After reading my blog post, “The Google update and how it changes the way people find your website”, you know about Google’s update on April 21, 2015 and how it favours mobile-friendly web pages and sites. The change in how Google ranks web pages on mobile devices puts pressure on businesses to convert their website for mobile use.
If yours is a small to medium sized business and you do not have a responsive website yet, the thought of investing in one can seem daunting.
I wondered if there are more affordable options available to you? If you look into it as I have you’ll discover that there are a multitude of online companies claiming that you can build your own website easily and quickly, and in some cases they even offer free websites.
Hm,m,m – easy, fast, and free – sounds fantastic! And right about now you’re asking, “What’s the catch?” I wondered the same thing, which prompted me to dig a little deeper into the options available to you.
The ‘easy, fast, do-it-yourself’ website option
I was encouraged to find that Google provides detailed “How to” information and instruction. You can create a mobile-friendly website yourself using their Web Starter Kit. They provide the necessary downloads and tutorials to help you through the process. And, that’s great, but it looks quite involved and would require a lot of time on your part.
This option isn’t helpful if:
- you have no interest in developing your own website, and
- your time is already maxed out doing what you do best, (ie. run your business).
Knowing about HTML5 and CMS coding would also be helpful when using Google’s numerous web developer tools. I couldn’t find that there are any fees involved. If you delve further into Google’s products and find that there are fees, contact me. I’d really like to know.
The ‘free’ website option
There are tons of other online companies claiming that you can ‘easily’ create your mobile-friendly website for free using their spectacular tools and templates. However, when I took a closer look I quickly learned that ‘easy’ isn’t pretty and ‘free’ equals ‘not many features included’. Also, the templates are rather generic and not specific to your business brand.
Some online companies seem to have the best interests of small businesses in mind, but their free website option is so stripped down that it would hardly function at all. They admit that they offer the ‘free’ website package knowing that customers will need to upgrade to one of the paid packages which have more features. There is a monthly fee for the paid packages that you pay year after year.
Very often a free website is missing important features, such as:
- No slideshows
- No forms such as a contact form
- Minimal bandwidth
- No optimization for mobile use
- No custom domain name (see next paragraph for details)
A custom domain name is important. It includes your company name and no other making your site easier to find and unique to your business. If you create your site using the templates and tools of an online company you may be required to have their name as well as yours in the domain.
Custom Domain Name: www.yourcompanyname.ca
Not a Custom Domain Name: www.yourcompanyname.theircompanyname.ca
Another drawback with creating your website through an online, do-it-yourself service is that in many cases your website would have the name of the online service provider at the bottom of each web page. Ideally, it is YOUR business name that should be at the bottom of each web page.
If you want a custom designed website that is unique to your business, and a domain name to match, the so-called ‘free’ website isn’t an option.
My answer to the question, “Is there a less costly option for small businesses wanting a mobile-friendly website?”, is yes and no.
- if you do it yourself
- if you don’t mind limited features and functionality
- if you don’t mind using cookie-cutter templates that are not specific to your business,
- if you don’t want to devote the time and energy required to develop a responsive website yourself
- if you require certain features within your website to enhance customer experience
- if you want your responsive site to be customized for your business
This may seem rather discouraging, but only if cost is your sole criteria for obtaining a responsive website. I’m betting that, as a business professional, quality, design, and functionality are important to you. If so, there are many options for having your site optimized for mobile use. That’s a topic for another blog post.
Jane Atkinson-White designs mobile-friendly websites and attention-grabbing printed promotional materials for micro-enterprises, and small to medium sized businesses. Clients enjoy the convenience of having Jane design their projects from conception to final execution because it saves them time, frustration, and money. For information about Jane’s design services phone 519-644-2786 or use the contact form at www.atkinsongraphics.ca and receive your free consultation.