Free Website Builders vs. Hiring an Agency
Websites. Every business has one… or should. Consider your website an invaluable asset to your company, much like an employee. Seriously, your website is part of your sales and marketing team. Its job is to help attract prospective customers to your business, introducing and warming them up before handing them over to the actual human beings who work there.
Now that you know you need one, how do you get one?
You might be inclined to go the “free” route. I’m talking about the free website builders you see TV commercials for that promise you a stunning and effortless website. I mean, why spend thousands of dollars (literally) when you can create a website by yourself for nothing?
Well, there are a few reasons.
There are a lot of things to consider before making a decision to create a “free” website with Wix or Square Space for example, or hiring an agency such as Warp + Weft (shameless self-promotion) to do it for you.
Below are my completely non-biased (okay, maybe a tiny bit biased) pros and cons of building your own website or hiring an agency to do it. Decide for yourself which option is best for you.
The Significant Pros:
1. When using a website builder there are hundreds of templates to choose from that can be pretty easy to work with. I’ve seen many sites that offer a drag and drop option for content, which can make building a website much easier for a business owner who isn’t fluent in HTML, CSS, and JAVA coding.
2. You also have the power to log in to your site anytime to make content changes you may need. When working with an agency, changes may take a couple of hours or even a couple of days.
3. The price will be significantly less with a website created through a “free” website builder than through an agency. A custom website can get pricey, and it simply may not be in the budget for many small, growing businesses.
Websites Built with Wix
The Significant Cons:
1. I’ve familiarized myself with websites like Wix and Square Space and the templates can be very temperamental. To be completely honest, you likely won’t get the exact result you want, leading to disappointment and frustration. Remember, it’s a template; your website will look like that template but with different content.
2. With a free template you’ll have a similar website to the thousands of other people using that template. There’s no visual uniqueness; you may blend in with your competition or totally unrelated businesses.
3. If something goes wrong you’ll have to figure it out on your own, or even worse, get on the phone with tech support who has no relationship with you, your business, or your website. This can create major issues and end up wasting your time and leaving you discouraged.
4. Your “free” website is not free. Let’s be clear: you won’t be getting a free website even if you’re building it yourself. You’ll incur a cost for purchasing a domain. (Unless you want it to be wix.brandmaine.com. But please don’t do that. It’s unprofessional.) You also need to pay so unrelated ads don’t show up on your site. (Your website is about promoting your business, not Wix the website builder.) There are also a bunch of upgrade options and add-ons available, like email signup, shopping carts, scheduling, etc. You could rack up a hefty bill pretty quickly, not to mention you’re also using a lot of your very valuable time.
Hiring an Agency
The Significant Pros:
1. Working with an agency will leave you with a completely custom website. Not only will it be unique, but it will represent you and your business appropriately. It’ll be everything you thought it would be and more—both aesthetically and functionally.
2. 24/7 support. If you need a change or notice something isn’t working you can pick up your phone, send an email, or even stop in to the office and it will get done—promptly. And to be totally honest, your agency will probably pick up on any issues and have them fixed before you even realize they’ve happened.
3. No surprise fees. Your agency will figure out everything you’ll need in a website before giving you a proposed price. And that is the price you’ll pay—no surprise fees and no weird surcharges. Unless there is a drastic change you’ve decided you’ll need, what you see is what you’ll get when it comes to price.
4. Statistical analysis. This is crucial. Your agency can monitor how well your website and digital campaigning is doing through analytics and can offer suggestions on how to make your website work better for you. There is a lot of valuable information out there that you could be missing out on with that “free” website builder.
Custom Built Websites
The Significant Cons:
Honestly, the only con I can think of when hiring an agency is price. It can get very pricey to do things right and to do things well. And although it may cost more in the short term, you’ll end up saving money in the long term. (Like wasted time fixing it, or having to do it all over again because it isn’t functioning like you thought it would.) If you can budget for a custom website, DO IT.
The Take Away
Your website is personal; it’s a big deal for you and your business. Remember that your website should work for you—like an employee—and not be a time suck and point of constant frustration. You can always start out with a template-based website and move onto a custom website once your business is ready. A website is something to invest in that will work hard for you, and show you welcome returns if done correctly and effectively. Well worth the investment, I’d say.