Design Your Own Website

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We have had a few clients that came to us after signing up with one of the dozens of “design your website in minutes” web design companies out there.

Their experience was similar to the one that Miriam Ellis mentions in her post about Homestead.com. The were enticed by the promise of being up and running in minutes with all sorts of nifty features at their disposal. All for only $59 a month including hosting. Sounds great. Sign me up.

What they were not aware of was that the template company owned the actual site – not the client. If the client wanted to cancel their service with that template company in the future, they could do that with no problem, but since they did not own the actual site they were not allowed to transfer that site to another web host. Hmm.

“Unless the client was willing to use Homestead’s templates or Homestead’s ‘professional’ designers, they were not allowed to use the domain and hosting they had purchased.”
Miriam Ellis

They next learned that the domain name they registered was not their property either. It was registered by the template company. Cancel the account and you lose the domain name. Yikes.

There is usually nothing wrong with using services like this if you are aware of what you are getting into when you sign on the dotted line. When you use a ready-made web site template, you are saving the initial expense of hiring a professional to create the web site but don’t be fooled into thinking that you are getting a professional web design. In fact, Miriam has 12 really great tips to ask before you sign anything:

1. Do I own my domain name?
2. Can I host it elsewhere, or do I have to host it with you?
3. Can I bring in my own designer, or do I have to use your templates or your designers?
4. Is there a limit on the number of pages I can have on my website?
5. Is there a limit on the number of images I can have on a page?
6. Can I optimize my individual Title Tags, one at a time?
7. Can I write my own Meta Description Tags, one at a time?
8. Can I write as many words on my pages as I want, or is there a limit?
9. Is there a limit on the number of content pages (as opposed to product pages) I can have on my site?
10. Can I access the Robots txt. portion of my website?
11. Can I write my own search-engine-friendly URLs?
12. Can I access the CSS?

Great article, Miriam. Unfortunately, it came too late for some but, hopefully it will help prevent small businesses from getting duped by the lure of a low monthly payment.

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