Free websites hold a lot of appeal to small businesses that recognize that they need a web presence but don’t have or want to spend a lot of upfront capital on getting there. The problem is when you look at this solution with a long term focus,it may not be the best bargain. What is wrong with free? We have a few thoughts on the matter you may want to consider.
Unprofessional web address Having a website address like “example.freewebsite.com” does not look professional at all. Visitors to your website and potential customers would find it quite difficult to take your website seriously when you don’t even have a proper domain name. Having your own branded domain builds trust and credibility with customers and potential customers.
Now - to be fair - you can still buy your own domain and use it with many free website services.
Your site can disappear at anytime At any time, the free website company can decide to pack up their business and go. They would simply shutdown their servers, and you will loose your website and all the data. Their terms of service give them full legal protection to do so.
Limited space for your web pages You need to be able to build your site to suit your business - not the business that hosts it. Free website companies give you limited space to build your site how you need it and at the end of the day - it affects not only the look of your site but also the end user experience - and that is the most important aspect of your site!
Can’t add additional features Again, your site needs to meet your needs. You do not want to give up essential features that you will need to make your site work for your business. It is worth some cash output to get a site that has the features you want and need.
No branded email (firstname.lastname@example.org) We won’t say a lot here because we have already blogged on this (look HERE for that). If you want to grow your business with credibility - branded email is a must have!! It gives trust and to customers and potential customers. This aspect should NOT be minimized. Again - we don’t want to beat this dead horse so have a look at our previous post.
Malware distribution Free website services are notorious for distributing malware. This could be due to their poor security, or they could be doing it for monetary benefits. In either case, it hurts your website’s reputation and SEO. Even worse than this - it follows you. We have a client that started with a free website but paid for their domain. When they moved that domain to us it came with lots of additional hassles for them as their domain had been blacklisted. This meant that their outgoing emails always ran into various blocks and it was very frustrating for them. This is fixable, but trust us - it is a headache.
No backups There is no concept of regular backups on these free websites. They do not backup your data and if something bad happens to your site, there is no way for you to restore your data. Again we don’t want to repeat ourselves - so check out our previous post on this.
You don’t own it Free sites may sound appealing, but you want to own your content - and with free web providers you don’t. The risk here is you can lose your site at anytime. One day you may go to login to your site and it might just be gone and you will have no recourse. It is fine to pay someone to update and upkeep your site, but at the end of the day - you want to own it. Free eliminates all control that you should have over your site. If you ever decide you want to move your site - you will not be able to.
A free website may seem like a great way to save money. But long term it is a decision you will almost certainly regret. Businesses invest in things that are important - and few things are as important to a business as a good, well designed professional website. If you need to save money - we suggest working with web design professional that can ascertain and meet your needs. If you need help with a website - let us know. We would love to have a further conversation with you.