We had a client ask us “ With all of the free website builders out there, why can’t we just use one of those?” The notion of using Wix, Weebly or Squarespace may initially seem like a good idea from a financial perspective because who doesn’t like free or almost free….right ? At first glance it seems like a pretty good idea. The interface is pretty intuitive, it has drag and drop functionality and you can build and publish a website in short order. Let’s take a deeper dive and explore why you shouldn’t be using a free platform for your website.
1) SEO Limitations.
Given what we do as a company, you kind of figured this would be our first talking point no? The free builders typically have a section to “activate SEO” or “enable SEO” in their interface. SEO is a complex space and involves much more than just typing a few keywords and off you go. In order to succeed and make any traction in SEO you need to have the ability to custom craft keywords and target your niche on each of the individual pages of the site. The one size fits all approach of the free site builders and the lack of customization puts your website at a disadvantage right out of the gate.
Finally, you are going to have to have some exceptionally well-crafted content to separate yourself out from everyone else in your niche that has a similar Weebly to your company. Google likes and reward unique content. By the very nature of this templated approach, with no differentiation you have another strike against your site and you’ve barely even gotten started.
2) Customer Service
This is one of the biggest sticking points for us, We set up a test site using one of these free builders and intentionally broke some things on the site. The take away is this, if you are using a free builder for your main company site and God forbid something goes wrong you don’t have many options to get your problem solved in a timely manner.
Your choices are :
1) Sending an email and hoping that it gets answered.
2) Digging through a knowledge base and trying to find someone else who has experienced something close to your issue.
3) Googling the answer, and again trying to sort through the results to find one that matches up with the problem you are having.
Doesn’t sound fun does it …especially with your companies brand and image on the line.
Do you really want to wade through all of this to find the answer to your problem?
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For all of the above reasons we use a local hosting company, When we have an issue with one of our sites, we pick up the phone and have a conversation with someone who knows our sites and knows how to fix them. It’s not unusual to have our problem fixed on the fly with our local host. Sounds much less stressful doesn’t it ?
3) Limited Design Options.
It takes years to become a good web designer and understand all the layers involved in what makes a good website. Mobile compatibly, usability, navigation, load time, user experience, site hierarchy and site structure …just to name a few, all matter to the overall effectiveness of your website. Websites are more than just how they look. And again, if your site looks like a cookie cutter template that 1000 other sites are using how are you going to stand out from the crowd?
4) No other option.
If you decide down the road that you no longer want to use Wix or Weebly etc and you want to move your website to another hosting option, you’re stuck. No seriously, you are pretty much hosed when it comes to transferring all the hard work you put into your site to another host. We have helped numerous businesses transition off of these free platforms and its challenging.
5) Brand and reputational concerns.
This is all about perception and as we all know, perception very quickly becomes reality. Imagine you are searching for a high end kitchen remodeling service and you land on a page that is built on a free website platform. You’ll know you’re on one of these sites because you’ll see the ads on the page inviting you to “Try it for Free”
Our initial thought is this “If this company chose not to spend money on a quality, professional website, then what does that say about the quality of the work they are going to do on my kitchen?”
Sure your company does quality work, but decisions happen in a matter of seconds on the internet. Personally, we have already clicked off of this site and gone on to your competitors website. It’s a harsh reality, but your free website is actually costing you money.,
On the surface, the value of hiring a professional web designer may not make sense given it’s something you “can” do yourself.
We offer this up for consideration:
If your transmission breaks in your car, do you fix it yourself? Nope. You find a mechanic.
A mechanic has the tools, expertise and experience to fix it and fix it the first time.
As a business owner, you realize that there are necessary costs involved in running your business. You pay for computers, phone service, advertising etc. Yet, we still see many business owners trying to save money by using a free website platform. In the long run, your free website may actually be costing you money and be a source of lost business opportunities.
If you already have a decent website you may just need some basic tweaks.
For a free website analysis Reach out and talk with us.