Free Web Design – What Isn’t There to Like? A lot Apparently.
I turned on the radio this morning and heard an ad from Web.com. They are offering a free website to anyone.
I have heard of them before, but never really decided to investigate further. Well, guess what I found? There is no free lunch.
Free Is Never Really Free
Here is a list of things you can count on with the ‘free’ web design.
Terrible design – Having looked at the examples of websites that web.com offered, I was taken aback that they could even survive. All of their sites are built on pre-designed HTML structures. A WordPress theme is one thing, but a HTML template from 2003 is another. You will have one of the worst looking websites and it will generate no value.
No guidance – The only person you can talk to would be their sales reps with some new up sell. A website that performs needs to follow a specific formula, otherwise it is just a glorified business card.
Horrible for your brand – What are your customers going to think of you if you won’t even invest a single cent into your website? Do you really believe in your own business? Why shouldn’t they go to your competitor who has a much better website?
It isn’t really ‘free’ – with Web.com you have to pay at least $99 per month, and I bet that it doubles as soon as you want a little something extra. Compare that to hosting costs of about $5 per month. You actually spend more money over the course of a year, and I expect that you want your website for the duration of your business, which is way more than just 12 months.
You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
This is of course nothing new. We all know that nothing is free, and if it is, then there are strings attached and lots of restrictions. If you really want to do something on the cheap then you can always go to Wix or Weebly.
What makes a great website?
A great website does three things. It creates credibility with great design, it moves the visitors through a well thought out path to generate leads, and it is structured properly so that it pulls in traffic naturally. I have to admit though, there is a lot more to it.
1# – Simplicity & Elegance
The one element that makes the biggest difference is simplicity and implementing it in an elegant way. You will notice that my website is very simple. Every single page is extremely easy to understand, but it still looks good. I know what you are thinking, “actually Pete, it looks incredible” (hehe).
#2 – It is about your visitors
Believe it or not, but your website is not about you. It is about your visitors and what you can do for them. They don’t care about your mission statement or what you have done for someone else. They are all about me, myself and I.
“We have been in business for 341 years, and we are dependable, down to Earth people who love helping our customers get a great deal. Nothing gets in the way of our incredible service.”– BORING! – and it probably goes on for another 400 words.
“Get your XXX in 3 easy steps. Just click here.” – now that is what I want to hear. Quick, easy, and it is about me getting something.
#3 – SEO Structure
One of the big issues here is that you need simplicity, but Google loves lots of text and lots of pages. You need to strike a balance between the two and employ a couple of techniques I have developed. That is a whole blog post in itself. Read about is here: New SEO Landing Page for Phoenix Web Design.
What is a reasonable price to pay for a website?
According to my friends at Image Works (another web design company who do fantastic websites) you should be paying $10,000-$20,000 for a 15 pages website. Jeeeez! Don’t worry. I don’t think any website should ever cost that much, especially not for 15 pages. I think that you should budget anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000, depending on what you want. I pride myself on being able to deliver a $5,000 website for just $1,500. Bottom line – hire me! Just kidding (unless you’re thinking about it, then I’m serious).