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This article is written in layman’s terms, hopefully layman enough!

There are so many options when it comes to building a home for your business website.  From free website services, free website builders and paid for websites.  Below are some pros and cons of the different options.

The question is…

Free or paid?

which is best for you?

Free website services

Companies that offer you a web design interface and includes limited hosting.

There are many free website services that allow you to create and host your website on their server, these companies will also have premium options available to expand your website.

With the free option, you will find restrictions on storage, bandwidth and other features.  Once you upgrade to a premium option the restrictions will become less and less as you move up the premium packages offered.

You should be aware that once you signup and create your website you will more than likely have to upgrade to a premium option at some point.  You could also realize too late into the project that there are features you desperately require which are not available, this could cause you to abandon the project and opt in to have a paid website or a Do It Yourself CMS website.

Pros

  • You can create a basic starter website for free.
  • Readymade templates are available.
  • Ease of use is considered easy to moderate.

Cons

  • Not much storage space, usually 500MB
  • Not much bandwidth is given, usually 500MB
  • No unique domain name, you will need to upgrade in order to register you own domain.
  • Support, you are given standard support, upgrading to premium gives you VIP support.
  • Template driven, it may be difficult to find something that you really want.

Free website builders

Free with hosting packages

These usually come packaged with your hosting service, not all hosting services have this option.  These basically have similar restrictions as the free website services except you have control over your hosting bandwidth and storage space. They generally also have premium options to open more features.

Free website builders

CMS (Content Management System)

These are available to download and install on your preferred hosting service, you have probably heard the names WordPress, Joomla, Magnito, Opencart to name just a few.

If you have the time to explore these CMS’s then this is a great option.  A CMS gives you total freedom to design your website with so many features available that you would surely find what you’re looking for.  Millions of templates are available from free to commercial, as well using Page Builders such as DIVI from Elegant Themes or Elementor (For WordPress), which will extinguish any limitations of a standard template giving you more design freedom.  Most templates have a free and premium version available as do the page builders.  With templates and page builders the free versions still give you the ability to have an amazing website.  The below Pros and Cons are based on WordPress, other CMS’s may differ.

Pros

  • You have the freedom to design the website YOU want especially with the use of Page Builders.
  • Plugins available for just about any feature you could want.
  • Free SEO plugins to be Google compliant from start to finish.
  • Big or small, the CMS can handle it.
  • E-commerce ready.
  • Tutorials are widely available online.

Cons

  • You will need time to learn how to use the software, but there is a tutorial for almost everything either as Blogs and Vlogs (Found on YouTube).
  • Commercial plugins, although there are plugins for just about anything you may find commercial versions are required for specific features you need.
  • Updates – You will need to ensure that you keep the site and plugin versions updated for version compatibility and security.

There are not too many Cons, it’s mostly the time and dedication required to get your perfect site, but it IS POSSIBLE!

Paid Website design

I will be focusing on the WordPress CMS, which is the most popular of the CMS’s used worldwide.  Other paid websites are developed by hard coding, these vary from basic html websites which are rarely used today, to other more advanced programming languages such as Java, Python, Ruby and PHP.  These websites are very expensive to develop, mostly used by large enterprise businesses that want their own customized features.  Maintenance and updates will be done by the developer themselves as additional costs.

Most smaller web developers use CMS platforms, this makes it easier to achieve the end goal at a much quicker pace which in turn allows them to offer their services at a more affordable price.

With Paid website design you will require a hosting service or use the service offered by the developer, usually you receive a discount if using the same developers hosting service.

These smaller developers offer once-off development prices, where you pay for the website once, for any changes required after sign-off they will charge you per hour.  You will however be able to login to the websites backend and make the changes yourself.  Usually an hour or two lesson on how to update the website is offered (Not much time is required as once the design and layout is done all you need to do is use the quick edit functions available to make your edits.  Adding more design work and additional pages in the future would be charged for.  A 50% deposit is also normally required.

Some paid services also offer a monthly subscription fee that include the cost of the website, the hosting, and an hour or two of website maintenance and updates every month.

With paid web design, you can normally be assured that you will get what you want without the hassle of the free options.  A paid web developer will have the knowledge of design and also the expertise to source whatever plugin features your website requires.  You should also be receiving the following Google features for your website (Google search console, Google Analytics and Google Recaptcha which is anti-spam filter for email forms).  Social media and Google Ads are generally an additional cost as either a onetime free which is setup only or a monthly fee to manage the accounts for you on an ongoing bases.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization), this topic is broad and will be discussed in another article, it is important to have your website optimized.  On your paid website you will or should have basic SEO setup that adheres to Google’s standards with regards to design and basic SEO.  This however will not get your website on the top of the Google search page, for this you will require advanced SEO which is quite an expensive journey.  I say journey because it’s a long and tedious process, sometimes taking months to fight your way up the ever growing competitor list.  Because of the time and commitment required for advanced SEO, the cost is extremely high, so much so that many small business just don’t have the monthly budget to invest in this and generally decide on using Google Ads instead.  One more thing regarding SEO, a warning, be very careful of scammers posing as SEO professionals, due to the time it takes to advance your page ranking this makes it easy for scammers to take advantage, make sure you Google these companies, investigate or use a company that is known for their reputation.

Pros

  • You get what you want.

Cons

As with all the other options, there is a cost involved.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article, next up… “What important information should I have on my website?”.