“Build a stunning website in 10 minutes”. The link jumped out at me from the Google Ad.
Stunning? In 10 minutes? It takes me longer than that to brew a decent cup of coffee. Let alone build a website, stunning or not.
If you’ve decided that it’s time to develop a new website or revamp your existing site, you may have considered doing it yourself. And why not?
It’s totally understandable in the times we find ourselves in today. Where finances are tight and being online is more important than ever, website builders can appear to be the silver bullet to some of our digital marketing challenges.
There is this perception that a website builder website will get your business online fast and looking professional fast.
Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, Google, GoDaddy . . . there are so many “free” website builders out there that makes it possible for you to design your website.
But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
The growing importance of website E-A-T (expertise, authority, trust) as a factor in organic search rankings and the flexibility you need from your website to achieve this, means that hiring the services of a professional website designer has become more important than ever.
WYSIWYG? Not always
Though they may be easy to edit – website builders use a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) front-end editor that enables you to drag and drop elements into place on the page – the simplicity of using a website builder comes at a price.
First, it’s a time sucker. The time that can rather be spent doing what you’re good at – not moonlighting as a website developer! Most times, it’s better to stick to the knitting.
The flexibility you might find on a platform such as WordPress, with its almost limitless plugins, is simply lacking in a website builder. Not to mention what’s happening in the backend coding.
One of the most important factors in creating a good user experience is fast loading time. A website that loads quickly will likely see:
- your visitors spending more time on your site
- your visitors making more conversions e.g. purchases
- you spending less on your pay per click advertising
- your organic rankings improve
But as Jeremy Knauff points out, website builders actually slow down page speed because of the way the elements used to construct the web pages are “nested”.
Inevitably, more elements are used in the builder than a professional website developer would use to construct the page. Hence the problems with load times and the associated issues such as effective search engine optimisation (SEO) down the road. Sometimes to buy cheaply is to buy dearly.
Website builders have serious limitations
A while ago, we had an enquiry from a salon owner looking to improve her organic rankings. We tried to audit her website using our SEO software. But since her site was built on Wix, this was impossible. It raised some red flags:
- Site management and ownership
Website builders offer no SEO advantage and, as Knauff notes, can actually limit your business growth.
I believe any serious business owner should avoid these platforms like the plague. – Jeremy Knauff, Search Engine Journal
The code generated by website builders is confusing at best for Google – the unofficial referee of the World Wide Web. Google enjoys code that is uncomplicated and well structured.
These days, it’s of little use having a website that only looks amazing. It needs to be amazing in the backend too. Because this is where Google is able to check its relevance and try and best match it to the searcher’s intent.
The other major drawback is that using a website builder locks you into a system over which you have little or no control.
Sure, your website may be hosted on your own domain (hosting fees still apply) or – horror of horrors – you select the free option in which case your URL will be something like businessname.weebly.com. This lacks credibility and, quite frankly, looks cheap.
Why you need a website that really works
Website builders are marketed as tools that put you in control. But do they?
A website that works means more than a set of graphics, images and words that somehow knit together to create something that is engaging and easy on the eye. A successful website that can truly grow your business goes beyond these basics.
Rather start with an open-source platform such as WordPress, which you can install yourself and find free or inexpensive themes and plugins if you’re on a tight budget. Or, better still, you can hire an agency to handle it all for you.
The best thing is it all belongs to you. The website, its data, the images and the plugins. See it an investment that puts you in the driver’s seat, enabling you to do effective technical SEO, building traffic and improving rankings.
As Knauff says, any time, resources, and money you put into a simple website builder website will be wasted because you’ll have to start over when you’re ready to get serious about your online presence.
So, if you are serious about using your website to market your business effectively, understand that a website builder website will have some serious limitations.
In our world of instant gratification, a 10-minute promise can be persuasive. Yes, I do want to build a stunning website in 10 minutes! Bring it on!
If only it was that easy.
- For an affordable way to get online fast, why not consider one of our Kickstarter websites? We offer a brochure-style website or e-commerce option built on WordPress. Free domain registration and a year’s hosting are included.