Website builders now offer a full range of features and flexibility to suit different business needs. Tech Digest talks to Melissa Tirey as private consultant and a contributing insights author on Site Builder Report and on Wise Buyer about some of the options on offer.
Why would you use a website builder rather than getting a custom website built? One of the main reasons, Sitebuilder Report’s Melissa Tirey, is down to budget. “If you choose your own web designer, you certainly don’t want to go for the cheapest,” he says. “Nor do you want to go for, say, your niece or nephew who has just started designing websites,” he adds.
As a rule, Tirey claims, if you are not willing to spend more than $5,000 on your own website then it’s best to use a website builder rather than get a website designer. The reason is because you are probably going to end up with something you are much happier with, Tirey argues. “Inevitably when designing your own website there’s a lot of going back and forth with the designer and a lot of revisions. So either hire a professional or do it yourself.”
Although it’s cheaper using a website builder to create your website, that’s not the only advantage either. Another reason is that website builders can rank better when it comes to SEO because they often load faster than home built sites and Google puts an emphasis on page speed as a ranking factor.
This is because website builders have CDNs (content delivery networks) built in— which means the user never has to think about what a CDN is. They only have to build out their infrastructure once and then deploy it to millions of websites so they’ve already figured out the most optimised way of delivering page elements such as images.
“On the other hand, someone who builds a website and loads it up onto a web host probably won’t do the necessary optimisations to make it fast because it may be far too technical for them,” adds Tirey.
One advantage that website builders have is that many of them feature built in e-commerce facilities that can easily be used to run an online store. For example, if want to edit the email receipts that customers receive, that’s something which is straightforward with a website builder because they have built the platform with the assumption that non-technical people are using it.
Conversely, if you are using WordPress you will probably have to install an ecommerce plug in such as Woocomerce yourself which probably isn’t going to be as intuitive. Says Tirey: “The assumption with WordPress is that most users will be at least moderately technically competent and therefore you are going to have to wade into some code if you want to customize.”
Not only is ecommerce simpler with a website builder, but security is too, claims Tirey. “When you use a service like Weebly to build your website you are also hiring Weebly’s security team so they are the ones checking whether everything is updated for things like security patches. But if you are doing it yourself you are probably not going to know to check if you are running the latest version of WordPress.”
While website builders like Weebly and Squarespace will install a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) for you, trying to do it yourself can be tricky, claims Tirey. Indeed, getting an SSL certificate is becoming increasingly important with Google now ranking websites with an SSL certificate more highly than those without, especially on mobile.
Overwhelmingly what the vast majority of businesses consider most important in a website is its look and feel, claims Tirey. In particular, they are concerned about whether it makes them look professional.
One of the concerns that some people have about website builders is that they don’t offer the flexibility when it comes to design that, say, platforms such as WordPress are able to. But that’s not always the case, Tirey argues. “While it’s true that some website builders are poor and give you very little customisation, industry leaders like Squarespace certainly rival WordPress in terms of customisation of themes.”
Unless you plan to reinvent the wheel in your design then a website builder will be more than adequate, he claims. For example, if you are building a restaurant website, the features for that will have been done hundreds of times before. Many of the website builders even incorporate a library of stock images you can use for free (some even offer a library of stock videos too) so you don’t have to worry about copyright issues either.
The truth is that deciding to use a website builder rather than designing a website from scratch is largely about trade offs. The trade off is that a website builder isn’t going to match WordPress in terms of flexibility, but it is going to be super easy to use and cheaper too. Concludes Tirey: “Going the website builder route might not suit everyone; but, unless you have a very large design budget and a need to produce something truly unique, it will almost certainly produce a better return on your investment.”
Melissa Tirey is a digital expert with a background in neuroscience. She has worked extensively in B2C and B2B marketing across the USA. Melissa specializes in seamlessly integrating the precision and expertise of communications teams with the digital measurement tools to help clients target, reach and convert their desired audience.