The internet is packed with hosting companies that claim to offer free websites. And sure, they may offer website building tools, a domain name, and even disk space for your site under the guise that it’s all “free,” but that’s not exactly true.
On the other hand, when you work with an agency to build a fully functional website you’re afforded a lot of choices, allowing you to customize your website build and decide where to allocate your budget. You know what you’re spending and what you’re getting in return. With a “free” site you may be getting something for nothing, but it won’t necessarily be the something you were hoping for. What do we mean? Check out the reality of what “free” really means when it comes to website design:
1. You won’t get a professional domain name.
A custom domain name is essential when you’re branding and building your company’s website. You need it to be concise and it needs to have a place on your marketing collateral, including business cards, which is why companies purchase those domains. If a website it offering this as a freebie, what you’re getting is a domain that goes a little something like: yourcompanyname.theircompanyname.com. It’s cringe-worthy, but certainly not business card-worthy.
2. Expect your disk space and features to be limited.
When dealing with a free service they’re essentially offering you select features in hopes that you will commit to a paid monthly or annual program so they can make money and in turn, you’ll receive access to more elaborate features. A free website is going to be a limited one in terms of site design and functionality; you will be severely limited in your ability to truly customize your website. In addition to this, your site will also be operating from a server that is packed with other free sites limiting your data storage and loading speed.
3. The hosting site will advertise on your website.
The reason these companies can offer “free” services is because they’re making money from advertisements. And unless you’re paying for their advertisements to disappear, they will be on your site. The people running these hosting sites aren’t stupid either – they know exactly where to place their ads and exactly how to design them so that they must be seen and you can’t use your (limited) features to hide them. Your company will come in second place, until you’re willing to pay up.
4. Forget customers service or support.
When you’re working with an agency you have a team to monitor your site and keep track of any potential issues or problems that may arise. If you have issues with a free site, you aren’t going to see much in the way of support. After all, you aren’t paying them for anything, so why should they invest their time, energy, and manpower in dealing with your issues, when they have paying customers who are more worthy of their time?
5. Don’t expect search engines to be on your side.
This alone should be a warning to anyone considering a free website. A quality website requires work, effort, and an investment, something search engines and the people behind them are aware of. Search engines are designed to seek out quality websites, quality hosts, and quality content above all else. When you embrace the freebies you also set yourself up to be overlooked.
6. You relinquish full control of your site.
This should scare anyone who is seeking a professional website. You will not own a website that is provided for “free” by one of these companies. Check the terms of service, it’s in there. Not only can they shut your site down if they feel so inclined, they can also tell you what you’re allowed and not allowed to have on it.
And if that’s not bad enough, they can sell your information – personal info, email address, your web address, anything they have. After all, they are hosting it for free and that means it’s theirs. It may have your name, your business’ name, and it may be your reputation at stake, but you have no control.
“Free” web services may sound appealing, especially if you’re just starting out, but don’t be fooled. In the end, you won’t get the website you want, instead you’ll get headaches, stress, and frustration. Your company is worth investing in and you deserve to work with professionals who know what they’re doing, who will deliver the quality website you’re envisioning, and who can work within your budget. Shoot us an email or give us a call to talk more about how we can help you with your new website.