Wix, WordPress.com, Weebly – there are a lot of website providers out there who promise users a free website. For a small business or solopreneur, “free website” is awfully tempting. You know you need a digital presence and don’t have the money to hire an expensive development firm. While these options don’t cost any money, they come with other drawbacks that may cost you business in the long run.
One – It’s Not Your Brand
The biggest cost is one a lot of people think they can live with. The providers out there who offer free websites also make sure those websites bear their name.There are ads for the provider, the favicon is their logo, and usually, the provider has their name splashed prominently across your website.
All of this takes away from your brand and your message. Try as you might, that website will never look as professional as your business needs it to be as long as it’s on the free domain. Instead, users and customers on your site will be focusing on the branding and advertisements of your provider. Think about your own browsing habits. Would you do business with a company that has “proudly powered by …” across the top of every page?
Two – You’re Limited
The second cost is you are trying to build a professional website with one hand tied behind your back. Each provider has differences in what they limit, but in most cases, they limit bandwidth (for simplicity’s sake: how many visitors you can have) and how much storage you have. Other common limitations are number of pages , what themes you can use, and how many or what type of plugins or addons you can use.
Three – Your Site Will Be Slow
When we work with Wix, we often use the free version to get the site set up. Once our client is happy, and we are ready to take it “live” we will upgrade to premium and activate the different features and premium aspects of the website. Do you know the first thing our client’s notice? How much faster their website is after we take the site from the free to a premium plan. Speed is a crucial factor for any website for both user experience and search engine rankings. This is a cost that can’t be overlooked. None of these companies are going to come out and say they slow your website down, but you can ask anyone who has used a free and a paid version of one of these platforms. When you pay, you get better speed.
Four – You Can’t Control Your Domain
With a free website, you can’t have the URL be whatever you want. You are usually on a subdomain of the provider’s main domain. So instead of https://yourbrand.com, your URL is https//yourbrand.freewebsite.com/. Not only does this take away from your brand, but it means if you decide at a later date you want to move onto a premium plan or build a site with a different host, there is no way to redirect people from that old URL to your new one.
Five – No way to Right the Wrongs
These five items sum up the true cost of free websites: user experience. When you go with a free builder, you are providing your end user a less than ideal interaction with a website. This can increase their stress and frustration and decrease their trust in your business or brand.
The good news is the premium options on these sites and template self-hosting options are affordable and mitigate most of these issues. Learn more about the different platforms and what they can offer you by visiting our blog. If you have any questions or need help, feel free to reach out to us through our contact form or on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter @bytesizesocial.