The internet is a bustling market with millions of web pages and thousands of service provider possibilities capable of supporting a website. Now, depending on the intent of the site, there are some things you need to know.
Let's explore the popular choice of website development for small businesses in their use of DIY website builders.
The Truth About Website Builders
This type of website creation is known by a few names depending on your experience in the industry. You could know them as just a "website builder," a DIY builder, a Do-it-Yourself website, or maybe others, but they all mean the same thing. These products use a type of WYSIWYG tool, which stands for What You See Is What You Get, to get the job done.
Website builders are incredibly popular these days and for good reasons. Not only are they becoming easy to use, but they're also cost-efficient with most providers. Now, in theory, they're very good, but they have their downsides. You get what you pay for.
Now, if we're honest, the main deciding factors to look at DIY builders are Time vs. Money.
The first thing to do is explain what you get with a DIY website and then provide some Pros and Cons to why you would or why you wouldn't want to use one.
What is a DIY Builder?
The Do-it-Yourself users will love DIY builders as they're labeled this way for a good reason. With enough time and energy, inexperienced site creators can launch a site pretty quickly without a lot of time or money wasted.
These site builders will have either an assortment of templates, which are designed areas of the website to build from, or a puzzle piece style tool that lets you choose the elements to use; like header, body, or footer, etc.
Now depending on the provider, these "cookie-cutter" site build templates can have a varying range of options, but in the end, they're still templates and they will have limitations.
Pros & Cons of DIY Sites
If you're ready to get a website online, there are a lot of questions that need to be asked. From how many pages you need the site to be, to uniqueness, and functionality.
Below are some Pros and Cons to consider:
- Cost-Effective – DIY builders have a wide range of pricing options from FREE* to monthly and yearly options. The free builders could have *advertisements, or more often, offer little to no support for your domain name. This means there is no proper way to tie it to your branded address.Paid products are hosted (online) in some type of package with some or full domain support and typically are offered monthly or yearly. Paid services can range from a couple of dollars to $150 CDN a year or more with responsive design options sometimes available.
- Quick – As the saying goes, time is money. Getting a website online for your business or organization as quickly as possible goes a long way and using a DIY builder that allows you to pick and choose options easily can let you get on with your day a lot faster than some other site-build choices.
- Easy – The options are constantly growing, but DIY builders are certainly easy to use. Most providers will give hundreds or thousands of template options and tons of provider choices to go through. This makes it easy to pick and choose who to go with without a lot of digging with even less hassle to piece your site together.
- No Coding Skill Required – Much like the easy point, the possibilities for a novice are greater when there is no major skill requirement. An extensive FAQ section, some walkthrough videos, or knowledgebase options go a long way in helping you get a website online when tech support may not be available.
- Support Is Inclusive – A major benefit to small businesses trying their hand at a website is their ability to obtain a level of technical support from the hosting provider. Unlike some other website development options, such as WordPress, a major benefit of a controlled environment like a site builder is that the support teams typically know its limitations and can better support you to help with any issues that may arise in creating your site.
- SEO Friendliness – Due to the template designs for these builders, you are likely to run into issues with SEO support. This could range from being unable to verify the site with Google Analytics, or simply not supporting any kind of java or tracking scripts you may want to use to track your return on investment and monitor your site traffic.
- End of Life – If you decide to have a DIY website online for an extended period, you could run into the end of life issues. Due to the ever-changing nature of technology, for security and other reasons, you may have an issue with the site you're using simply outdates itself. It will likely end in one of two ways—either the site builder stops getting support like maintenance and upgrades, or it simply gets migrated or moved to a new platform. Migrations are more common, but they can run into issues meaning your site may be affected and come crashing down or require some type of re-build fixes.
- Platform Limitations – Building software that uses templates are also likely to have inherited limitations. This could be any number of different limitations from page limitations before it becomes unstable or hard to use, a hard cap where you cannot pass a set number of pages, or simply limitations on content like 3rd party code.
- Lacking Functions – Depending on where you shop, you may run into issues with functions you want in your site are simply not supported. These could range from things like responsive design for mobile, HTTPS security, site searches, or even cosmetic things like parallax or sticky navigations. It may not add up to much, however, it could result in broken pages, or more likely decreased visibility. Some providers also may not be able to provide you a copy of the website if you want to leave.
- Like All the Rest – Lastly, an issue with template design is that it IS a template. Unfortunately, not all providers have the customization options to make your website stand out among competitors, making your website appear bland because it offers nothing unique. Chances are if you find a template and styling that you like, someone else has too, which means your beautiful website could just be an inadvertent copy of someone else's – or worse, someone finds your website beautiful and uses your design.
While the intent of this overview is to maintain some balance in its bias, there are many factors involved with your choice of how you want your website to be. In the end, it does come down to your skill level, the intent of the website, the time, and the money you're comfortable investing in it. Some decision questions you could consider are:
- Is the website long term?
- What is your spending budget right now and will it change?
- How much time are you personally investing in creating the website? What about time in maintaining it?
- If you anticipate moving to another hosting company, are you able to take your site with you, or would you rather rebuild it?
The reasons posed in the questions above are simple. If the website is temporary, you won't want to invest a lot of time into something that's going away, meaning you are unlikely to want to spend a lot to promote it. The opposite applies if it is sticking around for the undetermined future.
If your budget will expand later but you need a website now, you'll want something small that can grow with you, or at least let you plan your escape route when you decide you outgrow your current platform.
If you're the one performing the maintenance on the website, are you comfortable doing all of the work on its current platform? Some platforms require updates and maintenance for security. Are you able to keep up with the times to make sure your site remains reliable, safe, and current?
Lastly, if you think you'll outgrow your platform or wish to move, can you pack up your site and move it? Will you get a copy of your site files, a backup or database for the content, or an unknown file format that your new provider doesn't support?
Be involved in the process, and with the right questions, you can have a beautiful website. Let Alley Kat Web Consulting help in your successful website choices. Contact us today and book your consultation. At Alley Kat Web Consulting we focus on the customer experience and plan a strategy for your future goals.