Free Vs. Paid Website Builder? 9 Important Things To Consider
Cost always plays an important role in a long-term decision like picking the platform on which to build your website. If you take a comparative look at some of the website builders available on the market right now, you will notice that prices range from a few dollars (or even nothing at all) to hundreds of dollars. Why are some of these tools available free of charge while others are so pricey? There is no easy answer to this without trying out at least some of them, however, we can help you understand what each of the packages includes. Here are nine aspects you should check before deciding whether to use a free or paid website builder in the long run.
Significant Factors in the Free Versus Paid Website Builder Debate
1. User-Friendly Interface
Since you will use your website building tool on a daily basis, the user-friendliness of its interface is of utmost importance. A modern design is always more intuitive than the ones featuring a “last century” look. If the features are not presented in a logical manner, you will end up wasting precious time trying to figure out where and how to perform various tasks. In terms of ease of use, Wix and Web.com website builder are two site builders that are rated very highly.
2. Around-The-Clock Support
Around-the-clock support is a crucial element, especially if you have an e-commerce website. If the website builder’s provider offers support solely via email and they only answer after a few days, you risk losing regular visitors and loyal customers because of a simple glitch. Ideally, a website builder will offer several convenient ways to contact their support, such as via email, phone, and live chat online. Some website builders offer priority responses to subscription-based users. For example, if you opt for Wix’s most expensive paid plan – the VIP plan – any question you ask on the Wix Answers page will be pushed to the front of the line for receiving a response.
3. Easily Customizable Templates
You don’t want your website to look like thousands of other sites, right? You should know that free website builders usually come with only a limited range of design templates. If you want to customize your website’s design as well as its other features, you might want to look into the premium options. Otherwise, you might end up paying separately for a web designer and spending more money in the long run.
4. Marketing Tools
Premium packages usually include marketing tools that can assist you in your marketing efforts and boost your website’s online visibility. These tools should not be underestimated, especially if you are new to website building and promotion. Buying the whole package is also more cost effective. These include search engine optimization (SEO) tools, email campaigns, social media integration, and more. When purchased separately, these tools come with hefty price tags. There is also a good chance you will receive high-quality support and account management with a more expensive plan. These are the experts that can help you grow your site if you are new to website building.
5. Ability To Use Your Own Domain
Using a free website builder often means having to work on a free sub-domain that belongs to the platform’s provider. In other words, your website’s address will look like www.mywebsite.wix.com.This puts a series of constraints on the activities you can do, the features you can incorporate into your website, and whether it will be easy to scale your site once you start to see success. Also, these types of provider-owned URLs do not look professional and are difficult to remember. The ability to use your own custom domain is a major reason to recommend purchasing a paid website builder service, particularly if you are using your website for business purposes. If your website is going to be a personal blog, however, you can get away with a subdomain.
6. Ads Display
Do you want to monetize your website by selling ad space? Many people like adding relevant, targeted ads, such as via Google AdSense, to their websites in order to make money with views and clicks. This might not be possible, however, when you are using a free website builder. Nevertheless, this does not mean that your site is ad-free. Free plans will most likely display the website building tool provider’s ads, and you will have no control as to where these ads are placed within your pages. It goes without saying that you won’t be making money from the website builder’s included advertisements on your free site.
7. Mobile Optimization
Most people aren’t just checking out websites from their desktop computers anymore. Smartphones and tablets make it easy and convenient to peruse websites on the go, so it’s important to have a website designed that is optimized for mobile. Some website builders, however, only offer a mobile site if you pay into their subscription plan. When shopping for a website builder, be certain to review whether mobile optimization is included in the free plan, and if not, how much it will cost you to incorporate.
8. Online Store
If you want to use your website for e-commerce, complete with an online store, you may need to pay for it. For example, Wix has an e-commerce plan with online store starting at $16.50 per month. GoDaddy offers an Online Store plan for $19.99 per month, which includes the ability to list up to 5,000 products for sale, easily manage your inventory, send abandoned shopping cart reminders, process payments, and get sales reports. Web.com likewise offers various paid plans where you can list physical and digital products for sale that customers can purchase directly from your web store. While all of these sites offer free website builder options, the online store feature is only a benefit if you pay extra for a premium plan.
9. Storage and Bandwidth
Another consideration to make when deciding between a free versus paid website builder is your storage and bandwidth needs. Free plans often don’t come with as much storage or bandwidth, which may be fine when you’re first starting out. As your website grows, however, it may be important for you to invest in a plan that offers 10 or 20 GB of storage and unlimited bandwidth.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but there is also no need to spend money on things you don’t need. Make sure you research the top website builders on the market, and the features they offer, both free and premium, and choose a package that suits your needs. Save money in the long run by having a clear idea of what you need and purchase it right from the start.
This article was originally published on May 19, 2015. It has since been updated.