What do free websites cost?

Free websites aren't free. Now this sounds like an anachronism but let us show you why free websites cost a lot, and usually cost more than a professionally produced website.

Scanning through the terms and conditions of wix.com, a popular free website service, we noticed that although the initial site is free, there are steep follow-on costs. To add to this, there are costs that seem fair but actually degrade your brand and that you have no control over. Let's look at some of these.

Firstly there are the ads that appear on your site that are beyond your control. It's a kind of protection racket: pay up or we put external 3rd-party ads on your site. They could be for anyone, even a competitor. But that's not all; you have to pay for storage AND bandwidth. Now storage might not be as big an issue unless you're a photographer in which case you're stuffed and really haven't done your homework if you're considering a "free" website. 500MB is about the size of 15 minutes of video or 70 pictures of mediocre resolution with a thumbnail and a preview-sized image included.

But nevermind miniscule storage; 1GB is about enough data transfer for three people to watch your compelling video, or around two dozen people to look through some of your photos. Think in terms of your mobile phone (cellphone) and how you carefully control your data usage so as not to go over and be charged - same thing! And you're still charged a fiver a month for this!

So what do you do? You do like everyone else and pay a tenner a month which gets you "unlimited" bandwidth (terms apply of course) and 10GB of storage. Fair enough; most people won't go beyond that setup. But then you realise you need a slider on the front page, a specific layout for news, another for products and another for landing pages of different sorts, as well as control over these. Well... you're stuffed. Sorry. They can't do as that's not productisable in their format.

The thing about running your own website vs social media, an external blog, etc is that you control your message including the branding, the tone of voice, a responsive layout, any connected 3rd-party content, and we could continue going on from there.

We haven't even looked at site response speed, source ordering, search engine integration and reporting. Now most of the free services might say they bolt on reporting. Problem is, like other facets of expertise, you're then on your own and you get to do the multi-year educational catch-up figuring out what's out there that is folklore that may or may not be true, and what's actually effective.

Or you can talk to us. The issues above are the tip of the iceberg of the value we bake in to every site we build. But it doesn't stop there; we teach you how to run your site effectively including taking advantage of all the search engine optimisation techniques we build into the site itself, and how to write content for the site effectively.

It's your call - we like people who have done it themselves as they know the uphill struggle it is to build and manage a site themselves. They recognise the enormous value we build into every site we create and understand already that there is no such thing as a free website.

We're always here to speak to, either to save you a lot of time and heartache, or to pick up things and accelerate them from where you are now.