If you’re in the market for a cheap website, you’ve likely come across Hibu, a division of Yellowbook that sells low-cost web design. They seem like a nice enough business: they’ve got an okay website, low rates, and a pretty good sales pitch – but with prices that low, if you’re like many business owners, you’re wondering: what’s the catch?
Here’s a comprehensive review of Hibu and their services, so you can decide for yourself if they’re worth buying into.
Overall Grade: B-
In One Sentence:
Fairly good design, part of which customers complete themselves, coupled with sometimes difficult customer relations.
A quick look at the summary of 109 reviews on Consumeraffairs.com shows a considerable amount of difficulty with the company. To be fair, not all of the reviews are for web design, but those that are assert less-than-perfect results in terms of sales and conversions.
Complaints range from misrepresented services that don’t bring sales, to completely absent customer support, to harassment and lawsuits over small unpaid balances. Without hearing the other side of the story, though, it’s hard to say whether these complaints are representative of the average customer’s experience. After all, who is more likely to take the time to give a review: someone who is pretty pleased after getting what they expected, or someone who’s incensed that they didn’t? Sure, the distribution of positive to negative reviews is pretty troubling, but we can’t dismiss Hibu quite yet.
Customers do detail how they were misled before agreeing to services, passed back and forth between representatives when trying to work out issues, and given conflicting information at different times and from different employees of the company. Again, according to reviews on Consumeraffairs.com, customers, despite being more or less pleased with the design of their websites, reported that sales had not increased in any appreciable way.
A review on indeed.com by a former Hibu media consultant gives some insight into what may be going on. It seems that financial strain within the company has led to their strictness with unpaid balances and seeming reluctance to honor costly—but possibly legitimate—requests from customers. Either way, without knowing the details of these disputes, we’re just left with anecdotes from those who were unsatisfied, and it may be that the company is just doing what it has to do.
What we do know is that cheap companies, in general, cut corners at every possible opportunity. That may mean outsourcing the hard work to less skilled individuals who will do the job for less, or it may just mean less time and effort spent on the product you receive. Either way, it typically holds true that the low price you paid will still be too high for what you get. This situation highlights my next point, a common myth among business owners: that just having a website, any website, will make you money.
I’m a thrifty guy, like most business owners, and I can’t blame you for seeking the cheapest website prices, but what you should remember is that your website is and always will be the best opportunity you have to cheaply market your business. Time after time, intelligently made sites that look great are the ones that make real money.
For the price of a one-time print ad, you can get a permanently effective website that acts as a sales machine. Rather than scrambling to gather all the pieces of your internet presence from various cheap companies, or trying in vain to get everything you require for maximum profits from a company whose selling point is its low prices, one high-quality web design firm can provide everything you need. The initial investment is more than worth the results and the ease when compared to dealing with a company who may be cutting a few corners.
The design, though not universally appreciated, is fairly good. The deal you’re getting, though, is worth a brief moment of your scrutiny.
For $800, you get yourself a full website, you just have to design it yourself. That’s right. According to Hibu’s design builder platform page, customers actually outline the website they envision on their own, place the graphics themselves, detail the nature of their businesses, and then send the blueprints to Hibu’s design team. They then turn what you designed into, well, what you designed plus a few other things. And that costs $800. To be fair, this probably does help ensure that the design is closely in line with what you really want, but if you have to design the site on your own, why bother with Hibu at all?
If you’re looking for a premade template -there’s a cheaper option still: a one-page website with no contact form. This seems like a good enough deal, but I can tell you from personal experience that when customers are looking to buy something online and hit a one-page website with no contact form, they run the other way. If you won’t take the time to pitch why you’re a better provider, your customers will go looking for someone that does.
The prices look great at around $800, except that, as previously mentioned, it’s hard to say whether the fairly simple creation process, which involves your own design skills, is worth that much. Customers essentially create their own websites from a template, which the design team at Hibu then finishes up with extremely basic SEO.
But the goal is to grow your business, and that takes a visually appealing, compelling and convincing website that engages the user, something that Hibu alone just honestly can’t provide. When you’re trying to sell products to complete strangers, it takes more than just a little bit of SEO and promotional writing. Your website should be an engaging experience that makes users want to explore it.
The Bottom Line
If you just need something on the web to represent your business, Hibu’s a great option. If you’re looking to make money off of your site, look elsewhere.