Fifty years ago, print directories were the go-to resource for anyone looking for a doctor, lawyer, or dentist in their immediate area. However, with the dawn of digital marketing, print directories had become almost obsolete. In fact, a team of researchers at the University of Arizona dug into a landfill and discovered layers of phone books, all thrown out at the same time and left to decompose like a layer of cake in the geological strata.
In order to survive, directories had to adapt. Nowadays, anyone who places an ad in an online or print directory is likely to receive a call promoting the company’s digital marketing and web design services.
At first glance, the offer can appear to be an attractive one. It’s fast, local, and cheap—or at least seems to be. But there are many downsides to hiring a directory to do a web developer’s job. These are some common surprises our clients have come to us not realizing and so we want to share them with you so you are aware when you are making the decision of where to get started with your first website.
1. You won’t own your website—you’ll rent it.
Once a directory designs your website, it will charge you a fee to use it. You are essentially “leasing” your own website from the company that created it. If you ever decide to switch services, your website is gone—a handy way to keep dissatisfied customers from calling it quits. Even scarier, many directories copyright your pages to themselves, so even if you attempt to duplicate your website on another hosting platform, you might run into copyright legality issues—for using your own content.
2. You won’t own your domain name.
Your domain name is a crucial part of your brand. But like the rest of your directory-created website, you will merely be renting it. In many cases, the company will retain total control as not only the administrator of the domain name, but also as the registrant. This means that, should you ever decide to discontinue your service, you will face a long and hard-fought battle to get your domain name released from the company’s control. Many directory customers have discovered to their dismay that it’s impossible to retrieve their domains without paying a heavy price tag.
3. It will be a mass-produced, “cookie cutter” site.
Directories mass-produce hundreds of sites for clients. Their goal is to win over as many businesses as possible, and as a result, design and quality are sacrificed for the ease of duplicating templates. A mechanic, law practice, and beauty salon all have drastically different needs, but the limited selection of templates offered by directories doesn’t allow for unique customization. Instead, your site will have the same generic layout as hundreds of other websites in your industry, with minor color, copy, and image changes. If you’d like to add extra pages, buttons, or sections, the company will charge you even more fees–if it is capable of making the additions at all.
4. It will have limitations. Big ones.
If you commission a website from a directory, there’s a high chance that it will be limited in terms of bandwidth, meaning you won’t be able to upload much content. This may not seem like a big deal, but content is a key component of SEO, and if you ever need to expand your business, you’ll face a tremendous roadblock. Directory websites typically do not have Social Media buttons, another key aspect of building a brand in today’s interconnected world. You might not be able to add an eCommerce section or a blog, both features which most successful online ventures will need at some point.
5. Cheap things aren’t usually all that cheap.
Remember that pair of $10 sneakers you bought that were such a steal—until the sole ripped off a week later? Or how about that cheap old car that cost a few thousand bucks, but which constantly needed hundreds of dollars in repairs? Most “cheap” things in life end up being expensive over time, and websites are no different. Sure, $80 or so a month is a lot cheaper than $1,000 for a custom-built website from a qualified designer. But those “low” monthly fees add up to thousands over the course of a few years, meaning you will most likely end up paying the same amount as you would have originally—for a website you don’t own, don’t love, and can’t make any updates to without shelling out even more.
Save your money and skip the directory built website!
When you choose to work with a dedicated, professional web developer, you will maintain control of your website when it’s done and paid for. The domain, content, and site itself will be yours forever, to do with as you wish. By contrast, when you purchase a “cheap” site from a directory, you’re entering a contract from which it is very difficult to escape. That’s why we recommend what so many of our clients have already discovered: when it comes to your business, it’s better to skip the directories and invest in high-quality, professional web design that can be customized for your individual needs.
Whether you are just starting out, or have outgrown your current site and are ready to grow WebRealSimple offers many different website solutions for every size business. We can work with you to discuss all your needs for getting started or for improving and get you on the right path with a website that is able to grow with you. Learn more about our Website Design and Development services.