Free websites talk the talk, but they can’t even stand up.
Companies offering free websites like Weebly, Wix, MoonFruit, and the other hundred ones out there are wasting your time and effort. They’re also letting you down. The beautiful templates that you see featured on these websites are enticing – I’ll give them that. Their colors are bold and basic and their layouts can be elegant or straight-to-the-point simple, which is my personal favorite. So, I don’t entirely blame you for wondering why I’m being “that guy” who’s hating on an up and coming business model that is the free website designer and their users.
I’ve been there before and I realized how lonely it can get out there on the free web. It’s easy to get lost and absolutely bewildered when trying to get your website domain to pop up on other people’s computers. I mean, with the billions of searchers every day, one would think it would be easy, but it’s not. Why? Because only a few players are getting all of those top Google search results and your and my Wix pages are sitting at the bottom of the ocean, looking pretty as ever, but not having any real function.
In order to create a gold mine of a website, you need to show the promise of gold. A Weebly or Wix page will look great and you might have a great product that you’re selling (I never doubted you), but it’s like having the most delicious bakery in the world, but you put it up in the mountains where only a few rednecks, some bear, and some deer live. You probably won’t get any business out of the rednecks and you might even get mauled by a bear. Stay clear of that mountain.
You want your business website to have signs pointing to it all over the Internet, as if road signs steering people your way. Weebly and Wix don’t come with full-service teams who will get those road signs out there for you. They simply come with templates, or the physical store, for you to put your content in. If you want your own website name, you still have to pay money for your domain anyway. So, why spend the extra money to get this full-service team? Well, to put it simply: there is much more going on behind the scenes of the Internet than appears. Got another analogy for you: it’s like watching a play and not realizing the stage crew is sweating their asses off behind the curtains running around for the special effects, the music, the light show, and the curtain pull.
Web developers are trained (usually) in the art of SEO. Search engine optimization, which involves a big content marketing campaign, social media advertisement knowledge and application, customizability, mass e-mail marketing, and many other things, can be applied to your website. These processes are the underlying actions that get your website more exposure, participation, and ultimately customers.
As a web developer creates your website, he/she keeps in mind the overall purpose of the page, which isn’t to look pretty. Sorry, but it’s the fact of the matter. I actually conducted research on Google Analytics and found that some of the top search results for what I was looking for had relatively ugly and useless web pages. It’s an unfortunate fact of the matter. You can put all of your time into making the most awesome Weebly page, thinking you’re creating a great platform for creating business, but you could be getting outsold by a convenience store that sells the same pies as you at the bottom of the mountain (I’m sure your pies are better).
Getting your website to show up on Google results pages is the key, followed up by a social media campaign (which can also help you on Google), and potentially paid advertisements. And, the fact is that you can read about these concepts all day (on our blog even), but you won’t really “get it” for a while. And all this time you’ll be breaking your back to keep up with the Internet and it could all just disappoint you in the end – with no real results. If you pay the upfront cost for a professional to do these deeds properly to effectively get your website on the Internet, then you won’t end up at the bottom of that ocean. After all, you’re a Marlin, maybe even a Great White; you can’t survive down there.
Now, an emphasis on SEO procedure doesn’t mean your website can be ugly or useless. After all, you want your conversion rate (of people visiting your site to people who actually stay on your site) to be as high as possible. Here is where you think your Weebly or Wix site would shine, but it won’t. Without knowing any coding, you can only create a façade of something that’s a great website. You still can’t do whatever you want.
Web developers have coders on their teams, which are the people who put all of the numbers and letters together that make no sense into an HTML format to actually structure your site – digitally. It’s actually a pretty awesome concept. But so is chemistry. And I don’t see anyone making their own antibiotics if they actually want to cure their illness. These coders can actually craft any look, effect, table, style, layout, etc. that you want on your website.
So now, you have entire freedom. Your customizability just went from cute to amazing. Your website can be the page of your wildest dreams and you just need to pay some more upfront. But even now, what you pay for your cool special effects or whatever you want, will be permanent. This is a flat fee that won’t keep adding up. And your domain and hosting fees will be consistently the same.
Now you’ve paid for your web developer. You have a team of people working to design, create, and market your website with a dozen years of experience to get the most visitors on your website as possible, and keep them there. This way, they can look around and take a liking to your business. Now… those pies look way better than in that convenience store. Look, everyone is happy. Except for those bears that used to be raiding your garbage out back – after all, they loved your pies as well.