Getting your business online can be like trying to paddle a canoe up a hill in custard, aka hard work! There are a million and one things to look at and deal with, from contacting a web designer to having to filter through the vastly varying quotations you have been provided with, not to mention all the jargon used and trying to fathom what it is you are buying.
It can feel easier to bypass the entire process and slum it with a free website builder, throw a few images together, add a bit of text, and hey presto, it's done. You might have even seen an advert claiming "free website, sign up here, few clicks and your done". But is it that simple? Are website designers just inflating prices and throwing a few words together, and that's it? Or is there more to it than meets the eye?
In this blog, we will delve deeper into what is involved in designing a website and whether using a free website building platform is worth it.
Website building platforms are what they say on the tin; they allow you to build a website without knowing how to code or, in some cases, even design. They are usually drag and drop systems where a pre-designed section can be dragged into position you want it - and the content, be it an image or some text, changed to your own.
There are lots to choose from in an ever-growing marketplace, such as:
Hosting providers also offer their in-house versions of website builders such as GoDaddy, IONOS etc.
If you are asking yourself should you use a website builder for your business, sadly, there is no simple answer. The truth is not all website building platforms are bad, and in the hands of a skilled designer, they can be very functional. WordPress is a fantastic example, and it powers over 40% of the internet!
It boils down to a few key points:
Budget: Do you have the budget to hire a website designer.
ROI: Do you want a return on your investment (remember, time is also an investment!).
Perception: How do you want your business to look to prospective customers.
Time: Do you have the time to invest in creating what your business needs to grow online.
Website designers can address 3 of the 4 points above (they cannot help with the budget, sadly!) and will bring the skills, the knowledge and the vision that can bring your business to life online.
Think of it this way.
There are many videos on YouTube on how to fit brake callipers and pads onto a car. Does this mean that all mechanics are out of work? After all, we can all own a set of spanners and a car jack, can't we?
Would you get into your friend's car if they told you they had fitted their brakes? Would you let them drive you down the motorway at 70mph knowing they had just picked up this skill from a YouTube video?
We doubt many among us would even entertain the idea!
The same can be said for website design. Anyone can watch a video on how to design a website. They could even have a good go at it - but will it be the website their business needs? Will it be up to the job? Will it work? Is it fully compliant with all the legal requirements it has to comply with?
As we said above, all website builders are not bad. Some of them are an excellent gateway to getting your business online and then expanding from there, and in the hands of a skilled designer, they can be made to work as they should.
Our biggest pet peeves when it comes to website builders are:
You are at the behest of the platform and their hosting; you will never own your website and will be tied to their hosting. Don't believe us? Check their terms and conditions! They can also close down instantly, as with Virb, which GoDaddy bought out in 2020.
The platform was purchased and almost immediately closed down by the new owners leaving site owners with no access to anything they had created or uploaded. Albeit an extreme case, it can still happen. *Read more about this here ( Godaddy Shut Down Its Virb Site Builder Platform With No Notice ).
Most website builders are not the best for SEO, so you are left with expensive alternatives to marketing your business, like PPC. Some website building platforms are improving in this area but not near enough to make them flexible enough or good enough from an SEO perspective.
Website builders limit customisation in a big way as most of the time, you will not have access to the raw code to make things look or feel different. Okay, so this may not be a big thing right at the start when you are just getting started, but as your business grows online, this could hamper your efforts.
The biggest issue, however, is that none of them is free. They claim to be, and you might be able to throw up an elementary website for free using one, but almost guaranteed it will have adverts on it to pay for it - and most likely from your direct competitors.
Okay, so we have outlined our issues with website builders above. We also mentioned that they are not all bad and that micro-business owners can use them as a springboard to get their business going if they have no budget.
The only real alternative is to hire a professional website design agency or website designer. Yes, a professional website will cost you more than a website builder; however, the benefits of having a professionally designed website far outweigh any DIY options.
A good website designer will be able to turn your idea for your website into a fully functional and practical website that helps your business stand out online. Here at E2E, we are experts in small businesses and how they operate and here to take the strain from your shoulders when it comes to getting an online presence that works for you. We are a team of dedicated small business specialists who know precisely what it takes and have the tools, the skills and the passion for helping your business succeed online.
352A Buxton Road Stockport SK2 7BY