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We recently received an interesting question via our contact form:

Hello!

[…]

I would be interested to know how long the various site providers have been on the market – in other words, how “sure” can I be that my site provider will still exist in x years. Well, I’m not asking you to look into your crystal ball, but does such a thing sometimes happen?

 

Regards,
Bernd

 

That is an important question, which we would like to answer in some detail.

It is usual in the case of an online website builder for the web space, domain and website editor to come from one source. That can be very practical. However, should this provider ever pull the plug, then of course you’ll have a big problem.

There have in fact been cases in the past where website providers have suspended their services. These include the old timer service Geocities (Yahoo), Microsoft’s Office Live Small Business (OLSB was transformed into the fee-charging Office 365) and even Apple suspended the development of iWeb.

Why?

There are two reasons, which apply to all three providers:

  • They did not know how to earn money with the concept in the long term
  • The website builder was only a small element of the whole company and became less interesting at some point

How can I find a provider that will survive in the market?

If we look at website builders, we are interested primarily in the following:

  • How established is the provider on the market? What information is available about its user numbers?
  • Is there a sensible business model (e.g. paid packages)?
  • Is the website builder the main business of the company?

Provider check

Let’s take a look at two providers who each follow quite different philosophies:

Webs.com

Probably the world’s largest website builder which, with more than 40m hosted websites, has recently been acquired by Vistaprint. The founders received $117.5m on payday but are still working for the company. We won’t speculate about their level of motivation at this point. Vistaprint is a public company that must grow rapidly to please their shareholders. An effect we all got to know when Facebook went public.

Maybe for this reason they remind you on a regular basis that they also have paid packages and that their new mother offers business cards as well. Will Webs go out of business anytime soon? Nope, I am sure you’ll be fine.

Jimdo

According to their own information there are around 8 million Jimdo websites online. Jimdo does not provide any precise information about the number of paying customers. In our estimation the number must be in the region of 6 digits.

Jimdo claims to be profitable as a company. And, what is probably much more important: the founders plan to remain on board in the long term and do not intend to sell the company in the foreseeable future – an admirable attitude. Jimdo underlined this philosophy recently when it rejected an 8-digit offer of financing, because the founders felt that having fun with a great product is more important than a fat cheque.

What also stands in favour of the long-term preservation of the website builder is the fact that Jimdo is not a multi-product company. Jimdo = Website Builder.

Conclusion

It is certainly possible that a website provider builder might decide at some stage not to continue supplying the product. For this reason, you should consider very carefully who to get attached to. While it is certainly possible to move your website, this can take a lot of time and effort, especially if it is a large website.

At least in the case of Webs and Jimdo we are fairly sure that their products will still be around in 5, and probably even 10 years (although nowadays 10 years is an incredibly long time). But then with 3D optimisation and with Google Glass compatibility 🙂

I hope that has answered your question, Bernd.

 

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