Pros and Cons of Free Website Building services
Monday, October 31, 2016
So you are finally ready to start building a website for your business! There is a plethora of website building services available on the web that you can use. Like most, you are searching around for the best deal and are starting to notice ones that are offering free services. You are intrigued! They look simple enough — and if you are like the vast majority of people out there who are not web designers by trade — you might think that what they offer is pretty attractive.
But as it is with many things in life, free is never free.
Free Website Building Services Are Never Really Free
Yes, almost all website building services offer free plans and that is not to say you should not use them. Many of the best ones on the market offer free plans as a starter. Pretty much all website building services, in general, offer a free plan in order to acquire new business. It is a great marketing strategy for them. It works, and drives millions of signups. After all, who would not want something for free?
The problem with most free website building services is that while they are a great starting place, they are typically inadequate for fully building out a professional website.
In most cases, you will sign up and invest a lot of time and effort building your free site, only to find the result to be inadequate. At this point, you will either have to upgrade or switch to a new service and repeat the process all over again. Either way, you have caused yourself a lot of undue frustration, and wasted your valuable time.
In reality, a business cannot — should not — offer you a service for completely free. Everyone needs compensation for offering a service. Free is never free and here are some reasons why:
Limitations of Free Website Building Services
Limited number of pages
Many free website building services typically limit the number of pages you are allowed to create. For example, they may allow you to publish up to five pages per website. Most sites will need more pages and in order to expand your content, you will be required to upgrade to a paid plan.
No domain name
Free plans often do not allow you to use your own URL. They will assign you a free URL to use which consists of your business name plus their own URL. For example, instead of dsweldingfabrication.com, you will be stuck with dsweldingfabrication.wix.com — not very professional.
They own your domain name
Some free plans offer your own domain name as part of the free package; however, if you ever decide to leave them and want your domain name, you will have to pay for it, as they own it, not you, which could be hundreds of dollars — not really free is it?
Almost always, free building services require their branding to be displayed on your web pages, either in the body of the page or in the header or footer. For example, Wix’s free plans come with branded badges that aim to direct users away from your site to purchase their own builder plan — again, unprofessional.
This is another big one. Many free website building services will require ad placements on your site. This is how they justify the free-ness of their offer. You pay nothing, and they get to serve their ads to your people. Some may even go so far as to inject affiliate links onto your page. You may be getting something for free, but it is taking you down a notch in the eyes of your potential clientele. You may even lose a lot of people along the way who click on these ads, just because you thought you could save a few bucks.
Both free and paid building services will limit your allocation of bandwidth and storage, but with free building services you are given much less. You may only have a couple megabytes of storage to use, which will severely limit you in terms of content and prevent you from hosting high quality images or other media.
How is Davenport Website Designs different? DWD does not limit your bandwidth or storage space with any of our packages.
Limited or no customer support
You might not even get any customer support at all with a free building services (which is understandable — after all, it is free), so if your site is having issues, you are on your own.
Free building services limit the variety of nifty features that you might find useful or want to have. These might include an SSL certificate, access to an online store (ecommerce), website analytics, and domain-based email accounts, or it may be as basic as not being able to use the fonts you like or being stuck with a site template that you do not like. Frustrating, either way.
How is Davenport Website Designs different? All DWD's packages are never limited to additions, but like all services, there are additional costs to ad certain features.
Remember: You get what you pay for.
Now that you know what the limitations are on free, it should be easy to understand why the value just is not there as a long-term solution. Free website building service plans are great for trying out different site builders and getting the hang of how they work. Once you have found one you like, you can upgrade to unlock all the features you will need to fully build out a professional site.
Website building services are complicated and sophisticated tools. They undoubtedly took a lot of time and resources for the company to create and manage, so it is understandable that these free building services are limited. It is rather unfair to expect a company to provide a complex service, for free.
Is your website presence worth skimping where it counts?
Is trying to save a dollar worth losing hundreds of those dollars over time? Not to mention TIME.
Designing, maintaining, and staying on top of a website either for your business, organization, or personal takes knowledge, skill, and TIME. You might think learning HTML, CSS, PHP, JS might be fun to learn, and it is, but to take it seriously and operate a professional website, or websites, takes TIME, not too mention how to market it and keep it on the front page of organic searches with SEO, Branding, and making it Mobile, add to the complications, difficulties, and time management.
A professional, well marketed, and maintained site does not happen by luck, accident, or on its own. It takes time — a lot of time that you may not have or be able to commit to provide your website a chance to succeed. When your website succeeds, you succeed.
A Website is a tool you should not over look.
Your company, that is successful, offers top quality products, services, and support. You do not skimp on your goods or services to clients, this also applies to the tools you use. Do you buy the cheapest tools to get the job done? No. You choose wisely and buy the best to guarantee you can get the job done, on time, and that will last. So why choose the cheapest, or lacking in features, website service to run your online marketing?
It is unrealistic when you want a website, but do not spend any money on it, or TIME. If you have a budget, even a small one, you should find a service that you trust to move your company's, organisation's, or personal website forward into today's ever changing marketing lanscape — you should not have to think twice about increasing your business's success.
How Much Should You Pay?
Hiring a professional web designer could cost thousands. Doing it yourself will cost significantly less, but
1) You are not a web designer.
2) you will need to allocate enough TIME to get the job done.
Davenport Website Designs will design, maintain, host, and operate your website, and online marketing strategy, better than those high priced places because we offer very competitive and inexpensive pricing to propel your business into the future — we know what it takes to run a website and although there is allot of work behind it, it should not cost $6,800.00 to do what we can for $1,200.00 (yes, this is a real case from a new client that came to us because of the high price)
It is true, website building services can be more expensive than hand-coding it yourself, but keep in mind these are complex, feature-rich tools that provide an all-in-one service and hosting platform. Aside from their monthly or yearly subscription fees, you will not likely need to pay much more than their nominal fee to get your site up and running. Just pick a template, customize it with your branding and away you go.
Depending on the plan you choose, a website builder can cost anywhere from $10/month to $20 or more. Options such as eCommerce, email hosting, and bandwidth, are some of the things that might drive your cost up. Davenport Website Designs' plans are especially affordable.
The most important thing is not to take your online marketing for granted. Free and cheap where you have to do it, or a little more and let a professional handle it, it is going to take time and money. And as a new business owner, you are realizing what a precious commodity those two things are.
Hopefully, this article has given you a little insight as to the potential pitfalls of free website building services. Sure, they might be great for your personal page or for that cutie dancing bird blog you have been thinking about starting, but if you are serious about what you do, you probably want to appropriately convey that to your customers. Ultimately, you want to look professional, and building your site with a free website building service is just not going to get you there.
If having full control over your online presence and marketing is not important to you and you feel confident that a website building service is what you need, and you can commit the time to maintain it daily, pay the money and bypass the ‘free’ options and sign up for a premium builder.
Please take the time to do it right; we are always disappointed and saddened with lack-luster websites, that miss the mark by a mile. It just clutters up the internet with bad designs, bad ideas, and bad implementation and planning. We wish you well on your online marketing journey.