Not long ago, Google teamed up with the brand Intuit to dish out a special offering for those who reside in Georgia. This particular offering is a google free website for a business, which comes packed with a free website builder to help those who are inexperienced at building websites.
Now, this all sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? You are absolutely right. The offering itself has some major flaws and we’re going to investigate them right now.
Your Friendly Local Web Host?
The very first thing that struck me as odd was the fact that the business Intuit isn’t even located in Georgia. Their corporate headquarters are located in California. This suggests that Intuit is in need of some new customers and striking up a deal with Google would help them out a bit.
This does not address the fact that for some reason Google did not choose a business located within the state of Georgia to carry out this offering with. It would make much more sense and most importantly, those who are unsure about signing up to this offer would most likely be swayed over.
3 Pages for 1 Year
But hey, I can’t be so judgemental unless I test out their services and give a fair review, can I? The sign-up process was routine and simple. I was given a summary of what I was being offered and prompted to choose a domain name.
The service, as I’m aware, gives you a free domain for the life of your account, but this isn’t much of a bargaining chip, as you are only given this website free for only one year. You are then required to pay $4.99 per month thereafter.
The summary also told me that I was able to create a mere three pages. I shook my head upon reading this as I have never seen a service offer a limited amount of pages since the mid 2000′s. This type of play was abandoned in the past however it still seems “some” companies try to squander more cash out of their “valued” customers.
This is an incredibly cheap ploy from Intuit and a downright disadvantage from using their services.
I know what you’re thinking though:
Maybe they can redeem themselves with their stunning template designs and vast amounts of disk space and bandwidth?
I found the amount of disk space and bandwidth offered in this deal were nothing but laughable. They give you 25 megabytes of disk space, and 5 gigabytes of bandwidth. The bandwidth is less-than-adequate for a growing business and the tiny amount of disk space is a slap in the face of every new customer gained from this offering.
Intuit’s site builder offers a wide array of templates for most professions, which is definitely a good thing, but what about the quality of the templates themselves? Are they up to par with today’s web trends and web-language requirements? Are they aesthetically pleasing and bound to generate traffic and income? I doubt it.
After having a skim through the vast amounts of templates they had to offer, they all seemed to follow the same format; horizontal navigation bar, one large header image, one content area and a form. This was the general layout of the homepage on most templates and didn’t much vary otherwise.
The builder itself was generally sleek and could well be a useful tool if executed correctly. However, the customizability wasn’t brilliant. The general consensus of the builder was you could drag items to a position of your choosing, change various colours, and edit content. For a very inexperienced user, it’s a dream come true. However, for those with a little bit of coding experience, there was no code editor to be found. This greatly limits what you can do with your website.
Overall, the builder had a nostalgia factor and took me back to the days when I was building MySpace and Piczo templates. It just doesn’t feel professional. It may be a simple-to-use editor, but it definitely didn’t offer a lot and is in dire need of improvement.
“Make My Website Look Good” and Other Addons
Let’s move forward and take a look at what add-ons Intuit has to offer.
Add-ons are extra products you can purchase to enhance your experience with a product, but will this really help Intuits case? The first add-on on the list is titled “Get More Customers“. Within this add-on, you receive features such as Traffic Booster, WebListings, SEO and Search Advertiser. These are all pretty much the same thing. Each part of this add-on just displays a screenshot of a typical Google search page, yet highlighting different parts, such as the top links, advertising headers and so on.
Apparently, by purchasing this add-on, you’ll have your business listed on the web, be high up in the ranks, and gain a ton more customers. Honestly, I feel sorry for anyone who has fallen victim to such a stupid service who blatantly misinforms customers like this. Getting your website on Google is terribly easy, with the exception of gaining higher ranks, which is where SEO itself comes in.
The second add-on they sport is called “Make My Website Look Good“. This is where you can purchase the services of their ‘design experts’ and have a one-of-a-kind unique website. They have a small content slider showcasing their work, which is quite frankly very distasteful. The templates look worse than the free HTML templates you get off any old template marketplace. They are so terribly basic, and look astonishingly old, therefore it boggles the mind why anyone would consider purchasing this add-on.
The following two add-ons relate to setting up an e-commerce store and accepting payments online. This could be promising for customers who own a growing business and would like to sell online. However, it seems Intuit use their own branded e-commerce system and I can only question how reliable and user-friendly could be, and judging from their previous add-ons, I can only expect so much.
The final add-on allows customers to customize their website by purchasing plans to give them access to more features, such as more disk space, bandwidth, pages, and sites and so on. You can upgrade to the 20 dollar per month package which gives you 5GB of disk space and 100GB of bandwidth and 2 more sites, but 20 dollars for that? This kind of package is available from hundreds of web-hosting providers for a quarter of that price. Way to milk your customers even more, Intuit!
Here’s the real kicker though: 50 dollars per month for 10GB disk space and 500GB bandwidth? That is extremely overpriced, considering the amount of unlimited web-hosts who offer similar packages for as cheap as chips, but also the fact that you can get a low-medium end VPS for the exact same price. Intuit, you’re not exactly making the best case for yourself.
Google Free Website Final Verdict
For my final words, all I can say is that I’m astonished.
I am astonished that a business like Intuit is still running; most likely off the hard earned cash from gullible customers who won’t know any better and are unfortunately being taken advantage of. Intuit is a textbook example of milking customers of their cash for an extremely low-end product that utilizes old technology and structures that don’t see the light of day from other reputable companies.
If you’re thinking of signing up with Intuit for the promotion, I wouldn’t. There are MANY web-hosting companies out there that offer great speeds, features and customer support for such minimal costs. If you’re looking to start up a website, take a look at our reviews and we will point you in the right direction of a reputable host that knows how to treat its customer’s right.
[Image credits - Main: Flickr, Alexbrn, Creative Commons Licence. All others: author owned]