Starting a business? Should you use a free website service, build it yourself, or hire a professional?

Starting a business can be a costly process and keeping your outgoings to a minimum is good practice. Yet it’s also important to get yourself a web presence and having a website can be your strongest marketing tool. We’ve all been told about a business, or driven past or noticed an advert that has sparked our interest. What do we do? Well, it’s fair to say most people will Google that business to find out more information. If you’re not online and people can’t find you at this point, it stands to reason that they’ll probably abandon the search and forget about you.

So we’re all agreed then, having a website that people can find and discover more about your services can be crucial to your success.

I’ve got a small budget, I can save money by building my own website!

It sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? You’re comfortable with using a computer, you know what you want, so why not use one of the many free or cheap pay-monthly DIY website builders that are out there?

Well, there’s a whole host of reasons why this could be the worst mistake you could make, especially for a start-up business where first impressions and building a customer base are vital.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why these free or cheap DIY website builders aren’t a good idea.

A template isn’t unique

Your business is unique. It’s yours, and whilst there may be others like you, you are the better than the rest, right? Why then, would you want to use a template for your website that has been used thousands of times by other businesses – that’s not unique is it?

That template has not been designed specifically for you, it does not necessarily represent your business and your brand in the best light. Furthermore, that template has not been designed to engage and convert your customers.

What no mobile?

Many free and DIY website builders aren’t responsive so they don’t work on mobile or tablet devices. With the lion’s share of users going online with mobile devices it’s imperative that your site is mobile-friendly; if it isn’t, you are alienating a vast proportion of your visitors by providing them with an unsatisfactory experience.

You build it but they own it!

That’s right, you may have done all the hard work and built your own website, but you don’t actually own it. The data belongs to the company whose services you are utilising. If the company goes bust, you could lose everything overnight. If your website defies all the odds and becomes incredibly successful (this is highly unlikely to happen) and you want to move it to an independent host so you can develop it further, you can’t; they own it and their system is unlikely to be compatible with another. They can also sell your information; your email address is valuable and they will sell it – if you aren’t paying for a product or a service, then you are the product!

It’s free, but it’s slow!

We talked about the importance of page speed earlier. These free or DIY website builders are on shared hosting which means your website is fighting for limited bandwidth with every other site on that server. Furthermore, you don’t get access to the server so you can’t carry out speed improvements yourself. A slow site is bad for users, and Google doesn’t like it either.

Irrelevant advertisements

Some of these website builders place adverts on your website so they can make money out of you and your content. You are at the mercy of what these adverts look like and what they’re advertising. These can look ugly, be intrusive and do not encourage engagement.

Limited tools

A website template is limited not only in its appearance, but also in what you can do with it. Running a special offer? Trying to increase sign-up to your newsletter? Adding a feed from your social media accounts? All these are things you may want to do as your business develops but you can’t do them here! Building a website that already has a development ceiling is not good future thinking.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – what’s that?

Organic SEO is critically important in getting your website found by potential customers when they are searching for a business like yours. There is an art to SEO, both in how you construct a website and how you display your content. Even if you have the knowledge, you won’t have the tools at your disposal to optimise your website – and if it can’t be found, what purpose does it serve?

Content is King, DIY websites are Jokers

There’s no denying that the search engines love good content; not only relevant content, but fresh content too! Your website is visited on a regular basis by the search engines and they’re looking for fresh content – signs of life! If you have a limited number of pages, and no facility to publish news via a blog, you have no fresh content. Good content that engages with and converts your customers is key to success, who will write your content?

They’re not as cheap as you think!

Some DIY website builders charge a small monthly fee for their service. This sounds great when you’re trying to start or grow your business and you need to keep your outlay costs to a minimum. However, bear in mind that once you have built your website on one of these platforms, you are tied in. They own the website data so you can’t transfer it, and if you can’t transfer it, what are your options? You either start again from scratch (potentially losing your domain name in the process) or you stay put. What was a cheap monthly fee will soon add up. £25 a month becomes £300 in a year, £600 in 2 years, £900 in 3 years and so on…that cheap solution could eventually turn out to be a very expensive mistake.


If you use one of these free or DIY services, your visitors will be less inclined to trust you. One of the important roles of a website is the acquisition of information about your customers so that you can market to them. If your website visitors are less inclined to trust you, they are less likely to share their information with you. Ultimately, they’re also less likely to become a customer!

Security and Backups

Keeping your website secure from malicious attacks is an important factor. Waking up to find your website content has been overwritten with undesirable or spam content isn’t a good start to anyone’s day! If someone breaches your login and locks you out of your own website, you may not have the support to regain control of your website. Is your data backed up? If the site provider suffers a major malfunction and your website data is lost, you have to start again! We always use professional and reliable security software to constantly monitor our websites and we back them up regularly, providing peace of mind to our clients.

We add value

There are more reasons we could list here but if you’ve read this far and still think a free/DIY website is a good move for your business, then perhaps we wouldn’t be best suited to working together.

There’s a reason why we all hire the services of others, and that’s simply because we aren’t professionals at everything. Website design and development is no different; it’s a profession. It requires knowledge, skill and experience to get it right.