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An analysis of the free websites that have been in the news this week:

Wozaonline and other free website systems don’t have the following simple (and vital features) which Kwikwap offers to their clients:

  1. Payment gateways
  2. Forms and surveys
  3. Bulk mailing list
  4. Bulk SMS list
  5. Emails on your domain name (e.g.
  6. A Dedicated support person (Consultant), technical helpdesk or call centre
  7. Detailed Online Help
  8. Documents and brochures
  9. Various photo gallery options / settings
  10. FAQ module where people are invited to ask questions (and these being able to be displayed on the site)
  11. Advertising spots (incl embedding options such as Twitter feeds and Adsense)
These free systems also don’t offer the following advanced features:
  1. Dedicated industry specific modules
  2. Animation (slideshow) builders
  3. Picture and template libraries
  4. Instant and overall rearrangement of your website or add-ons to “many pages” (e.g. add a Survey form to all or selected pages)
  5. Visitors cannot make comments on photos, newsletters or products
  6. Directory module, events calendar, three level products, Facebook sitelets, announcements, datasheet, forum
  7. Kwikwap have teamed up with various outside parties to offer their customers integrated Value Added products
  8. Running instant Special and Promotions and mailing / sms’ing these to your mailing list
  9. Possibility to ad Adsense to your website and make money from it
Technically speaking, these sites have problems here:
  • The source code is cluttered and hard to read which search engines will probably penalise in their generic search terms (generic is the normal [non paid] search terms)
  • There is A LOT of javascript on the pages which will increase the load times and therefor penalise search rankings
  • There is no online payment method as yet, which means online orders need to be managed by the owner to follow up with the client regarding payment.
  • No ALT tags are used on the images
General notes:

Our consultants gets paid for the time that they spend on the client. There has always been free website builders. There is always a catch with something that is free; in this case it is that you will need to take out Adwords in order for your site to be found in search results. This Wozaonline initiative is only “Google Sites” (which have been around for years) dressed up with an SA jacket. We have never ever seen any Google Sites (or Yolasite) feature anywhere in the generic search listings (except maybe for very weird and unique search terms).

The bottomline is this: you get what you pay for. If something is free, there will be a catch.

Google launched this initiative for one simple reason: to attract new Adwords customers. Adwords certainly works but it also costs a lot of money*. We believe that our clients can achieve fantastic generic search results at a very low cost if their website is done correctly. We supply our clients with clear and simple instructions on how to get onto the first page of search engines.

* an example of what it can cost for Adwords is this: if we want to advertise for “Website Design Course” it costs us R75 per click. Two clicks and a whole months hosting is gone! If you want to go the Adwords route be prepared to spend at least R500 per month on it.


Update: on 10 February 2012: One of the so called Free website companies today announced their Online shop (5 years after Kwikwap) and guess what, their online shop is more expensive than ours. Seriously, don't get caught with the "free website scam", it is going to come and bite you in the ass (free stuff always does)!

Update 16 May 2012: I recently had the experience of dealing an email problem on Vodamail email accounts. It took no less than three weeks to sort out (including  spending a few painful hours on the phone). It was a high tech problem (and a serious one as well) so the query was escalated to "escalations dept". There is no way of phoning these people. The only contact is via email and these people take a few days to answer a query. These free website companies never have telephone numbers where you can phone them, which is understandable as their business model does not leave room to afford people to man the phones. One cannot be serious about your website if you cannot phone anybody about it. 

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