Mindless Philosophy






Are free websites really free?

by Darren Street

Created on: Friday March 21, 2014

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It seems the whole world is now a website designer. It's now so easy to create a new site with hundreds of free tools offering free websites that you can style and make look your own. You can add custom mailers and include social media and RSS feeds. Wow. Some of them are free but most of them are low cost.

Are_free_websites_really_free

But if you take a closer look at these sites offering “no code to write” or endless possibilities you soon find the catch, but you do have to take a closer look to find it. The website is free but you have to make compromises.

Remember when you create your website “online” you are talking to a computer who has a set of responses it can give you. Actually it might have hundreds of pre template designs to choose from but then it may have thousands of customers that have already chosen your favourite design. Sure you can add your business name & address to the template & customise your text and pictures but the core look of the site will be the same as everyone else who has chosen that design.

Now this may be perfectly fine if you just want to get your name out on the web. You might be a trade or a contractor and not specifically bothered about your look online and just need something simple and cheap...hopefully free.

Can your customers really take you seriously?

If that is you... then my advice is to get a free site and be done with it. It will probably work out fine & if not then hey ho it was free.

If you are however an interior designer, this approach could be disastrous. It really speaks volumes if you have chosen a templated free site as your web home. Can your customers really take you seriously?

Actually I suspect that if you are in any creative type of business, free sites should be avoided like the plague. It will completely send out the wrong impression and devalue your business in your vistors eyes. Similarly, if you are in a professional business environment such as legal or financial sectors, free sites are bad news too.  

If you are in the retail sector having a bespoke website really makes a huge difference. Your website is your store front & you need to give your visitors (or should I say customers) the perfect impression about your business and your business ethic within seconds of hitting your landing page. A specially tailored website can allow you to compete page for page with the market leaders in your sector. A bespoke designed website can reaffirm that you are a one man band or a multi-national corporation.

AND...

What happens when you have a free website and something goes wrong? The site disappears or is withdrawn for no reason. What can you do....nothing. It was free. You are stuck.

What happens to your free site when the hosting company goes into liquidation (which is likely considering their business model)? Or worse what happens when the company is purchased by another company and this new lot want to start charging you big money per month?

The problem is that regardless of the free website, you still invest time setting up the pages, getting the content and pictures, creating email addresses etc. It’s all lost when your hosting pulls the plug.

It’s not free then. You have to repeat all your hard effort.

OK, the point of this blog is that nothing of worth is free. You may get away with free coffee refills at Ikea on Tues lunchtime but everything where you have to invest time and effort is not free. When this happens it becomes valuable and worth having. So in reality a free website is a risk to your business. Do yourself a favour why not call me instead?

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