I was speaking with a client recently who I had worked with on another project. She has a small business of her own which currently doesn’t have a website. She advertises her business through Yell, and they were getting quite persistent in trying to get her to set up a business website with them and she wanted my advice. As I recall, they were offering a website for a fee of about £300.
Back in the day, indeed when my client set up her business, Yell was THE way to advertise your service. Whatever you needed, you grabbed the enormous yellow directory and found a long list of businesses ready at the end of a telephone. As the biggest business directory in the UK, Yell did very well, but in the digital age, more customers turn to the internet to find help rather than a manual directory.
I digress, as this was more an enquiry about whether my client should take advantage of what seemed to be a good offer from Yell. A quick look at many of the reviews from businesses who have had a website built by Yell would set off a lot of alarm bells, including mentions of aggressive and persistent sales tactics and poor customer support. However, I’m not here to critique Yell’s methods, but it seems also the fee advertised was not the only cost. With Yell, your website is hosted on their servers, with costs at just under £100/month, and you’re tied into a 12 month contract. That’s another £1200, and compare to our recommended hosting provider, Siteground, who at the time of writing can offer hosting from as little as £40 for the year, that’s a huge and unnecessary expense.
A few other points to consider. Yell is an advertiser, and gets significant revenues from advertising. So it makes sense that a website built on their platform shows up on their platform, rather than another advertiser such as Google. Given a choice, I would always prioritise my website appearing on Google over Yell, and would therefore want a level of control over the optimisation of the website for search engines. Also, if you want to move your site away from Yell, it’s a big job as the website belongs to them and is simply rented to you. At the end of your 12 month contract, if you’ve had enough, you’ll need to build a whole new website.
How about a builder like Wix or SquareSpace?
The reputations of the likes of Wix and Squarespace are much better than Yell, and we should also mention the likes of Weebly and WordPress.com here. The hosting company GoDaddy also offers a simple but limited website builder; one of our clients Onium Process Technology orginally had their website on this platform before we built their current purpose built site.
Wix, which is higher rated than Weebly, Squarespace and GoDaddy, is a popular website builder which markets itself as offering users the ability to create a website, optimised for mobile devices, without knowing how to code. They also offer something called Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI), where you answer a few questions and a bespoke logo and website will be created for you.
Their packages included free website hosting, which as we’ve seen from the Yell example is a cost worth considering, and also private domain security, which is increasingly important for website ranking and essential for eCommerce sites. Also included are auto-backups and advanced SEO tools, and there’s an app market to add extra functionality, although some of the apps are from third parties so you might have to pay extra. You can get a free Wix domain (yourwebsite.wix.com) or pay for a custom domain; if you’re intending your website to be around for while, you will definitely need the latter.
Some of the cheaper Wix packages are really cheap, we’re talking in the region of $150 for 12 months. So for a brand new business just needing a basic web presence, Wix can get you up and running very quickly and with very little outlay. However, for larger websites, it is limited. Because of the build being on a template, you can’t switch to another template later on, and can’t migrate to a more advanced platform. As with Yell, you’re starting from scratch again. With many website hosting options, email addresses are included which makes you look a far more professional outfit that using a gmail address, but you don’t have email addresses included with a Wix website.
If you have definite ideas about how you want the website to look and function, you’re very limited with a template builder. One of our own creations, Ted Kinsey Photographer was originally built on Squarespace, however Ted wanted some of the pages to look slightly different, and this was impossible to change. We also saved some money over the longer term by switching hosting providers. Ted’s site is now built on the Divi WordPress theme which has a user-friendly visual builder, enabling him to make changes to copy, add images and write blog posts without needing to contact us, and the website is exactly how he wants it.
It’s worth briefly mentioning WordPress.com here. There are two version of WordPress… .com and .org. The former is self-hosted and you can have a website set up and hosted completely free. You are limited with the themes you can use and the options are nowhere near as varied as with the .org version. It’s suited more to smaller blog sites where there is not the requirement for a precise look and feel – here’s an example from a few years back when myself and some friends completed the Oxfam Trailwalker.
Deciding what solution is right for your business
When setting up a new business, money is often limited so the cost of setting up a website is going to be important. It’s vital here to look at the difference between the price of what you’re paying for and the cost. Remember the first example above with Yell. So for my client, the price was going to be about £300 for a website, but digging into everything else she was going to end up paying for, it would have been way over the quote. If she was unhappy with this after the 12 month contract was up, there would have been further costs involved in moving the website to a different platform.
If you go down the route of building the website yourself, consider the cost of your time to build the website, find photos, write the copy, ensure your SEO is good so Google indexes your site. How many hours will that take you, and what other things could you be doing for your business that will be held up because you decided to build the site yourself? While building the site yourself on Wix’s cheapest plan might look great value from an upfront price, in terms of the cost of your time, it could be way more than having a professional build you a simple but effective website. Remember your website is likely to be the first impression prospective customers have of your business, and in a competitive world that might be the one and only chance you have to make that impression a good one.
As always, we’re here to help so please get in touch for a no obligation chat to discuss your options.