Wix your Jimdo in a Squarespace

Let's watch some YouTube. Of course, first of all, there's an ad. This time it's for Wix, a website building tool. It's especially annoying to watch this ad in a German speaking country because the infinitive of "wix" sounds similar to "wichsen" which means "to masturbate". Yeah, clever name choice. (Note to self: Contact Johnny Depp, tell him that "Depp" means "idiot")

After 5 long seconds I can finally skip the annoying ad, only to hear "This video is sponsored by Squarespace!", followed by some content, followed by an in-video ad for Squarespace which is longer than the content itself. The narrators will tell you how great their new Squarespace website is and rant how bad their old hosting providers were. They'd have unreasonable fees and were basically run by a bunch of incompetent thieving monkeys. Hurray Squarespace!

Let's skip over that. Next video: An ad about Jimdo. Those are only 5 seconds, so barely tolerable. The video starts. "This video is brought to you by Squarespace!" - Aarghh.

Those. Ads. Are. Everywhere!!

So why do they annoy me so much? For one thing,  I run a web hosting business myself - and while the Youtubers bad examples might be true, most hosting providers are really quite honest and competent. Doesn't matter if you pick one of the smaller ones (like us) or a giant international company.

And there's a very tiny detail which companies like Squarespace, Jimdo and Wix don't tell you about initially: Assume you set up your website on their platform, everything is hunky-dory, and you are amazed about how easy and flexible everything is. Then they change something. It could be something in the layout they give you, a change in terms of service or a price increase. Or your business expands and you need something on your website which they don't provide.
Anyway, you are unhappy with that and want to switch providers.
Joke's on you, good luck getting your stuff somewhere else! They own the theme, the code behind it and basically everything. There might be a tool to export to Wordpress or something else, but it's barely usable - after all, they don't want you to switch. Why should they make it easier by spending a lot of their time developing a tool which helps you do that?
If you use an open source CMS like Drupal or Wordpress you can move it to any hosting provider with ease. Some (like us) will even help you move over your website from a competitor. And if you are unhappy, you can just leave and your visitors won't even notice that you've switched providers.

But this vendor lock in problem doesn't just apply to big companies, it can happen with smaller web agencys as well. I had this situation with a client once:

"Hey Simon, I need a new website and I want [small local company] to design that for me, what do you think?". We looked at some of their references and I said: "Yeah, the design is quite good, and they use Wordpress on those sites which we can easily host on your my-webspace.at account .. Obviously I would prefer it if you'd let us design it, but sure, go ahead. Just send me the contract when you get it so I can quickly skim through it".

I didn't receive the contract ...

A few weeks later my client and I were at that company's office to get an introduction into what they've build. My first thought was: "This isn't Wordpress". The sales guy explained: "No, no, we don't use Wordpress here. This is much better. We've developed our own system which is easier, safer and runs on REAL servers. Real Windows servers we manage ourself, no crappy shared Linux boxes". I didn't know what to say at this point, as my blood started boiling slightly but I let it pass. The system itself was quite OK, but they charged a hefty amount for it. Not just for the design though, their monthly CMS, hosting and "maintenance" fees were more than an order of magnitude higher than our my-webspace.at Small package - for a really, really simple website.

So the most important lesson is: Whenever someone develops a website for you, make sure that they use an open source CMS and you don't get locked in somewhere. When a company brags about how great their in-house developed content management system (that only they can host) is, back away slowly ...

This posting was brought to you by my-webspace.at. my-webspace.at is a high quality web hosting provider with great customer support and low prices. Whatever your technical needs are, we will ....... nah, I'm not doing a sales pitch.

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