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Site builders vs. bespoke sites

Should you build your own website?

Have you recently created a website with a site builder such as Wix or SquareSpace? Have you noticed that it maybe doesn’t suit your brand, or it possibly isn’t as pretty as the adverts? Building a website is a lot like building a house in that it requires a team of people with specialist skills. Whilst the monthly price point and the ability to do it yourself seems like a nice deal, once you get deep into it there are several shortcomings with site builders than will in the long run push the long-term cost up, especially if the site isn’t converting visitors.

We believe your website should reflect your business and that you shouldn’t crowbar your company into a pre-built template. Your website should have a purpose and serve as an extension of your business, such as a shop front would up-sell on a high street. So, should you build your own website? We look at the shortcomings of DIY site builders and why, ultimately, it’s usually a good idea to hire a professional before you dive into your site builder and costs rack up.

SEO & Usability Optimisation

The major downfall (which is somewhat better than it was a few years back) is that site builders in general aren’t SEO friendly and lack the required functionality to effectively optimise the site for search engines.

WordPress and any other standalone CMS website can undergo a plethora of optimisation techniques to increase traffic and usability. Site builders aren’t built with code optimisation in mind due to their need to cater to lots of different use cases. This creates code bloat and can reduce the site’s rankings.

User Experience

Site builders are vastly more complex compared to four or five years ago, with the amount of customisation being very impressive. But what we’ve found is that at the end of building your website you end up with a pretty template website that has very little thought about user experience.

Calls to actions, user flow and site maps influence our website design to ensure that customers are funnelled properly through the site. Professional web designers will plan out objectives and create visual cues to increase engagement and boosting conversions thereafter.

Professionalism

You want your new website to scream your brand; it needs to be unique. We design all our websites for our clients based on their business and that business’ needs. It’s often the case that a DIY Builder will have pre-built templates that you can add visual elements into. Users will end up fitting their business into these templates which shouldn’t be the case. Often site builders look great on the adverts, but once you get the tools you start to produce something lacking in flare and professionalism. It’s still hard to create a professional looking website using a DIY Site Builder, especially without the market knowledge to ensure users will convert into customers.

If you’re opting for the cheapest Site Builder level, your site will also be branded by them, or even include their name in your URL, which reduces the impact of your brand. You want to bring your brand to the web with professionalism and having a cheap website can cheapen your brand.

Future expansion

You’re a basket weaver in Wigan today, but could be booking people in for online basket weaving lessons, or even selling baskets worldwide in the future. These all require different types of websites and different coding and third-party integrations. Moving from site builder to site builder to fulfil these third-party requirements is a lot more expensive and time consuming compared to expanding on an already existing custom WordPress website. Evolution is necessary for a website and locking yourself to a site builder without any access to the code limits this heavily.

What’s fantastic about WordPress compared to DIY site builders is the amount of functionality that people have already built solutions for. With WordPress’ Plugin Repository there are thousands of plugins available for any conceivable website you might need with little to no code knowledge needed.

Site builders are also closed circuits which means that any migration away from the platform is usually impossible with very little in the way of exportable data. This means that in the event you need to upgrade, migrate or expand you’ll have to start over again on a new service.

It’s not all bad!

DIY site builders aren’t all bad – it’s a great place for your first website and if you’re on a tight budget. The free-flowing nature of site builders lets you explore potential online identities relatively quickly and at your own pace.  But for a future proof, cost-effective website solution you should always look to get a professionally designed website.

Posted in Help and Advice, Responsive Website Design

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