As a Web Designer, it caught my eye when I saw a commercial for a Web company offering free websites. As a business person I instantly asked “what’s the catch? Nothing is free”. You cannot stay in business with your main product being free.
Obviously if you are giving away something at the front door, you are carting away the profits at the backdoor. A good business person needs to know what they are spending and hidden costs are bad for business. Since they are not going to tell you your costs and restrictions, I will here.
Websites are not like an ad in the paper that you make for a week or two and then drop. Webpages are a continuous presence that has a continuous cost. Server space to house your webpage is very competitive unless you don’t have that choice. Free sites take away that choice so your monthly upkeep will be higher.
I visited the “free website” site and found that free was not free at all, it was $94.95 every 4 weeks. Yes, 4 weeks, not a month, that’s 13 billing periods a year, $102.86 an actual month and $1234.40 a year. Also what they called designing your website amounted to some templates to make your “canned” website. You can be sure there are also bandwidth limitations and I didn’t see anything about free updates if you needed one.
My guess is that a lot of marketing and research went into creating a price point below $100. And their comparison prices were more deceiving than their actual monthly costs. Right off the bat you should be asking yourself if you can trust a company that tries to deceive you. Again, nothing is free, and sometimes far more costly then you ever expected, especially when they get you in the door with “free”.
So what does it really cost to create a webpage then? Actually a lot of that is up to you depending on how much you actually supply. You have a general idea of what you want to say on your webpage and likely have a general idea of how many and what pages you want to have. This website will give you things to think about so your overall costs will be kept down.
You don’t need a professional copywriter to write down what you want to say. A simple text or word document will suffice. Website hosting is about $12.00 a month, even cheaper with longer terms and if you don’t need a huge mega site, most people don’t. And website optimization is nowhere near those costs stated on “that” website and some hosting sites will do it with the site costs for a small fee. You decide what you can afford and you can always expand in the future.
All you really need to do is to talk to a Web Professional and you can have the site that you really want with a clear understanding of what it will cost you upfront and monthly. You will also have a site that can be modified by a simple phone call, and you will maintain being in charge, not held up with a set fee that all is lost if you don’t pay it.
A quick note; I recently saw an updated commercial for a particular web service company that changed the offer from a free website to a Facebook website. Pretty funny don’t you think? Especially when you don’t actually build a Facebook site, you just add a couple pictures and some text. I suppose they will use this Facebook site to show everything that is wrong with Facebook to suggest a private site, which is a more honest approach.