I know you've seen them—those neon-colored ads for $500 websites. A whole website for $500. An absolute BARGAIN, right?
The saying ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it is!’ has been around for centuries for a good reason. It’s freaking true!
As a business owner, it’s essential to understand what to expect from a free, cheap, or just plain lousy website. Just because you’re not paying much for your website, in the beginning, it doesn’t mean you won’t have to pay in other ways.
If your friend's nephew made your website, the chances are it's not built up to industry standards. If your website was built back in the early 2010s (and hasn't been given any TLC since), then it's definitely not up to standard. A website isn’t just a checkbox that needs to be ticked off the list of business essentials.
Your website is an investment. Your website is a valuable business asset.
Your website is the online representative of your business. For many prospects, it’s the first touchpoint in their journey to hiring you. It’s where you generate your new leads and nurture prospects.
It doesn’t matter how awesome your company is behind closed doors. If your prospects Google you and find a hot mess, you’ve already lost that sale.
Bad websites have a lot of hidden costs that you might not be aware of.
Let's take a look at why cheap and outdated websites are bad for business – and why you should invest in a professionally built, good-looking, revenue-increasing website for your company.
Are cheap websites actually that bad?
Yes. Yes, they are.
Here are five negative outcomes of buying a cheap website for your company.
1. Bad first impression
Cheap websites are most often bare-bones cookie-cutter sites with little content and thought for your customers. If you run a startup with a shoestring budget, this might be perfect while you validate your business model. But for established companies, especially B2B, there are high expectations when a user comes to your site. Nobody wants to use a website that’s cluttered, messy, and a pain in the butt to use. If your audience can’t find what they're looking for due to poor design, generic content, or can’t understand what you do, they’ll just get frustrated and leave.
People won’t dig to find out what your site is about – they want (and expect) instant gratification. So give the people what they want, or they’ll head over to your competitors.
2. Reduced website traffic
The more your visitors bounce away from your website, the more Google will see you as irrelevant. Your site will start getting pushed under your competitors (who have much better, more user-friendly websites) in search engine results because Google knows you’re not delivering what people want. Furthermore, 88% of consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience using it – which means you’ll lose out on potential clients big time.
3. Virtually invisible
Not found. Not hired. It's that simple.
I recently helped a client who had a website built by a colleague who was not showing up in Google. I offered to perform a website audit to see what was going on. Well, it turns out if the goal was to do absolutely everything possible NOT show up in Google, they succeeded. The site was written by a colleague, designed by a friend who was sent to India for coding. The designer did good work but did not offer SEO or site maintenance. She builds them and moves on. My client had a new website, but it wasn’t plumbed to the rest of the Internet. Not only was it not built to be found by not offering maintenance, but the site also had no security and no backups. Seriously! I was shocked, and a bit pissed off.
4. Wasted time
The site that I referred to above was live for 8 months before my client reached out to figure out why it wasn't showing up in very specific Google searches. So not only did they waste 8 months hoping today would be the day the site finally got some Google love, but they paid me to audit the site and to fix the massive errors I found.
Having a cheap site isn't all that it is cracked up to be. Was it built with the client in mind or built as fast as possible? Is it easy to keep current and technically sound? If you spend $500, $1,000, or $3,000 on a website, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to get unlimited support and neverending updates in the future. Someone’s going to have to look after your website – and if it’s not you, it’s a team member. Expect hours of wasted time as you try to figure out what the hell you’re meant to be doing.
5. Lost money
Whether it's lost revenue to the site being invisible or having to upgrade to get a new designer/developer to help fix your website, you’ll ultimately lose money by going with a lowball offer.
Your website is a piece of the Internet that you OWN.
You can literally do anything you want with it.
You decide how it looks, what it says, and how it works.
So what do many business owners do?
They build a website full of meaningless content and then ignore it for years. Only to tear it down and build another website a few years later and do the exact same thing and the cycle repeats over and over.
Stop pissing away the potential power of your website.
Your 24/7 salesperson.
Your website is often the only thing a prospect sees before deciding to contact you or not. If you don’t have a modern website that’s optimized to get noticed and get hired, then your marketing and advertising will all be for nothing.
Your website is a valuable asset and an important investment you make in branding your business. Hiring the right team to design, build, and manage your website is also an investment – in both your time and your money.
