Well that is a good question. Some of the free sites can give you a nice looking site for free (sort of). Well as the old saying goes you get what you pay for. This is true for web sites, and many other things in life. Most of the free sites will put advertisement on your page over which you have little or no control. After all, someone has to pay for the servers and the people who run them. That is how they pay for it, by selling advertisement and placing advertisement it on your site. Most free providers will remove the advertising if you subscribe to their premium service, there goes the free! I am not putting them down for it may be all you want or need, but there are many other factors to consider.
No, not like the kind you get in a race car, but the load time for your site. When on a “free” provider you are on a server with thousands of other users. Most of the “free” accounts have a low bandwidth limit. When you reach your bandwidth the server limit you speed or charge an extra bandwidth fee. A Server with thousands of clients can only process so much data at one time and can easily reach a limit where it starts buffering the data. What that means is someone has to wait for processing time. If it is you, then your site will slow down and take a long time to update. How many of you remember the old dial-up phone modems? Then you remember how slow and frustrating that can be when you are sitting and watching the little clock wheel spin around while you wait on your data. Most people these days will not wait, they will move on to someone else or even worse, your competitor. If you are a small business or a church, you just lost a client.
Hide and Seek
Remember that childhood game? Well websites are the same way. Most people will use a search engine such as Google, Yahoo, Bing or others to find information. If some one knows the URL of your site they can just type it into the URL bar at the top of the browser. However, most people looking for a product or service go to a search engine to find you. The new slang in the dictionary is “Google It” for a good reason. Well a good web developer will optimize your site in order to allow search engines to find your site and rank it’s information value and store it in it’s database. So when some one searches for your product or service they can find you over thousands of others. Search Engines sites may not rank your “free” site very high. This is where a web developer can help give your site a higher ranking by optimizing your content and meta data. In the game of search engines, you want to be “it”, you want to be found.
There are many factors that go into having a web presence. You just have to decide what you want and what you want to offer the world and see what it is worth to you. It takes many hours to properly build a site and I think you will find a specialized web developer is a great value.