1. THE DESIGN
No one knows your business better than you. That means you know exactly what your online customers need to see in order to drive them to your business, right? We all wish that were true, but it just isn’t.
Without getting into the deep science of it all, not having a design that truly represents your business is a huge turnoff to your users. You may have a ton of important information you want to give to your users to help them identify with your business, but if that information is not displayed properly, your users will think your website is unprofessional and they will move on. You’d be surprised at how a simple website design can make or break your user’s opinion of your business.
Most “free” website builders make it easy to layout your site, but there’s no personable designer with whom you can get advice. That means that you, the Accountant, now have to be the designer. Before long you find yourself dragging and dropping sections of a website builder and laying out a page. Congratulations, you are now the brand new owner of a cookie-cutter website. What does that mean? It means there are about a thousand other people with the same background and layout that you’re using. Your new website is no longer personable and original.
If that’s not bad enough, you can almost guarantee that you’re going to run into a snag at some point during the design process. The website builder will break, your drop-down menu doesn’t function like it’s supposed to and your display slider is too fast and there’s no option to control the speed. But don’t worry, after you call the website company a few times and sit on hold for a while, someone will finally help you fix it.
Once the design and layout is all finished and you’ve got everything where it’s supposed to go, you’re all done right? Nope! Not even close!
2. INFORMATION & CONTENT
Everyday we see more and more people falling into the trap of building a “free” website. One of the most embarrassing things we see is paragraph after paragraph of information explaining every single aspect of the business.
Newsflash! People already know what your business is all about. They went to your website to see what you can offer them
that’s different from everyone else, not for you to explain the firing order of a Chevrolet 350 engine. If you have that much information on your home page… Congratulations, you just sent your user somewhere else.
Forking out the cash for a website designer instead of the “free” option can help you with issues like these. You wouldn’t trust yourself to build a rocket if that’s not your area of expertise, so why take the chance to build a website on your own? Free doesn’t always work out in your favor, as we’ve shown you so far. But no worries, we’re going to give you more reasons why going “free” is a bad idea.
3. TIME & ABILITY
We can’t speak for you, but for us, when our car breaks down, we take it to a mechanic. Who has time to troubleshoot issues under the hood of a car while they’re knee-deep in running a business? We don’t!
It doesn’t make sense to spend time doing something you know little about. Free is a big word. It carries a lot of weight, especially to new businesses and small business owners who are trying to find an affordable way to promote. But, one of the biggest problems with using a free website provider is not having the time to built it in the first place.
You build your online profile. You select a domain name. You select your theme. You layout your design and start putting your content together. Before long, you’re spending more time on your website than you are with your own business. If everything goes smoothly, it may not be too much of an issue. But, as we mentioned above, free websites never go right. Now you’ve extended your website building time dramatically, making that quick free option a never-ending event.
4. SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
What was the point of building your website in the beginning? It was to get your business out there for all the world to see, right? If you find yourself advertising your website more than the search engines do, there’s a problem.
Your website, regardless of who creates it, is absolutely useless if no one ever gets to see it. Search Engine Optimization helps your website get found through the major search engines. It involves the use of meta tags and certain structures in the text of your website, along with personal accounts with the major search engines. There is a great deal of work that goes into setting up and maintaining proper SEO for a website. Most free website options have a place to put in a few keywords and meta tags, a puny effort at SEO. None of them can provide you with the level of service a professional website designer can.
Ask yourself this question… If some companies are willing to charge large sums of money to build a strategic SEO campaign for a business, do you really think a different company is going to give you those same great tools for free? It’s just not plausible. Companies giving away free website solutions are simply trying to get you pay them for expert services. They do so by giving away cheesy website options that they know won’t work for you. Then, in your moment of frustration, they know since you’re already vested in hours of trying to build it yourself, you’ll stick with them and pay for their help. Actually, they’re banking on the fact that you’ll overpay. For those of you who don’t mind using word of mouth to advertise your new “free” website, prepare to get a beating from all the free ads advertisers are paying for so you’ll look their way.
5. MAINTENANCE & MANAGEMENT
So, you’ve got your new website online and you take a look at it everyday to check visitor stats, social media hits, etc. Well at least you started out checking it everyday. As the months go by you seem to look at it less and less.
After a while you check up on your site and realize most of your content is outdated. Photos of your business are incorrect since you painted the store a new color or got a new logo for your delivery van. All in all, it’s time to make some changes. If you do any research, you may learn that not only is your content out of date, so is your design. While websites don’t need to be redesigned every few months, sometimes there are new plugins that need to be updated. Or, what’s worse, what about that negative comment a user left in the comments section of one of your posts? How long has it been up there for the world to see?
Having a website is one thing. Maintaining it is something entirely different. You can’t just build it and walk away. If you want it to work for you, you have to keep it maintained. You wouldn’t expect your car to run forever without occasionally adding gas and oil would you? Well, let’s hope not.
Free websites don’t offer upkeep for you. Those robotic companies already know little about you and your business. Keeping your site updated for you is out of the question.
On the other hand, most web designers offer monthly maintenance packages that are affordable. If you don’t want to incur a monthly expense, talk with a designer who can integrate a year or two worth of updates into the cost of the original site build. This will keep your site fresh and won’t break your wallet.