When I heard about “Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map”, I was really excited about the huge savings such a program could bring to my clients, who are mostly small business owners on limited marketing budgets. “Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map” is an initiative by Google to increase awareness of opportunities potentially being missed by businesses with a less than stellar online presence. Google’s own research found:
Four out of five people use search engines to find local information, like business hours and addresses, and research shows that businesses with complete listings are twice as likely to be considered reputable by customers. Consumers are 38 percent more likely to visit and 29 percent more likely to consider purchasing from businesses with complete listings. Yet only 37 percent of businesses have claimed a local business listing on a search engine.
That’s a lot of missed opportunity for small businesses and definitely an incentive to rethink how they conduct business. I really hoped that such a program could bring my clients huge savings in web hosting costs. Of course, I had to check this program out for myself, first. So I signed up for an account, using my own business as a base for building a website.
StartLogic is the company sponsoring this free web hosting initiative. The initiative’s stated goal is to help more businesses develop an online presence, since many small businesses still lack a basic website. This project features a free year of web hosting and a personalized domain name, which seems like quite the steal. Besides just offering a year of free web hosting and a domain name, the site also features an online application system that is intended to help the web building newbie get a functional and professional appearing website up in a minimal amount of time and effort.
The beginning process seems straightforward enough, requesting the name of the business, if it will be advertising services, products, or both; also the industry it’s related to, and what the intended servicing areas will be (with your current location filled in automatically, which the website neglected to mention - oops! I ended up with my home city listed twice! Make sure you have this list right; you won’t get a chance to change it afterwards!).
You’re then whisked away to a basic outline of what your site will look like, with areas that permit you to edit their content. I was pretty disappointed when I attempted to upload my original website’s logo, only to find that the editor resized it to something insanely small, like 500x100 pixels. After several attempts to properly size the image without having any guidelines available on how to make it fit so that it didn’t get resized to match the size of a pea, I gave up. Unfortunately this was the case with both the places for a logo and a background image. I can only assume that this is a probable bug within the web application, that will hopefully get fixed soon.
The rest of the website creation process was a breeze thanks to the guided web application system, which presents areas for the website introduction, a coupon, services offered, hours of operation, contact information, and a couple of spots for promotional content. There was a selection on each of these that guides the user through the automated creation of appropriate content for each section, but I found the language used in the automated content to be very cliched and lacking in authenticity… you could kind of tell it had been generated. Best to stick to your own words here!
The finished project, like with most generated websites, was very generic and unoriginal. However, it was also a very clean and professional appearing layout, so I couldn’t complain very much. Being able to add my own images without them being resized to crazy dimensions would have definitely helped my website stand out, however.
Overall, I was pretty pleased with how easy the entire process was, and was beginning to think this might just be a good solution for clients that want to be more hands-on with their websites and save costs both in terms of hosting and my services. Then I got to the control panel and started clicking on options…
Ok, my site was finished, so I wanted to submit it to search engines next, naturally! Hold up. There’s a fee for that… $19.95 per year. Considering you only need to submit your site once, and the ability to do so is FREE with on many other webhosts. Even worse, the submission tool for online maps (which work the same way as search engines do) is a staggering $99.95 a year! This is definitely starting to look sketchy to me!
How about accepting payments online for your services and wares? I’m afraid only a screenshot can explain that for me:
It’s free… after you pay $14.95 a month….
Website backups are $12.95 a month, with no option to access your file directories or database to do backups for yourself (which is typically free).
Want the basic virus scanning and firewall protection a web host normally provides customers by default? Well, at least they’re only asking $1.95 a month for that!
So let’s say I want to set up an online business with this web host. I’m going to use the basic editor (you can create a better, more unique site for at least $12 a month; $19 if you want to be able to interact with third parties like Facebook and Twitter). Once we add up all the aforementioned services, I’m looking at spending close to $150 a month… compared to the average $15-$20 a month most web hosts ask. Some even less. will go as low as $10 a month…
While “Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map” is a FANTASTIC idea, it seems StartLogic has perverted such a well intentioned project with their need for higher profits. It’s a shame, because otherwise I can easily see this web host as being a great alternative for small to medium business owners that don’t mind putting in a little work to get their websites going. While the experiences of others with this web host may vary from my own, I cannot recommend this web host without issuing a warning: be prepared to pay dearly for those little extras many other web hosts have included in their web hosting offerings for free!
For anyone considering the offer, other conditions worth noting include:
- This offer is only available to businesses and organizations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
- This offer features a StartLogic website free for one year. The website includes three web pages, 25MB of disk space, 5GB of bandwidth (monthly transfer), plus a domain name.
- The free year begins on the day you sign up for a StartLogic account. After the first year, you’re automatically billed monthly for hosting. If you registered a domain through this offer, it will be renewed annually. Presently StartLogic hosting plans start at 12-month term: $8.99 a month (billed $107.88 for 1 year)
- The StartLogic website is free for one year, and a credit card is not required to build a website. However, a credit card is required to claim your free domain name. This is standard practice and protects you from someone else trying to claim ownership of your domain.
- If you need additional website functionality, like e-commerce, it may require an upgrade to a paid plan.
- The free website offer includes chat support only. Email and telephone support requires an upgrade to a paid plan.
- The free website does not include email. However, you can add this feature.
- The free website includes 25MB of storage for photos and other files. StartLogic also offers plans with additional disk space if upgrading to a paid plan.
Choose wisely and check out StartLogic reviews on HostJury!
About the author: Jonquil McDaniel is an IT professional in Florida that has been writing and tinkering with technology both personally and professionally her entire life. She has an infectious enthusiasm for all things technical; a gift for creative problem solving and communications of all kinds; and a warm, positive disposition that infiltrates every word she writes.