6 Reasons to Avoid Using Vistaprint for Your Website

Recently a prospective client came to me asking for a website audit. He had recently updated his website but was interested in a professional opinion. It was clear to me that the website was not built professionally as it blatantly violates design principles and in spite of it being recently updated it looked like it was built in the late 1990s or early 2000. When I scrolled down to the bottom, I saw it — “Website builder provided by Vistaprint.” I was only familiar with Vistaprint for their business card and brochure printing. I had not previously been familiar with Vistaprint as a web host. I thought, oh well, you get what you pay for, thinking Vistaprint provided another free website builder.

Once I started to do some digging on Vistaprint, I found out their “free website” is really not free at all. They offer a one month free trial but afterwards, they start charging anywhere from $4.99 to $24.99. The more I read about their offerings, the more angry I became. This is such a rip off in so many different ways it makes me want to spit!

vistaprint_prices

 

So basically, you are paying $59.88 (which you really are paying for nothing), $179.88, or $299.88 annually for things that you would generally get for free, as long as you are limited to their website builder. If you decide to get an actual webhost and pay $60-$96 a year for a whole lot more features available to you.

Here are the reasons why you should not use Vistaprint now that I have a chance to look under the hood:

1. Vistaprint’s website builder is a primitive tool that makes your site look cheap. Do you want your site to look like it is built by a high school kid back in year 2000? It looks like they probably do not update their tools since they also own webs.com.

2. Vistaprint is not well set up for SEO. By contrast, WordPress is very well optimized for SEO and it is FREE.

3. You are not allowed to embed code in the website, and you are unable to add your own html/css/php code in the website. This absolutely limits your ability to optimize your website, even if you pay for the premium service.

4. Submitting to search engines is a non-service. Search Engine Optimization is more than just submitting to search engines and Vistaprint won’t help you with that.

5. RIP OFF ALERT! When you buy your domain (part of the premium $24.99 a month service) through Vistaprint, you’re going to be paying to get it back! You will need to pay a $20 domain fee if you want to buy your domain back from them and switch services. Your own domain name costs about $10 a year. At least they let you buy back the domain name. I hear that some services (like Yellow Pages Company) actually takes your domain name if you leave them. Whatever you do, make sure you own your own domain name!

6. They do not offer 24/7 support.
I don’t recommend using a host that doesn’t offer 24/7 support, but then again, they are not a real host. They do offer English speaking support, but I would not recommend using a host that isn’t there 24/7.

Don’t just take my word for it, read the numerous consumer complaints and pay attention to the ones about the website builder.

Vistaprint’s web business makes money by taking advantage of small business owners who don’t really know what they need to build a website, or what is needed to build a good website. Their strategy is clearly to get captive customers who use their printing services and milk their ignorance. Most people don’t read the terms of service, but if you do read it then you realize that they will not be a host you will want to deal with.

 

This Post Has 91 Comments

  1. Ryan Bowman

    Yeah, Vistaprint is just a big printing company that has a lot of customers who need websites anyway so they just offer it as a value add. Unfortunately, it doesn’t add much value 🙁 There are much better website builders out there if you want to go that route.

  2. vistaprint

    i just did the website thing; and wasn’t too happy after i had purchase the premium package deal = / I quickly realized it was exactly as you mentioned, very cheap-lost for better terms. I do like the domain name, i guess i have to buy that back? Gzz. Definitely i want to cancel everything. Any suggestions in getting my money back? thank you

  3. admin

    According to Vistaprint’s terms of use you have 60 days to dispute any charges, so assuming you changed your mind within days of your purchase with them, you can try telling them you don’t want it anymore and see where that takes you. Depending on the credit card you used, you may have some recourse, though it very clearly says in the terms of use they don’t have to refund you anything. Regardless, you will have to buy back your domain name for sure.

    I would caution you to read those pesky terms of use no matter what hosting company you decide to use in the future as well.

  4. Bronwyn

    Can you recommend some alternatives to vistaprint? Perhaps you should write another article as a follow up. Most small business owners need something easy to use that is why they are attracted to vistaprint but what other options are there? Also what options exist for people who are learning some code such as html and search engine optimisation. Also how does search engine optimisation work? I don’t think the search engine optimisation offered by vista print works at all, can you explain why.

