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.
Some of the pros include not needing any coding or design skills, easy to use drag and drop interfaces, plenty of features such as ecommerce and a quicker launch time.
In addition to this, many website builders can be used free of charge. This is pretty fantastic right?
This article will mainly come down to whether you should do it yourself, or if you should hire an agency / freelancer to help you with your website.
Well, before you make your decision on how you’re going to power your website, there are a few things you should know!
What To Consider Before Using a Website Builder
Your website is an extremely important part of your brand and shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is the first impression the majority of visitors will have on your brand and when done right, could work on its own when it comes to growing your business.
Think about the purpose of your website and how it should function before you make a decision on which website builder you choose, or if you should consider hiring an agency. While a website builder is the perfect option for many, it could be the wrong decision for your brand or business.
This guide is intended to provide information to help you make an informed decision on whether a website builder is right for your brand.
The Pros & Cons of Website Builders
If you’ve done some research, you’ve likely heard of some of the popular website builders available today.
There’s Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, Shopify 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 of these popular website builders.
Starting off with probably the most searched inquiry, let’s start by talking about the affordability of website builders. If you’re considering using a website builder for your next business or project, you’re likely to save money up front.
As just mentioned, you’ll spend less money using a builder for your website rather than a freelancer or agency. New or young businesses aren’t the only ones who could benefit from this. The affordability of website builders is great for:
- Restaurants / Food Trucks
- Individuals (Artists, Photographers, Musicians, Crafts, etc)
- New / Young Businesses
With the quality of website you get for such a low cost, this decision seems to make the most sense.
When using the free option that many web builders offer, you may find the end result to not quite be what you expect. Because of this, there is additional functionality you may need when it comes to your website.
Be on the lookout for:
- Domain Name Costs
- eCommerce Features
- Premium Plugins
- Special Themes or Customization Options
Because of certain premium features, you can expect to pay more than you think to get your website online and maintain it.
While the extra fees aren’t too bad, it’s important to think about the all of the features you really need for your website and do your research.
Last but not least, think about the investment you’re making, and the long-term return. Not just with money, but with time.
If you’re spending $55 a month, the initial hours to build your site, then a few hours each month to maintain it, really stop to consider what you will get out of it once it’s completed.
#4 The Ease of Use
Website builders are very easy to use, providing a drag and drop interface, and access to an ever-growing list of features. Not to mention, many of the themes come with great resources such as high quality photos and video to use for free.
Many of the builders allow you to create online shops, beautiful galleries, cool parallax effects, newsletter email forms, and more with a few easy clicks.
Popular website builders like Wix or Squarespace offer beautiful, modern templates for you to choose from, yet, are easily customizable. So even if you’ve had no experience with web design before, you can create a good looking website in record time.
This is a perfect do-it-yourself solution to get a site online for your perspective audience.
Believe it or not, the ease of use in itself is a con. When it comes to web design, do it yourself is not for everyone. Not everyone knows what looks good, or what best design or marketing practices are.
Just because you can build a great looking website, doesn’t mean it will function well if at all.
That’s ok though, the builders help you out where they can and even offer their own professional help and support.
That being said, there are limitations using a website builder, and you are often restricted to the set of tools and boundaries it gives you.
Due to these restrictions, your website may not appear or feel very unique when compared to another built on the same platform using the same theme.
Customers and visitors alike will see the effort put into your website as a reflection of your brand. It may be difficult to portray your brand as unique on a website builder without having the skill or an eye for design.
To help with this, consider looking online for example websites and tips from the builder you choose. Don’t be one of the people that dismisses your website just because it was built using a website builder!
#3 Tons of Features
You can expect to find a range of features available with every website builder. There are contact forms, image sliders, newsletters, online stores, blogging tools and more just to name a few.
Since website builders are designed with many different users in mind, you can expect quick and easy easy configuration to fit your needs.
Need customers to make appointments online, get in touch with you, see your videos, connect social media? Expect to do these things and more all quickly and beautifully.
We want praise Wix here for offering great online ordering and online reservation systems to restaurants. We would recommend checking it out for your restaurant and may write a blog on it in the future.
You will likely find the tools to meet a simple, or even more complex need.
We go back to limitations here. Customizing the look and functionality of many features is not 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 if that option is selected. You might not able to meet this requirement especially with a basic plan or account, if it’s even possible to do with the feature.
Certain integrations or extended features may come with extra cost. If this is the case, expect to pay a one-time fee or monthly for the feature.
Consider the features you need and exactly how they should work ahead of spending hours to find out you can’t achieve what you need.
#2 Google Rankings & SEO
Many website builders come standard with search engine optimization tools. These tools will help you rank in search engines, allowing user to find your brand 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.
The tools allow you to change titles, meta descriptions, insert alt text and more to customize how you show up in search engines results.
You can even track your traffic data with built in Google Analytics.
Despite the improvements, many websites built using website builders do not rank well in popular search engines like Google. Due to the limitations with access to the source code, a user cannot take all the steps to truly optimize their site.
You primarily have control over the design aspects of your website, but not its code.
While website builders meet the basics of SEO, you don’t quite have the control you need to compete with custom designed websites.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t rank and rank well. From our experience, we’ve seen Squarespace and Duda perform very well when it comes to SEO optimization and ranking.
How do you know if a website builder is suitable for your brand? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why do you need a website?
- What will be the primary purpose of your website?
- How do you plan on marketing your website?
- Are you building this alone or with help?
Keep in mind this is based entirely on opinion and the questions above are fairly basic.
Consider Using a Website Builder If:
A website builder is great if you answered the following to the questions above:
- I am an individual, small business or new business / brand looking to get online or improve my existing look to appear more official.
- I want people to have a place to get more information on my services/ menu / work.
- I would like to hand out (graphics / brochures), share links on social media, word of mouth.
- I am doing it by myself / I will have little help.
Consider Hiring An Agency / Freelancer
You should consider hiring a web design agency or freelancer if:
- I am a small – mid sized business looking to get a website or improve my existing brand’s impression online.
- I need to drive sales and phone calls to see business growth from the internet.
- I plan on paid advertising, SEO, social media, email and word of mouth. (or any combination of these)
- I am planning on doing this with help.
Whether or not a website builder is right for you is all about your investment. Are you going to get what you want out of what you are putting in?
The first set of questions mainly refers to an individual or small business who looks to do the design and marketing of their website on their own / in house. It also highlights the website’s purpose as being more information based. Going this route means you will spend less money, but more of your time.
The second set of questions refers to a more established business looking at the website as a tool to drive more sales. The business also has no intention on trying to do this on their own. Going this route means you will spend more money, but save on your time.
Conclusion & Recap
There is nothing wrong with using a website builder, however, it’s always best to do research before making your decision.
Your website is a crucial part of your brand. It is your businesses’ reflection online, and as a result, one of the first impressions your brand could make to a potential customer.
Website builders are fantastic and can work in many scenarios. We’ve used website builders for many client websites with excellent results.
However, in our opinion it all comes down to if you should do it yourself or if you should hire a professional.
As stated above, if have time on your hands and need to get your brand online / official, certainly research and use a website builder. If you have a budget, not a lot of time and need to increase sales, certainly hire a freelancer or agency to help you achieve your goals.
So will you be using a website builder for your next project?
If you have any questions about website builders and what’s best for your project, please don’t hesitate to contact us.