Web made easy?

1&1 Website Builder us bad for web designers add developers

Ever since the start of the current NFL Football season, your TV has probably been inundated with ads for a web hosting company that many people have never heard of or used. If you’re in the web game, you know them all too well. Even if you’ve never once used them.

The company is called 1&1 and like a lot of big, big, big web hosting companies, they leave a lot to be desired. While most of the general public is used to GoDaddy and its tawdry ads by now, they’re also probably aware of their shoddy service as a web hosting company.

But at least they don’t promote how easy it is to create your own website. Yourself. Like in this spot they started running in late September.

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/c-chhf5d5tE” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

It’s bad enough 1&! is promoting what are pretty shoddy web hosting services. I’ve been lucky to only have one client come to me with 1&1 already hosting their site. While I didn’t have to use their Website Builder, I did have to try using their in-house e-commerce solutions, but it was a futile effort to say the least.

Now 1&1 wants you to think you don’t need to hire a web designer at all. All you need is their Website Builder, push a few buttons, add some water (well, not really) and BOOM! Instant Website! Why waste thousands of dollars on someone like….well….me?

Or any pro for that matter.

Instant website building is nothing new. A full decade ago I worked with a floral client who had a website but also had a store on Yahoo! using their Site Builder tool for Small Business. It was a total nightmare with that site having to deal with their limited templates and choices. Sure, this was before the CSS explosion really hit but it was a chore. At least the money was good. But I wouldn’t want to use this ever again.

And of course, we have free Content Management Systems like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal which offer all sorts of free and paid templates-many of which are actually pretty good. And a lot of people do create simple sites with them, albeit they look like hundreds of other websites, of course.

1&1 is a bit different. Before they bought all this television time, they would purchase huge multi-page spreads in tech magazines promoting everything they had in their toolbox. Remember eWeek? I used to get their print magazine and 1&1 would sometimes have half the pages to themselves for ads. Promoting cheap hosting, cheap domain registration, all sorts of freebee software packages and of course, making your own site. I ignored the ads and fortunately, most people in the tech game ignored them too.

But now they’re hitting the average Joe or Jane with these TV spots, and I’m sure many think they can be the next Hillman Curtis or Joshua Davis with these ubersimple packages. And people like me are losing potential business to these huge Wal-Mart like hosting companies.

I’m here to tell you these companies for the most part are bad, if not horrific. Sure, I have clients on GoDaddy. Some just for the domain, some for the hosting too. Others on other biggies from MediaTemple to the infamously bad web.com. I’m here to tell you that if any client does decide to use my services, I will do my best to get them to one of my local “Mom-and-Pop” style hosts I use in my network instead of one of these giants. Yes, they have fewer employees and they aren’t open 24/7, but they’ll know you as more than just being customer #295346. And they don’t offer anything like Website Builder. They offer Adam. Or someone else who’s just as qualified. Might cost a few bucks more but it’ll be worth it.

As I write this (November 27), we just experienced “Shop Local” Saturday, promoting the local, independent business instead of the big box retailer where you might get pepper sprayed and trampled upon in the aisles. Even President Obama went out of his way to visit a local DC area bookstore along Dupont Circle. Good for him! Even our President is aware that small businesses are in many ways better than the big boys. I’m sure even the checker said, “Hello, Mr. President!” instead of “Hello, #136023”. The same is true in the web world. Support an independent web developer or tech company when you can!