Last week, we had a prospective client came to us asking for a website audit (get yours for free by clicking here). They made a few updates to his website but was interested in our expert opinion becuase he hears that website drive business yet his was not doing anything for him.
It was evident that the website was not built professionally. It violated basic design principles (which makes us want to cry) and in spite of it being recently updated, it looked like it was built in the late 1990s or early 2000. When I finally got to the footer of the website, there it was: “Website builder provided by Vistaprint.”
We’re familiar with Vistaprint for their “free” business cards and other printing services, but not as as a web design company. I thought, oh well, you get what you pay for, thinking Vistaprint provided another free or cheap website builder to compete with the Godaddy, Wix and Weebly of the world.
To my surprise, once I started to do some research on Vistaprint, I found out their “free website” is not really free at all.
They offer a one month free trial but afterwards, they start charging anywhere from $4.99 to $24.99. The more I read about their offerings, the more angry I became. This is such a rip off in so many different ways and we get people that actually believe a website will not help their business because of their previous experiences with a subpar service such as this. Who can blame them? A website such as the one he had, doesn’t help your business. In fact, my fear is that it turns people away becuase it looks like so bad.
So basically, you are paying $59.88, $179.88, or $299.88 annually for things that you would generally get for free, as long as you are limited to their website builder. If you decide to get an actual webhost and pay $60-$96 a year for a whole lot more features available to you. Let’s face it, with any of these packages, you may as well throw away your money.
Here are the reasons why you should not use Vistaprint:
1. Vistaprint’s website builder is a primitive tool that makes your site look cheap. Do you want your site to look like it is built by a high school kid back in year 2000? It looks like they probably do not update their tools since they also own webs.com. Prospective customers and clients view your website as a reflection of your business and rightfully so.
2. Vistaprint is not set up for search engine optimization (SEO). By contrast, there are other free platforms like WordPress that are optimized for SEO. Even then, algorithms change constantly and can be very tricky. SEO is best left to a professional.
3. You are not allowed to embed code in the website. This means you are unable to add your own html/css/php code in the website and limits your ability to optimize your website, even if you pay for the premium service.
4. Submitting to search engines isn’t a service. It is required. Search Engine Optimization is more than just submitting to search engines and Vistaprint won’t help you with that. This is what really upsets me. This is like going out to eat at a restaurant but they charge you to use silverware. It just doesn’t make sense.
5. RIP OFF ALERT! When you buy your domain (part of the premium $24.99 a month service) through Vistaprint, you’re going to be paying to get it back! You will need to pay a $20 domain fee if you want to buy your domain back from them and switch services. Your own domain name costs about $10 a year. At least they let you buy back the domain name. We have had clients with some services (like Yellow Pages Company / Hibu) that actually take your domain name if you leave them. Don’t let this happen, whatever you do, make sure you own the rights to your own domain name!
6. They do not offer 24/7 support.
I don’t recommend using a host that doesn’t offer 24/7 support, but then again, they are not a real host. They do offer English speaking support, but I would not recommend using a host that isn’t there 24/7.
Don’t just take my word for it, read the numerous consumer complaints and pay attention to the ones about the website builder.
Vistaprint’s web business makes money by taking advantage of small business owners who don’t really know what they need to build a website, or what is needed to build a good website. Their strategy is clearly to get captive customers who use their printing services and milk their ignorance. Most people don’t read the terms of service, but if you do read it then you realize that they will not be a web design company you want to deal with.
We’ve had a lot of requests for information on other DYI web builders so stay tuned as we dive into more services.