  5. techstylish

    Bronwyn, you asked many questions that people write whole books about. While I will try to write more follow-ups in the future, these are not simple questions that can be answered in a few sentences or a single blogpost. As for why Vistaprint is poor for SEO, it was mentioned in #3 and #4 in the post. If your needs are really simple (static pages only), then the ONLY “website builder” I would recommend is WordPress.com. If you have time to learn HTML for yourself then W3Schools is a good resource. To learn some basic SEO, I would recommend Google’s SEO Starter Guide. If you are short on time, and most business owners are, I would recommend working with a professional.

  6. John

    I use Squarespace for my website, They have some new templates that are very Professional looking and I have got to say the support is second to none! Any question you have they answer, they have numerous workshops on line to help, videos, and most importantly real humans that work with you. Their prices are excellent for the service and product they market! I’m not paid by Squarespace to say this, just a totally satisfied customer supporting those who support my business! I recommend them and suggest taking a look you can try it for free building your site! Just my 2 cents hope it helps

  7. Karen

    Can a beginner build a decent website using WordPress.com?
    My only experience is doing one last year with VistaPrint.

  8. techstylish

    Thank you for your comment, John. Squarespace is a decent paid service but they are pretty basic as websites go and you won’t be able to get much in the ways of add-ons. The CMS is not open source so you might have issues if your business outgrows Squarespace and need to migrate to a more powerful platform.

  9. techstylish

    It depends on what you define as a decent website. If you are looking for basic, the answer is yes.

  10. Adrian

    I have been using vistaprint web builder and it’s pretty good to me. I own a pool service company and we have pick up a a lot of business from our website http://www.aepoolcare.com

    I built it all myself using what vistaprint provides. True you can’t paste HTML but that’s no biggie for a less tech savvy business owner.

  11. Randy Smith

    If you want something simple (drag and drop web design) with that feature set, and aren’t worried about SEO, I’d suggest Weebly. Free for most everything above, and a bit better for SEO- you can embed code, get a free subdomain, can import a domain, and so on. Good starter service for those who don’t want to get under the hood of their site- but want a simple and free one. CSS and advanced stuff is available, but if you want that, go the WordPress route, better setup and add ons there

  12. Roland Jackson

    Can someone put some reality into this. I have 9 websites with Vistaprint and trying to evaluate them sensibly. All the the stuff mentioned earlier simply isnt true. They do allow embedded code they do allow and have good SEO and are very cheap if you are careful, i pay less than $150 a month for all of them together(averaging $25 a site with full seo and bells and whistles) etc, yes its hard to build a site that doesn’t look like a 2 year old built but most sites on the net are difficult to read and you need a second set of eyes to find everything. Can someone put some reality into this topic i would really like to know whether to start moving them or not……
    I am a programmer and could code a website start to finish but at this stage think it a waste of time, time better spent SEO or producing graphics. Having said all that i would like it to look better….

  13. Chelsea

    What would you recommend for a photography website?

  14. cynthia k

    vistaprint sucks!!!!!! i have waited too long to finally do something about it. my 2014 new year’s resolution is to dump them. i have my website and my email marketing through them. like everyone else, i first used them for printing products. my website font is all mucked up and there is no way i can control it. and their email marketing has been down for at least 2 days, if not more. and i’ve had a sense for a while that i am paying way too much for all of this. how are people supposed manage a business professionally with this these clownish resources. and no 24/7 customer service — because customer service is based in jamaica. well, that explains it!!!!!! they are on island time down there. good bye and good riddance.

  15. Salon Demarzano

    I too have had HUGE problems with Vista Print web builder, but not the way others have…I have had this for 4 years an up until a month ago was happy with it. Now when taking hours to get together and you think its done and save it….WELLaaaA its GONE!!! not saved and for a week totality down for a week or more!!! I will be looking around for sure!!

  16. Allison Preston

    Do you really think VistaPrint is that bad? I’ve never used it actually but the couple people I know who have hadn’t had these complaints (besides the 24 hour customer service). I’m considering trying it out…

  17. Ryan Bowman

    I posted earlier on this page. You basically got it right. Lots of these big companies in the small business space include website services as an added monthly cost. With thousands of people signing up every day, it’s a huge ongoing revenue stream. In my business, I’m just trying to get 200 clients and companies like Vistaprint probably bring in a couple thousand per day. Craziness.

