Red flags are called that for a reason: they should get your attention. Anyone who has bought a car likely knows the cost of ignoring the red flags that come with an inexpensive vehicle. Sure, that two-year-old sedan might be a steal… but why? There may be things going on (or worse, not going on) under the hood that will cost you much more down the road. A similar car might cost more simply because fewer things are prone to go wrong when you get behind the wheel. The same goes for your website: the price of cheap website builders may be enticing compared to more expensive options, but it’s also a red flag.
Where you might see “affordable,” we see “cheap.” Not that we want you to break the bank, but a price that seems too good to be true probably is! You’ll find that cheap website builders come with a higher cost than they let on – and you won’t always pay it in money. The question is: will you find out what that cost is sooner, or later? Read on to find out what kinds of problems you may run into so you can make an informed decision before you commit.
The High Cost of Cheap Website Builders:
You’re locked into a platform – and don’t own the assets.
When you use any drag-and-drop website building and hosting platform, you’re using exactly that: their platform. Sitebuilding tools like Wix and Squarespace may seem like exactly what you’ll need at first. But when you start building your site, you’ll find that it costs extra to remove that sitebuilder’s branding. For example, you could be stuck with yourwebsite.wix.com. If you don’t fork over more money, you won’t be able to change your URL to yourwebsite.com. Customers are less likely to trust brands that include the branding of website builders in their URL. Custom URLs featuring just your business name help you look more professional.
What’s more, you don’t actually own your site’s assets when it’s built on one of these platforms. Logos and other custom-made assets might be yours, but the design or your website belongs to that platform, not you. Think of it like renting a furnished apartment. You can make it feel like home, maybe even rearrange the furniture, but at the end of the day you don’t own any of it. Running a business is no walk in the park and we’re all prone to making mistakes. So if you can’t, or forget to, pay a bill for your website, you’ll lose it – just like you would lose all the furniture that came with that apartment if you were to be evicted.
And if you decide you’re not happy with your chosen platform’s performance, you can’t simply transfer it to another platform. These sitebuilding tools aren’t compatible. So if you leave, you’ll have to start your website from scratch somewhere else.
You lack customization, particularly on mobile.
Want to build a house without paying a lot of money? Don’t expect a lot of bells and whistles! Not that you probably want bells and whistles filling your house, but you get the idea.
Cheap website builders don’t allow you to customize your site freely. While they run the gamut from strict templates to relatively freeform tools, they are still very limited. You may see examples of sleek pages on the platform’s website that are exactly what you want in your own site. And by plugging in your content, you may be able to make your website look as good as that template. However, these website building tools weren’t necessarily made to do more than that. If you want additional customization, you’ll often find yourself wrestling with the tool for hours – or you may just be out of luck altogether.
Additionally, some sitebuilding tools have even less customization options for mobile. Mobile sites are becoming one the most important parts of building a website. According to an eMarketer study, U.S. adults spent more time on their mobile devices than any other device in 2020, and the amount of time they spent on their phones jumped significantly from 2019. A mobile website with both form and function helps modernize your business. But when you work with cheap website builders, you may find creating one that suits your needs difficult or even impossible.
You don’t have access to the features you need.
Sometimes, a template site is just fine. But if you want room to grow, it won’t be fine for long. Cheap website builders may be able to get your business on the internet quickly, but they often lack the functionality your site needs.
For example, if you want to start an online store, you’ll probably end up locked into the eCommerce platform your sitebuilding tool offers. With a custom-made website, you can use practically any eCommerce platform you want and get all the features that comes with it.
Cheap website builders lock you into other tools, too. From photo galleries and social media synergy to contact forms, scheduling tools, and conversion tracking, platforms like Weebly, Squarespace, and WordPress.com may only have one option when it comes to the functionality you need. And that’s only if that functionality is available at all, of course.
“But wait… don’t you use WordPress?!” We do! But we use WordPress.org open-source sitebuilding software, not the template-based sitebuilding platform available at WordPress.com. Learn more about the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com here!
Your performance and SEO results may vary.
Inexpensive sitebuilding tools are designed to look nice, but appearances can be deceiving. What goes on behind the scenes of a website is just as important as the way it looks. Your site needs to be optimized for speed so it can load quickly and meet impatient visitors’ demands. It also needs strong SEO implementation; you want to be found on Google, right?
Unfortunately, these are both areas in which cheap website builders falter. After you’ve spent hours trying to make the tool do what you want it to, your page may look nice… when it finally loads. These platforms don’t generally come with the proper tools to increase your page speed for a site that loads quickly and correctly on every screen.
Want to find out more about optimizing your page speed? Check out our guide here!
These tools also lack useful SEO functionality. Google and other search engines look for very specific markers on every web page to determine when and where they should show up in search results. That means your site needs to be optimized to reach the largest possible audience. A custom site gives you full control over your SEO, but on cheap platforms it’s usually an afterthought.
You may not have support when you need it.
Few things are less frustrating than poor customer service. And with large-scale website building platforms, you may not find personalized support when you need it.
If you use a cheap website builder to create your site, you’re joining hundreds or thousands of other businesses on that platform. The developers behind the platform itself don’t have the time to get familiar with every single website they host. Nor do they claim to.
But the fact is, sometimes websites break. Whether by human or machine error, things can go wrong on your website and you may find yourself in need of help. If your site is hosted through a website building platform, at best that help will probably come in the form of a customer service representative. Even the best of them, though, won’t be familiar with your site and individual needs. At worst, you may just be referred to an FAQ page!
A sitebuilding specialist can give you the support you need, when you need it. While they may not offer round-the-clock service (they have to sleep too!), they’ll be familiar with your site and can meet your specific needs quickly and effectively.
Cheap website builders can often live up to their name – in all the worst ways. Lacking functionality, customization, support, and performance, they can end up costing you valuable time and money. So what should you do? We recommend starting with a custom website built from the ground up for your business. A web design firm can help you create a beautiful, functional website optimized for search engines that reaches and engages your target audience.
And that’s exactly what we do here at Punch Bug Marketing. Want to learn more? Check out the full range of services we provide here or see some examples of our work here. If you see something you like, contact us – and let’s get started on your new website!