As we near the end of another April Fool’s Day, many of us have spent most of the day not believing much that family or friends posted on social media, questioning news stories, and looking for the hidden joke in our coworkers’ stories. Unfortunately for business owners looking for a website, there are some scams out there that don’t just exist on one day a year. Many telemarketing and other services will promise free and lock you in to a poor web presence.
I had a client not long ago that got their initial site for free from a former unnamed directory service. They got a unique domain, copy, images, even a few pages. It worked out great until they wanted to improve. The site was dated, visually bland and unintuitive, and not responsive. Free worked for them for a time, but they were ready to grow their business in a real way.
One catch: the directory service that gave them that free website? Bought and registered the domain with their information, not the client’s. Launch day came, and there was no alternative. New domains had to be purchased, business cards, letterheads, and other materials have to now be changed to match the new web address. Meanwhile, a site sits out there untouched, with half-decent traffic, confusing their customer base all because we can’t get access to their branded domain.
Sure, message boards say you can harass the directory company into giving up the domain registration details, but our client simply doesn’t have the resources for that kind of fight. Here’s a large company preying on small businesses to lock them into their services for life.
A lot of free site offers come with worse caveats.
You get what you get, but should you ever want to update fees are astronomical. A lot will make it hard, nearly impossible to do any updates yourself. And the rest? The rest just make your company look . . . unsuccessful.
Think about it. When you’re deciding between Company A and Company B, what’s the first thing you do? You look them up online. Probably on your phone or iPad. If Company A is offering relatively the same service as Company B, but you can barely read their content, can’t figure out their opening hours, or even find their phone number, are you going with them?
Let’s think about it this way. It’s two weeks until tax time, and everyone is scrambling to get their returns done by that all important date. If an accountant offered you free work, wouldn’t you be wondering what the catch is? Or if they’re actually qualified to do the job?
If you don’t expect free from other services, how are we predispositioned to expect free for our websites? Partially because for a lot of the world, either it’s so new they don’t understand it or their teenager can build a website so how is it hard? We’ve talked a bit about having a unique web presence before, and this really goes hand in hand with that. You get the value that you put in. If you want free, you’ll get free results back out of your site. But if you trust a great web development company (psst, like us, just sayin’) to represent your brand and tell your unique story, well, results will be exponential.
So go, enjoy the last few hours of this wonderful holiday. Put some salt in the sugar jar. But don’t trust something that’s too good to be true, because it probably is.