This year we are seeing a great deal of new advertising offering clients cheap solutions for website development. We get calls from clients having all types of experiences with these companies, both good and bad.   This blog post and links to other information within this post may help our visitors make a more informed decision. Unfortunately, there are some clients who have little or no budget for a site. (and to be honest) there have been times that our staff has referred callers to check out these options too. In certain instances, if you are looking for nothing more than a very small site to let folks know you have a website, this less costly option could work for you.

Disclaimer:

It is not our intention to dissuade any client from hiring one of these companies. This is only a report of what we have learned from callers regarding their experiences, both negative and positive.

Choosing a Do-It-Yourself Website Platform

Some of these DIY website companies offer a large number of templates which are customizable and able to be optimized for mobile viewing. They also provide a library of  stock images which can be used to develop the site and this is a nice advantage.  Additionally, the cost is normally a small monthly charge based upon a domain name purchase or a one year sign up fee. Branding elements such as your company logo is not included in most offerings, so it is a smart idea to have your professional logo completed before you move forward with this choice.
On the negative side, many of these companies build the code into one individual page which makes the site SEO unfriendly.  If you choose one of these companies to host your site, make sure they support  Google Analytics, and/or Google Webmaster Tools.  Since you’ll need this tool to promote your site, you might think twice about this.  Free or low-cost sites may be better suited for those clients looking for only a calling card site.

A few items to consider when you choose these low-cost options:

  • Flash:
    Some of these companies use Macromedia Flash and this is not user-friendly to search engines. Due to this fact, most professional designers prefer jQuery for animation. Mobile phones, Droids and Tablets will not support Macromedia Flash.
  • Very Little Data:
    One page only themes are limited as far as room for content, meta data and other search terms.  This affects ROI.
  • Not a great first impression:
    Some themes look generic and you may find that your site looks very similar to another site.

Some of our clients have reported to us that the drag and drop feature is a bit difficult, but there is a “help” button which comes with the program. The site building tool is FREE.  However, some of them charge for your domain name and this allows them to advertise on your site using banner ads. This feature is not appreciated by users we have spoken with.  Unfortunately, this comes with the territory.  Another complaint from some site owners is that the site loads slowly with the lower cost plans. Some offer higher priced options such as the e-commerce plans that offer more bandwidth.
Stay tuned next time for part two / Staff Writer, Inside Design Orlando