The reason that I would not recommend such a service to one of my clients is because these templates are based on a proprietary format. Following are four reasons why using these services may not be the best idea.
1) No matter how much you customize the template, it still belongs to the hosting company. If you want to change hosting companies in the future, or even move to a more robust platform like WordPress, you can’t simply take the design with you. This means that you’ll have to pay a designer to re-create it for you or use a different design. Keep in mind that the look of a site is part of your branding.
2) You will not be able to back up any part of your site onto your computer. The hosting company may offer backups that will reside on their site, but will not allow you to back up the data on your computer. That means that the template theme and all of the content, which is stored in a database, cannot be moved to another host. If you upgrade to WordPress, most hosts will backup your database and make it available on the new site, as long as you stay with their hosting.
3) You can only use the widgets, gadgets, and plugins offered by the host. Those created by third-party are not usually allowed. This means that if you find a cool plugin for your sidebar to advertise something, or one that makes your site administration easier, you may not be able to install it.
4) The design is not the selling point of the site. The content is. The purpose of the design is to highlight the content. If you have no experience as an online marketer, it’s likely that you will choose a design based on your personal taste and not elements, colors, and layouts that are based on marketing principles that will appeal most to your target audience.
The whole point of a host providing templates and build-your-own site services is to lock in repeat business for their hosting product. Once you are heavily invested in the site, you are not likely to move it because you would have to start all over again from scratch.
Following are six of the top reasons why I recommend using a self-hosted WordPress site instead.
- WordPress.org is open-source code, meaning that there is nothing proprietary about it.
- Most host providers support WordPress.- Themes, or templates, are available from multiple designers (many are free) and you can change them at will without disturbing your content.
- You can back up your theme and your database (all the content info) on your computer and move it to any other host at any time.
- There are hundreds of thousands of free widgets, plugins, and code scripts written for WordPress and more are being created every day.
- WordPress integrates seamlessly with other products, such as statistic trackers, email campaigns, and RSS feeds services that will auto-export your blog posts to places like your Facebook page.
Most of my Web design clients come to me for their second site. Almost all of them got ripped off or trapped in a bad deal on their first site. The rest created a site that looked pretty, but didn’t function well. Each one has either told me that whatever money they saved doing it themselves was not worth it in the end, or they tell me that whatever money a consultant costs is far less than having to start over from scratch or paying to have a site built twice, not to mention the time needed to restore their content.
Normally I would advise you to read the fine print before you sign up for one of these services, but there is none. The companies that offer such services are selling ease, and that’s exactly what they deliver. There is no problem as long as you stay with that host for as long as you own the site, or if you never need anything for your site beyond their restrictions.