In 1999 an information architecture consultant – Darcy DiNucci – coins the term Web 2.0. She most likely never expected the term will become the next big thing. So big, in fact, that it will start living a life of its own.
Web 2.0 has become not only an essential marketing tool but a business model of websites. Such websites are Tumblr, Medium, Quora and even Facebook, to name a few.
The term was (and still is) an inspiration for countless articles, books, and courses.
But what is Web 2.0, after all?
Web 2.0 is the term given to describe a second generation of the World Wide Web that is focused on the ability for people to collaborate and share information online.
In essence, most of the content on a Web 2.0 based website is created by the users. And this is the most important of its features.
As you see yourself if you are striving to build a steady business, blog or another type of website, a Web 2.0 solution is not a solution. You still may use such websites, but as a marketing tool, not as a home of your business/blog/etc.
Why Big Companies Use Their Own Domains?
When I was about to start my personal online presence I was still learning, and frankly, I knew next to nothing. Thus, in order not to lose money(because I wasn’t sure if I’ll be able to figure it all out), I was only looking for free solutions.
And while, even back then, there were such offers, I wasn’t aware of what hosting is, let alone free hosting.
Probably you’ve been through the same path. No one was born full of knowledge. We have to figure things out, all by ourselves. You can either google “what is a domain” or learn everything by doing.
Unknowingly, I went down the latest path. The more difficult and time-consuming one.
I hope that you won’t have to do it.
Back then I was looking for a solution to the specific problem – how to create a website for free. Most of the results, if not all of them were Web 2.0 related. I wasn’t realizing that a domain name such as www.mysite.web2site.com is not ok. Especially because I had so many ideas, that often aren’t achievable neither on a subdomain nor with the web environment that these services offer.
As you see, if a beginner web enthusiast can’t get what he needs on such web location(domain), the big companies won’t either. A credible and steady business will need a lot more functions and options.
So, the first reason is the freedom of design selection and site functions.
While this restriction is not always true, there are tons of other reasons to own the domain you build your website on.
For a personal blog or another type of website, that isn’t going to strive for any revenue is totally fine to be on a free subdomain or another type of Web 2.0 solution. That is also true if you are going to use that website for a sandbox.
Now that we are familiar with Web 2.0, it is easy to realize how dangerous it could be to trust all of your business and online presence to a single media. Especially since you don’t own it.
But let’s dive into the details of all the selected reasons as for why your website should be located on a domain owned by you.
1. Freedom of design selection and site functions
Web 2.0 and subdomain located websites are fine and all, but most often than not, you’ll be limited to not more than one CMS.
Of course, most of the CMS’s have a lot more than one theme (template) to choose from. On the other hand, with little exceptions, using most of them will lead you at some point of time to a situation where you need a functionality, and they won’t be able to present it to you.
The themes (or templates) that a CMS can offer you are one thing. But once you’ve bought or installed one of the (often available) free themes, you’ll face another challenge – customization.
Most of the Web 2.0 based CMS’s offer a vast spectrum of customization options. A lot of them give you the opportunity to buy a domain name. Still, customization stays a problem because some of these services are ‘pay for play’. Meaning, if there is any functionality that you want (and you are lucky enough for them to offer it), you’ll have to pay to get it. No way around it. No free add-ons or plugins.
The more functional a CMS is, the more design freedom you’ll be presented with. But with a domain that you own, and with the right partners as a hosting service provider, you’ll have the option to choose the CMS you want. If you’ve chosen a CMS that after time doesn’t satisfy your needs, you’ll be always able to reinstall it with another one. Without additional payments. Without concerns as to what will happen with your website. It will be really yours to own, manage and, if you want, change entirely. Freedom, not available in Web 2.0 based solutions.
2. Option for direct communication
Web 2.0 has a vast number of different variations of the same or almost the same solution. Of course, when there is so much competition, a different set of services will be offered.
As you can guess, some of the providers of Web 2.0 or almost Web 2.0, like Facebook, for instance, are offering direct communication between the customer and you, as the owner of the ‘media’.
Still, for others to allow you to be able to communicate with the customer through your media – chats – you’ll have to pay. Others will not allow that no matter how much you are eager to pay. And the main reason is, they don’t offer that functionality. At all.
Again, the functionality of the CMS chosen is crucial. And if it doesn’t allow you to have such a function, and you really need it, just install another CMS. Easy as that.
Not possible with a Web 2.0 solution.
Maybe at some point of the time, we will come to a day, where people will be eager and ready to buy hosting, car, computer, or anything else for that matter, by going to a Facebook Page. And the Facebook pages may evolve to near full websites, where the people could lose themselves.
But that day hasn’t come yet. And probably there is a lot of time to pass before that happens. If it ever happens.
And even if today people are eager and do buy clothes and other little things through Facebook pages, the level of trust to a well known Facebook Page, as far as I am concerned is just a scratch of the trust to a well-established website.
I don’t know why. Maybe, we’ve just gotten used to buying through websites or maybe there is a lot more to it.
Whatever the reason, the fact is that people will just trust you or your organization more if it has a website and it is not located on any type of subdomain.
Having your own domain builds trust.
4. Brand building
Brand building is something I personally believe should be in every business course. Every single one.
We’ve covered 5 Steps of Brand Building for Beginners. And yes, it is really for beginners.
Having your own domain helps you to build your brand in a number of ways, neither of which is more important than all the others. Still, there is one that I believe deserves to be the center of the attention.
In nature, there is a vast spectrum of genes, animals, and behaviors that are existing just because of one another. In a way, when creating a new company it becomes an abstract form of life. And yes, of course, when it was just ‘born’ it will definitely need help from other brands, to get the most valuable resource. Customers.
Still, your brand is your own.
It has to live its own life. Don’t let it become dependent on any extraneous brand or business model.
In essence, everything we’ve discussed above was leading us to here. Your brand needs to be different. It needs to have a personality. A channel to communicate with its customers and advocates.
And in order to have customers and advocates, your brand should make everyone that gets in touch with it to feel calm, to feel that they can put their trust in it. Period.
To achieve all of that you really should try not to doom what you are trying to create from the very beginning.
5. You own the media
Sooner or later everything ends its path on Earth and dies.
Web 2.0 websites and services could be terminated. They could change their policy. Or just to decide that they will no longer provide such a service. They can change all of their integrated design options, making it more modern and trendy. But trendy is not always what works.
And most likely you’ve agreed to Terms & Conditions that releases them from responsibility.
On the other hand, if you own the media(the website) you’ll be the one to decide when, how, why and if anything will be changed or discontinued.
How to get a domain name for Free
I can hear you. Really. I know your concerns. Having domain costs.
I could easily argue that the price you’ll pay for it is absolutely symbolic against the backdrop of not getting a domain, and paying for that later in time. This time not with money but with the lack of customers.
But I won’t do that.
Instead, let me present you the opportunity of getting a domain for free. Yes, for free.
Creating a website, as I am sure you already know, is like the image on an assembled puzzle. The parts are hosting, domain and the website creation itself.
Read: WordPress Tutorial
If you are to create something big (and as far as I am concerned this is the only way), you’ll need to buy hosting.
Yes, we are offering free hosting. A good one. And yes, it indeed is enough for (almost) every start.
On the other hand, with some of our premium hosting plans, we are giving away a top-level domain. For life. Let me say that again. Free Domain. Forever.
And this, in the long run, will not only present you with the opportunity to grow and have a sustainable business but will also save you money.
And if there is one thing more pleasant than spending money, it is spending money in a way that helps you save.