We’ve talked at length about the elements that go into a great website. How high-quality content that is well formatted and easy to read, combined with images, video, and proper social media engagement can push your site from just being “OK”, to being something phenomenal. You’re probably wondering what your options for creating a site featuring all the best elements are. If you’re not a designer or only have limited knowledge of the web, it becomes an even greater challenge. Now, you’ve probably looked at a few services that offer free websites and various templates and wondered if that might be the way to go only to get discouraged by naysayers claiming that it’s not worth the time to create a site on your own.
Commonly lodged complaints include: “No Exclusivity!”, “No Customization!”, “No Optimization!”, and “No SEO!” The idea that because the basic site layouts are used by multiple clients. Thus, they can’t be unique to you, and your site will suffer as a result. Your options for tweaking your site will be limited, so it will end up looking cookie-cutter because of it. Being inexperienced, you’ll be more likely to slow your site with unnecessary elements and way-too-big photos; and SEO, a crucial component to getting your site discovered, will be left all up to you.
These complaints, of course, discount that the overall layout of most sites is very similar, and many layouts, even custom designed ones, can fall into broad categories that differ only in minor detail. After all, people are usually coming to your site more because of the unique and interesting content that you offer, and less because you have a fancy layout you paid “X” designer “X” amount of dollars for.
As for slowing down the site with big images, just about everyone and their mother nowadays have at least some kind of free image processing software, which is often just as feature heavy as something like Photoshop. It doesn’t take an advanced degree and years of training to resize a photo so that it loads faster on your page.
What about SEO? It’s not as difficult as some might make it out to be. Behind the air of mysticism, there are simple and easy to comprehend principles that make the process manageable for just about anyone willing to put in a bit of time to learn.
In addition, there are clear-cut advantages to going with a template for your web design. Chief among these is that you know exactly what you are getting. You can look at a web template in advance and be pretty certain about how your information will appear in the final product. You can customize it a little (or a lot) to match your personal preferences, but you won’t have to worry about trying to explain your vision to web developer and wondering if he understood even a bit of what you told him. You gain the benefit of speed. You can roll out and edit a template based site much faster than you could a custom designed site. If you’re lucky, you’ll have that custom site up in months. Using a template, you can have your site built right in under a day, and for less money.
Nowadays many template services offer free websites. There may be some costs for your domain and such, but you’d be paying those anyways. You’ll certainly be paying less than the thousands you’d spend on a competently executed custom webpage. You also get the assurance that the site will have at least basic functionality and be pretty easy to navigate. Can you imagine the frustration of getting a fancy custom site, only to learn that it doesn’t work as intended and you have to go back to square one to fix the issue?
When you add in the fact that most template based services have been killing it in terms of choice and features for sites, and that more and more individuals have been creating their own sites, it becomes pretty clear that the advantages of using a free website far outweigh any supposed disadvantages. The truth is that the web has become equalized big way, and free websites are a much more viable option, if not a preferable one than before.