always ideal.

Related: 4 sites to check out if you want to start a blog

There are a few downsides to Carrd

Carrd is really limited in the features it offers, so it’s best for small business owners and others who want to build basic, functional websites without much work.

That $20 price tag is inexpensive compared to other options out there, but you get what you pay for with this service. While you can add buttons to social media or email (or even PDF downloads), you can’t do much else. This Carrd website builder will not let you build a fully functional e-commerce site for $20 a year. You can only create one-page websites with it.

The freedom to design a website is also severely limited. You’ll have to choose from the templates this service offers — and template options are severely limited compared to ones you can choose with Squarespace or Webflow. You can modify templates to make them your own during the building process, but features you can integrate into the site are limited.

How does it compare to the competition?

There really isn’t much comparison to other website builder platforms. Sites like Wix or Squarespace offer much more customization while still being easy to use.

You’ll pay about $13+ each month for a Wix site. Squarespace’s pricing tiers are similar to Wix, while Carrd is only $20 per year. There are also some free options with Carrd, so you may not have to pay anything out of pocket to build a basic website with this service.

You’ll get a ton of upgraded features in return for those monthly charges with the competition, though. You can build pretty much anything you desire with Wix or Squarespace, and the templates make it simple for even beginners to conquer. Even e-commerce sites are easy to build with either of those services.

WordPress is another option. Plans start at less than $5 per month with WordPress, and while that’s cheaper than Wix or Squarespace, it’s still significantly more than you’ll pay per year with Carrd.

However, WordPress is another completely customizable service that offers templates and other integrative features that are easy to use, even if you aren’t comfortable with web design. Many blogs and websites use WordPress — and it’s easy for businesses to build fully customized websites with WordPress, too.

You have the option to add on services like Google Analytics with the pro version of Carrd, but it will cost you — making this affordable service comparable in price to other more capable platforms.

Final thoughts

Carrd is easy to use, but the features and capabilities are so limited in the free or low-cost versions that it won’t work if you want a more detailed website. You won’t be able to build a fully functioning e-commerce site or even a website with multiple pages if you’re using Carrd, which makes this website builder and host pale compared to the competition.

Ultimately, the real standout feature with Carrd is the price. If you’re on a limited budget and can make do with a basic, one-page site, Carrd could be the answer you’re looking for. You can start with the 7-day trial Carrd offers. That will give you a good idea of whether this basic web builder and host is a good fit.

Chances are good, though, that you’ll need more features and capabilities than what Carrd offers. If that’s the case, there are plenty of other affordable options out there to choose from.

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