The insane increase of internet technology and online users has spurred a large market for Do-It-Yourself and free website building companies. They target small businesses and lure them in with the idea of getting a functional website at no cost. People unfamiliar with the benefits and intricacies of professional web design may be tempted to go down this route to save costs for their business, but there is usually a much greater cost for not going with a real agency for your web design needs. Here are the most important reasons why getting a “Free” website is usually a pretty bad idea:
No Control over Coding or Hosting/ Limitations on Design & Functionality
Free online websites offered by companies such as Wix, GoDaddy or Web.com have a set of standard website templates and give you some control over the front-end design, but no access to the back-end coding of the websites. This puts extreme limitations on how truly amazing and functional your website could be. Back end coding allows for unlimited customization, high-tech integrations with other important software, and advanced functionality that may be beneficial to your business.
Advertisements and Unprofessional URLs
In order for a service to be “free”, they have to make money somehow. The way most of these companies earn a profit is from hosting irrelevant and unsightly advertisements somewhere on your website. This is distracting and frankly annoying to a lot of users. Free websites also usually have the service’s name and tagline pasted at the bottom of your website that can’t be removed. This straight up tells users that you skimped on investing in a good website. Additionally, the free websites force you to use an extension of their company’s domain and not a custom domain that you own and is exclusively yours (for example: yourcompany.theircompany.com).
Your Website Isn’t Really Yours
Probably one of the worst aspects of choosing a free website for your business is that these sites cannot be exported and handed over to you in the case that you end up wanting to move to a better hosting company or a professional web developer in the future. You are ultimately “stuck” with this company forever – or else you lose your website and have to start over if you change your mind down the road.
Limited Bandwidth, Storage, and Memory
Companies offering free websites, don’t have the resources to offer their clientele decent amounts of bandwidth, storage space, and memory which can be crucial to the speed, availability, and front-end experience of a website. You’ll be limited to how many pages your website has, how much media can be included on the site, and even how many visitors are able to access your site in a given amount of time.
Low Credibility with Your Visitors
The use of advertisements, the free service branded on your site, lack of design uniqueness, and a bad URL all contribute to a lack of trust and confidence in your potential customers that visit your site. It decreases your professional credibility and could have a negative affect on website traffic. This can nullify the whole purpose of an effective website – to gain leads and enhance revenue for your business.
Lack of Customer Service and Support
Truth be told, if you aren’t paying these companies anything, they aren’t going to have you on the top of their priority list when it comes to technical support or customer service. Many free companies say they offer support, but when you actually need it, very often you’ll just be directed to a less-than-helpful Q&A forum which usually never fixes your issue and then asks “Did you find what you were looking for? :)” The answer is pretty much always no.
Your Information Could Be Shared and Targeted
Don’t be surprised if after signing up for a free website, you end up being bombarded with marketing emails – related to online tools, other free website services, etc. These free companies are known to share and sell your information as another avenue of generating revenue.
Even if some of these companies claim to offer you a Free SSL Certificate* with your website, don’t be fooled. Not all SSL certificates are created equally and don’t offer the same protection to you and your visitors. Typically, you will be getting the lowest level of security available. It’s not unusual for these free website companies to be targeted by malware, too.
Ultimately, Free Isn’t Always Really Free
Once people get started with the free website services, they usually run into issues and situations that bring attention to additional needs: whether for their business or their website’s appearance and operation. In order to gain access to these solutions (if they are even available), they’ll charge you for each and every one of these “extras” (like removing the tagline that says “This website was made for free on ________”) and you’ll still probably not get the full scope of what you want in your overall website experience. The saying “You get what you pay for” always rings true when it comes to web design and development.
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