Getting British Business Online (GBBO) Review

Posted on November 26, 2010

 

Getting British Business OnlineThe 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?

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13 Comments »

  1. I don’t know about GBBO, but you can change the nameservers on a normally registered .co.uk domain name at any time, and therefore change hosting whenever you like. You can also transfer a domain name to somebody else at any time – there’s no minimum 60 day requirement when it comes to .co.uk names, as I’ve registered a domain name and transferred it to a 3rd party within a few hours in the past. So yes, it’s true that GBBO has introduced a 60 day limitation in their T&C, but that’s not because of Nominet, it’s because GBBO want to get “lock in” for a while in the hope that businesses stay with them.

    Comment by Edwin Hayward — November 26, 2010 @ 12:16 pm

  2. Thanks for the comments Edwin.

    I’d imagine though that with GBBO you won’t have access to change your DNS, or to update your zone records at all. I could be wrong on that, if anyone else knows different?

    Comment by Carl — November 26, 2010 @ 12:29 pm

  3. &Edwin:

    ” You can also transfer a domain name to somebody else at any time…”

    Yes, you can – but the 60 day rule prohibits changing the REGISTRAR of the domain – meaning that regardless of whose name you reregister the domain name to, the name IS still in GBBO’s sticky mitts for a minimum 60 days following the initial registration.

    Comment by Martin — December 4, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

  4. glad i read this review: the old adage, that if something sounds too good to be true’ it usually is:

    Comment by Graham John Markham — January 9, 2011 @ 5:39 pm

  5. GBBO absolutely sucks. The website is too restrictive in that you can’t actually create a decent professional website. I have been doing my own site and thought I will just upload to GBBO. How wrong I was.

    Can’t wait for the 60 days so that I can transfer over to someone else.

    Comment by Azhar — January 27, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

  6. I’m new to thissite, and came across it after struggling with the gbbo and deciding to google it to see if anyone else was not impressed – seems not many people are happy and I can understand why.

    I have since switched to a new DIY website building service called Wizz-It (www.wizz-it.com), which is really ideal for what I want as a freelance photographer. As a total noob with these things I got a tiny bit stuck on something I later realised was otally simple, but their help couldn’t have been better.

    Would recommend them to any frustrated GBBO users out there who are looking to escape that hellhole.

    I’m just lucky that my first choice of domain name choice wasn;t the best and I managed to choose a better one when I signed up with Wizz-It after their free trial and not wait 60 days!

    Before I tried GBBO, I gave Weebly a go, didn;t like that in the slightest – anyone else tried it?

    Comment by fozz — February 6, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

  7. I can’t believe how much moaning is going on here for something that you are getting for FREE!
    It’s simple really, you want something better? Then stop being such a penny pincher and pay for a web Designer to do it properly for you!
    I may not be a fan of GBBO but it provides a FREE domain and a FREE site and yes of course it looks like a FREE site.
    You get what you pay for!

    Comment by Less Grumpy — February 23, 2011 @ 7:44 am

  8. I wouldn’t mind if GBBO was just cheap and cheerful. I would expect that of something that’s free but the problem is it just doesn’t work! Use it at your peril! you’ll just waste your time and eventually give up like I did…

    Comment by Andy — February 24, 2011 @ 5:42 pm

  9. You get a free domain name and hosting for two years!!!

    It is hard(er) work to set up using their tools, but if you are new to HTML and web design it couldn’t be easier.

    Yes, for the pros/experienced, it can be a little prohibitive.

    However, it is sponsored by GBBO, who are looking to assist people setting out on their own. I would imagine a good number of these people will have little experience with building websites and this is a very simple and easy way to set it up.

    Stop moaning and delve into the wallet if you want more. Some people drive me crazy!

    Comment by Keeeraaazy — March 1, 2011 @ 10:22 pm

  10. To be fair, it sounds like you’re better off paying a pro than going through all the lengthy hassle of figuring this GBBO thing out. Its not always prohibitively expensive to pay a pro to do the job for you and will be a hell of a lot quicker.

    Comment by FiFi — June 3, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

  11. How sad at so many complaints. The free domain name and very reasonable basic website (MUCH better than the single home page you get with 123-reg etc) was just right for me to experiment with a new presence on the Web and I am actually very happy with the result.

    I would like to be able to blog on it, but otherwise I will certainly recommend it to complete novices as an excellent start.

    Comment by Jax — June 30, 2011 @ 8:14 am

  12. I’m a GBBO/yola user and for a free website and domain name, why should I complain? I didn’t have to pay for a thing.

    It’s true that the website construction is quite restrictive in some ways but at least I managed to pull off a clean and decent look on my site and I’m happy with it for now as I didn’t shell out a penny.

    Nevertheless, at the end of the free term, I’d probably be transferring over to a better host if they still haven’t improved their services which would allow more space for creativity and productivity.

    Comment by Dee — July 11, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

  13. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do some research on this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such great information being shared freely out there.

    Comment by David Domincki — June 6, 2012 @ 4:11 am

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