FREE! The ultimate eye catching word! So widely used but often in the wrong context. There are so many companies out there heavily promoting FREE websites and website builders so I thought I would shed a little light on the subject.

Right, now your thinking, “Oh yes Sara! Of course you will! You are bound to criticize your competition!” and I don’t blame you. But I encourage you to read on and discover why this actually isn’t the case.

Firstly, I work with small companies on a daily basis and I provide them with services that are high quality and at a reasonable price, but a majority of them have a story to tell me and it usually starts with, “We have been using one of those free website builders, which we ended up paying for and have not seen any results”, “ We need to look professional and appeal to our customers more”. Sound familiar? I want to help businesses reach their potential as much as I can and it bothers me when they have been taken advantage of like this.

Also, I don’t really see these free website builders as competition. Yes, it’s a similar market, but they simply cannot offer the same high standards and quality service that I can.

Right on to those all important points and why you should think twice about entrusting a free website builder with your business and its reputation.

1.       Limited Templates

The templates available are boring and are limited in design, well they are aren’t they?! The web is a competitive place and you need your site to stand out. If you look like every other company nothing will encourage your potential customers to choose you. Your web site needs to be as amazing and unique as your business and convince people why they should choose you.

2.       Your Reputation is at Stake!

Free website builders can damage your business in more ways than one…

First, the customer will notice that the website has been built on a free website builder, usually by the domain as it will be something like www.yourbusinessname. theirbusinessname.co.uk, or the website builder’s logo will be plastered in the footer of your site. This puts doubt in their mind. It gives the impression you haven’t invested in the website because you don’t believe in the business, which can lead to further doubting questions like, “Are they a genuine business?”, “Are they going to invest in me?”, “What other corners get cut?”, I could go on but I think you get the idea.

Secondly, as the templates look very similar, your site could be confused with another one which has bad reviews and your potential customers won’t look back!

Thirdly, free website builders are known to change their templates or even delete them without prior notice. Your site could be left looking like a page of mixed up words, not great for potential customers to see.

3.       Limited Options

Free website builders offer very little in the way of design options and modifications. Want to have some fancy social icon links on your website?… Not an option! Or you may have to pay extra even if it is, which then doesn’t make it a free website. That’s why hiring a web designer is the better option. You have more control over what you want and how you want it to look.

4.       SEO and Capturing your Audience

Web design is a forever changing concept which free website builders do not keep up with. If the code isn’t written in a ‘friendly’ way, your site won’t get ranked on search engines.

Website builders widely use Flash which is unsupported by most browsers and is an ‘unfriendly’ platform for search engines. It’s also not viewable on mobile devises. Now judging by the fact there was 133% rise in mobile traffic in 2012, having a site that’s viewable on a mobile devise is a very smart business decision.

5.       Time

Ask yourself, “How much time do I have to spare?” and, “How long is it really going to take me to build the website I want?” While the site builders can be easy, (we will give them that one) but you do have to figure out how exactly to do things and if you are not sure about computers, technology and the web, this can be a task in itself.  Time much better spend on actually running your business and providing that amazing service to your customers.

6.        “FREE” Will Cost You

A lot of businesses think that by using a free website builder, it will save them money. The unfortunate truth is it will more than likely end up costing you money. If you want additional features you will have to pay for them.

Free website builders are not Search Engine Optimised and if your site cannot be found by search engines, you will not get any visitors and those visitors can not convert to paying customers.

If you do actually manage to get people to you’re your website it won’t stand out from the crowd as it won’t look unique or professional, therefore your potential customers will go to another business that does stand out and does look professional.

Ultimately, free website builders may be free but they could potentially end up costing you customers and lots of money.

So, Sara, you’re saying do business with you rather than them?

Well I won’t lie, of course I would love to work with you and build something great for you and your business, but my main point is about what I and other small businesses/web designers can offer you and the way we can provide it. We are REAL people who you can ask questions and meet with to personally tailor your site to your business and your needs.

If you truly care about your business then invest in it and give it the chance to grow. I can build great websites on WordPress (the Content Management System we use) at affordable prices.

Just ask yourself this question, “Is it worth losing out on potential customers, just to potentially save a little money that may not actually materialise?

I hope this post was helpful to you and if you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them in the comments box below or email me directly.