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Free Websites and Website Builders

Website Design for Florida Small Businesses
Remember What You've Been Told, Nothing is Really "Free."

Let's face it, assuming that you'll receive a quality website for free isn't realistic. Obtaining a website or website services that will function well and help you grow your business starts by knowing a bit about website design, hosting  and search engine optimization. Free websites and website builders that are available to Florida businesses and entrepreneurs come at a price.. meaning, you are either locked into hosting or they require upgrades. Once you realize the "free" version of your web builder isn't working to accomplish your goals it's too late. We have countless customers who come to us for affordable website design services after having experienced the hardships of that lesson. Turns out, what a wiser person might have once told you (nothing is really "free) is so true.

Let us show you how it relates to free websites and web builders.

Our intent by showing some reviews for some of the most popular web builders is to compare services, however, comparing free website builders for small businesses to a custom website design is like comparing apples to oranges. If you do your research on "free" websites or website building services, you will find the many reasons why "free" is never truly "free" and you'll also see that using these services may not be cost effective or reliable for the future of your business.

Nice Looking Website Templates.. How Bad Can it Be?

I'll begin with saying that there is truth to the fact that there are plenty of nice templates offered with free websites or web builders that seem to be easy to navigate for the user.  But, the truth is, they are highly restrictive and cannot be customized or optimized properly.  Further, if you decide you need more features, that's where they are no longer free. Pretty, perhaps, free, not any more. The biggest complaint we get is that they are locked into hosting or other services and that it was a waste of time and money, only to have to start over again when they decide to leave- They don't own their sites, they cannot take their content or website to another host.

Website Builder Reviews

I'll post just a few testimonies that I found online regarding one of the most well known web building services. Do a search on your own and be mindful of the fact that many of these companies have guest posters and reviews that are written to market their own products. Other reviews are posted by those who have just started their sites who may or may not be using them for business or revenue making purposes. Here we go....


"Not knowing anything about how to create a website I turned to (We won't mention the name, but it's a major player in the hosting industry.) After purchasing their website builder I was surprised at how un-user friendly it was. Yet the worst part was discovering how much more money was necessary in order to utilize the many necessary features that I would need. After purchasing more and more product add-ons for a website that I wasn’t even happy with I decided to hire a website designer. I received a superior website and saved a lot of frustration."


I want to be able to either buy the template or export my design for a fee. Horrible business model to lock me into your services... absolutely horrid. And by touting how free it is, but its not is probably not legal - at the very least its false advertising. If i design it, i own it, i shouldnt have to pay for you crappy services to use it. Let me buy my template and move on.

Replied by Eileen September 7, 2016 Hey afviolettes I'm afraid that is not possible at the moment, thank you for your feedback



When i google my website that has a premium package the xxx name comes up which i do not care for.  i designs sites for others and do not like this at all.  although the domain name does no show the xxx, many folks just google your website and then can see the ( xxxx company name) connection which is not fair.  any way xxx can stop this.......


There are other factors that you should consider when choosing a web design solution or service that claims to be free and each will differ depending on the company. Here are a few:

  • You will rarely own your "free" website and will be locked into a service that you may end up not liking. All that time and effort and even any ranking you may have produced, will go by the wayside if you decide to change companies. You pay every month for the lifetime of the site. Compare this to the cost of a one time charge for a custom design website, custom c-commerce site or a WordPress CMS site.

  • Your site most always will contain advertisements that have nothing to do with your industry. This can certainly effect your user experience and may even effect your overall search engine ranking.

  • Most of these free sites offer some very basic SEO options but nothing close to that what a custom or professional design or designer can offer. If you research this, you'll find this to be a fact.

  • Branding. Branding your business is crucial. It doesn't matter whether you have a lawn service company or you are a law firm or other large company. These cookie cutter templates  look the same and you don't have to have a trained eye to see it. You've worked hard to develop your business and since most businesses depend on the internet to survive, it's a huge risk to start out with something that will end up being all wrong.

  • Hosting. Hosting is usually the main money maker for the free web builders. They offer a few or maybe even more than a few templates that you and others get to choose from. But the main money maker is what these firms make on the hosting. What's worse is that often times your site will be set up as a sub-domain under the companies main domain with storage and bandwidth limitations. This is not conducive to developing a good ranking on the engines and again you will have to spend more time or money to get your site ranked.

  • Upgrading. Upgrading to a more flexible and user friendly site is also where they get you. If you look at the plans, many will offer the free site, then go up a few levels to get the basics that a custom site would have provided in the first place. Additionally, you are on a perpetual payment plan for hosting and for your site that you will never own. You can obtain the same payment options to obtain a custom site which allows you to carry your files anywhere, to any hosting company or web designer. Once your website is paid for, you can expect to incur the same costs for SEO and marketing or updates if you choose not to DIY. This is routine. Your SEO costs may even be more if you continue to try to work with your existing "free" site.

