Students Lead With Beliefs – SkillsUSA 2017

This year, we had the honor of being invited back to the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. This was our second year in a row and it was even better this time around! The SkillsUSA conference brings students from all over the country to compete in a many different competitions. Like last year, Tekkii served as judges for the web design competition. This allowed us to interact with the students, while seeing the passion they all shared for the industry. As a result, the future of web design is bright.

Promising Young Individuals

The first day of the competition gave us 27 high school teams. Students must complete a small website, perform an interview, and present their plan to us, the “company.” Our role was to conduct the interviews, and we did so one team at a time. We asked three questions of each team:

“Why should we hire you?”

“Walk us through the process…”

“How did you start in web design, and what makes you passionate about the industry?”

Our bonus question was, “What were our names?” While some remembered and answered quickly, this stumped many students. Luckily, we didn’t grade that question. While we let students know about the last question, that didn’t stop the great reactions we got from them!

In general, the majority of the answers given this year were great. Many teams were clear, concise, and sold themselves well. Most noteworthy were students that included their beliefs in their answer. What do we mean by this?

More than Just Knowledge and Skill

While we received many good answers, we received bad answers as well. For instance, to our first question, “Why should we hire you?” Many students replied, “We work really well as a team.” A few teams had even told us they had done websites before. Well, of course you do, this is something we expect! This and many answers like it were given to the questions we asked. Consequently, we had to take many points off for answers not being very convincing. As the client, we expect experience, teamwork, and most of all professionalism from a web design company. The beliefs are what set the company apart.

What do you feel a website should be? What inspired you to take this approach? Why do you do this for a living? These are questions that showcase a belief. They present the “why” of the angle, which is, in our opinion, the most important aspect to convey. Students this year understood that, and it was incredibly inspiring to hear! There is no doubt that every student at SkillsUSA can make a splash in the industry. This year, however, there were many teams that we know will shine bright. So young, and they already get it. Incredible.

The Rest of the SkillsUSA Was Great Too

Apart from web design, there were many other awesome competitions to see at SkillsUSA. Check out some photos we took! You can find a full list of them here: SkillsUSA 2017 Competitions

Using A Website Builder? The Pros vs Cons

Anyone can create a website. No, really, it’s true! Website builders have been around for many years, providing a platform for users of any experience level to create websites of just about any type. This is due to their clean templates, drag and drop interface, and expanding set of tools that fit just about any business industry. In addition to this, many website builders can be used free of charge. This is pretty fantastic right? Well, before you make your decision on how you’re going to power your website, there are some things you should know first!

Website Builder Pros & Cons

If you’ve done some research, you’ve likely heard of some of the popular website builders already. There’s Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, SiteBuilder, and GoDaddy just to name a few. Options like these offer a great tool set to get you online, and quickly. Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons.

1.) Affordability

The Pro

Some website builders are free, while other builders are very affordable to use. As a result, you’ll spend less money to use a builder for your website, rather than a freelancer or agency. Small business owners, and creatives wanting to show their portfolio may find this is a great benefit to them. At an early starting point, this decision seems to make the most sense.

The Con

Using the free option that many web builders offer, you may find the end result to not be what you expect. Because of this, you can expect to pay more than what is initially advertised. Consider your domain, the hosting fees, and the specific features your website really needs. While the extra fees aren’t too bad, it’s important to think about the investment you’re making, and the long-term return. Not just with money, but with time.

2.) Ease of Use

The Pro

The website builders widely available online are very easy to use, providing a drag and drop interface, and access to ever-growing resources. You are able to create online shops, beautiful galleries, cool parallax effects, newsletter email forms, and more with a few easy clicks. Popular builders like Wix or Squarespace offer beautiful, modern templates for you to choose from, yet, are easily customizable. Hence, even if you’ve had no experience with web design before, you can create a fair website. This is a perfect do-it-yourself solution to get a site online for your perspective audience.

The Con

Believe it or not, the ease of use in itself is a con. To be rather frank, we’ve seen some really bad websites created using builders. Not everyone knows what looks good, or what best design practices are.  There is more to design than just knowing what looks good and we can’t say this enough.

There are many limitations using a builder, and you are often restricted to its set of tools. Due to these restrictions, your website may not appear or feel very unique. Consequently, customers and visitors alike could see the effort put into your website as your brand’s reflection. Furthermore, nearly everyone we’ve spoken to about their website will say something negative about it if it was made with a website builder! Ouch!

3.) Features

The Pro

You can expect to find a range of features available with every website builder. There are contact forms, image sliders, newsletters, online stores, and blogging tools are available just to name a few. Since website builders are designed with many different users in mind, you can expect easy configuration to fit your needs. You will likely find the tools to meet a simple, or even more complex need.

The Con

We go back to limitations here. Customizing the look and functionality of many features isn’t possible. Let’s say there is a rental form for vacation homes, and you need to capture if the customer is bringing pets. Let’s also say that with pets, the system needs to charge an added fee. You won’t able to meet this requirement. In addition, an extra features comes with extra cost. If this is the case, you could pay one time or monthly for the feature.

4.) Google Rankings

The Pro

Many website builders come standard with search engine optimization tools. These tools will help you rank in search engines, allowing user to find you online. While each website builder has had its fair share of ups and downs when it comes to SEO, many have made great improvements over the years. Options in the editor help you set up your website to be search engine friendly in a quick, and easy way. You can even track your traffic data with Google Analytics.

The Con

Despite the improvements, many website builders do not rank well in popular search engines like Google. Due to these limitations, a user cannot take all the steps to truly optimize their site. Therefore, we don’t typically recommend using a website builder as a good option for SEO. Website builders meet the basics of SEO, but just don’t give you the control you need to compete with custom designed websites.

In Conclusion

There is nothing wrong with using a website builder, however, it’s always best to do research before making your decision on what path the creation of your website will take. Your website is a crucial part of your brand. It your businesses’ reflection online, and as a result, one of the first impressions your business could make to a potential customer. To take it lightly could cost you time, money, and sales! A website builder is a great option for an individual or business looking to get a great looking site with some extra time on their hands, and a small budget. For those looking to control the brand, narrative, and functionality of their website for long-term growth, a professionally designed website makes the most sense.