There has been a surge in recent months of advertising for "free" do-it-yourself website builders. We decided to take a look at some of these to see if they are as good as they claim to be.

The most popular of these sites offer a free plan, but other paid plans as well. They state that their most popular plan isn't the free one at all, but costs $12.42 US per month. Although the name of this plan is "Unlimited", they actually only provide you with 10Gb of storage, which is still a lot, but not unlimited.

Here are some things they list as "features" of that plan:

  • Connect Your Domain So you build a website, or have it built for you. You buy a domain or have your developer get it for you. Connecting the domain to your website has been standard practice for over twenty years. Yet, they call this a "feature". It's not. It's the way domains and websites have always been connected, and is basically a no-brainer.
  • Free Domain. For $150.00 US a year, throwing in a twelve dollar domain is part of what you are paying for. There's nothing special being offered here.
  • Remove Ads. Again, if you are paying for a service, the thought of them advertising on YOUR website should not even come up. Instead, they make it sound like they are doing you some huge favor.
  • Customized Favicon. I create these for every website I build. It's become a standard feature on websites, and I don't charge extra for it, and neither do I make a big deal out of providing it for free. There are even websites that help you create them, and their services are free too.
  • Google Ad Vouchers. These are being provided by Google, NOT by the website builder. Be careful though, you can run through the amount quickly and rack up money owed to Google in no time.
  • Form Builder - a $48.00 value. Forms are standard on today's websites. If they are claiming you can build a website for free, it should contain the ability to create forms. Saying it has a $48.00 value makes no sense.
  • Site Booster - a $60.00 value. They claim this will get you found in Google. Google and other search engines have become much more savvy in recent years, and nothing will get you in better than a well-coded website. Their website also mentions two directories they will add your site to - directories that I have never heard of, and most likely neither have your customers.
  • Free Hosting. They are charging you to use their website software and host on their server. This is what you are paying for. It is not free.
  • Google Analytics. This is an excellent tool for checking on your traffic and visits. It is free, and is provided by Google, NOT by the website builder.
  • e-mail boxes. This company says Google has partnered with them to provide free email accounts, but only if you pay for a premium account. Guess what? Gmail (from Google) is free to anyone!

    I'm sure you can already see some misleading information. First of all, the "Free Website" is not really free, unless you want a very small personal (no business info) page with their ads appearing on your page. Everything else they offer costs money, and if you're going to spend on a website, you'll do much better with a hand-authored, professional one. Remember, pages generated by software are bulky, lack search engine optimization, and generally are slow, due to the large amount of generated code. A sleek, well coded original website will pay you back for your investment, as it will reach more potential customers, rank higher in Google, load faster, look better, and most importantly, it will work properly on the vast number of devices out there today.

    Some additional things to consider:

  • Adaptation to Change. One very popular do-it-yourself website builder still does not create responsive websites. Google has said responsive sites are the preferred type. This company is about two years behind in attempting to keep up to date with the ever-changing landscape of website design. They even offer some Flash designs! (Flash was once a fairly standard element in website building, but does not work on mobile devices, so it has long dropped out of website design)
  • Ownership. Their fine print states that not only do they own all content stored on their servers (your website) but they can remove it any time they choose and for no reason. When you hire Webberman to create a website, it is yours to keep - even if you decide to take your hosting business elsewhere.
  • Poor Search Results. How many successful websites were built with these "Free" website builders? How many come up high in Google searches. Yes, you guessed it. A big fat zero!

    In conclusion, if an "Easy Website Builder" was really a good idea, top website owners would be using them. The fact is, they are not. They know the value of investing in a properly-coded, responsive website that can be customized to reflect their specific business requirements. Here at Webberman, we do just that, and never resort to generating code with software, or relying on an external platform, such as Wordpress. All of our code is compact, and loads fast, ranks well in searches and your website is unique to your business.