Why a free website may be more costly than you think

I’ve had several new clients coming to me recently with so-called ‘free’ websites. These are frequently offered by large companies such as 1 and 1 Internet, GoDaddy, HostGator, Wix.com etc. You know the ones – advertised during prime-time TV with big glossy adverts claiming you can create a website quickly and easily, by dragging and dropping elements into place.

Anyway, the clients have come to us because they haven’t been pleased with the end results. They’ve found that the templates are limited or poorly designed, the drag-and-drop editor is hard to use, or they’ve just become frustrated with the whole thing and given up on it.
What they’ve generally ended up with has been a poorly-designed website, normally with the provider’s name stamped on it, which gives a poor impression of their business. It looks like exactly what it is; a ‘free’ website.

There are several problems with these ‘free’ offerings:

    • The client has a choice of a limited number of template designs, therefore their website is likely to look like all of the others who’ve chosen to use the same template.

The provider has the ability to change their Terms and Conditions at any time and begin charging them for their site

  • The provider has control over the client’s web domain; if they ever wish to move their domain to another provider, they may have to pay a steep fee to release it
  • The client never owns their own website or the rights to it
  • Some providers allow adverts of other companies to appear on the client’s site. The adverts may even belong to direct competitors.
  • There is a limit to how much the client may change their web design to make it more individual
  • If there is scope to change the design, the provider may charge for it
  • The client has to set up the site, including all pages, text and images themselves. This may be very time-consuming.

This is why a ‘free’ website may actually be costly. Not only in terms of hidden costs and charges for ‘extras’, but also in terms of your time.

As a business owner, you know that your time is precious. You have many things to do in running your business, and spending lots of time trying to manipulate your free website into something which looks reasonable shouldn’t be one of them.

That’s why there are web designers and developers. We have the necessary skills and experience, and we do it all the time, so we are in practice. We know the pros and cons. We can give you a website which will not only look good, but save you time and money in the long-term.

Think about it: by the time you’ve spent several hours/days of your precious time trying to make your website work, it might well have been easier and cheaper to get a professional to do it for you. It all depends on how much value you place on your time!
It’s as the old adage says: There’s no such thing as a free lunch!