Are cheap websites as good as they make out? In this article we look at the problems small businesses have encountered over the years and highlight our concerns regarding the risks associated with template website builds.
Websites For Small And Start-Up businesses
Website creation is a dilemma for start-up and small businesses. Contact an established website builder and you might find most of their business is at the £2,500 to £20,000 level.
Over the past 10 years we have heard from a lot of businesses that were not satisfied with the websites and ongoing services provided by individual website builders. We even had two website builders contact us when they ran into problems.
One was a gent who had just left university and immediately set out on his own. He was hosting his websites on a shared server but, due to a lack of updating security, one of his websites suffered a virus and the server operators immediately took all of his websites off their server. All of his customers lost their websites.
Another instance was when a gentleman took a small high street shop and offered to build websites at very low cost. When he approached us he had accumulated over 100 customers but was barely covering his costs. He had decided to return to full-time employment, had shut the shop, and was looking for someone to take over his 100 customers for free.
The choice back then was to pay the high prices for a quality website or employ the services of a one-man operation at a reasonable price, putting your faith in the hands of one person for the website build and hosting. During the years technology advanced and websites needed to be updated for mobile ‘phone access, the requirement for SSL certificates, cookie notices and inclusion of privacy notices. Even today, many of those websites remain unchanged.
Low Cost Template Websites
A new option came to the fore. Companies such as WIX were providing easy website building using a selection of ready designed templates, just change the content within the template to your own details and pictures and it was perfectly possible to complete a website within one hour.
Website developers began to offer to build a small (up to 5 pages) website for around £300. WIX and others were also advertising the options of easily building your own websites for a low monthly cost. On the face of it this appeared to be the perfect solution for small businesses.
There are now many companies offering the template option. PCMag reviews some of these companies offerings but says “Hardly a week goes by when we don’t get a pitch from a new one we’ve never heard of before”. Even the top scorer in the PCMag reviews only achieves a four star rating.
The purpose of Admin Advice is to research on behalf of small and start-up businesses in order to recommend the best available options. We look beyond the advertising, and many template built website owners we have heard from have said they were not advised of the potential problems and shortcomings.
It’s Not All Doom And Gloom
Fear not, we will be recommending a safe alternative, but firstly we are listing our concerns on template builders so that, should you decide to use one of these, you will be aware of the issues that might arise. A check on the company within TrustPilot often reveals some worrying experiences.
Firstly some comments I read from established website builders who do not use the template options because:
“Templates and cheap websites can leave you high and dry, with multiple problems and little solution”
“…. lack many fundamentals of SEO”
“Sites may have less interactive pages and be unresponsive and slow on mobile devices”
“The inflexibility of templates means alterations are difficult”
Concerns of my own:
One downside of most of these services is that you cannot move to another web host due to the custom code they use to display your website.
The competition among website builders and the number of new builders emerging will lead to some going out of business.
There has already been mergers among leading companies.
Where are the companies based?
Popular templates are used on hundreds of thousands of websites and they all look very similar.
Many of these builders recommend low cost shared hosting and security etc.
Problems can take a long time to resolve, if at all.
When some builders have updated their systems it has been necessary to rebuild your website – one well-known builder updated and required a rebuild, then within months, introduced SSL certification which required the website to be rebuilt again.
Never underestimate the hosting element of your website – with hosting you really do only get what you pay for. The cheaper hosting on shared servers often does not include daily back-ups or a suitable level of support.
For increased power, flexibility and control, VPS servers are far superior with pricing of a regularly recommended service being from £26 a month to £116 a month.
Up-selling will feature – they don’t offer cheap entry rates without up-sells – and this may include basics such as domain privacy and protection and SSL (required so your website does not load with the Google message “Not Secure”).
Now to the “Cons” listed on some review websites (these are all from top ten builder recommendations):
Not possible to simply switch to an entirely new theme.
Particularly slow on mobile devices.
No backup and restore feature.
Not easy to rank in Google.
Has some important limitations.
No ‘phone support.
‘Phone support not always particularly useful.
No photo editing.
Little customization for mobile sites.
Navigation isn’t very deep.
Page speed not exactly impressive.
Online store is pretty basic.
Doesn’t have an app store.
No built in statistics feature.
Not best in building, say, 30+ pages.
Templates could be more flexible.
Editor is relatively restrictive.
Restrictive site element positioning.
Blogging function is too basic.
Cannot password protect your site.
Not the easiest website builder to use.
All of these were comments listed on builder review sites of just the TOP 10!
WordPress powers more than 30% of all websites in the world, it’s combination of power and ease of use makes it an ideal fit for large and small websites alike.
Clip taken from PCMag reviews.
Big players in website creation use WordPress for most of their design projects. Being powerful, robust and versatile the platform gives them total creative freedom to design unique and fully customized websites for their clients.
The Small Business Solution
For our small business solution we have a platform with WordPress loaded and ready to go.
We also have the ideal hosting solution. It is Managed WordPress Hosting under the same management as our build platform. This hosting has been built up over the last 15 years with £millions of investment. Our host is a leader in terms of speed, security, reliability and power – the fastest in the WordPress industry – and compares favourably with hosts charging £150 per month.
This package, plus much more, costs just $495 a year (hosting for TEN websites), no up-sells and no charges for upgrades.
Small and start-up businesses now have the facilities to build websites, or have websites built for them, to rival the designs, security and power of websites costing thousands of pounds.
Full details of the package on offer are included in our article After The Lockdown.