5 Things to Consider Before Using A DIY Website Builder
Small business and startup owners spend too much money and invest unnecessary hours on “quick and easy” DIY website builders.
In the beginning, building your own website looks easy. Just sign up, pick your colors, upload some images, add text about your business, drag a few boxes around and publish. After that, your website is live and instantly, your phone is ringing off the hook! This is too good to be true, right? Yes. By and Large, this is not how they really work.
In reality, DIY website builders are not transparent about the process. In general, free versions do not offer full-featured platforms. They “give” you a platform to build your website on, however you don’t get an effective website. Effective small business websites attract, engage and convert visitors into loyal customers. In this post, I explain why you can’t get an effective website “in just minutes.” Here are 5 key points often overlooked:
1. It’s Not Really “Quick and Easy”
Building websites on DIY website builders actually takes a lot of trial and error. First, you make mistakes. Then you experience frustration because you begin realize that your website doesn’t look or function the way it was supposed to. Why the frustration?
Free versions of DIY website builders offer a bare-bones set of tools. In order to access added more features, such as search engine optimization tools for ranking your site in search results, you pay extra.
Similarly, if you want your customers to have the ability to book appointments directly from your website, you need a premium app for that. If you want to take payment for the bookings, you need another app. Apps, or plugins, are usually sold on the DIY web builder’s “marketplace” and prices range from $4-$20/month.
2. Domain Names and Subdomains
Your domain name is what people enter in the URL field when they want to visit your website. Do you want your website to be yourbusiness.com? That’s not free.
By default, the DIY website builder creates a subdomain for your website, so instead of yourbusiness.com, you get yourbusiness.theirbusiness.com. Removing their name is another upgrade.
In contrast, it’s not expensive or overly difficult to purchase and setup a domain name specific to your business. Plenty of web hosting companies offer advice at a low cost.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for DIY Website Builders
At Consonant Marketing, we often repeat the phrase, “make your website work for you.” We view a company’s website as a virtual sales rep. In other words, it should make your phone ring. A website that is properly optimized for SEO generates leads from the internet.
If your website is not SEO optimized, it’s not appearing on the first two pages of search engine results. At this point, you might as well not have a website at all. Think about it, how many times you go past the third page when you search for something online?
SEO upgrades for DIY website builders are often subpar. For instance, many plugins return false positives to the user. The plugins often tell users the page is optimized when in reality, it’s not. A search expert can eventually make any web page rank on Google. On the other hand, DIY builders market to average small business owners. For this reason, SEO is not “quick and easy” using these services. All things considered, we recommend working with a professional.
4. DIY Website Builder Templates and Design
Unless you already know the basics of graphics and web design, it’s difficult to make a DIY template look unique. The standard templates are pretty basic. In addition, they’re not fully-customizable. For this reason, it takes a lot of work to get them to look modern and reflect your brand properly.
5. Hosting and Website Ownership
DIY website builders are categorized as Software as a Service, meaning the website applications are hosted by their company, then made available online to customers. They use proprietary Content Management Systems which do not allow you to add or edit additional applications and integrations without paying. As a result, true customization is nearly impossible.
Additionally, DIY website builders host all of your files. Namely, photos, documents and downloadable content. You publish your files on their servers to make them available to the public on a website template via your associated domain name. (See #2) Although you own the photos and text, you don’t own the website. That being said, you can’t easily switch from one builder to another. For this reason, you’re essentially locked into a never-ending lease.
In contrast, I suggest owning your company’s website from the beginning. By doing so, you retain full access to all of your files. Your company owns the code, images, CMS, etc. As a result, you are free to move from host to host with ease.
The Long Run
Generally, DIY website builders are a headache. The time you spend trying to build an effective website is time that could be spent on other important aspects of your business. Consequently, the entire process can potentially impact your small business in a negative way.
For these reasons, I suggest avoiding DIY website builders altogether. All in all, it’s best to invest your time and resources into a fully-customizable, SEO optimized, unique-looking website that accurately represents your brand. In the long run, you save time, money and even your sanity.
Jean Templeton is a public relations director and copywriter who works with small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs to help grow their personal brands and businesses.
Jean is the co-founder of Consonant Marketing and believes in creating content that is organically produced and custom made. She is professionally trained in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and specializes in Creative Writing and Public Relations.