This is probably gonna sound like a bitter web designer’s rant who might have lost some business to the new kid on the block but sue me. I might actually have made some money as a result of this scheme!
The ‘Getting Irish Business Online’ scheme has got my goat up ever since it appeared a couple of years ago. It’s a Google, Blacknight Hosting, An Post!?, Enterprise Board joint effort whereby businesses can get themselves a free website with free address and hosting (for the first year only!) and avoid the alleged cost and hassle involved in getting a website the old fashioned way.
In the news today, I seen that 10,000 Irish businesses have now availed of the scheme and got their free website. So what’s wrong with a scheme that makes it easier for businesses to market themselves in the middle of a recession?
I’m sure intentions were good but the big problem for me is that this is the kind of scheme that should have existed maybe 10 years ago when the barriers to having a professional website were much higher than they are now. These days, it’s very affordable for a business to hire someone to build a proper internet presence that will look and perform a lot better than the “30 min” free 1 page template offering being given under the getting business online scheme. I think internet users these days expect a professional website from the companies they might hire, not a site that looks every inch a free handout! It’s like getting a fancy new business card and sticking a Yahoo email address on it. Potential customers will see the free site template and arguably guess that the business in question isn’t doing well enough to have more than a free site. And if they’re not doing well enough, maybe they’re useless?
Recently I’ve had a number of clients come to me looking to upgrade the site they got under this scheme and I’ve yet to see one perform well in search engines.
And just to prove I’m not bitter, I’m willing to upgrade any sites that are currently on this scheme, looking miserable and under-performing to a proper, content managed, SEO’d site running WordPress. All I’ll charge is the hosting fee as the free hosting Blacknight give out under the scheme is not useful enough to install a proper site on.