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)?

No. 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. The cost of maintaining a site, no matter which way you look at it, is not free.

  • Content updates are what many regard as website updates, even though the two are quite different. As regards content updates there can be no cheating! New content should be original.
  • From day 1, websites require careful & constant infrastructure updates. This is akin to updating an Operating System. You usually won’t directly see the benefit of an Operating System update, but your computer runs better overall. The same idea applies to websites.
  • Over time the technical burden of maintaining a business website increases: What originally took an hour each day may require more time as the website ages. If you’ve never maintained a website: Often during the life of a website ‘custom processes’ are developed. An extra click here or there to do something slightly different or something extra. Such things require additional time thereby increasing the technical burden (and cost) of maintaining a business website.
  • Replacement of outdated CRM & Shopping Cart software may require data migration — the process of moving website, product & customer database information. Migrations aren’t for the faint-of-heart.
  • When technical problems arise you must be adept at finding quick resolutions, or shell out cash on a per incident basis to have them resolved. Repairs aren’t something you can sit on because your business depends on a working website.
  • SEO – you want people to find your website, right? You can spend all day everyday on SEO. (Truth.)

No matter what platform that you use, this happens. I live it everyday. Your overall cost to maintain your web presence will increase. I have an obvious bias but my recommendation is to hire a pro who constantly maintains it and can be there if/when things break.

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. (no offense, Facebook.)
  • 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 the basic features required in a ‘real’ company website. The worst part is, most people won’t find out about the 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 (over time) 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.

Unforunately Let’s Talk Graphics does not offer free website design. (although I sometimes will volunteer my services for a good cause.) I will build your website using your favorite FREE online website development platform. 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 and usually 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 is money, friend.