I remember, many years ago, when I wanted to build my own website. What I did was check the “view source” on websites that I liked and tried to get a rudimentary understanding of the HTML elements. I would copy and paste the sections that I needed and fumble my way through the code until I ended up with something that seemed to work. It was crude, it was ugly, but I guess it worked.

Thankfully, the process for building your own custom website is far easier today, because you don’t need to touch or even see a single line of code. If you use the free website builder from Wix, for example, your experience is completely within the browser and everything you need to do is through a visual editor. And yes, you get started with some pretty great looking templates too.

What Is Wix?

You may have encountered other content management systems and visual site builders, but there are few out there that have as robust a feature set as that being offered by Wix.

Wix Landing Page

You start out with a free website builder that comes with a huge set of tools. The website builder itself is drag-and-drop, so all you have to do is put the image exactly where you want it and that’s how it will render on your website. The web hosting is included and there is a unique Wix App Market to further expand the functionality of your site.

Many of these apps are also free, making it easy for you to integrate an online store, for example. There are also apps for building forms, offering coupons, adding rating widgets, including live chat, and embedding a variety of social media buttons like Google+, Pinterest and Facebook.

Drag-and-Drop Visual Editor

Here is an example site that you can build using the Wix system.

Wix Design Samples

It’s a clean and simple design, but you can see how something like this would be very attractive for a chic new website. Again, remembering that the website editor is visual, if you wanted to rearrange the elements in the top toolbar, all you have to do is drag and drop them. The visual editor also makes it easy to add images, change fonts, and so on.

While you can certainly use your own pictures and logos on the site, Wix also has a fairly large library of free stock images that you can use too. This is a great way to get started with a professional, custom design for your website. The included grid hosting and e-commerce support are definite positives too.

Variety of Starter Designs

Even if you get a drag-and-drop interface, it can be extremely challenging to start from scratch. That’s why Wix has hundreds of templates for you to use, ranging from those geared toward computing and technology to those geared toward retail and fashion.

Wix Design Templates

These are just the starter templates, but you can obviously tweak and customize them however you like. The sample page is a good place to get some inspiration, as you get a great sense of what other Wix customers have done with their websites. If you want help, Wix Pro designers are also available for hire.

Is It Really Free?

All of the core features from Wix are indeed free. You get access to the browser-based visual editor and you can use the library of templates and stock images. You also get grid hosting, online support, blogging support and more. However, the free plan does have some limitations. For instance, you cannot use your own personalized domain with the free plan; you only get a Wix subdomain.

In order to use your own domain, you need to upgrade to a premium plan, which starts at about $5 per month. When you do that, you also eliminate the Wix branding from your website. The good news is that you can give Wix a try for free to see if you like it before signing up for one of these premium plans. If you’re looking for a powerful but easily approachable way to get a custom designed website, Wix is an option worth considering.