The onset of the recession saw a great many people out of work and looking to set up in business for themselves. As the old saying goes ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, and typically any recession means a glut of new businesses being formed from highly skilled people looking to go it alone.
However, as with most new businesses, money is often very tight and business start-up costs need to be kept to a minimum. This can be a problem with the Internet age though, as companies with whom you will be directly competing often spend thousands (and then some) on their websites and online marketing.
Getting British Business Online, also known as GBBO, has recognised this problem and has been formed to give new businesses a foot in the Internet door with a free domain name and free website. The scheme has been backed by some of the biggest players in the game, such as BT, Enterprise UK and even Google.
Surely something that has Google’s involvement will be good, and won’t leave you high and dry with regards to Internet marketing?
Well, the first thing to understand is that through GBBO you have to use one of their predefined templates for your website. This has caused a lot of annoyance with people who have used them, with small business owners branding them terrible and unprofessional. One comment on a business website reviewing the services stated:
Stupidly I registered a friends new domain using gbbo initiative. They have a limited number of rubbish templates that have to be used when the domain goes live.
Of course, being forced to use a predesigned template is bad for your company’s image, but it’s also bad for SEO purposes because you’re reliant on a third party’s software to update your website and, as one person wrote on the Google Support Forum, the updater leaves a lot to be desired:
My advice is – don’t bother if it’s for business use, to be frank it’s rubbish. The templates are amateurish and the tools and applications are extremely limited unless you want to have to keep suing ‘work arounds’ to install gadgets etc. You can’t use flash or Java script without using silly work arounds that either don’t work anyway or you need to understand HTML to get them working.
So the consensus is that by using GBBO for your free website design you’ll end up with something unworkable and unprofessional, but perhaps it’s worth it for the free domain name? This again is a problem unfortunately. You can register .co.uk domain names fairly cheaply in the UK, with some registrar’s charging less than £10 for them – however when you register one for free as part of your website package with GBBO the domain is locked for 60 days, and cannot be moved away from the service.
This isn’t something GBBO has introduced, it’s down to laws governed by Nominet, who control .co.uk domain names. So when you register your free website and free domain, you have to use it for at least 2 months before deciding to move away somewhere else and pay for the website you thought you were getting in the first place.
While researching the Getting British Business Online initiative we haven’t found one happy customer, not a single person who has expressed satisfaction at their free website and the business they have received from it.
Have you used GBBO for a free website? If so, how have you found their interface and has the website worked for you?