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Why Using 'Free' Website Builders Is Probably A Bad Idea

Updated on April 18, 2016

Should I Build My Own Website

Do I Even Need A Website?

If you are trying to make money, then yes. This question still pops up in 2016 and it's amazing that it does. Even if you own a thrift store that is starting out, having merchandise or examples of merchandise online to view will help generate buzz and business for you. It could easily mean the difference in going out of business in a few years or even months and building a successful company. This is one of the most important parts of your business plan and whether you build your own or have it done professionally, having the site will increase the odds of making it. You could even find your site taking off on social media for local spots to get great deals. One person loving that almost new jacket they found in your store for 95% off can bring in hundreds of potential customers.

Are Free Website Builders Legit?

We have all seen the free website builders online and all the hype they try to bring. The idea of building your own website may appeal to you because you would be in control and logically it would cost less. This may appear to be a great idea but let's ask some questions before we decide which route to take and explore some myths behind free website builders.

  • Do You Understand SEO- Most bloggers who read this may feel they have a strong grasp of SEO because they've done research on search phrases. SEO is more than just keywords and I will explain in detail why a website developer is far better equipped to tackle that issue than the typical software templates. If you feel you really understand SEO then maybe making your own website for free is a decent option but you need more than that for it to be successful. SEO isn't keyword and text driven but works off a precise algorithm that includes elements that Build Your Website Free software can not.
  • Do You Understand Cross Platform/Browser Browsing- Your website is likely to be viewed from many different devices that are using many different browsers that have many different versions of that browser. All of these browsers have different capabilities and require different plugins to run standard media, java-script, direct x and other features. The software you are using is likely to have a lot of trouble translating some aspects of this and that is why some of the tools in Build Your Own Website programs are so limiting.
  • Is It Really Your Own- Common issue with software that builds websites include the templates available. The templates are limited in style and most of them look very old. You are basically looking to see which available ones you like best instead of creating your own or one that will relate and pop to user on your webpage.
  • Technology Is Always Evolving- Unless you are going to dedicate the time to make sure you are up to date on the latest technology then there is no use in creating your own website. The reality is that web standards haven't changed a lot over the last 10 years but the technology used to implement them have. Hiring a web designer can help ensure you have the latest CSS styles and tools to reach any platform.
  • Cost- That 185 a year for hosting may sound like a deal even if you ignore all the little goodies that bring that cost up well over 290. You might think 'Well a designer would of charged 300 for the site alone' and while this is true you would have your site published and maintained for less than 100 a year after the initial cost. Most designers will walk you through how to add new content and it's pretty simple to open your webpage up and edit some text when needed. Most will offer to do minor maintenance to the website as needed for free. After about 3 years you end up paying just as much for that 'Free' web design as you would of for a developer anyhow and you have to consider how much business you generated with one vs the other.

When Should A Person Build Their Own Site And When Should They Hire Someone

Self Built vs Professional

In a perfect world you could throw together a website in 20 minutes and confetti would fall from the skies as your sales would increase exponentially. We do not live in a perfect world, however. When considering the two options of building your own site with the aid of software or hiring a professional there are a few questions we must ask. First let's look at what could be built for free.

When Building A Free Site May Work Out Well

  • You Know How To Use SEO Keywords To Cheat Search Engines- Knowing how to phrase the title and other parts of your webpage are very important to search engines. Without the aid of a professional it is very unlikely your website will ever rank in the top results for a related search. Knowing how to word things is very important. For example, If you close to Los Angeles using LA in your key phrasing might seem logical but it's not. You will have to fight every other company or website who markets to LA in the entire area to reach top search results. You likely can't do this on your own and even a professional may find this task hard. Instead use your location to your advantage. If you live in a city of forty thousand people just outside LA, then market to that city instead. This way you have to fight less for a top spot in search engine results and you secure the business of your local community as well as those in LA who may be close to your location. Since your business will rank higher on that query it will also rank a bit higher on the LA query when proximity and location are considered.
  • Is Your Content Sensitive- If your website is asking for credit card and social security numbers then using a professional website will protect you and I strongly urge you to do so. If you intend for your website to take payment directly from card numbers it's only logical you would want protection from identity theft issues that can arise. Some websites can get away with linking an Ebay or PayPal account to a website that forwards customers to a merchant section where they can purchase products listed. This offers a more secure way of checking out, however it makes the buying process more complicated than it has to be. Consider these things when deciding to build your own site.
  • Does A Professional Appearance Matter To Your Customers- Free website builder often have issues that arise randomly with different forms and contact areas. Just getting your webpage to forward emails to your server or private email can be a disaster at times. This also includes basic functions like the ability to zoom in or center a page in a browser automatically. There is nothing more frustrating then spending a lot more time on that 'Quick, Easy, and Free' website builder just to find when you publish the website it only displays centered in your computers current resolution(ouch).
  • Is This Website For Show Or Do You Intend It To Help Your Business Grow- If this website is just to show off what kind of landscaping you are capable of then sure, building a site for free isn't a bad option if you invest time to learn the basics. However, if you are selling services and goods that require delivery or a website to grow in popularity, then just pay a professional.
  • Does Your Content And Media Needs Change Often- Free Website Builders are free to publish Initially but adding pages afterwards can add to the cost and getting help with editing content in new media platforms is complicated. Posting videos you uploaded on YouTube isn't really the solution. Some Build Your Own Site software still uses Quicktime, for example. Quicktime is a software created by Apple and as of January 2016 it no longer has support or updates. This means that once hackers find a security issues with this software there will be no more patches to fix it. This can allow a hacker to gain access to your website as well as the computers of those who are streaming video, presentation or even photos from your website. That isn't good.

