You get what you pay for...
Nothing is ever free. There is a huge surge in free websites being offered by many companies. However things have changed since its early days back in 1994 when Geocities publicized the idea. Don’t get me wrong, there are good things with free websites, but there are also things you may not realize that aren’t so great.
The “Good” Lets look at some of the good things about free websites. First off, they are FREE. With a free website, there are no initial start up costs, or expenses. Theses expenses can include:
- Purchasing & registering a domain name (the name people type to see your business on the web)
- No hosting fees (the server that your website is saved and stored).
- Knowing how to write html code (the programming language for the web).
- No need to purchase specific software to build a website (like Adobe Dreamweaver).
- Ease of use. Simple point and click features.
These are all great things for new, or small business owners. But there are a lot of things that you need to take into consideration when using free website software. Always, read the terms and conditions! But trust us on this one, there are a few key things that you may not realize, and these companies will not often address it in BIG BOLD LETTERS.
Here are some of the items to note, and look out for when using free website software:
- You are given limited selection options, or choices. You are going to be limited to the amount of free layout designs, colors, fonts, and image sizes. Remember, in most cases these free web development sites are only going to give you the very basics. This can seriously hinder your creative vision as to how you want to promote your product or business. They do however give you the option to “upgrade for an additional charge” (No longer a free website).
- You’re not in complete control. Let’s say we, JDTWebpro builds a free website from www.ABCwebbuild.com, our company name would be what the industry refers to as a “sub-domain”. This means that we technically don’t own the website name. When people see our website name it would appear as, www.JDTWebpro.ABCwebbuid.com. Not only does this not look as professional, it opens up the opportunity for the potential client to misspell your website address.
- You are subject to storage and bandwidth limitations. If you have followed JDT at all, you will notice that we tell all our clients content, content, content. It is critical that your website have quality, interesting content. Many free website building sites limit the amount of disk space, or storage that you are allowed to have for free. This will limit your website, and bandwidth limitations will also affect the amount of traffic (visitors to your site) you can have in any given month. This may not be a huge concern in the early stages, but if your business does well, this may hurt you when trying to expand. But never fear… you can “upgrade for an additional charge”(again… no longer a free website).
- You are limited to the amount of pages you can create. This too might not be so bad in the beginning, but as your business expands in the future, this may have a negative impact on your growth, and your wallet, because as you know, you can “upgrade for an additional charge”.
If you feel that these negative possibilities will not impact your business that much, that’s fine. However, earlier in this article we told you to read all the fine print. Here are some more factors to think about that can be found in the fine print:
The “You didn’t tell me that part…”
This is where you definitely want to be careful when choosing a free website:
- Not ad free. In some instances, many companies offering the free website reserves the right to put their own ads, and in some cases, other companies and even competitors ads on your site. Remember, you don’t “own” that website; you are simply the “sub-domain”. But again… you can “upgrade for an additional charge”(Do we see a pattern here?)
- No longer “supporting this template.” At the very beginning, a few things could possibly happen:
1) The company that is giving you the free template has decided to discontinue offering updates to the template. These updates help keep the website current, and readable to website browsers when the browsers upgrade themselves.
2) The company decides to remove it from the free section into the “paid members only section”. Now, in order to keep “your” website you must pay for the template you are using that was once free. If you decline, you must look to move your website somewhere else (start all over).
This can have a hugely negative impact on your SEO, or search engine optimization and rankings especially if you have had your website up and established for a long duration of time. For example, JDTStudios, our parent company, has had a website on the Internet for over 13 years. If we started all over, it would crush our standing with Google and other search engines. If you would like more information on SEO, click here, or call us at 586-826-3435.
- Technical Support = NONE. This one is self-explanatory. If a free website builder offers any type of support, in many cases, (not all) it will be to a basic frequently asked questions page. You won’t get any opportunity to speak with a live human being. Real people need to get paid, so if you are looking for real-time online support, get ready to open your wallet, and leave the land of the free. Why… because you can “upgrade for an additional charge”.
- Your content? You mean our content. That’s right folks, in many cases, everything you put on that free website is not yours, it becomes theirs. To make maters worse, they can use your content as well.
To put it mildly, we have found the good, but more bad aspects of having a free website. We understand that many business who are just starting out may not have a lot to invest, but we strongly advise that you do plan for a website investment. We haven’t even scratched the surface of potential pitfalls when it comes to this free service. Seeing as we too are a small business, we want you to succeed. For us, it’s creating success, not only for us, but for our clients as well. We want you to make a solid investment in your company’s success, we are just here to help.
We spell it out plain and simple: No Red Tape – No Black Hat – No Fine Print. We just get the job done, we teach you how to implement our tools to not only to increase productivity, but also master your own efficiency.
A Solid Online Presence is going to cost you about $1000. But don’t let that scare you. Remember, you get what you pay for, and if you do make the investment, the website, and everything in it, is yours! In addition to live support, you will recieve trainning, and your own company e-mail address for starters. To view our website pricing, and options click here, or give us a call 586-826-3435. We have an array of payment options to fit almost every budget. Don’t forget to ask us about “micro-sites”!