Now you’ve probably heard people say that a FREE website is a bad idea. Like many you just didn’t totally believe them, did you? Of course not! You’re a crafty business owner who can figure things out on your own! You do that all day long and you’ve been doing it for years, right? You want to save money and you’re good at it! Why can’t you do it yourself? How hard can it be? And why spend hundreds, or thousands when you can get something for FREE!? A few hours a week, maybe more and you’ll have a company website that will do the trick, right?
WRONG! First of all, when was the last time you saw something that was FREE for your business that was actually worth anything? I’d wager there may have been a thing or two, but in general, when was the last time anything free (Other than advice) was worth something to you? Now let’s not get philosophical here and go into things like ‘Love’, ‘Air’, ‘Praise’, ‘Sympathy’. In this case I’m talking about material items; things that measured for value. And the truth is that while a FREE website is ideal for a select few, it is NOT ideal for most, especially for a business, or practice that showcases its products and services in a marketplace. Why?
FREE websites only appear to be ‘Free’. If you look at customer reviews (and scroll way down) with companies such as Wix and Weebly, you’ll see that the chief complaints seem to be centered on “Up-Charges”, the upsets they can create, the customer service (or lack thereof), and the fact that constructing one of these FREE sites is much more difficult than the company leads you to believe. According to the reviews, this company doesn’t care well for it’s customers. More important is the fact that over 90% of the W I X websites I’ve seen, look like they were slapped together by…….an amateur. An amateur. That’s YOU! Honestly it isn’t much different when we talk about the plumbing in your home. I mean yes, you could probably watch some videos on YouTube and figure out a LOT of things. You may even be able to re-pipe your entire house! Maybe you’re very mechanically inclined and can actually pull that off. But the question that comes up is: “Do you honestly trust yourself to do the type of job that will give you total peace of mind?” and “Do YOU have the time?” Honestly?
Most would say “No” to those questions. And it’s not because they aren’t capable of figuring it all out, or the fact that you might not have the time, it’s because YOU/They are NOT experts! Now it’s true that free website templates do not require you to know anything about websites in order to build one. But while being a professional developer is not a requirement – having the correct monkey wrench for a specific size of pipe is important. So is the case of having (at the very least) a basic knowledge of marketing, design and programming when creating a website. Again, you may have re-piped your house, but you are still probably going to be hoping that your work doesn’t have any leaks.
What makes a free website so appealing? Cost, correct? After all that’s what makes them most attractive isn’t it? It’s the fact that they appear to be free, and that pretty much anyone can create one, right? Now again, a FREE website is really “OK” for some. It is, depending on what you want it for. Say you’re a teacher and you want a website so that you can be closer with students, family, friends, or you just want a place where you can post pictures, blog about something, but not SELL or market anything. This is social, and you’re not a business that offers services and products. You just want something that you can call your own and talk about your life and what’s going on in it. For YOU a FREE website is perfect!
However, if you’re a business owner in an area of the world where there are others doing what you do, or selling similar products / offering similar services, a free website will accomplish one thing: It will make you look like every other Tom, Dick and Harry out there, and it won’t market to your customers / clients / patients 24/7. It won’t because FREE websites don’t normally answer the question: “What’s so good about it” in the first 3-4 seconds. This again comes back to the marketing knowledge of the developer creating it. The results can be fatal; they often are. Most times you get one chance to not only make a good impression, grab the interest of your visitor, and do it within three seconds. How confident are you that you can pull that off?
Understand that many of your competitors ARE in fact spending the money on a custom website and are working hard, and doing things by the book, in order to get noticed by the search engines. These competitors are doing what is needed to stand out. They are driving traffic to their websites, blogging about their services and products and engaging their visitors. If you aren’t doing the same, you can’t expect a whole lot of inbound calls and inquiries. That’s just the way it is.
A free website will make you look no different than the guy down the block…..who also decided on a FREE website!
In all seriousness what you are saying to your customers/patients/clients is that you really aren’t any different from every other company out there, and that your image isn’t that important to you. You must remember that your website is an official representative of your business. And a free website says: “Meh…. I’m nothing special, but hey, I can change my background to any color I want! Isn’t my design pretty?” ; )
This is a critical moment as a business owner. If you’re reading this you are probably contemplating utilizing free website software and I want you to understand the risk of doing so – here is a breakdown of the pros and cons:
Free Website Pro’s:
- It’s free
- Fairly easy to build it yourself, at your own pace – usually no need for a professional developer.
- One size fits all – templates can generally provide the basics that you need.
- FREE. Wait I said that already.
Free website Con’s:
- Free websites won’t optimize your site for the search engines. Even “Google friendly” templates won’t do anything for your search engine rankings if you don’t know how to optimize them. To my understanding, W I X websites are no longer “Google Friendly”. In fact Google recently ceased its support of Wix.
- Most free website builder services, such as Wix, Weebly, or Site Cube, are MORE expensive in the long run with higher monthly fees for hosting. Wix, as an example, is in Israel! So what recourse do you have if they don’t perform? Again, check out their complaints / customer reviews. Remember that they make sure the good reviews rise to the top. You”ll have to scroll down a bit to see both sides of the coin.
- You can’t take it with you: With these hosted website builder services, what happens when you’re unhappy with the service and want to move on? Bad news is, you can’t transfer your website files – which means you’re either stuck with what you have, or you have to build a new website. Who has time for that?
- Longer load times: Since free templates are one-size-fits-all, they require a lot of extra code in order to provide many options, to suit many people. Bloated code can greatly contribute to slowing your site down. And if your website takes more than a few seconds to load, you risk losing potential business. It’s not a “calculated risk” either.
- Limited customization: If you want to customize your website with features that your free template was not built to do, you would need to hire a professional to do it for you.
- Time consuming: Every minute you spend working on your website is time that you could be spending on what you do best – your business / practice.
- Free website builders do not come with your own personal marketing or design expert. An effective website is structured to provide an experience that is VALUABLE and EFFICIENT for your VISITORS. If you want your website to generate customers, just placing words into a website template that you think is pretty will not cut it. It may be pretty, but are your visitors doing what you want them to do? That’s a very important question.
- A free website will make you look just like everyone else, and it will make you look like an amateur.
- Many templates still require a developer to set up properly – complicated user interface, occasional broken parts. What do you do if the website breaks? Yes, they can break!
- Many free templates are not mobile friendly – over 65% of people who surf the internet do so via smartphones, and your website should be able to handle that traffic effectively. Also, if you’re serious about your search engine ranking, you will need a mobile friendly website (either responsive or dedicated mobile). Google gives preference to responsive websites. See the official announcement here: https://goo.gl/AunEc7
Keeping these points in mind, you need to evaluate just how important your business is to you, and whether or not a free website will get you the results that you desire for your business expansion.
Until next time, we hope this article helped. Please share it with those you know, who might be thinking about utilizing free website templates.
Thank you for stopping by!