We humans get weak in the knees when we hear the word “free.” Free goods or services immediately command our attention, at which time it is common to disregard any notions of potential negatives or limitations involved because, dang it, it’s free. Well, in the world of website building, you get what you pay for.
A free site-builder like Weebly, Wix, or Squarespace may initially grab one’s attention, but when the rubber meets the road, it often times disappoints. This is why it is important to hire a professional web designer that will save you time, money, and headaches in the long run. With that being said it is best to understand what you will get, and not get, with your free website.
Beauty is Skin Deep
While at first glance a quick perusal of the bold and beautiful templates offered by a free website builder might dazzle, one may not be able to recognize the limitations of using a one-size-fits-all template. When creating an online presence for your business with a freebie website template you may find that the design elements are fixed. These cookie-cutter websites don’t allow for much customization or depth of functionality.
What is the good of having a website, no matter how aesthetically pleasing, that can’t be modified to fit your particular business needs? Contrast this with a custom built website by a firm that will equip you with your own personal, professional web designer. With a bit of investment, you will get a unique site aligned with your business needs and on demand support. These professionals can tweak and tailor all aspects of your website to be as user-friendly and as pro-conversion as possible, making it not only pretty, but also a money maker.
Let’s say you go ahead and build a good looking free website because your business needs are pretty basic; you figure it will get the job done. The problem with this thinking is that free website builders have limited search engine optimization (SEO) capabilities. What good is the website if no one can find it on a search engine? In order for your website to function the way you need it to important SEO elements must be present in the design.
The free website builders are largely guilty of neglecting to incorporate the important SEO and lead generating elements, such as providing a soft offer pop up or website schema within the design. The soft offer can capture important contact information that can lead to sales conversions. Schema provides Google with detailed information about your business, making it better to understand your website’s information and content and, as a result, improve a website’s SEO.
Other SEO challenges of the free websites include a lack of unique title tags and meta descriptions for each page on the website, which prohibits the ability to attach varying keywords to each specific page. Instead, global title tags are the usual provision offered, so Google won’t recognize the specific content of each page as unique. Also, the free sites do not provide a place to insert Google Analytics coding, making it impossible to know how many visitors arrived at your site, how much time they spent there, if there were abandoned shopping carts, and other useful information about SEO and website performance. Proper optimization is the difference between a site with good content and a site with great content.
Time is Money
Even though the free website builders tout the ease of which a regular person, that is not technologically inclined, can build a site, in practice it doesn’t always go so smoothly. As this person attempts to add text and images to their home page they may be reduced to tears or cursing in no time flat. Sure, the template format offers a seemingly easy foundation. But just try to negotiate adding a grid to the page, resizing an image to fit a template-provided box, or even changing the font when you aren’t familiar with manipulating editing tools.
Building a DIY website can be like trying to pin the tail on the donkey while blindfolded, you may end up spending inordinate hours on the phone with tech support, attempting multiple trials and error at no avail. Time is money, as they say, so when you add up the time spent building your own website, dealing with the snags and headaches along the way, it may be cheaper to simply hire a professional web designer in the first place. In the end, the finished product needs to be attractive, user-friendly, SEO maxed out, be able to convert leads to sales, and provide all the functions needed to service your unique business. All in all, you get what you pay for.