Website as the average person is known to believe is purely for information, more or less, a few web pages illustrating a business card. To the average person the value is purely functional undermining the value of a well done business website.
Web design and development is dynamic and with the expansion in web technologies, limitless possibilities exist. The latest attempts in cutting edge design are aimed at emulating human behavior as closely as it could; a wave for humanizing User Interfaces is gathering storm while most uninformed individuals are stuck with template drive ‘text-led’ websites because they appear to be free or almost free.
When the Interweb first become available for commercial utilization/exploitation in the 1990, the predecessor to modern day website was a text based website same as a command line text interface preceded the modern Graphic User Interface (GUI). Today, a website amongst other things is a system for conducting commerce and its GUI is designed as a digital sales approach which grabs attention, interacts, plays well and engages the user in a conversation directed at converting prospects/leads into sales/business. A modern day GUI of a website is similar to a growing organic structure attempting to deliver a human experience. Needless to say that GUIs are not free and a result of countless man-hours of deliberations around the business needs of an enterprise and the website objectives after having assessed its market risks, trends, target audiences and the competition.
Think about it, nothing on the internet is free and all common services such as Google, Facebook, etc. are not free but monetized alternatively. Similarly,the so called free website builders such as Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, Jimdo and many others that come with a tag “develop websites for free” are alternatively monetized. Such service providers make money from your content, customers and site.
Are free websites really free?
A free sub-domain and hosting held with a website builder is not promoting your business on the web but promoting the website builder through your content and design and other than that any other individually held business domain and hosting is never free but paid from your own pocket.
So you think, ok, I only have to pay for domain and hosting and the rest is free, right? Not really. The business of a free website is a tricky one. Understand, that the website builder has invested tremendous capital to create a GUI driven template based assembly system which he can’t monetize directly because let’s face it, a template driven limited design is not something which commands any selling value but can be used as a hook to tempt in a user to become a member of the service. The 100% free user is populating the website builder with content and a personalized template helping the website builder gain a portfolio object to promote the website builder and its associated services.
Free hurts when it means you have limited abilities to edit, optimize and add your content. They also limit you in terms of add-ons and plug-ins. Free users are also subject to unwanted advertisements, slow speeds and attract spammers like magnets.
The 100% free user client design is to keep the features and functionality constrained and as and when the free user gets invested into his website, he will have no other option but to unlock/buy premium options, themes, templates, plug-ins, features and custom design/development services.
Such websites are difficult to move from one platform to another. You cannot move your entire website off their platform.
Premium: king of the jungle, is it?
The premium users aren’t any better. There are many pitfalls and limitations.
Let’s face it, we all have been to a website where things just look repetitive, cheap and overused.
As a premium user, you may have access to a larger library of pre-built templates, add-ons and plug-ins but you are restrained from make further changes to the templates to bring exclusivity to your design. Your website will never be unique competitively.
Often times just sliding your brand into another template will backfire. A professional service builds a website around your brand unlike a brand you build around a template using a website builder.
If your business grows, I can assure you, the first thing you will do is grow out of the ‘free website’ mentality which was not all that free that you thought it was to begin with and has perhaps cost you a pretty penny in its membership subscription and premium services. It’s not all that value for money.