You’ve surely seen the advert? “You’ve built your own business, now build your own website”. A few clicks, choose a theme, a colour scheme, some industry standard images and text and BANG! You’ve got yourself a flashy website to represent your business online.

But is it really the route you want to take for your web presence? 1and1 make it sound very appealing. A small fee of £99 and an easy to use, drag and drop page builder. It appears to be a very seamless and stress free do-it-yourself option. So why would you want to pay a professional web design company much more for the same product?

1and1: My Website Advert

My god, this is easy! Look how great it is!!

Like with most things, it’s simply a case of you get what you pay for. The terms “templates” and “industry standard images and text” means that you will be creating a website that will look and contain much the same as every other plumber, lawyer or hairstylist who also chooses to use the 1and1: my website service. It is true however, that you get an array of templates to chose from, and you can adjust the colour scheme to match your brand, which allows for many variations.

This is not a revolutionary concept employed by 1and1. Pretty much every web host provides a form of site builder software which allows the most non web savvy person to create a web page by using a WYSYWG/drag and drop interface.

Maybe 1and1’s service is more user friendly than other web builders, and contains more templates, but you are ultimately restricted in what you can achieve. Your final product might be a web site for your business, but it will not stand out from the crowd. In fact it will most likely look way off the mark in terms of achieving a professional look and being well designed.

It seems that this service is aimed at those small company owners who don’t value their business or it’s online presence. This is a good business strategy for 1and1. They seem to be providing value for money for small businesses and it’s provides a steady stream of income. Their business model is a sound one.

Unfortunately, it is true that a lot of small to medium sized business owners do indeed undervalue having a well thought out and designed web presence. With the popularity of the internet, and with more and more people having access to it via smart phones and tablet devices, a good web site is deemed a necessity for serious businesses.

To use an analogy, choosing between 1and1 or a professional web development is a bit like going shopping for a new appliance for cooking, where the options are a microwave or a big oven with gas stoves. Sure you can go cheap, by the microwave and cook yourself a ready-meal and even pop one in there for your guests. It’s quick, but the food is pretty awful and bland.

Alternatively you can buy the oven, cook a full blown meal taking advantage of all the ovens features (hobs, grill and the oven). It takes a bit longer, but the final product is a head turning menu, proper tasty food and your guests are impressed and would definitely come back for more.

It’s important to have a professional looking web presence so you can be found by a potential customer and impress them. Standing out from the competition is important. Your website is often the first glimpse at your company a client will see, and the old adage “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” goes right out of the window when it comes to people deciding whether to part with their hard earned cash.

Yell also offer a similar service; templated websites that are quick and easy to set up. In fact they do it all for you, but the result is a similar outcome.

Some may argue that we are in hard times, where budgets are tight. However the counter argument here is surely a wise investment in a good online presence is more likely to see your business through the hard times. Furthermore, with a professional outfit at hand, you have access to a valuable resource of information for additional online marketing ideas and concepts.