I realize just how undervalued the online side of business is when I looked at a job posting for an Internet Sales position at an Automotive Dealer. The job posting noted that no experience was required and that candidate only needed to be a high school graduate. I think people often have the understanding that the ideal person to work on websites is the high school computer geek who does it for fun. That may have been the case 15 years ago, but those kids are now adults.
Recently, I had a website job, in principle, to develop a website for a new online radio company. I gave them my rate, which was not as much as it is now, and expected to start quickly. Later, I found out that they went with Microsoft Live Office free websites. They went with the cheap, albeit free, solution. I suppose they didn’t think they had the money to spend on the website. A month ago, I had another start-up business to inquire about a website via a recommendation. After not hearing from them, I contacted again to find they were looking around. I am reminded of something Samantha Hartley told me about her business and what she says to clients, “You can find someone to do it cheaper, and you can find someone to do it better, but you won’t find someone cheaper to do it better.”
People still haven’t decided to invest money in to the building of websites and optimizing it to get more traffic. The truth is, like anything, it takes time and money to have a site built and to work for your business. Do you have the money? Can you afford get it done? Can you afford not to?
In this economy and the changing mindset of the consumer, companies do not make the investment until the same thing they did for twenty-plus years does not work anymore. At that point, if they aren’t careful, it may be too late.
So, here is a list of 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Free Website (or cheap). Yes, I meant buy, because one way or the other, it will cost you.
Disclaimer: Not every turn key company will fit every “reason.”
10. Web Standards–These cheap or low cost and free turn key site builders have no concept of website standards. Web designers will design your website to be accessible to as many different people as possible. If you don’t think this is an issue, try searching the web while closing your eyes. There are dozens of browsers out there although most use one of about four different browsers, but each of those browsers have multiple versions.
9. Search Engine Rankings–There is so much to say here, but so little space and time. The bottom line is this, these free/cheap solutions are almost exclusively built using tables to handle the presentation of the website instead of today’s accepted use of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Search engines like Google reward those who use CSS vs. tables. Google actually encourages it in Webmaster Tools. What does that tell you?
8. Customization–It is not easy to customize with a turn key site builder such as Homestead or HometeamsOnline (HTO). When using HTO, I noticed that the stories I wrote for the website has a generic News Story heading when I copied the link in to Facebook. Having customized headings and tags is another way to help your rankings with the search engines, especially Google. There is no way to customize these things in some of these types of sites.
7. Syndication–Do you use My Yahoo or Google Reader? Those are made possible with RSS feeds. RSS feeds allow you to import the news from the sites you want so that you don’t have to go to 100 different websites. On the internet, the modus operandi is about sharing content. Many of these free/cheap solutions don’t have an RSS sharing mechanism. Syndication allows your website and your articles/news to be shared everywhere while giving your site credible backlinks.
6. Promise more but deliver less–That is what they do. They want you to think you are getting a great value, but when you look closely at what they offer, you find out that you have to pay more for advanced features that a good website designer will include in the cost of designing your website.
5. Media Limitations–One site I worked with only allowed pics to be a certain size. What? I could only have pics that were 300 pixels wide. I never heard of that. The reality is that you are limited in the amount of media you can upload. If you have your own hosting and domain, you know exactly what you have. Limiting the size of pics you upload to your server is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of. Facebook doesn’t do that!
Photo Credit: www.flickr.com/photos/encouragement