I listen to Sirius/XM satellite radio while I’m in the car, and lately, I’ve heard quite a few ads for “fast and easy web sites for businesses” for low monthly fees (or even free). The ads make it sounds as if anyone can create a web site during their lunch break that would rival that of a Fortune 500 company, and only pay a buck forty for it.
Of course, web developers and designers dislike hearing these kinds of ads, because it’s competition for their services. But it’s more than that. It’s hurtful to the overall quality of professional web sites, and it’s honestly painful for a web developer and especially for a designer to visit a bad web site. It’s like asking a chef to visit McDonalds.
I really have nothing against these services like Wix, Weebly, or Web.com. I know how intimidating the online world can seem to people not familiar with it. These services provide a way for people to publish personal and small business sites when they’re just starting and can’t afford a developer.
- When you use one of these services, you should read the terms of service very carefully. Know who owns the rights to the content you put on your site and who is responsible for it.
- These sites use proprietary software. Therefore, you are stuck with one company for the life of the site, and cannot move the site or its contents.
- On the plus side, they often offer very nice themes from which to choose. (However, it won’t be unique to you.)
- Their software is usually extremely easy to use.
- You are limited to the features they offer, however, since you cannot expand the site beyond what the company gives you. For instance, if you want to sell something on your site, do you have a choice of payment gateways?
- Do you know the company behind the claims? Wix, for example, is based in Israel (meaning all legal action is, too) and the site is currently in BETA version! Gee, wonder when that will end?
When you choose to use WordPress.org for a web site, whether or not you hire a web developer, you are using Open Source software, free for everyone and supported by millions of people all over the world. The vast majority of new web sites today use WordPress.
- WordPress isn’t as easy to use as one of the above services, that’s true. It has a higher learning curve. That’s why it’s a good idea to work with someone who does it for a living.
- Using WordPress, you have an unlimited feature set and can do anything that is possible online. There are plugins that allow for millions of features and the means to control them, many for free.
- There are many thousands of themes available for WordPress, free and paid, and they vary greatly in function, quality, and features. Your choice of theme may depend on a particular framework or Parent Theme like Genesis, Thematic, or Builder.
- You have control of every aspect of your web site, from the behind-the-scenes items like domain name, hosting, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and e-commerce to the look and feel of the site.
- You can back up or export all of the data on your site at any time, migrate it to another site, or delete it completely if you wish.
- The bottom line is: YOU are in control of your site. By working with a professional who does development, design, and/or maintenance, you have the best of all worlds: a unique site that does exactly what you want, security, and a future.