Yes, everyone, its true.
You can actually build free websites.
Now we all know what free means, its means no cost involved, not a dime outta' my pocket. And the word free has not changed much over the years, I mean, free is free, after all.
So a free website is a cool thing, then, right?
Website - a definition
Well, not exactly, what has changed over time is their definition of a website. So let me explain this a bit more.
- For many, having a URL to type into the address bar of a browser means you have a website, a collection of files that display to the visitor, once the page has loaded. These files contain an assortment of computer coding (HTML, CSS, PHP and others) which determine exactly what the site should look like, after all the elements have been assembled by your browser.
- In addition to these structural files, there is additional code for text/content, images, links, videos, audio files, forms, shopping carts, and more.
- And, there should a communication system in place, typically email, to allow visitors to contact you.
Free Website Checklist
You're nodding your head, and this all makes sense so far.
So what is the problem, if any, with a free website builder?
Like I said, their definition of a website is what has changed over time. So I will run through these points in the same order as above.
- The URL is the first issue to consider. With most of the free options, you would end up with a URL that looks like this; http://www.worlds-best-free-website-builder.com/your-domain-name What happens is your "website" is actually a collection of your pages (/your-domain-name), added to their main site (http://www.worlds-best-free-website-builder.com).
- As long as you don't enter a typo, you or your visitor will arrive at your collection of files. To put this into a visual, their site would be considered the book, while your 'free site' would be one of many chapters (hundreds or thousands) in the book.
- If you are doing a site with very limited chance of visitors, like a family reunion, boy scout den, etc., then this URL issue might not be an issue after all. Chances are, when they first visit the lengthy URL, they will bookmark it, and the name issue disappears.
- But if you are a small business or non-profit group, this long URL could actually cost you visitors. Imagine having to write out or print the url on correspondence, business cards, or flyers. Additionally, since we can all see that a free website builder was used by the URL, as a potential customer, I have to wonder about the credibility of the site. I mean, there was no investment in the site by the owner, so should I risk entering personal info, or attempting to make a purchase?
- With regards to what files you can use, their can be an issue there as well. Most of these free website offerings have limits in place for each account (your site). There can be limits on how many pages you can have. There is a limit to the number of, or the file size of, the images that can be added to the site. You may or may not be able to add videos or audio, slideshows, or forms. Visitor interactivity is limited at best.
- Most of these programs do not include email in the free package. You would have to use an outside email address like yahoo, gmail, hotmail, etc., and then post that email link at your free website for people to contact you. Again, this can be a credibility issue, since your email does not "come from your site". If you contact me through this site, the email you will receive back comes from "curtisdennis.com", not some third party program or application.
Of course these limits disappear or change if you elect to purchase an upgraded "package". These packages can range from just a few dollars a month or much more, depending on what options you elect to include, such as number of pages, video, email, etc.
Many are set up to auto-deduct from your bank account or credit card, and that can be an issue in itself. But if you read the fine print, if there is any problem with them collecting their payment, your site can go down without warning, and in some cases, it will be deleted entirely from their server.
Once your payment is made, you may very well need to re-create/upload all of your previous work for the site to go live again.
So, like I stated above, you can truly build a "free website", with not a dime outta' your pocket. There are numerous options out there for you to choose from. The big problem is the limits that come with the free website builders. Depending on you, and the needs for your website, the free option may or may not work for you.
If you still want to check out the free website options, please do so. But pay attention to what is included, and more importantly, what IS NOT included, in the free package.
Be sure to check out their FAQs page, if they have one. And if you can't find an answer to your question, contact them and ask.
For the reasons outlined above, the free option isn't realistic for most people. There are numerous low cost website options/solutions available for the small business owner or non-profit group. One of my personal favorites SBI, is reviewed on my website builder page.
Please feel free to check it out, and if you have any questions, contact me, I am a certified (since 2007) SBI instructor, and use the SBI program daily.
Have a great day!
Your Commercial Construction Copywriter
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