There are so many services that promise to give you a website for free (or the closest thing to it). Wix, Weebly, Squarespace and others all promise cheap, easy website builders that you can use to create anything you want.
But jumping at the cheapest option can be dangerous. Here are five risks to consider before investing your time and money in a DIY website building solution.
1. Entry-level pricing can be misleading.
Website builders can be relatively cheap and convenient, but they’re never as good as they look at first glance. Most services charge more for features like custom domain names, extra storage space, or unlimited traffic. They may limit the templates you can access by pricing tier, or the support you can get. What begins as a cheap, simple project can easily snowball into a pricey burden that still doesn’t meet your needs.
Before committing to a website solution, make sure you know the full cost, and make sure all your needs will be met at the price you plan to pay.
2. You might lose control of your website.
A reputable website designer will create something that’s yours. They shouldn’t have final control of your hosting, your domain name, your email addresses and your files — you should.
Website builders may not set out to trap you, but it still happens. You might spend hours learning to create and perfect a website template, but it isn’t coming with you if you decide to move. Because many of these services use proprietary design systems, the work you’ve done is locked in. Not only does that mean you can’t pick up and move your site, it also means you can’t use that design anywhere else.
For instance, Rezgo offers a free co-branding service for new customers, so you can bring your current company website design to your Rezgo website. If you’re using a service like Wix that doesn’t allow you to access your site’s code, we can’t help make your booking site a perfect fit for your brand.
3. They can stunt your ability to grow.
Today, you might just need a landing page to put your phone number and a few photos, but is that all you’ll ever need? You want your company to grow, and — just like your booking system — your website needs to grow with you.
With a good content management system like WordPress as its backbone, your website will be able to expand to become whatever you need. Website builders come with hard limitations that you can’t get around, so growing often means starting over. Some website builders don’t even let you export your content, so your whole site will be lost if you need more than they can offer.
4. You’re walled into a closed ecosystem.
Most reputable website designers work with open-source content management systems like WordPress because they can be adapted or expanded to fill your every business need. With little effort, your site can be updated to include the latest design or functionality trends.
With website builders, you’re limited to whatever they support. Take Wix’s app library. It’s perfectly robust with a few hundred apps, but compare that to 53,000 in the WordPress plugin library. And with a content management system like WordPress, if you need something you can’t find, it can be built.
5. “Easy” isn’t the same as “Effortless.”
Your time is money. That’s one of the biggest hidden costs of creating your own website: the hours you’ll spend learning skills that aren’t relevant to your career or your business. While DIY web design services are objectively easier than creating your own website from scratch, was that ever on the table? Or are you just giving up hours of productive time to avoid contracting a professional who already has the skills you need?
Creating a compelling, trustworthy website takes time. Even if you opt to go with an online service like Wix instead of starting from scratch, you’re giving up precious hours that you could be spending on improving your core tour and activities business. You’ll start by browsing templates, trying them out until you find something that works for your business. They’re usually nice, clean and professional, but completely generic. So you’ll need to make it your own, and that means putting time and effort into learning how their systems work, tinkering with your design, and getting it just right. Once that’s done, you’ll need to upload and configure all your own content.
And what happens when there’s trouble? You’ll be the one troubleshooting any issues that crop up. Weigh the opportunity cost of the hours spent learning to design your own site. Hiring a professional might just be cheaper and more practical.
Creating your tour and activities company website can be easy, so why take shortcuts that will hurt your business in the long run?