You’ve probably seen the ads for VistaPrint Websites and 1&1 MyWebsite, or you may have heard of others such as YellSites. These companies offer an easy way to get your business online, with the promise of high quality designs and an all inclusive service.
Aimed at small businesses and those setting up a new business or looking to redesign their old, tired website, this seems like a no brainer. You’re likely to be pulled in by the promise that the service is “quick and easy” with prices starting from less than £10 – seems like a great deal!
Have you tried searching for reviews of these companies? Perhaps not. Why should you, these are big names, of course you can trust them! If you do search for opinions on these services, at first sight you’ll probably find some great reviews from bloggers.
Underneath these supposedly ‘genuine’ reviews are comments from real people who have experience using the pay-monthly website builders.
While some people report having some amount of short-term success with these websites, in the long-term many people are regretting signing up in the first place, while many others are paying extra for services and features they do not need, want or know about.
Having read the comments on some of these blogs, here are some of the main points being made:
Apart from blending in with your competition, when search engines become aware of two or more websites using the same content, only one of those sites is picked up and visible in search results, the others are dropped.
Most professional web designers build your website into a content management system such as WordPress, which gives you the ability to log in and change content as and when you wish. Pre-defined content is lazy and ineffective, even if you can’t write it yourself, get a copywriter.
Many people using the same service will also be using the same bland, uninspired design. Again, this just makes you blend in to your competition, not stand out. The templates offer no room for you to develop a unique, recognisable brand.
A web or graphic designer such as Norwich Designer will work on your whole brand to ensure your business remains consistent across your website, social media, business stationery and advertising. This is vital if you want your customers to think of you as professional, credible and reliable.
While you may be satisfied with an average design, the website is doing nothing to attract your market. A professional designer will put the time and effort into researching your business, looking at what your competitors are doing and developing something which sets your business apart.
Not all web designers will be experienced in SEO, but any experienced designer or developer will code your website to be friendly to search engines at the very least. They will also code to the latest standards, ensuring reliability and functionality in web browsers of today and tomorrow.
Offers and a low monthly price may look tempting, but over a longer period it will be more expensive than a professionally designed website which will last much longer.
I mentioned earlier that people claim to have been conned or ‘set up’ by these big companies. I can understand where the claims are coming from. One of my clients previously used hosting from 1&1 and started receiving emails from 1&1 stating “your site transfer is ready for your approval”. The email goes on to link to a website where a badly designed template has been set up in my clients name, with my clients details, pre-defined content and stock photos.
Unfortunately it seems a lot of people are sucked in by the seemingly amazing list of features, low prices or even claims of free websites. Most people realise months or sometimes weeks later that their website is not bringing in new business, and they’ve come to the conclusion that a website is a complete waste of money.
Have you ever seen a prominent, successful and well-known business using a free website builder? Successful websites take time, patience and hard work. It most certainly cannot be done with a few clicks!
The other argument is that a professional web designer costs too much money for a small or new business. This is simply bad business sense. It’s a necessary short-term expense which pays off in time. If you value and care about your business, a decent, professional web designer will put the time and effort into working with you and building a bespoke website which will bring you long-term value.
Small businesses don’t need to spend thousands on a website designed by a big design agency. There are many professional web designers running small businesses themselves, like us! If you can’t afford a completely bespoke website, we can customise off-the-shelf designs to suit your needs.