Recent glossy marketing on TV claims you can create your own website within a few minutes, for less than the price of a couple of cups of coffee.
To the business owner this must look great. “Wow – I can create my own website in a few minutes, and really cheaply”. The adverts certainly give this impression but is it a reality?
Here at RedKiteIT, with many years developing software and websites, we are keenly aware of the three gotchas in business and development: Fast, reliable and cheap. It used to be ‘pick two’, however we believe the reality in the industry is, sadly, ‘pick one’.
Join us in a journey to look at the pros and cons in DIY website development and how these should factor into how you choose your website design app.
As expert website and application developers, we are often (unfairly) compared to the DIY website providers such as Wix, GoDaddy and Ionos. Website design can be a tough and complex market place but businesses need to look closely at the details of headline figures and abilities before choosing their provider.
At RedKiteIT, we pride ourselves in providing a good all round consultation service, reasonable prices, and a dedication to bringing these benefits to your business in a realistically timely manner.
As the old adage says: “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, however many businesses can mistake these glossy adverts to think it was and can be still.
While it can be dependant on the type of website you are considering, a simple single page website can be relativity quick and cheap to generate and possibly lend themselves to the online click-and-drag website designers mentioned above.
Once your website design becomes larger and more complicated however, simple website design apps can become problematic, and limited themes may not be conjunctive to the unique nature of your business.
Optimising your website and making it look good across all the different browsers is extremely time consuming, which may not be good use of your business resources, as well as be limited within these DIY web design apps.
Your business may require customisations which require specific coding knowledge which a professional web design company can provide, and these things are not readily available through quick design apps. Specific functions, or integrations with 3rd party tools such as WooCommerce for example. RedKiteIT specialises in PHP, HTML and CSS coding, as well as application integrations.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch
Now let’s consider the on-going costs involved in these headline prices. It is often the case that if there is an introductory price, there is a catch.
In most cases the first ‘catch’ will be the free, or cheap option. This will probably mean your site will carry advertising banners that they sell to others – possibly including your competitors. Not exactly welcome on your business website. Removing this option will give you a very basic service and even with an introductory offer can amount to possibly £57/year. For this you might get:
- A free ‘custom’ domain for a year
- A free SSL certificate
- 2GB of ‘bandwidth’
- 2-3GB of storage space
Let’s deep-dive into these features – and remember that they ‘have’ you hooked already:
A free ‘custom’ domain
As you set up your dog grooming business, you find poshpooches.co.uk is available. Your DIY website supplier provides the domain for free with their initial incentivised website package, however this is only for the first year. How much will it be to renew next year?
Some providers can force you to upgrade your DIY package – in some cases to as much as £18 per month. So, say your domain costs £12 to renew, and you have to upgrade to a Premium Package at £18 per month, on a 12-month rolling contract. Your £57 per year has now increased to £228 – that’s £171 per year more than you paid in year 1.
A free SSL certificate
SSL certificates are essential these days. Many, but not all, companies like RedKiteIT provide standard versions of these for free.
However if you’re operating an online shop, you may require a higher-level SSL certificate (costing £100+ per year), so are you sure the provided ‘free’ SSL certificate is sufficient for your needs?
2GB of bandwidth
For a small website with low traffic, 2GB of bandwidth is usually enough. However, if your website becomes busy and attracts high levels of traffic then you may exceed your 2GB allowance. Make sure you check what the charges are for extra bandwidth. These charges can sometimes double your monthly cost.
2 – 3GB of storage space
This may sound like a lot but it can be used up sooner than you think. Some of your storage will be taken up by your website’s underlying framework. If you have a busy website, or you upload photos and videos, the storage space will be eaten up very quickly. Again, you should check what the charges are for extra storage.
As can be seen, it doesn’t take long before that initial low cost website hosting is not as cost effective as it originally looked. This is before you’ve spent time designing and building your website!
Watch out for missing essentials
Some of the packages don’t include essentials such as email. For business, email IS undoubtedly an essential. If it is not included, you will have to source it elsewhere; Google for example. And if you wanted an address on your personal domain that you got with your DIY package, that is likely to cost you extra. As an example, Google’s Business Starter email costs £4.60 per month.
Add that to your annual cost above: £228 + (£4.60 x 12) = £283
They’ve got you forever
Another key consideration is intellectual property rights. This is an extremely complex area where companies like ours can enhance your business resources with our knowledge.
Of all the DIY websites we have reviewed, the providers own the copyright of their website design templates, and to some degree rightly so. However this has a knock on affect on your business and is one of the main gotchas of these offers.
After spending many hours designing and building your point-and-click website you can never take it away from the DIY website company. You can take your content and ideas but you cannot simply ‘move’ your website to another hosting system, or business. You will need to totally rebuild it again but without the original ‘easy to use’ tools.
Due to this they are well placed to actively push add-on features that can escalate your website hosting costs quite substantially. It can also get very worrying if you want to take control of your domain (the identity of your business). Getting some companies to relinquish this can be troublesome and expensive.
Here at RedKiteIT we also protect our investments with copyright, however we are open to client requests and also licence our IP, so you are at liberty to move your website to whomever you wish – no re-design required. While we can register your domain for you if you prefer, you are also free to manage your own domain. Remember your domain is your business identity and hosting can be anywhere you like.
Finally these wholesale ‘cheap-as-chips’ options place your website within a framework of servers carrying many hundreds, if not thousands of websites where you share the space and resources. This may affect the speed of your website, as well as the security. A slow website is frustrating to use, and many users will lose patience and take their business elsewhere.
RedKiteIT are mindful of resources and spread our customers across servers to avoid overloading.
Does a DIY website still seem like a good deal?
RedKiteIT can provide services and advise on domain ownership, website hosting and design as well as intellectual property advice.