    Having said all that, I wanted to share a video review I did of Vistaprint website builder. https://youtube.com/watch?v=rXCuhX-UvBw

    It’s actually not that bad. I think it improved a lot after the bought Webs.com. I still don’t think it’s the best value but it’s a decent website builder.

  18. bairo

    What a laugh….thanks I needed that in the middle of the day. I find it very hard to believe that you are a programmer/coder (whatever you called yourself) and singing the praises of Vista web site designer/host. No one in their right mind would use them for double the money for less than half the service. If you knew half of what you claim then you know that your paying them to hurt your SEO and no one who can build their own site would do that!! I understand all the people who know nothing about website design or hosting….but for you to say you are so great and still decide to use them is ludicrous and frankly a load of crap.

  19. bairo

    The above comment is in response to Roland Jackson’s comment. It does not look like I can nest the response under his. Sorry…

  20. Susan

    So, we’ve been using Vistaprint for years. And honestly I use it because we can’t find anything else that is as simple. Our site never goes down and we get tons of compliments on it, which I think is because most home builders have totally terrible sites. Anyway, I hate the site. I think it looks unprofessional but I need something simple to go to. When I ask my web friends, they get into this and that but can never give me a straight answer about what to use and/or how to find a decent hosting company. I need someone to give me a list of options in plain English. While I do have some web maintenance skills, I really see no need to brush on them in today’s user friendly world. Please help!

  21. techstylish

    Obviously what you need to know depends on the kind of website you are running and what your goals are for the website. I would say that if you plan on doing your own web building and maintenance, then it is a skill worth learning. There is a lot to it, more than you know. When in doubt, you can always contact a professional.

  22. Susan Bradley

    I have 10 Vistaprint websites and find that I can get my clients websites on the first page of google rather quickly. I can embed html. videos. social media. Creating & Connecting the FB biz page and posting updates to Twitter have all been helpful. My clients are all very pleased with their sites and the results. It’s not a perfect situation but far easier than WordPress. That’s just my opinion. I love being able to see all the stats on visitors, which pages they accessed, where referred from etc..

  23. Vorador Diable

    Obviously, VistaPrint Web Building is designed for real small business owners, NOT web designers.

    Alot of these tech guys charge 10 fold the VP rates for web design, hosting, etc. Why pay and rely on someone when you can do something good enough to get the job done yourself.

  24. techstylish

    I would highly recommend that every business owner define what their good enough is. With a designer using WordPress, your annual cost comes out about the same for a basic website. That said, if you really want to have that kind of web builder, then based on my experience Weebly seems to be a good option. I do not recommend Wix or Vistaprint at all.

  25. Castle Clash Hack

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my
    own weblog and was wondering what all is needed
    to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
    I’m not very internet smart so I’m not 100% positive.
    Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers

  26. Dr. Niama Williams

    I have been with Vistaprint since November 2012 because I did not know any better. Now I am worried that I won’t get my files back. Should I read the terms of service and see how much trouble I’m in?

    I am a creative writer and bloggist, and my new site designer said I have no access to my files–any of them. Does this mean I lose copyright for two years of blog posts??? Do I need to consult an attorney?

    My site designer says even if I have saved the blog posts in a Word file (which I usually do prior to posting in my blog) I won’t be able to publish them on my new site without being considered a copyright thief–even though it was MY blog in which they were first published!!!

    Again, do I need to seek an attorney??? Any wisdom you can share, I will be grateful. I plan to call Legal Aid in the morning.

    Love and blessings,
    Dr. Ni

  27. techstylish

    Dr. Ni, It looks like your site is still up so you should be able to get everything. You own the content but Vistaprint owns the design. You will also need to call Vistaprint customer service since you don’t own your domain name — you will need to pay extra to get it back from them. You should be able to export your blog.

  28. techstylish

    Hello, it looks like you are already using wordpress.com to post your first page so you are on your way!

  29. Dr. Niama Williams

    Thank you SO MUCH for answering my questions!!! So if I go in and copy my blog post files, I won’t be considered a copyright thief if I post them on my new site? My site designer warned me about this. I’ll get busy copying if I can be protected.

    My site designer recommended GoDaddy and she is building the new site. 🙂

    I am so appreciative of your getting back to me!!!!

