If you’re looking for a website for your Church, it’s tempting to only get free tools to help. However, free tools aren’t always the best use of your time and efforts (remember, you not only spend money but also time and effort to grow your Church).
For this reason, we’ve compiled 10 reasons that you shouldn’t use a free website builder for your Church’s website. Since we aren’t promoting a certain free website builder here, these are more generic reasons, but there are quite a few free tools out there, so if you use one of them, most of these reasons probably apply for your particular situation. We’ll first summarize them, and then go into detail on each reason:
- Ability to connect your own domain (as opposed to using a subdomain to the website builder)
- Better access to features that improve your ability to customize the website
- Access to advanced features
- Increased SEO (Search Engine Optimization) benefits
- Potentially faster loading times
- Potentially better customer support
- Better security features to protect data and information
- Probably better ability to use a variety of templates
- Access to a wider range of plugins and add-ons
- Higher maximum number of visitors to your website
The first reason is that on most free website builder plans, they limit your ability to have a great website domain. For instance, both Wix and Weebly force you to use a subdomain on your free website (example: yourchurch.wix.com or yourchurch.weebly.com). This makes it not only harder to find the website, but it also doesn’t look very professional. On the same point, having a paid plan usually removes any web builder branding on the website (or removes any ads they might place on your website).
Another reason is that some free plans limit your ability to use their website builder. They may take away features that would be useful for your Church’s website. So, upgrading your plan to a paid one might get you access to better features (or at least unbranded features).
Some free plans may simply limit access to advanced features such as a code editor, which makes it hard if you know any HTML code (or know how to change some things in HTML). While HTML isn’t necessary, knowing a little (and having access to be able to change it) can come a long way on some website builders.
While Search Engine Optimization (SEO) isn’t necessary or necessarily always done on a Church website, many free plans probably limit SEO features to some degree, which can make the website harder to find on search engines such as Google.
Hosting a website costs money, so some website builders may limit the website servers to the free plans, meaning that switching to a paid website builder might let you see faster loading times. This is especially important now, as Google now puts penalties on slower websites.
While this usually isn’t a problem with most website builders, some website builders may limit access to customer support for their free plans. This can mean longer wait times, which could impact your website in a significant way if you’re looking for a quick answer to a question.
Most free page builder plans don’t include SSL certificates (but some paid plans do). Having an SSL certificate (https) instead of http provides better security for the website’s information. It also provides a green padlock next to the URL at the top of the browser.
If you’re paying for your website builder, rather than using a free plan, you more likely get better website templates, which makes it more professional. You don’t want to put minimal work into your online presence – it can drive some guests away before they even visit your Church (whether that’s right or not). You don’t have to have the best website, but you also should at least put effort into your online presence.
Many website builders have plugins, add-ons, or extensions (depending on what they call them). If you’re paying for your website builder, you may get better access to more of those.
Some website builders have tiers of how many website visitors you can have before you’re forced to go to the next plan, so sometimes you may have a low amount of website visitors if you’re using a free plan on a website builder.