  • I give a thumbs up to the fact that some of these companies make it seem easy for a novice to make basic updates to their websites, but there is still a learning curve for most people and with many of these services, there is little help or support. The fact is, with the right web editor, a custom site can be edited with a few short lessons. We offer this option to our clients. You will own your own content and will be free to take your site with you if you wish to move hosting companies or developers. Our clients who have switched from these free sites to a custom site, have had no problem updating their sites and realized that really nothing replaces a professional designer when building and maintaining a professional website.

  •   Cost of Using a Professional Website Developer or Website Designer vs. Using Free or Cheap Website Builders.

    Bay Area Graphics & Marketing, Tampa Florida Web Design

    Quick Comparison

    Free Web Builders   Professional Web Design
    - Usually combined with the purchase of a cheap hosting plan, which you are usually locked into. - Opt to host your website with any hosting company and take your website files anywhere, anytime.
    - May or may not include your own domain name. Owning your own domain name is crucial on multiple levels. - You purchase your domain name, then point it to a server of your choice. ** Please note: Always purchase your domain name with your own credit card. Never allow a hosting company or web designer do this for you.
    - Comes with choice of website templates. Some builders have a decent variety, others may not.  
    - Editable templates can be created for your ease of use and based on your custom design. This is helpful if you wish to make edits.
    - You add your basic information and images to "place holders" included on the template.   - Information and images can be placed anywhere you choose. These can be edited at any time.
    - Ads are often included on your website that can appear unprofessional or a nuisance for your users.   - You control your ads, if you choose to allow them at all.

    - Initially affordable. Long term may be more costly. Upgrading or having to redesign your site because you find you are locked in
    to a service and you cannot take your site files with you.

    - Prices can be higher initially but over time, can save money, time and produces better revenue for business through exposure and ranking. Ask us about a comparable payment plan for our custom website design.
    - Can be fine for a very small business site or blog.
    If you are serious about your business, don't let the initial costs sway you. A business site that cannot rank because of poorly designed templates or themes, will not generate revenue.
      - Easier to market and to edit and optimize. Do your research on this. If you cannot get into your site code to make adjustments, your site is going to be very difficult to rank. There are other restrictions that also prevent ranking.

    The cost of developing or maintaining a website often times prevents some small business owners from hiring a Tampa or Florida website design firm or web designer. Regardless of the size of your business, cost is always a factor when choosing web design and marketing solutions and we understand this completely.

    What infuriates us is to see people being taken advantage of.  Those with little or no real knowledge of web design and marketing really don't understand the depth of it and best practices set forth by Google. Understanding what it takes to ensure that a website is built, maintained and marketed accordingly is crucial to small business success.

    Knowledge is Power, They Count on Your Lack of It.

    I want to point out that most of us realize that free is never really free, and affordable solutions to website design and marketing is what small business owners truly need. Knowledge is power and most people don't have an extensive understanding of web design and SEO. This is what  these companies count on. But what they DO understand is that even the most novice user can generally navigate around a website and complete basic tasks such as uploading an image or dragging and dropping or typing information into a form. Maybe because it seems "easy" at first clients believe that "free" can do no harm and are initially amazed at the nice site that can be created with little effort or knowledge about web design and SEO--- UNTIL-- their site does not function the way they want it to or their site cannot be found on the engines.

    We believe (and have witnessed) that many of these companies are simply taking advantage of the lack of knowledge most people have and use their own deeper understanding of web design and SEO as a way to entice clients into a free site --- They can count on the fact that their up selling efforts actually take no effort, and their clients get railroaded into a more costly or premium package when the free one doesn't work or accommodate their needs. This is particularly frustrating to us, because we know how much time and effort people put into their DIY free website, one that they will never truly own. If they hit rock bottom and wish to leave, they will have to start from square one. Time lost, money lost, potential revenue lost.

    Tampa and Florida Website Design & SEO Services - Affordable, Custom Built Websites that YOU OWN

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    Whether you need a basic, fully custom web design for your small Florida business or an e-commerce website, or WordPress sites, we can provide you with the web development services at an affordable price.

    With our custom websites we don't offer cookie cutter templates or force you into using DIY web design services. Every website should be custom designed for Florida small businesses. We include many services that are crucial to the success of your site.

    Your website should be more than aesthetically pleasing so prior to launching, your site, we'll make sure it will be ready for your visitors as well as the search engines.
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    Begin with a 6, 12 or 24 page website, suitable for Tampa and Florida Small Businesses.

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