Why you should avoid free website builders

As a business owner, it might be tempting to go onto a free website builder. You see the commercials and think, it must really be that easy to build your own website. Companies like GoDaddy, Squarespace, Weebly, or Wix want you on their platform while withholding critical details about the effectiveness of your website.

We have worked with countless clients who have made the transition from those platforms to their own independent website. Over the years we have been taking note of the poor practices by these free website builders and want to highlight why you should avoid these platforms if possible.

You don’t really own your website

Everything involving the website files and code belongs solely to the platform. If you want to migrate your website to a new hosting platform, you’ll run into the problem of not having access to the files. All that work you put into making the site on your own will have to be redone on the next hosting.

If you work with an agency that will host your website, you’ll have an easier time with anything involving your website’s files.

A lack of flexibility

You’ll be working with templates that many consider a time saver. However, most people are able to detect a website that is following a template, especially if it’s from one of the popular free website builders. You can organize however you please, but everything from fonts, buttons, colors, and lack of tools leave a “cookie-cutter” impression on your site.

Having a website with custom code allows you to elevate your business to its goals. Custom code gives your site the “wow” factor in terms of appearance and functionality.

Limited functionality

The tools developed for these free website builders are often limited to just them. This also means there is not a huge appetite among the community to develop more tools for these platforms. If your website was instead on WordPress, which is open source, there would be plugins galore.

There are more options when you’re website is on an open-source CMS (content management system) like WordPress.

Poor SEO performance and insights

These platforms offer “SEO tools” which implies more features than actually available. In order to perform true SEO on your site, you need to make modifications to files on your server. The problem is this website is not technically yours and therefore you don’t have access to these files.

Some builders will give you access to fix the basics like meta descriptions or alt tags, but leave out access to specific pages like shop, product, or blog pages. If you want great SEO, you cannot compromise on your access to your site’s files.

Without full access to your files, you can’t compete on SEO with other companies. As much as you try to implement the best practices you learned on your own, not being able to make modifications or optimizations will lead to your SEO strategy plateauing at a certain point.

SEO is also constantly evolving with changes to search engine algorithms coming on a regular basis. If you’re a business owner that’s designing a website, marketing your business, and doing SEO then there’s no way to stay on top of the changes. Having a dedicated agency is a great way to alleviate the pressure to stay up to date.

Low-quality customer support

Sometimes you need to reach a person to help you out with your website or your emails. Unfortunately the only mode of communication offered by a lot of these companies, if at all, is through email. That is not the best way to provide support since there is a delay and the agents might not be responsive to your needs.

If you need immediate support then that is a whole separate problem. You will be considered lucky to get someone on the phone, but they likely will not be able to provide assistance. At that point, you’re wondering if it’s just you or if everyone else gets treated that way.

You can find lots of reviews online detailing the shortcomings of the customer support systems on each of these platforms.

Why Runningfish?

Free website builders only go so far to provide adequate service to business owners. You should work with an agency that provides flexibility, expertise, insights, and reliable customer support. When you call us, we pick up because we want to help your business succeed.

Get in touch with us about your project.