So to clarify. If you are building a website with the objective of having a website available upon request and on your business cards then maybe making your own site is a viable option. If you have aspirations beyond that then you may consider letting a professional handle it. These guys have either been doing this a long time or have gone to College and spent many years learning how to neatly code you a custom website that has security features needed to protect you and your customers interest while generating the most business from search results.

When To Build A Professional Website

  • All The Time- If you can afford it, and even if you really can't, this is not an area you want to cheap out on. Having a great website that ranks well among search engines will pay for itself very quickly and increase your profit margins well beyond what you pay a developer to build it.

Where Do I Start

Finding A Developer Or Website Building Program

Developer-

Ask a few simple questions of your developer before he gets into the technical side of things.

  1. Do you use HTML5- Having the latest in HTML is very important to how different browsers read your website. If he insist that it doesn't matter which HTML you use then you should move on the next.
  2. Do you use Custom CSS3- If your developer doesn't use the latest in styles and design why would you believe he is up to date on security and SEO protocols? He's probably not.
  3. Custom Java-Script- Your developers should be able to incorporate ideas into your website as well as take the information you supply and offer ideas. If he isn't using the latest in design technology then your site isn't getting the best deal for your money. He should take the content you offer and suggest ideas that are helpful and professional. If you give him a run down of the content and he doesn't offer ideas for how to implement it then you should move on to another developer.

Choosing A Developer Depends On Your Needs From Your Website

  • Business- If you want a business that is well rounded and you intend on having many customers of the professional level, choose someone who specializes in professional business design.
  • E-Commerce-If your website is going sale things online then you need someone who works well with E-Commerce.
  • Portfolio- If you want to showcase the work you do and outline how you do it then you should look into a portfolio type of designer who can help showcase your work using an array of things like flash PowerPoint presentation.
  • Versatile- Don't be afraid to find a designer who does a combination of these things as most designers should.

Remember that like any product you would purchase you want to consider the quality of what you are buying. Some cheap designers may not be much better than building your own site. You want to find a deal that works for you but also gives you a quality product that you and customers can enjoy. Most programmers charge per page so make sure you narrow the site in your head so it is as informative as possible while also being efficient with space.

List Of Free Website Building Programs

As I stated before, nothing about this is free. Some companies charge up to 200 a year to offer support of your website. Others charge 50 to get custom domains. You can even find yourself paying to keep your own domain. Surcharges can also include security updates for servers, software, and your page count as usually only the first 3-5 pages are free. With that in mind here are some of the top Free Website Builder out there.

  • WIX- Wix is incredibly easy and clean to use. Your options on templates appear very professional and neat. You can use this website to build an array of websites and they separate templates by different categories for you.
  • IM Creator - This website uses software that allows you to drag elements you want onto your page. If you want to add a picture then drag the picture label onto the page and center it how you wish. This is a very easy site to use and allows you to customize the look on pre-made templates.
  • Sitey- I take issue with some of the things this website suggest. A professional website developer should be making custom templates for individual customers but this site suggest they do not. If you aren't, then what are you doing? Other than that this site is simple to use and has many templates that are pre-made to choose from.
  • Ezweb123- Now a lot of people will wonder why I didn't go a different way. Again, those hidden cost. Ezweb allows you to publish up to 15 pages on a second tier account. How much is a second tier account? 30 bucks a year. That's a pretty good deal.

There are many other sites out there so take your time and research them. Don't use a cheaper site because of its cost. You should use a site that has a high rating and offers quality software and support. After all, business may be location, location, location, but in 2016 it's also website ,website, website. Leave a comment bellow if you have any questions or ideas and thank you for reading.

WIX

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