As a business owner, it’s easy to be enticed by the idea of having a free website. Sure, it will showcase your services, it will look ok, and it might even generate traffic. But, it’s important to educate yourself on the often unknown compromises you will have to make when opting for a free website, rather than a paid web design service.
It’s important to remember that your website is the online representation of your brand! It will be your main platform to make an impression on potential clients and customers. The downside of using a free website means that this first impression could be a negative one. In this article, we explain the reasons why you should consider hiring a website company, rather than compromise your website by creating it for free:
1. Free websites are slow
Once your website has loaded, the average user will take half a second to form an opinion on its design and usability. Most free website hosting providers put thousands of websites on the same server. This makes their websites load at a very low speed. This means that if there hasn’t been an impression made in that half second, chances are your potential customers likely won’t return to your site.
2. They’re unresponsive
Most free website companies offer website designs that are dated and don’t work on mobile phones. Mobile users make a significant portion of internet traffic. By not having a responsive design you put yourself at risk to lose all those users.
3. You can’t set up automatic redirection
When you host your own site, it is possible to retain the benefits of using an old domain when you move to a new one by setting up a redirect. This is not possible on free sites! This means that if you move your site, you’ll have to include a link for visitors to manually click to direct them to your new site.
4. No customer service
Free websites offer no help or customer service to their non-paying customers. You will have to completely setup your website on your own and solve any problems that may arise by yourself.
5. Limited SEO
Since there is no access to the back end of a free website, any SEO you do will be limited to including keywords in your titles and content. Free website templates are also easily recognized by the search robots, meaning Google will prioritize custom websites before yours.
6. Hidden charges
Nothing worth using, especially in technology is ever free! Many of these free website services often turn out to be trials. After a certain amount of time, you are asked to pay for their services Like any other business, these free website companies need to make money too. Some of them charge their users for additional services like image hosting, email accounts, etc.
7. Free website companies can disappear
At any given time, a free website company can shut down. They could shutdown their servers, and you would loose your website and all of its data. Interestingly enough, their terms of service give them full legal protection to do so.
8. No branded domain name
With a free website you’ll likely get something similar to your desired website name, along with letters and numbers, and the name of the service you used to create your site. Put simply, you don’t get to use www.yourbusiness.com. Instead, you get the unappealing www.theircompany.com/yourbusiness or www.yourbusiness.theircompany.com.
This looks extremely unprofessional on marketing materials and it won’t be memorable to viewers. Google will also penalize your site in its search results – It considers websites with URLs like the ones mentioned above to be untrustworthy.
9. They will own your website
The free website company who provides the site is actually the owner of all the content on it. Yes, including all your content! Your content is stored in their databases, and will never belong to you.
10. They can sell your information
If you don’t have to pay for something, then chances are, you are the product! Free website companies need to make money too, so they supplement their margins by selling your email address and using your content for marketing.
11. Limited bandwidth
With a professionally designed website that you own, your storage options are unlimited. This is not the case with a free website. This means that only a certain number of users will be able to visit your site within a certain period of time. If you’re limited to a certain amount of bandwidth per month, this means that after users have loaded that bandwidths worth of data from your site, it will stop responding. If there’s one reason why you should avoid a free website, above all others, it’s probably this one. The fact that your website will simply stop responding should be enough to make you think twice about a free website.
12. You can’t run advertisements or make money from them
Even though your free website company runs their own ads on your website, they do not allow you to run ads or make money from your website on your own.
13. No backups
There is no concept of backups when using a free website company. They do not backup your data and if something bad happens to your site, there is no way for you to restore your data.
14. No support for mobile devices
According to Google, 53% of mobile site visits leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. This means that if your website isn’t mobile friendly, you’re missing out on a lot of potential clients and customers. You also cannot update your website from your mobile or hand-held devices. Free website companies have their dashboards designed for desktop. This will make it harder to update your site from your mobile phone
15. No branded email
As you don’t have your own domain, you also don’t have a branded email address. This looks unprofessional and will give you less credibility against your competitors.
16. They can shut down your website
As you don’t own your website or its content, you have no control over it being live. Your host can decide to pull your site at any time without a warning. The terms and conditions of these free website companies state that they can shutdown your website at anytime without providing you a reason. If they shutdown a website, they typically don’t give your data or provide you a way to save your content.
17. You will be a target for hackers
Free website hosting companies are notorious for distributing malware. They are extremely large targets for hackers, spammers, and malware distributors. This could be due to their poor security, or they could be doing it to make money. In either case, it hurts your website’s reputation.
18. Irrelevant advertisements on your website
The most common business model for these free website companies is advertising. They advertise products and services to your prospective customers, right on your website. They are also in the business of making a profit, and one of the ways of doing this is by putting advertising banners in the premium space on your site.
19. Limited site building tools
Unlike a real web hosting service, these free website building companies offer limited tools and services to their users.
20. No contact forms
Every business with a website needs a good contact form! These free website companies do not have a way for you to add custom contact forms. Your only option is to settle for a generic template contact form that doesn’t include email forwarding.
Attempting to develop your website in-house is admirable. However, if you and your team members lack the necessary skills and resources, this could be a huge risk for your business. Professionals have the right tools, knowledge, and experience to get the job done and do it extremely efficiently and effectively. Hopefully, this article will encourage you to hire a professional web design company. If you still have doubts about getting professional help, feel free to contact us today to see how our team can help make your web design dreams become a reality!