1&1 has recently been advertising pretty heavily for its MyWebsite product. Have you seen this commercial:
They claim that setting up a business website is easy whether you're a lawyer, a photographer, or a beauty salon. But is the 1&1 MyWebsite product a good choice?
Like most turn-key web-based website solutions, the 1&1 MyWebsite offering is very competitive on price. From their website, it looks like their basic site offering will run you about $10 per month. That's a really good price.
1&1 touts a 4 step process for launching a new site: Select your business category, enter your business data, launch, and customize.
Again, like most turn-key web-based website solutions, the setup is pretty self-explanatory. You can point and click your way to a new website.
From what I can tell by my initial review, the functionality of the product is pretty basic. I don't see a blog component, which I would suggest is a critical lacking piece.
The basic offering's price tag of $10 per month is probably pretty attractive to a lot of small firms and lawyers who are looking for an online business card. However, I believe you can accomplish just about everything this website product offers and a whole lot more by using an installed version of WordPress from WordPress.org.
The truth is, with regard to costs, you're really paying for 3 major components when you're talking website design: Domain Registration (approx. $10/yr), Hosting (anywhere from $5 to $100 per month depending on your hosting needs), and Design (theme design and development, premium templates, custom design, etc).
Technically speaking, there really isn't a major difference between the major open-source content management systems. I prefer WordPress for ease of use, community support, and wide theme selection.
Design considerations are a bit more tricky. Getting a custom designed theme can range in price from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending on the process, the designer, and the requested functionality of the site.
In my opinion, one of the most compelling reasons not to go with a turn-key do-it-yourself website product is the design aspect. If you go to 1and1's MyWebsite portfolio, you will start to appreciate what I'm talking about. With all respect to the attorney websites on display there, it's clear that they were done by folks who are lawyers, not web designers.
The problem with this can be that even if you get people to your site (which is a completely different discussion and an area that I think a product like this is likely to fail miserably), the question will become, "will people be motivated to contact you through your site?" Unfortunately, based on some of the examples that I saw on display, the answer is probably not.
So, if you're tempted to sign-up for the 1and1 MyWebsite product, in the very least, consider investing in having a design professional work on your customizing the look and feel of your site.
Still, I think you're better off registering a domain, installing WordPress, and investing in a custom theme that includes real, as opposed to stock images. And of course, your most significant investments should be made into getting your website in front of your target audiences. That means, content, social sharing, high-end link development, citation building, and search advertising.
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