First Call has been in the web game for many years. During that time, we’ve investigated the best web builders around to determine which one is the best for web agencies as well as individual, DIY web building. There are a number of web builders available. Many have simplified the web building process to the point where you’d wonder why anyone would use a web designer at all. Pre-designed templates, drag and drop interfaces, and SEO plugins make a web designer obsolete….right? Absolutely not! While mocking up a website is easier than ever, that doesn’t mean that major marketing & SEO features aren’t being entirely overlooked! There’s much more to a website than looks. Let’s walk you through a few of the drawbacks to keep in mind when choosing your free web builder.
The Hidden Cost of Custom Domains
Here’s a big one. Before you sign up for any FREE web builder, remember, you are required to use their branded URL for your website. If you want to purchase a domain name that is tied into your business name, you will have to pay extra fees to integrate it with your web builder. Having your own URL is extremely valuable for building “domain authority”. Even if your site did begin to rank well using the branded URL that Wix or other free web builders provide, if you ever leave them, you’ll be starting over with a new domain name. This can cause problems with redirects and broken links if not done well.
Wix, Squarespace, Godaddy, & Weebly all require you upgrade your plan in order to use a custom domain name. So, remember, if you want to rank well for your website AND be able to take that rank with you wherever you decide to take your website, you will pay for the domain name and membership with the “free” web builder.
Search Engine Optimization
Wix and other free web builders are not inherently search engine optimized. Some offer SEO plugins to help guide you to basic SEO best practices. Often these cost extra on top of your existing fee.
The real problem with opting for a DIY web build is the lack of SEO knowledge to implement from the ground up. Aside from the design of a website, there is a great deal of SEO work that needs to be built into the design of the site. Most of this work is technical including schematic tags, title tags, schema markups and more and without proper SEO knowledge could be done incorrectly.
The builders are intuitive but not understanding how to implement a good marketing strategy can hinder your success in the long run. Web designers know how to test functionality across multiple devices, select fonts/color schemes and work well for your target audience, and arrange content in a way that leads your prospective client through a buyer’s journey. Simply having a website is not enough to compete anymore. In fact, building a website without a plan can cause more headache later on.
For many free web builders, you will need to pay for any integrations, including ecommerce and certain plugins. You may also find that the builder is severely limited and a lot of features are hidden behind a paywall. Do careful research before choosing a free web builder so you can anticipate what type of integrations you’ll need to factor into your monthly rate.
Many free web builders require that you use their hosting. Some of these hosts are fine for smaller, lower traffic sites. Be mindful, if you want to grow a large following for a blog or anticipate having hundreds of products, you could experience a lag in load time. More robust hosting could be your solution, but you will inevitably need to migrate your entire site away which can be labor intensive.
Speaking of migration, not all web builders allow easy migration away from their platform. Sometimes trying to move your site can result in broken code, lost images, broken links, and other painful functionality issues. Keep that in mind as you navigate your free web builder. If it doesn’t accommodate for a transition as your website grows, then it may be better to opt for something more universal like WordPress.
Not sure about your next step?
All in all, we want you to be prepare for potential issues down the line if you’re just getting started with a website. We highly recommend working with a web developer simply to save you stress in the long run. We are 100% on board with strategy and proper planning to avoid frustrations as your website and business grow. If you’re considering using a free web builder, why not give one of our designers a call to chat about potential options. We offer low-cost monthly packages to help make the web build more affordable. Best of luck and happy business growth!