The short answer to this question is maybe! For some businesses starting up with a tiny budget, making their own website may be the only option but usually business owners need to decide which website option creates best value for their business.
There are many "free" ways to write a website but none are genuinely zero cost if you factor in your time. Web development is hard work to do well and for many businesses the hours you spend trying to create a website could be more efficiently spent generating business and growing your company. If you have plenty of time or existing expertise then creating your own site could be a good option but if you don’t enjoy spending hours learning new technologies then it will be a frustrating experience.
The tools on offer at zero or low cost tend to be very limited in terms of layout and it can be a case of your site looks how the template determines rather than how you or your designers want it to look. If you want a site that looks like everyone else's then a 'free' site builder might meet your needs but if you need your site to be memorable or stand out from the rest then at least some degree of customisation will be needed. Drag and drop software allows easy setup but does not allow for the subtleties of optimised user experience that an experienced web developer will create.
No company provides you with resources for nothing. Free site builders are no exception. There are two models. In the first you start for free and invest lots of time on putting your content in and designing your site but after many hours you discover that you can't do something without paying for a premium service or plug-in. Its difficult to know in advance what you might need and costs are never easy to find on these sites but make sure you check the pricing page carefully before investing your time. In the second model you pay for the service by having adverts on your site. Not all sites make it clear where or which adverts will be shown to your visitors so make sure you investigate how much control you will have. Sites with lots of adverts and pop-ups don’t look very professional so if your image matters then we recommend you avoid site builders that use your site to advertise. You might decide paying for a plug in or ‘pro’ version is ok if it allows you to build the site without professional help.
Writing your site and leaving it on the internet is no longer enough to ensure people can find you and visit your site. SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is a complex topic with multiple factors involved in ranking your site amongst all the others. Factors such as pages speed, keywords, canonical urls, security, accessibility, and how long people spend on your site all factor into your Google ranking. There is no one quick easy fix but professional web developers are well used to making your site as easy to find as possible.
So once you have your site out there how do you know how well it is doing? Are people finding it? Are they mostly on mobiles or desktops? Which countries are they in? There is a huge wealth of information available from a professionally built website that may be lacking from a free or diy one. We can generate reports that help optimise marketing spends and can inform you of how you can make the most of your website traffic.
Don’t assume a custom made website will necessarily be more expensive. By the time you add up all the ‘extras’ especially if you account for your time then a professionally built website may end up costing less than the alternatives.
Site builders do offer accessibility and some businesses won't need the premium extras or mind if their site is used to display adverts. Especially if time is no issue then a free site builder can be a good entry point to make a standard website.
Nanoweb offer a half-and-half alternative where we set everything up securely then hand it over to you to customise and add content. This service works well with our Wordpress support package where we can be on hand to help you learn how to develop a site yourself.