We see it all the time, either a customer has used a free website builder or has gotten a super good deal from a "web designer" and they don't understand why the site isn't working for them. Or even worse, the site is half built but they can no longer get in touch with the original designer or the free website company no longer answers their emails. From our own personal experience, we know that this is a very strange, complex and daunting world for the average business owner. That's why we've started developing the Skyview Electronics Web Design Service.
Why to avoid free/cheap website builders
“Why are your sites so expensive when I can just get a free website through ____”.
The answer is simple – you get what you pay for. Websites are complex and very important marketing tools. While free sites might be great for personal sites or small home business sites, they are not generally a good choice for most businesses and here is why:
1. Website Design
Website builders have a limited amount of templates, and what looks best on that platform might have been chosen by thousands of other people.
Your website in many cases is the first point of contact between you and a potential client. In short, your website is a big deal! It makes sense to spend money to make sure that you look professional and showcases the advantages you have over your competition.
Hiring a designer means you get more than just a unique and pretty design. Professional designers know how organize a site in a logical way for your users, as well, they ensure that your site is built in a way that site that search engines will love.
By using a free or cheap website builder you are putting a lot of faith into a proprietary solution. These sites can at any time change their terms of service, go out of business, and/or phase out support for certain templates and themes. Leaving you stuck with a dysfunctional site. By choosing one of these solutions, you can never move your website to another hosting company or platform without re-building your site from scratch. Another issue you may consider is support. Many of these platforms have very limited or non-existent support.
A good web designer/developer will use programs like Drupal, Wordpress, or Joomla to develop your site. These programs can not only be moved from one host to another, but there is such a large world-wide community of designers and developers, you will never be stuck if you have any website issues.
3. Limited Functionality
Hosted do-it-yourself website solutions often limit your ability to extend your websites functionality. Your website should have the flexibility to interact with any new social media channel that comes along. You simply cannot do that with most of these types of sites.
4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Using a free website builder such as Wix, GoDaddy’s Website Builder, Jimdo or Zenfolio provide only one true benefit to businesses on a budget – it’s free. The problem is that this will actually end up costing a business more in lost revenue due to weak search engine optimization.
Generally what you get with a free website provided by a hosting company is this:
- Only people who have been made aware of your sites actual domain will find your site
- Very few will find your site “organically” using any search engine – unless of course they type in your company name directly.
Many of these platforms are very limited on how much you can optimize the on-page SEO. While in theory, you should be able to rank one of these types of sites at the top of Google, It is rare to see these sites prominently ranked. Having a supplied domain name like mysite.wix.com instead of mysite.com is one of the many issues that arises.
It’s also important to note that there are still some website builders out there using Flash. Flash (although really neat and cool) is not at all search engine friendly, not only that, but it is also unfriendly for any apple brand mobile devices, which severely limits your audience.
5. Free doesn’t necessarily mean “Free”
These web hosting companies need to make revenue from their free sites somehow. Very often this means either you will have to start paying for your site after a period of time, or you will need to deal with annoying ads or banners being placed on your website.
Don’t hire a web designer based on price
“My friend’s son says he’ll design me a website for $400!”
If it sounds too good to be true, it is – especially when it comes to web design. “Designers” that are low priced are not normally competent designers and at a $400 price, you can be assured that this person is not making a living designing websites – and that’s a red flag!
Before hiring a designer, do your research! An amateur / bad designer can do more damage to your business then you may realize. You are better off postponing the building of the website until you can afford a professional. There is a long list of reasons how an inadequate designer can give you headaches. Designing and implementing websites is very complicated, you need to hire someone you can depend on.
What really matters in a website:
Before you build a site, research needs to be done to choose exactly what the subject of each major page should be. It’s important to identify terms that people ACTUALLY USE and LOOK FOR online, and ones that aren’t overly competitive to ensure that you will be ranked.
Fundamentals of Marketing
Any website should be built with the clear knowledge of who it’s audience is, what they want, what we want them to do when they come to the site, and how to persuade them to do it. No free service can do that.
You have to get people to see your site. Letting visitors add your pages to social networks like Twitter and Facebook can help. But if you’re going to compete in the search results for any term worth having, you’ll need other sites to link to you. Again, this is link building that must be done by people.
You may think that you won’t have very many customers viewing your site on mobile phones, but you’d be surprised! Even sites that are targeting seniors have a percentage of mobile users. Mobile friendliness can no longer be ignored as Search Engines are now starting to down rank websites that are not mobile friendly as search engines are now starting to down rank websites that are not mobile friendly.
The New Canadian Disability Accessibility Laws
Do you know about the new laws concerning Canadian websites? Websites in Canada need to be built in such a way that they conform to the new accessibility legislation for disabled persons. If your website building program is from the US – it is likely that it won’t conform to these new rules.
When you should use a website builder or free website.
Don’t get me wrong, free websites and website builders have their place. If you have a small budget and you're doing a personal website or a very small business like a home business, you may consider using a free builder to keep your costs down. Just remember that they are far from a perfect solution, and be wary of their limitations.
If you are looking for help recovering your site from a previous designer or free program, or if you're looking for a re-design or new website, contact Skyview Electronics at 905-655-3661 or drop by for a free assessment and quote.