Sunday, April 5, 2015

Dangers of free, low cost, automated, and DIY websites

Don't be tricked by the ads that make you think you can get a website at no cost or very cheap.

Here are 15 things that can go terribly wrong with free, low cost, automated, and do-it-yourself websites.

(1) Many times the websites are unattractive, poorly designed, or generic looking.

(2) Mission critical functionality, like contact forms, donation buttons, and email subscription widgets, could be extremely slow, or might stop working.

(3) They tend to be slack regarding security, breach detection and malware removal. This means porn, racism, or other bad things might take over your website. It may take them a long time to fix it.

(4) Being vulnerable to hackers means your customer data could be stolen and your customers could be victims of scams and identity theft -- and customers may perceive these attacks as coming from you! You will probably be legally liable for any damages incurred.

(5) They can put ads on your website, which will make it look extremely amateur, spammy, and untrustworthy. Is that how you want your business to be perceived?

(6) They may not have Google-compliant SEO values built into them. In fact, they tend to violate lots of SEO requirements. That means you won't get very many qualified customers visiting your website.

(7) You may not be able to upload and arrange photos, video, audio files or widgets in the way you desire. You will be stuck with limitations on where you place them and how they appear.

(8) They tend to use a proprietary content management system (CMS). If you try to leave the service and hire a new web designer, that designer may have a lot of trouble working with the CMS.

(9) It may not be mobile optimized or have cross-browser compatibility. So your website might look okay on an iPad, but terrible on an iPhone. It might render well on Internet Explorer, but look lousy on Chrome, Safari, and Firefox.

(10) They tend to have poorly written HTML code that's not compliant with web standards.

(11) You may not own the domain name -- and that can be a disaster. If they go out of business, your entire web presence could vanish.

(12) They don't implement structured microdata markup.

(13) They are often used by local "web design" companies, who then charge you a lot of money, without telling you they used a free service.

(14) They use generic templates which are difficult to implement custom branding in. Thus, your website looks very similar to thousands of other websites, won't stand out, and won't accurately communicate your marketing message.

(15) Keyword research and internet savvy marketing strategy are not incorporated.

Beth Lee Browning on LinkedIn Pulse states the case well.


When people think about starting a business in the brick and mortar world, they spend hours of time researching and learning about things like location, staffing, marketing, and the optimal way to set up the inside of the store.

There's no expectation of a free building, supplies at no cost, and most of us wouldn't even consider installing the plumbing or electricity.

In fact we'd probably be very dubious about setting up shop in a "free" location.

For some reason this same mentality isn't always applied when it comes to building a website and all too often there's a misconception that it should be free and easy.


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