Published: 27/05/2021 By Chris Gilbert - Website ConsultantIf you’re taking your first steps of starting your own business, top of your to-do list will most likely be to get a web design built that’ll ‘do the job’ and won’t cost very much – this is where the temptation to resort to a cheap website development will be at its strongest… especially if you need something ASAP!
The thing is though, is that whilst a cheap website may seem like a quick, easy and cost-effective solution when you’re just getting started, they’re often not the long-term answer a business really needs. In fact, they can be something of a false economy…
1. Low Cost, Low Functionality
OK, first things first: with a cheap website, you’ll get something that will simply do a job; but what do we mean by that?
If you’ve been looking for a cheap website solution, you’ll undoubtedly be aware of the multitude of online platforms that allow you to build a website based on a variety of templates and layouts. These solutions will often be available for as little as £100-£200 and, for anyone just needing a simple virtual ‘shop front’, they’re perfectly serviceable and reasonable options to consider.
If you’re spending less than £1,000 on a website build on one of these types of sites, you can probably expect it to have a homepage, 1-5 responsive pages and a contact page – not to mention a hosting package of some sort. If that’s all you need, great – crack on! But here’s the rub: for any business looking to attract new customers, there’s a whole load of functionality you’ll need a website to have in order for it to be an effective lead generator – and with your typical cheap websites, you simply won’t get the specific functionality you really need.
2. They Don’t Grow With a Business
Many of the cheap website templates currently don’t offer anything more than a solution that’s right for a specific moment in time. Sure, you may only need 1-10 pages now and you’re happy with your brand identity, messaging and functionality; but what about when your business begins to grow or you need the website to be more than just a virtual shop front?
To be a truly effective lead generator, websites need to do more than just look good - and this is especially true for businesses such as estate agents and those in financial services. Take estate agents, for example: Remember, that prospective buyers will want to know more than just the basics of a home; they’ll want to know information about schools or possibly the nearest travel links if they’re going to be needing to commute.
For vendors, they’ll want to understand what prices are like in the area they’re selling in order to get an accurate valuation. Many off-the-shelf cheap website templates simply don’t support this specific property market-focused functionality, or have to rely on 3rd party plugins that require potentially-expensive development time to function correctly. Which leads nicely onto…
3. Plugins that Steal Your Website Traffic
With many of the current crop of cheap online websites, they will offer tools or enhancements that will give your site an enhanced user experience; but these are often third-party integrations, rather than native programmes that work with the website and its own CMS.
To give an example of this, many start-up property agents will use software plugins from 3rd party property portals or suppliers that give much needed functionality; like instant property valuations or property listings. Whilst this may give the site that extra bit of added value when it comes to the user experience, it’s often the case that the plugins will lead users away from the site it’s hosted on – meaning that not only are you losing websites users and potentially harming your own website SEO in the process, you’re also paying a 3rd party supplier for the privilege!
4. Limited Help or Assistance
The last thing you want to be doing when you’re trying to a busy property agency or small business is spending large amounts of time in trying to get a website to work in the way you want it to. And besides, not all of us our web developers or have a ton of experience in managing websites successfully!
A big problem faced by businesses who buy a cheap website is that there’s very little in the way of dedicated help or support when you need it. Sure, many online website builders will have resources you can refer to or forums you can visit, but who wants to be spending countless hours trying to figure out a problem a web developer could have sorted in a matter of minutes?
The support element is perhaps the biggest false economy of cheap websites. Yes, they may be cheap to buy and get running; but they don’t take into account the personal time you need to invest to keep it updated and managed effectively. And, whilst there are cheap website providers out there who’ll provide help, updates and assistance, it’ll often come at a cost…
5. Poor Quality Hosting
In our experience, website hosting is often something of an afterthought when it comes to getting a new website built; but the fact of the matter is, your website hosting is perhaps one of the most important parts of a website build. If you’re looking to implement a website on a budget, then the hosting packages provided will often reflect this – and cheap does definitely not mean cheerful!
Cheap website hosting packages are generally cheap for a reason. They’ll often rely on shared hosting platforms that – as the name suggests – use shared diskspace, CPUs and memory. This means that if that provider has a huge volume of sites hosted on that shared server, it’s highly likely your site’s own performance will be impacted if the other websites experience high volumes of web traffic.
In addition, the shared resources used by cheap website hosting providers have a greater risk attached to them in the form of hacking or security leaks. Essentially, if you share a hosting provider with any number of other sites, it can be the case if one site is hacked, then all the sites on that server can also be accessed and hacked, too. For property agents, this can be especially harmful given the importance and sensitivity of their customer’s personal data…
Avoiding the Pitfalls of Cheap Websites
Of course, we do understand that sometimes, a cheap website may be the only option open to a business – and this is especially true of businesses such as property agents or financial advisors who may just be starting out. So, if you really do need a website on a budget, then you can avoid the pitfalls we’ve highlighted by asking yourself these simple questions before you take the plunge:
- Can the website be scaled up and grow with my business?
- Does it offer bolt-on, bolt-off functionality whenever I need it?
- Is there a good level of support included?
- How safe, secure and reliable is the hosting?
- Can I update the site’s content, imagery and pages easily?
Answering these questions before you commit to a build should ensure you’re not having to shell out more precious cash further down the line.
Needing a new website on a budget? Then why not take a look at our Website-as-a-Service solutions made especially for property agencies, financial service providers and small businesses? No Setup Fee, 24 hour delivery and simple monthly subscription options that can be scaled as your business grows. Just hit the link below to learn more…