Are free websites for real?

Companies such as Wix.com, Yola, and even Google — offer free websites. Those are 3 popular platforms, but there are many such companies. Some are completely free, while some are free until you implement advanced features. BUT … the website designer is still YOU. You use their free online builder and platform to design and build your website. Does that make for a free website? It depends on how much you value your time as a business owner.

Can a business owner develop their own company website?

Absolutely yes! Just be sure to follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines!

Can a small business owner develop their company website for free?

If you are to stay in business, you must spend your time running your business. Your time has great value so every minute spent developing a website costs you money. When you develop your own website — be it on a free or paid platform — your website isn’t actually free, you’ve simply deferred the initial development costs to yourself.

Beyond the initial development cost, can a small business owner effectively maintain their company website and web presence (for free)?

At the risk of sounding offensive, No. As a webmaster who maintains many business websites, I know approximately how much a typical website directly earns a business owner. Day over day, month over month, and year over year, the amount of time and effort required to make a website really work and be a truly effective sales & marketing tool is more free time than any business owner has available.

Over time the technical burden of maintaining a business website increases. As a 30-year veteran software developer, I know this as simple truth: software ages and it requires updates. Updates usually apply without issue but when there are problems pray that you are technically adept at finding a quick resolution. (Your business depends on it!)

Eventually updates to the software may stop arriving, or may arrive in a fashion that completely breaks your website. Your website then hosts outdated, unsupported, and potentially vulnerable software. But by this time you are so invested in your website that not maintaining it is not an option…

No matter what platform that you use, this happens. I live it everyday. Your overall cost to maintain your web presence will increase. Hire a pro who constantly maintains it over time and can be there if/when things break to provide quick problem resolution.

What are the disadvantages of a free website?

There are too many to list. For the purposes of this article, the initial considerations are:

  • An obvious goal of having a company website is to develop YOUR company’s online presence. There is ZERO equity in using somebody else’s platform to build your company website.
  • If you are new to website development, you will have a steep learning curve; you will need to familiarize yourself with everything — from registering your domain name and choosing the right hosting package to choosing a template that is both aesthetically pleasing *and* one that offers the right set of features.
  • Once past the technical hurdles, there is still the planning and design phase. Before you can design, you NEED to plan. Failure to plan things out from step A to step Z will result in time lost.
  • Development. This part is easy … at least that is what the free online website companies will lead you to believe. The truth is, if you don’t have a solid background in multiple disciplines (design & layout, graphics editing, color themes), your website will not look as good as it could.
  • In 100% of the cases that I’ve been witness to, free (and sometimes even paid!) online website builders’ feature sets are too basic. Oftentimes they don’t offer even the basic features required by a ‘real’ company website. The worst part is, most people won’t find out about such shortfalls until after they’ve already invested a significant amount of time trying to develop their ‘free’ website.
  • Website maintenance. Plan on spending 2 to 3 full days each month maintaining your website and performing SEO. The straight-up truth is — if you fail to maintain your website, you might as well not have created one in the first place. Ongoing maintenance is important and is the ONLY way that you’re your website becomes successful.

Let’s Talk Graphics will build your free website.

Let’s Talk Graphics can not offer free website design. (I’m a solo Dad with a teenage son to support, etc., etc.) I DO, however, build websites using your favorite FREE online website developer. I have a standard professional hourly rate and depending on how fancy or plain you would like your website to be, I can have it up and running within one or two afternoons*.

*possible because free online website builders’ limited feature sets make for very quick builds.

In summary

If your time is valuable, consider letting Let’s Talk Graphics create and maintain your business website. It won’t be completely free, but the end result will save you valuable time.

Time = Money.