    Love and blessings,
    Dr. Ni

  30. Dr. Niama Williams

    How would I “export” my blog???

    Love and blessings,
    Dr. Ni

  31. techstylish

    Please call Vistaprint customer service and they should be able to walk you through the process. Your web designer should also have the know-how to work with this type of thing. If he/she doesn’t you should look for someone else.

  32. Susan A.

    I was actually going to go with vistaprint before reading your article…

    Im an artist needing to set up a website and I have a logo I want to incorporate into my website as well. Im no longer considering vistaprint based on your advice and other comments. I have looked at weebly and wordpress, which Im on the fence with both of them. I do like the blog potential with wordpress, but that isnt my main concern. What are your thoughts on Web.com? I want something simple (time wise) but unique that I can upgrade as I go if need arises. I cant afford to hire a professional website designer so I need something that is going to give me the best format for right now.

  33. techstylish

    What are your more specific concerns with WordPress.com or Weebly (why are you on the fence)? Both are decent choices to start though I think WordPress.com is a bit more flexible when you need to grow. What are your goals?

  34. Tiffany S.

    I don’t have Vistaprint website anymore because even though they were my first web host and builder, which I built myself, I couldn’t believe the trouble I had with my site! I have a balloon business and I needed to upload and import pictures and change info from time to time. Talk about total nightmare of trying to get pictures placed where they should be and upon saving and viewing it’s all messed up. I had to call too many times to have them fix a technical error that wouldn’t keep a change I had made and when they are done and gone for the day – well, you’re just going to have to wait. Vistaprint should have paid ME for the countless hours I put into making it work just enough to look somewhat decent. God forbid I went in and changed things around or added/deleted something – back to square one we go and better cancel my flight because I’m going to be here awhile. Now it looks like from reading other posts I will have to pay to get my domain name released which could take up to 30 days or so. Vistaprint’s website builder being basic is an understatement and unless you have the most basic of needs I do not recommend paying for their website…you will end up paying for a bottle of aspirin instead!

  35. Kelly Mac

    I agree with you. Have found VP websites to be effective for several community organizations and small businesses. Quick setup, SEO DOES in fact work pretty well if you optimize. WordPress is good, but have found VP fills a niche as well.

  36. Kelly Mac

    actually, was replying to Roland J et al, who have also used VP with success. One thing to note — VP has an affiliate program that lowers pricing significantly. We set this up when we found their full color catalog envelope pricing to be the best around. And then we we looked into their web designer, the price is much lower than it would be to an end user. Maybe the difference in what you are seeing as ripoff. I also pay $15 – $25/mo for most of the options available, including SEO functions. Duly noted

  37. felgop

    I am on a free month trial for my website on vistaprint. It is going to cost me 119.00 a year. I went to wordpress and it will cost me 299.00. Can you let me know why you say wordpress is free? My website is for a charity so I need a donate now button. I am wary of vistaprint, but would like more info about wordpress. Thanks

  38. techstylish

    WordPress offers different levels of service, starting with free, $99/year, to the premium $299/year. You can see a comparison of these offerings here. The $299/year WordPress.com service includes E-commerce — do you need to sell things on your website? Also, if your website is a charity and a 501(c)3, you can get free non-profit hosting through Dreamhost and use WordPress as your platform.

  39. Andre

    I agree wholeheartedly, their customer service is pretty sub par and I’ve worked with someone who built a site on their platform. Yeah, they don’t really give you good options and their policy sucks…

  40. Steve Moore

    I was actually pleased with the Vistaprint deal using their designer. Then, when I tried to port my email from my old web site over the problems began. I have been in business for two years and so my contacts and email trails are very important! But NONE OF IT will transfer over!!! From what I have been told they could transfer it but refuse to? What is that about? I was such a fan of them and have done business cards, tee shirts, magnetic signs all with ease and simplicity. then they screw me over on my email! These are business people you are working with on this end! How is it possible they cannot understand that? Today, they changed the look and feel of their email, with no warning and right in the middle of a business day, and now I cannot add attachments and my new CONTACT LIST is gone!!! Who is running this stupid business anyway?

  41. techstylish

    Hi Steve, I am sorry to hear about what happened to you. You should be able to transfer over your email to a free email host like Zoho Mail (http://mail.zoho.com), which also has good support. I have done this myself and the process is pretty smooth. I am not sure what the story is about you not being able to add attachments. Who was your hosting company before using Vistaprint?

