I was actually in this position myself. I had a website designed on Moonfruit that I wa
Should you use a free website builder for your business?
I originally answered this question “YES.” I felt like I could do it, after all I am a smart guy, so I tried it out.
Eventually, I switched from my free website to having one designed and hosted by a professional. (Which, incidentally was NetProfits Internet Consulting.) And I am so glad that I did.
I have looked at a number of these free website builder websites and have found that there are definite pros and cons, but I made the switch for some specific reasons and I wanted to share why.
- Time: The first reason is because I realized that it would take a lot of time to develop the site I wanted. While the site builders are easy, I’ll give them them, you do have to “get the hang of it.” So there is a learning curve… which typically for me becomes a learning wave as I continue to try new things and need to go through the learning process again. I need to focus on growing my business. So for me… time was a big factor.
- Design: I am not a designer. And design is so important. In fact, for website design, it can make or break you. And again, I had a real designer make my site for me. So I was fortunate. I tried making one myself… it didn’t look as good.
- Flexibility: While these sites offer flexibility there isn’t… or at least there wasn’t for me… an easy way to know exactly what I could or couldn’t do. I didn’t know the limits and I didn’t know how to test them. I am more of a “can I ask you a question?” or “Is it possible to…” kinda of a guy. I know what I am trying to accomplish but I am just not sure how to do it. I found out after the fact that there was no plan to add certain functionality I really wanted. And since the builder was free… I didn’t have any leverage.
- Real Cost: Most of the free site builders give you free hosting by giving you a subdomain. So it looks like this mysitename.theirsitename.com. For a personal site that can be just fine. I have a blog on blogger that uses that format and I am perfectively fine with it, as are most people. But for my business I wanted more autonomy. So if you want to get rid of that you can purchase a domain from them ($$$) and then host it with them ($$$) or you can redirect a domain name to them ($$$) that you already have. Others charge you more for email accounts. Or, to subsidize the cost they run ads on your site. You can turn the ads off… for a price.
- Image: This really stems off of the subdomain issue. Free isn’t free if I don’t want people to know that it was. I know when I see a business using only Facebook as their website that they are trying to do it for free. That tells me something. Well, it tells me a few things, but first it tells me that they sacrifice quality for cost. I personally don’t want to come off to my customers that way. The other aspect of image comes with design. There are certainly great templates out there… really sharp looking ones. They can give you a site that you are proud of. My only concern, and one of the reasons why I switched was that I didn’t trust myself to be the judge as to whether or not my design was good. I wanted help.
- The Future: This was big. I never know what the next thing will be. When I was working with a free site builder I was unable to transfer the design elements or any of the files when I left. That meant I had to start from scratch and take all of the content and migrate it myself. Now that I had the site designed, built, and hosted with a website design company I can change with things.
So that is my short list. Do you know of any reasons to or not to use a free site builder?