Everyone regardless of stature or profession has asked us this at least once. It never fails, and is always something to the effect of, “Well, can’t I just go with GoDaddy, Wix, Squarespace, or one of those other sites? I don’t think I really need anything this advanced yet and would like to save some money.”
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Everyone regardless of stature or profession has asked us this at least once. It never fails, and is always something to the effect of, “Well, can’t I just go with GoDaddy, Wix, Squarespace, or one of those other sites? I don’t think I really need anything this advanced yet and would like to save some money.” Now, in short, yes you can. And yes, it may save you some revenue down the line. However, there are certain things that you have to give up to take the easier route.
Now, before we discuss what you’re going to be giving up, let’s discuss what each service can do (This list is shorter). I’d like to go ahead and say outright, that we’ve used all of these services personally. First, Wix, the website builder that, in a nutshell, eliminates the need to code. Although this service has gone through many, upon many, upon many updates, it’s difficult to knock it or applaud it. On a basic level, it allows you to create a semi-in-depth website, for free. However, If you want to have that website without the iconic “Wix” banner on your page, you’re going to need to pay a subscription. They have a large variety of templates available to their client base, though the banner will still apply to those as well, with the potential to turn away possible clients. Their main interface is a drag-and-drop system, that does work fairly well. Though, those unfamiliar with website builders will still be taking some time to get used to it. They do offer code sections as well for more advanced users, but as you can see here, it still doesn’t allow for anything too in-depth. The publicly listed reason is for “Security,” which I’m sure is what they were told, but in reality, it would be safe as long as the people using it knew what they were doing, or outsourced.
The second addition to our listed comparison, SquareSpace, is much more simple. So much more, that I actually support this option (Under the right circumstances). Unlike ‘Wix’, which is primarily for entry-level projects, and younger demographics to showcase their creativity, Squarespace can apply to all ages. They do this by using a similar, but more robust, drag-and-drop system. In addition, they allow for unfettered HTML areas of their site, complete CSS 3 customization, and a Logo Maker (for those that choose to take advantage of it) for free. However, the service itself is not free. Instead, they have multiple plans to choose from, without any breaking the bank. Their customer support is excellent, my max waiting time I believe (for a more advanced problem that I tried to create) was around 2-2.5 hours. And finally, not one of their plans include any sort of branding on what you create. The question still persists though, other than the age range, who is it really targeted at? In my experience, I (personally) think that their biggest clients are Photographers and those that operate eCommerce. This is mainly because the feature sets that are implemented are heavily geared toward those two audiences (in my opinion). Not that it’s a bad thing, just that if you aren’t in one of those groups, you may find it lacking what you need. It should be known though, that these websites do not take much to set up. One of our clients, prior to working with us, was charged around 26,000 to have one set up by another agency, which we couldn’t believe.
Finally, we come to the most popular option, and without a doubt the worst, ‘GoDaddy’. Much of GoDaddy’s success has come from people of few categories. You have those that don’t know about the other options, then those that do know but fear its expense, or those that go with it because of cost & marketing outreach. The latter is mainly because GoDaddy has the capital to broadcast commercials to every corner of the country, and globe to an extent. Most of their commercials make everything look easy to entice the general population, or feature attractive women to pull the focus from the actual product. In our testing, this was without a doubt the most complicated, overly expansive option, not only out of this group, but that we have ever seen (to date). You start off choosing a plan, which can vary from a server to hosting. We’re going to talk about the hosting right now, though the former isn’t much better. The hosting includes a basic, and I mean very basic, website builder. I understand this premise for those that aren’t very tech-savvy, however, when the final product comes out looking like a one-page, pure HTML, single color monstrosity, it does more damage than good. Now, diving a little deeper, some could say, “Well Andrew, if you’re buying hosting, you’re not really going to be using a website builder right? You would either be hiring someone, or building it yourself.” Okay, yes, that is true. In fact, I know a decent bit of people that used to use the service for that specific reason, but it still doesn’t make sense. I’m about to explain why.
I’m going to go ahead and throw the negatives all in together, and we’re going to go in reverse-order to save time since I’m sure you want to move forward. GoDaddy, all of their plans increase in price exponentially, for no virtual gain. You get a few extra resources, and things like “Included SSL Certificate!,” but t doesn’t really mean anything. Why, because thanks to our friends over at Let’s Encrypt, you can get a decently strong SSL certificate for free. Some are thinking, “but you get the extra resources right?” Yes, you do, but they’re so negligible that it’s not worth mentioning. Furthermore, it is so much of a chore to change any setting that actually has an effect, that you’re going to be burning, even hemorrhaging, time that could be spent on development. This isn’t even mentioning the amount of frustration it causes, which turns most people away. I’m not saying it’s the worst service on earth. What I am saying is that it is nowhere near the caliber that they market it at, mainly for one big reason. You don’t own the content. In their Terms Of Service (for those that read it), they state that if for any reason, future or present, your site fails to comply with their ToS, they can shut it down immediately without notice. Additionally, they’re not required in an official capacity to notify you of ToS changes. Now, when this happens, I would imagine everything that you’ve created would be terminated. For those that spend hundreds of hours in a CMS built on something like that, infuriating would be an understatement.
Anyway, moving forward, Wix and Squarespace don’t suffer from this. This is primarily due to the fact that you’re going to be using their CMS from the jump, meaning that you can make changes, but you’re locked into their ecosystem. This removes the possibility of any hard backups, remote file storage, or any other security measure. They’re good, but not for serious companies, or individuals.
Finally, something overwhelmingly positive. Servers. When you buy a server (like the ones from our friends at OVH), you own it entirely. In some ways, it’s similar to leasing it. However, the point is that you have the final say on what goes on it, how it operates, when it operates, what you can do with it, and it’s functionality. Meaning that, if you spend the money to have a professional site built on one, you can have redundant backups through the site, an FTP Client, the ‘Snapshot’ option, SSH access, virtually any method you can think of. The downside of this is that none of it is set up for you. Essentially, if you haven’t worked as a systems administrator, or at least built your own systems from Linux, you’re going to be completely lost. Though, once everything is built, you have a plethora of options. Typically you’ll have your website, and a management panel for the server. Though, you can have virtually anything added.
You can have 4 websites (for example), a cloud network, a team chat software with audio & video calling, file storage, dedicated backups, and streaming content on top of it protected by a full suite of Cyber Security options. The Sky is the limit, and with the right people, it can become your playground. I can’t openly recommend hosting of any kind (excluding Squarespace for simplicity) when there are options out there that are ten times better for the money. Financially is a completely different subject. Servers aren’t as expensive as everyone makes them out to be. Typically you’re looking at around a medium to high tier plan on a hosting provider.