  42. Den

    This is an interesting forum. Right now I am not sure how to feel….because I do have a VistaPrint basic website. I’ve had it for a couple of years and the $4.99 a mo. cost and so far without problems. I decided to go with VP because they offered the template that I had started out with for my business cards and postcards, brochures etc.
    Here’s what I need, and I am not completely informed enough to move forward: I need / want to blog and start up RSS feed and all that comes with it. This has been an excruciating week for me trying to obtain clear and honest information. Can I keep my current VP website and create my own / connect with a blog and have it linked? Does RSS give me the ability to expose my business services to other specific websites and create business growth. Much of what I read in my online search is, if someone wants to set up RSS feed they should do it via WordPress. No problem, but do I have to have a WordPress website and to also be able to set up a WordPress Blog? I am female sole proprietor of an interior painting / cleaning business. It’s time for me to grow and expand and it is really hard figuring out some of the best online methods. I have learned to be very
    “scope of services specific” and I do struggle to promote my business to a specific demographic. Hope you have time to respond to me. Mahalo. Den

  43. techstylish

    Den, What are you looking to do with your RSS? It is easy to have RSS with any blog, especially WordPress. You can keep your current website and link to any blog you set up but why do you want your blog on a separate site? Would it be better to be able to track all your traffic and analytics in one place? What are your goals?

  44. Mel

    We currently have VP for our website. We are a small daycare center and just needed a website to be able to showcase our services to potential parents. We use the blog function but very rarely. We mostly use the email function so each of our teachers is able to have an email address for the business. Our website is pretty basic and I was ok with that because we didn’t need anything fancy but recently the email services have started to decline and we can go a day or two without being able to access our email. This is not good because this is our main communication tool to talk with the parents. We were down again today and when I called they said it could be up to 3 days till there is resolution! I need to get something different but am not sure what all the terms and such mean when I am looking at the different companies. Basically we are looking to be able to have a website (ex: http://www.xyz.com) and be able to have multiple email address (ex: user1@xyz.com & hr@xyz.com). Any suggestions on what we could use.

  45. techstylish

    Most any host should be able to set you up with email when you host a website with them. Are you looking to keep your website where it is but move your email? What is your budget and your needs in terms of email? Do you need to have archiving, secure email, etc?

  46. Mel

    I am ok with moving the website to get the email part that works. The VP site isn’t anything fancy and if I can get something that looks better than I am all for it. We pay the $29.98 a month so I would like to keep it around that same price. Right now we have 15 email accounts and we will need probably another 10 more in the coming months. We do not need archiving or secure email.

  47. techstylish

    You if you do not need archiving or secure email then using a regular host, like Bluehost would be just fine. They charge $3.95 per month for hosting and you can have unlimited emails. The biggest job you will have to worry about is the move.

  48. Den

    I agree with you about a simple and uncomplicated website to be available online for those in need of your pool services. Vistaprint has served me well in that way. I’ve had it for a couple of years and because I could have the website design the same as the business cards, postcards and all other printed material, it makes sense to me to have that continuity. The Techstylish owner pushes for WordPress and when I examined it i just about went crazy trying to figure it out. It is not for me. Thank you for your answer that you gave.

  49. Den

    Thank you. I wish that you would have included your business names or types but not everyone is comfortable with that. I agree with you. Vistaprint has served me well as a simple information website. I’ve had it for a couple of years and because I could have the website design the same as the business cards, postcards and all other printed material, it makes sense to me to have that continuity. The Techstylish owner pushes for WordPress and when I examined it i just about went crazy trying to figure it out. It is not for me.

  50. Kristie

    Glad I found this before pulling the trigger on a VP site. Now not so sure. I have a small business selling customized shirts, hats, decals, etc. and need a web host/site builder that supports this customization (I.e. Sizing, color, font selection as well as customer file uploads and ability for them to enter free text) with shopping cart functionality. Does anyone have recommendations for a web service like this that is simple to use (I have little technical expertise…no web coding knowledge)? That was the initial appeal for me of VP…seemed like it would be a good “website for dummies” type service, but not sure it would even support the type of needs we have…would love some advice. Thanks!

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