The pros and cons of do-it-yourself website builders
How do you decide between hiring a website designer, versus building your own website using an online, do-it-yourself site builder like Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, webs.com, or Godaddy?
As a web design professional, it would come as no surprise that I’m more likely than not to recommend a custom web design solution for a new client’s online presence. But let’s face it: there are occasions where an individual or business is not in the ideal position to warrant a professional, custom design, and instead may be better suited to a do-it-yourself website builder solution. In this post, I’ll explain the benefits as well as the drawbacks to making your own website utilizing a DIY website builder, versus hiring a designer or developer for a custom site.
Why You Need A Website
Occasionally a client will ask me, “Does my business really need a website?” More often than not, the answer is yes. At a minimum, your website serves as the virtual face of your business; a digital version of your print marketing material. Your company’s website is a portal through which your leads and customers can get to know you, find you, and contact you. Your site lends credibility and humanness to you, your firm, and your brand. Good search engine optimization and effective lead capture implementation means your website is instrumental in growing your business and customer base. And if designed, created and built properly, all of this works for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week; helping you succeed even as you sleep.
With the premise that having a company website is most likely a necessity, how do you decide between hiring a website designer or web developer, versus building your own website using an online, do-it-yourself website builder like Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, webs.com, or Godaddy?
The right answer depends upon a variety of factors. Let’s take a look.
Getting Online: Weighing the Options
First, let’s review the pros and cons of a do-it-yourself web builder platform.
The Pros of DIY Website Builders
- Costs generally range from free website builders to low- or medium-priced tiered packages, all of which can be attractive for start-up businesses, sole proprietors, or small non-profit organizations.
- The user interface is targeted toward non-designers, meaning the site’s dashboard editor is intended to be simple. Generally, these website builders feature drag-and-drop functionality to add and manipulate content.
- For a simple site with just a few pages and limited features or functionality, you can get up and running quickly.
- No coding knowledge of HTML, CSS, or PHP is required for basic implementation.
The Cons of DIY Website Builders
- Website builder templates, while plentiful, tend to look generic and be relatively inflexible. Therefore, if you’re looking for a unique, professional, and polished online presence, this may not be the ideal solution for what you’re aiming to achieve.
- Free (or even freemium) packages may require you to display the site builder’s logo in the header or footer of your site, and/or as a favicon (that cool icon displayed in the browser tab or bookmarks).
- Most free website builder packages require you to publish your site using a non-custom URL. For example, instead of acmetoolsusa.com, you may need to use the website address acmetoolsusa.weebly.com.
- Native mobile-responsive design is sorely lacking. The Wix website builder, for example, provides only two customizable device views: desktop, and vertical mobile phone – and even then, the mobile phone customization options are frustratingly limited.
- Good search engine results can be difficult to achieve if you’re not familiar with organic SEO techniques.
- Support provided by your chosen platform may be limited. Some online sitebuilders have phone support, but most have only online ticketing systems, often outdated knowledgebase documentation, or community forums, meaning a potentially wearisome process or delayed response time.
- Although the interface is meant to be simple for non-coders to use, it may take some time to master.
Now let’s review the pros and cons of a custom website design utilizing a web designer or developer.
With a web designer, you receive the benefit of a highly personalized workflow with a professional who will really get to know you and your business.
The Pros of Custom, Professional Website Design
- You get a full range of unique concepts and design customization options, with aesthetics that are fully suited to your brand.
- You receive the benefit of a highly personalized workflow with a professional designer who will really get to know you and your business.
- Your custom solution is crafted to address your business’ specific and measurable goals.
- Your site’s URL would be a professional website address using your own domain.
The Cons of Custom, Professional Website Design
- Fees are higher than those of DIY website builders.
- A lengthier time frame is involved for design, build and launch. For example, Fat Cat Design’s typical turnaround time for a custom website is between six and eight weeks.
- If your tech-savvy skills are lacking, you may encounter ongoing costs to keep your website content fresh (although improvements to WordPress, solid page builders, and in-depth training videos simplify this process for Fat Cat Design clients).
- There are ongoing hosting and care plan fees to consider.
The Verdict: Should You Do-It-Yourself, or Hire a Designer?
Choosing between a DIY website builder and a custom website comes down to your unique needs, prerequisites, and situation. Features, functionality, aesthetics, budget, business requirements, schedule, and goals should all factor into your decision.
How to Get Started With A Professional Website
Fat Cat Design is happy to consult with you on your current business needs.
Let’s get started! Get in touch with Fat Cat Design.