Q:Dude. Like why should I pay you thousands of dollars to build me a website when I can do it on Wix for free?
A: You shouldn’t. We aren’t for everybody. In fact, we turn away a lot of potential customers for exactly this reason. If you are setting up a small site for yourself, a non-profit you volunteer for, or some similarly small organization, then you probably don’t need us.
You mention Wix (wix.com). This is but one of several companies that specialize in getting a good-looking, mobile-friendly website with all sorts of bells and whistles and social networking integrations up and running in literally just minutes for little to no cost. Who are some of the others?
BigCommerce (bigcommerce.com), Jimdo (jimdo.com), Shopify (shopify.com), Squarespace (squarespace.com), Webflow (webflow.com) and Weebly (weebly.com). Though for you, dude, I might recommend DudaOne (dudamobile.com/responsive-website), affectionately named after “The Dude” of Big Lebowski fame. There are dozens more. I found Jason Vissers at Merchant Maverick does a good job reviewing most of them (bit.ly/2mGxOWp).
Now your grandma (the reason you’re setting up a site in the first place, as she refuses to join Facebook) probably beat into your noggin that “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” But you, wise webizen that you are, know there is plenty that is free in the world, but it is either limited or has ads. The same is true for a free website.
The typical restrictions one encounters are a 500MB storage limit, though some will limit the number of pages you can have. Your site will be a subdomain of the host. For example, thedude.wixsite.com, as opposed to the much more appealing thedude.me. Ads? Yep, your site will have them. Many hosts also have monthly bandwidth limits, much like your phone has. Though, unless you are delivering lots of high-resolution photos and videos, that likely won’t be a problem.
If you want to have your own domain name, get rid of ads, and get bumps in storage as well as some other perks, you are looking at the $8-12/month range. If you are looking to sell merchandise online, another important detail you will need to know is what the host’s cut is. This usually starts at about 3% and goes down the more you upgrade your plan.
But, with all that said, I have to admit there are some pretty crazy cool sites one can whip up without knowing much at all about web development. The biggest problem you will have is selecting which template that best represents what you are trying to accomplish with your website.
I gave Wix a deep dive, designing a website for my sister-in-law. Yes, it was an understood responsibility going into my marriage that I’d be doing all of my relatives’ websites. I found navigating through the editor pretty straightforward and understandable. Rarely did I get stuck wondering how to do something. It was more like “I wonder if they’ll let me…?”
The quantity and variety of widgets you can include on your website is truly mind-blowing. In addition to the out-of-the-box elements such as photo galleries, lightboxes, maps and lists, you can add “apps” that will really open up doors. They include customized forms, chats, social networking feeds and sharing options, event calendars, storefronts, and the list goes on.
The only downside I had during the experience is often there was a bit of delay from when I clicked on something before the expected response actually occurred. But when building a website this cool, it is often worth the wait.
So yes, I’d definitely recommend Wix or one of their competitors if you just need a simple website. However, if your website ambitions involve integrating with multiple databases, interfacing with third-party APIs, or retiring an ancient AS/400, all while being scalable and reliable, then by all means, give us a buzz.