Free or paid? Which website works best for you?

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Online retail sales are predicted to reach £52.25bn in the UK in 2015, a 16.2% increase on the previous year1. The growth that the country is experiencing in online retail (ecommerce) is creating whole new audiences for businesses, be it within their towns, regions, the country and even abroad. But how can they take advantage?

It has become really straightforward for businesses to get online and start a website but that doesn’t mean there aren’t many options to consider. One of these decisions revolves around selecting a free or paid website builder.

We all love things that are free, whether it’s as a business or as a consumer. However, will a free website deliver everything your business needs? Here we look at the various features of both options.

Does a free website offer less?

Free websites are quite often very quick to set up, usually utilising free software to help businesses design their site. However, the number of designs is generally limited in comparison to paid options and so your site can end up looking quite generic, and not stand out from your competitors.

The amount of allowable content and data in general is another restriction to be aware of with free websites. Being the online face of your business, it is extremely important that your website says everything you want to about your brand. Videos and images are a great way to do this, but free websites can restrict the amount of content you can upload – whereas with a paid option you can choose as much content as you need.

There is also the issue of professionalism. A free website may require that your web address includes a subdomain. This is an extra part of the domain address to the right of your business name, such as ‘’. The combination of the website builder name with your actual business name may appear unprofessional and can detract from your business name. This might be fine for personal use, but it is generally not suitable for a professional business and raises questions about the image of the company.

Control your content with a paid website

When you choose to use a paid website, this allows you to have your .com web address – without a subdomain, giving your company the benefits of a globally recognised web extension.

And whilst you may be paying a generally modest fee, paid websites also offer businesses the chance to make this back and far more through advertising. It’s your site and you can choose what appears on it, so if advertising is an interest then you can make it happen. However, if you choose a free website, this is generally controlled by the provider and the advertising may not offer any financial gains to you.

Paid websites aren’t exactly free, but they also don’t cost the earth. And compared with their modest cost, the freedom and hugely increased capabilities that they bring deliver true value.

Additional information is available at:

Choosing a web address for your business
What is a website builder?
Setting up a website for your small business is easier than you thought
Top web trends for small business sites


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Image: Bloomimage / Corbis

Category: eBusiness | MyWebsite & Apps | Net World | Products | Tips | Uncategorized
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