Tech Blog

Websites for business start-ups: developer vs. web-builder (paid vs. free)

Ever thought of starting your own business? If you have, and you’ve seriously looked into it, you’ll know that there are lots of costs involved.

Even starting a business from home can be costly. And if you have a shoestring-budget, you might think that you can’t afford a website on top of everything else.

But a website is a must-have tool these days. It’s a 24-7 shop-window for your business, which works even when you’re asleep. You worry that you might miss out on business if you don’t have one.

So the choice can often come down to:

  1. Make your own website using one of the ‘free’ website builders, or
  2. Get your daughter/son/niece/nephew or a tech-savvy friend to create one for you. They’ll often offer to do it for free, or very little.
  3. Have a website produced by a professional web designer which costs a small fortune,

There are massive pros and cons to each of these approaches, which we’ll discuss next:

1. Making your own website

There are a number of services which claim to offer a ‘free’ website using web builder software. Wix, GoDaddy and Squarespace are a few of the biggest and most famous.

But stop and think about that for a moment. These are big businesses. And as we all know, there’s no such thing as a free lunch! Just how are these big companies making money (out of you)?

The answers lie in up-selling and advertising.

The so-called ‘free’ website builders will often give you the actual website for free, but there’ll be ‘optional’ extras that they’ll ask you to pay for. These might include:

  • A professional web domain e.g. instead of their default e.g.
  • A personal email address e.g. instead of
  • A ‘premium’ website design, instead of one of their basic templates
  • Removal of any adverts that they place on your ‘free’ website

And so it goes on. These are all things which affect how professional your website looks, but which are costly extras.

Time’s a wastin’

There’s also the fact that with a ‘free’ website, you have to create it yourself. And websites take time to create. Lots of it. Now that’s fine if you’ve lots of time on your hands, but you’re not likely to have a lot of free time when you’re starting a business!

The glossy adverts for services like Wix, GoDaddy etc. make it seem as if creating a website is a five-minute job. Their drag-and-drop interface makes it look so easy. But have you ever noticed the small message at the bottom of the screen which says something like “Process not shown in real time”?

What they’re saying is: ‘Websites take many hours to create and require a lot of effort, but we’ve compressed that down to fit it into a 15-second advert so we haven’t time to show it all.’

So you’ve got to consider: how valuable is your time? What else could you be doing with your time to make your new business successful?

Do what you’re good at

I know for a fact that, as a Web Developer, I’m good at what I do. I studied for 4 years at University to learn my craft, and I’ve been doing it very successfully for my clients for 18 years.

But if I was a hand-crafted chocolate maker for example, no doubt I’d have trained long and hard for that too. It would be my passion. I’m sure I’d be extremely good at that if I’d chosen it as my vocation (who doesn’t love chocolate?)

But someone who’s great at making delicious, hand-crafted chocs wouldn’t necessarily be good with computers, or good at making a website! It’s not where your skills are, or where your passion lies, so what makes you think you could do it well?

So if you did create your own website, could you be sure that it was good, and worked well? More to the point, could you be sure that it was being seen on the internet, and bringing you business?

2. Getting a friend/relative to create a website for you

The scenario: you decided to start a business, and a friend or relative with computer skills volunteered to create a website for you. “Great!” you think, “they’ll make me a fantastic website in a few days or weeks and it’ll start to bring me lots of customers” (rubs hands).

A few days or weeks turn into a few months, and no website appears. You ask them where they’re at with it and they might say “Oh I’m sorry, I’ve been really busy with school/work/been on holiday/forgot. I’ll get it done for you next week.”

More weeks go by and still nothing. Or, they do create something but it looks a bit… well… underwhelming. You ask them to add some text, photos, and to *make it shine* and to really sell your product but it just never quite gets there.

They/you get bored… and you end up with a half-finished website which looks really poor and doesn’t sell your business or product.

This happens so often. You won’t be the first, and you won’t be the last person that this has happened to.

Relatives and friends mean well, but they have jobs, businesses, hobbies and lives of their own and basically, it’s not their profession or their passion. And they may resent giving up their own time to build a website for you, for free. So it never gets done.

3. Have a professional create a website for you

OK so this is where you engage someone like me to create a website for you. This is the most costly route, I’ll guarantee it. But it’s also the surest way to getting a website which looks good and which brings you business.

Why? Mainly because of a web developer’s experience. As mentioned before, we’ve trained for this. We’ve done lots of websites, for lots of different companies, so we know the ins-and-outs, and the tricks of the trade.
It’s our passion as well as our vocation. If you’re successful, it means that we’ll be successful, and so it’s in our best interests to do a good job.

What will a good web developer be able to do for you? Lots of things (too many to mention here), but mainly:

  • Work closely with you to work out what type of website you need and what will work best for your business
  • Create a superb, eye-catching design which will look professional and attract customers
  • Build a website which works well on desktop computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets
  • Get a professional domain for your website and email, so you can have for example: and This looks so much more professional than or similar!
  • Build a website which works well by getting a good position in the search engines like Google – a good position means more people will see your website, and buy your product!
  • Provide a website which you can make changes to yourself, for example add new products as you get them
  • Provide training on the use of your website

But what about the costs?

I mentioned about that a professional web developer will be the most expensive way to have a website made. Why wouldn’t it be? Web developers are people, and like everyone, they have costs. They have to make a living. But what you’re paying for is their skill and experience, and the fact that they will make your life easier. They’ll also increase your business’s chance of being successful!

Web developers know that they are seen as expensive. I’m certainly very aware of it. But we have ways of making website more affordable for our customers. This is why we’ve developed our website packages for small / start-up businesses. Instead of having a bill for a website when you can least afford it, how about being able to spread the cost?

You will know, up-front, what costs to expect. And those costs won’t change, as long as you have the website.

What if my web developer doesn’t finish the job?

We know that some web developers have a bad reputation. Customers have told me stories over the years of having engaged web developers who didn’t finish the job, or stopped communicating with them, or just apparently disappeared off the planet!

All I can say about this is that there are bad apples in every barrel. And those bad apples can give the rest of us a bad reputation.

The important thing, before engaging anyone, is to do your research. Google their name and their company name. Find out whether there are good or bad reviews about them. If they’re a company, you can use the Companies House Webcheck service to find out information about their company. Their are also numerous company checking services on the internet that you can use to check a company out.

Most web developers will put examples of their previous work on their own website, as a means to demonstrating their work. Don’t be afraid to contact their clients to ask their opinion of the developer’s service and reliability.