What do you mean “Don’t rent your website?” Are you on Squarespace, Weebly, Wix or using a website builder provided by your hosting company? Then you are renting your website.
Here are four examples why you should not rent your website
Sorry, your access is denied!
If at any given moment they decided you have violated one or several of the terms of their agreement, without notice to you, they can and will shut your website down. Remember accepting the terms of the agreement? Did you read it? More than likely not, because who does that? Once you discover your website is missing, you will then spend the next several hours or days pleading with them to get your files back. Some by telephone, others on “live chat.” Those on live chat are usually working with several people at one time.
Who really owns your content?
In the various agreements, they all state that you retain the ownership of your content, BUT they have permission to use it. It’s not just that you’ve given them permission to use your content, you’ve also given them permission to change and/or modify your website. Remember it’s legally theirs, you are just a renter.
Terrible SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
On all of the rental platforms, their SEO is terrible. Many consider this to be one of the worst issues with using them. By not having access to the code, you can’t structure your data properly. Proper structure is how you rank higher in Google or other search engines.
Are their platforms ADA compliant?
For me, this is the worst issue of them all. In November 2018, I wrote on this topic and I’ll be doing an update shortly. Quickly, last year there were 2,258 lawsuits filed by 50 plaintiffs. In order, the three highest states were New York, Florida, and California. As I discussed in the prior article, fifteen wineries in New York had just been sued by one plaintiff.
Wix’s ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Compliance statement:
- Wix.com cannot guarantee or ensure that the use of our services is compliant with all accessibility laws and worldwide regulations.
- You are responsible for reviewing and complying with local legislation applicable to you or to your site visitors.
Weebly’s ADA Compliance:
From the community forum, as of July 2018, they are still working on a solution. Currently, it’s up to the person developing the website to make sure they build a website that is compliant. This is from one of their users:
“I use Weebly drag and drop builder specifically because I don’t have the time to figure out where, or how, to change HTML & CSS codes.”
Squarespace’s ADA Compliance:
Note: This guide is available as a resource to help you get started, but shouldn’t be construed or relied upon as legal advice. Squarespace can’t provide advice about making your site compliant with specific web accessibility laws or acts.
With respect to the various hosting companies that offer website builders, the information on their websites was much the same.
Sadly, not one of them has anything in place to fully protect their renters. Further, if litigation is brought against one of their renters, the renter has no recourse against them.
Your website is an investment just like your home
How excited were you the day you bought your first home? Finally, you could stop making someone else rich and begin to build your own wealth. Renting your website from Wix, Weebly, Squarespace or using a template from your hosting company is doing the exact same thing. Making someone else rich.
Yes, you’ll still have fees with owning your own website, but just like owning a home, you now own the design. Further, nobody will use your images and content as theirs. At least not legally.
If you decide you don’t like your hosting company, all you have to do is download your files and move to another one. Usually, in about 45 minutes you’ll be up and running with the new hosting company and you continue to grow your business.
What happens when you get sick and tired of the company you are renting your website from, or they decided they are sick and tired of you. You have nothing. Well, hopefully, you still have all of the images and text that you wrote on your own computer. How long is it going to take you to recreate all of that into a website? Longer than 45 minutes.
With respect to the fees I pay my hosting company, I look at it as a utility fee. I need lights, internet, and electricity to work. I also need a company with a powerful server to host my website.
Regarding the ADA compliance issues, if your website is developed in WordPress, there currently three plugins you can use to become compliant. Two are free Accessibility by UserWay (the one I use and wrote on back in November) and WP Accessibility. Then from the International Association of Accessibility Professionals, you can purchase one for $347 per year. I still feel comfortable with the free one from UserWay.
Are you looking to get away from renting your website?
Where do you want to be with your website in 10 years?
I am an award-winning graphic and website designer who when not designing, likes to write about how the industry has changed and what it looks to become in the future. I started designing in 1991 and added websites around 1995. For the past 8 years, all sites have been developed in WordPress. Originally, I would develop the site in HTML and then convert those files to WordPress. Today all child themes are built on the framework of Divi. Guest blogger at 3lovablelabs, Tropic Moon Media, and Patti & Hank.