With the daily rise of online services that promise to create and host a website for free.
Is it good news for everyone, or a case of too good to be true?
The birth of free
From its inception people have constantly looked for cheaper and cheaper ways to access the internet and get the benefits of the digital life.
From the start Companies like AOL offered discount packages for the masses to get online cheaply. Often the discounts came at a price like poor connection speeds and service but in an age where the internet was new and shiny, many people were happy to put up with most things just to get online.
Businesses were quick to realise the power the internet and what it had to offer, but for many the perceived costs were just too much.
It was not long before certain companies started to appear on the net, these not only would offer you discounted or free access to the web, but bundled free web space at the same time.
For the first time websites started to appear in volume.
The good, the bad and the ugly
Free web space is one thing, but what to fill it with and how?
For those not paying for web space, the idea that they should not pay for the tools to create a website also were important, and it was not long before a host of free tools were available.
The issue with HTML code (the engine that drives websites), was many fold but could be summarised with two very simple ideas. 1) Not all web browsers show HTML code in the same way and 2) not all web site creation tools create HTML code in the same way.
In addition the idea that just because you can write HTML means you can create a website, just added to the litany of bad websites that litter the internet even today.
Good Web Design
As the internet became a standard in a lot of people’s lives, businesses realised that it was no longer viable to ‘just have a website’, but they needed something that would connect to potential customers and generate enquiries.
In the same way as traditional marketing had done with media adverts and direct marketing, the same approach was needed online.
Suddenly every company wanted a website that would make that vital first impression.
Flash in the pan
With the invention of the Facebook generation, it was not long before free web design tools evolved in to the next generation.
www.wix.com is just one of these services, but most work in the same fashion. Without having to have any software installed, you can create for free your website. They promise to remove the issues with how the site will view on the computer by cleaver use of Flash.
The issue does not come down to the service, but to those who look to use the service in the first place. Many still have the idea that they can publish anything they want and it will drive business.
Most forget the most important part of web design, the design element. It is accepted that it’s all good to drive traffic to a website, but without a well designed site with marketing in mind, that it is a wasted effort.
I do believe it’s possible to get a professional result from using services like these but only if you are a competent designer in the first place.
The final solution
The next time you are considering using a free web builder service think of the following things before you go ahead:-
What is my website for?
What’s my message for my target audience?
Does the first impression need to count?
How much will it cost me if I do not get professional help, in lost enquiries and sales?
Spending £300 on a professional website can return hundreds of thousands of pounds in new business revenue.
Do you still want to take the chance on a DIY free service?