Website platforms are usually a bad idea. To give up ownership of your website for what appears to be a less expensive alternative is one of the biggest cons around in the industry. There are plenty of examples like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. You can find ecommerce platforms like Shopify or Big Commerce. Well I'm here to pull back the curtain folks, in the long run you are paying more for less and in the end, end up with nothing.
A platform is a network of websites built by a company with a variety of features that they can replicate many times. By being able to build websites in this way it automates many of the processes that a stand alone website needs to incur. For example, A normal website would need a hosting account, a content management system (like WordPress), a web designer, graphic designer, copy writer, and more depending on the level of service. The bigger the company, the higher the competition, the bigger the budget.
This generates a lot of work which costs a few thousand dollars to do it right. Once the site is built you'll need support for updates (even with WordPress you will need help) and maintenance. Sometime years ago, companies started building networks of websites that share resources to undercut the cost of building a website by itself. This seems like a great idea and you can find examples of these everywhere. So instead of paying thousands you just pay somewhere between $70 to $200 monthly typically.
Here's what they won't tell you
- Your website needs to use one of their templates. Yes, these can usually be modified somewhat but you don't usually have unlimited design options. If they did you might as well just build it yourself anyway.
- You still need a web designer to make it look good. This is probably the biggest issue and we've rescued many business from "do it yourself" website systems.
- They aren't the best for SEO. Having a platform means upgrading to keep up with changes takes longer, so they lag behind independent websites.
- You don't own the website. Depending on if you have a contract or not, once you stop paying all your work is gone and you need to rebuild a new website.
Your website is your biggest business asset for digital marketing (and you don't own it)
Marketing for your business online happens on your website. It doesn't happen on social media, it doesn't happen with ads, it doesn't happen anywhere else. Those are places where you engage and drive traffic to your website but it's not where you convert a lead or engage a customer. So if you sign up for a subscription plan from one of those platforms, you are in essence renting out your business asset to save money.
In the long run it doesn't save you money
Companies that create these platforms are in it to maximize their profits. They know that many people are shortsighted and just want the immediate gratification and something cheap. The also know that over time, they will recoup their profits in a much more substatial way.
Here's an example:
A decent business class website starter is going to cost at least $2,000 on the average to build. A platform may charge $100 per month as an example and comparable results. If the website for $2000 lasts for 5 years, then if you page $100/mo you'll end up paying $6,000 for the same website. It's basically the same as taking out a lease on a new car. You'll be paying for years and in the end you'll own very little. Remember, once you stop paying you don't own anything.
It's basically the same idea as car payments. Deferred payments creates more interest which costs money in the long run but this may be a good option for some small startups or other businesses that have limited cash flow.
Our solution is different
That's why we offer something similar but there is a big difference. Once you finish paying for the website you own it completely and can take it off our network. We've created a network of WordPress websites all managed from a central location. A network of WordPress website is NOT a platform.
In addition, we have extra security to prevent hacking, and extra software to boost page load speed. (This means your site will run faster which is better) You can learn more about this on the Wordpress support plan. Or, you can send a message for more information.
What do you think? I did a lot of research on this topic before writing this post. There are opinions all over the board and a lot from the companies who built platforms as well. Just make sure you do your homework before diving into something that sounds too good to be true.