For the uninitiated, it can be confusing shopping for website assistance. Why are website builds priced so differently? And what exactly are you paying for?
Many don’t realize that you’re actually paying for a variety of skills, services, and deliverables when it comes to web design services.
- Online strategy, competitor analysis, current website audit
- An experienced copywriter
- Sourcing professional photos
- The expertise, insight, and skills of the website designer
- The actual website development of the back end of your site (structure, security, tech choices, and future manageability)
- Search engine optimization and plumbing the site with the Google and locations that matter to your market
- A quality assurance process with extensive testing
- A defined launch process and monitoring for any issues
- Maintenance program
The term “you get what you pay for” is really relevant here. There’s a hell of a lot of stuff that goes into the strategy, design, development, and launch of a website.
An outdated website is just as bad for business
Sometimes bad websites don’t start out as bad websites. The company got busy and “set-it-and-forgot-it”. Sites that are ignored get old and become obsolete compared to sites that are maintained and updated to change along with the company.
So if your website was made back in the early 2010s and hasn’t been updated since, it’s probably not doing you any favors.
Here are three reasons why an outdated website could be bad for your business.
1. Poor perception loses you sales.
No matter what your Mom says, everyone judges a book by its cover. We all make snap judgments when we are researching. If you don't look the part, you get quickly dismissed.
Over the years, the evolution of website design and new technology and social trends have raised the bar for what’s expected, especially for B2B websites.
If a potential customer goes onto your site and is met with an old, outdated look, they will bounce and move on to the next.
They might think that:
- You’re going out of business
- You’re not in business anymore
- You are a small firm that has no budget to keep up
- You are outdated and don't offer modern solutions
- You're technologically incompetent
- You are a very risky choice
- You don't care
- You can't be trusted
2. You’re probably not mobile-friendly
It’s undeniable that website browsing on mobile devices is increasing. Of course, the stats vary based on your market but regardless, you have to be ready for mobile and tablet viewing.
Not only does everyone expect your site to adapt to the smaller viewport of a phone, but so does Google. The big G will penalize you if your site has poor usability on a mobile device.
Your site’s users will get frustrated if it isn’t mobile-ready because:
- The site will load slowly – and as it does load, it looks a mess
- The text will be too small to read
- The pictures will be either too small or way too big
- The context is often lost as the mobile browser does its best to stack your content to fit the phone
- Some website functionality doesn't work on a phone or is really buggy
3. Poor security protocols mean bad news
Hackers are out there 24/7/365, most don’t have malicious intent, but many do. Your site cannot be shoved in a corner and ignored for years, that is how you get hacked, and your server is turned into a delivery hub for things you don’t want to know about.
Security is a big issue any day of the week, but even more so if you have client or employee data stored on your site. You could be responsible for handling their sensitive data to the bad guys. Even if your site is just a simple company brochure, no one wants to deal with the embarrassment or hassle of a hack job.
- Use reputable security tools and keep them up to date.
- Keep your WordPress plugins up to date and pay attention to obsolete plugins or developers who no longer support the tools you use.
- Lockdown your contact forms and blog comment fields if you have them turned on
- Sign up for daily backups or, as I call them, “Oh Sh*t Buttons.”
- Host your site with a solid, reputable company with excellent tech support
- Invest in a maintenance program, so you don’t have to take care of any of this yourself
Now, if you’re thinking that you’re too small a company to be at risk, think again. A lot of hackers aren’t after money but the information they can leverage or sell. They are also happy to hijack your server and use it for their own nefarious goals.
If you're here (and you've made it this far), you're already looking into what the best approach is to improve your online presence. You're in luck, as we've been helping companies like you do exactly that for over 30 years.
Here at Branding & Beyond, we'll help you find all the good stuff that already exists within your company, clean it up, and bring clarity to your messaging.
Our goal is to align your business offline and online by creating a strong foundation and strategy that supports your website and marketing.
When you work with us, you'll know exactly what's on-brand and what's off-brand and what's best for your company's positioning going forward.
Sounds good? Let's chat!
Tracy O’Shaughnessy Founder / Lead Brand Strategist of Branding & Beyond
Tracy and her team help B2B firms in the construction industry and professional services look and sound credible online and off.
She has been in the industry since the early '90s and is tired of great companies being treated as commodities and competing on price because they don't look and sound as credible as they really are.
You can find Tracy on Linkedin and here on this blog.