One of the conundrums of small business owners today is how to build their website. Other than a handful of holdouts, we’ve moved past the era of “my customers don’t use the web”. It has become clear to every small business, whether B2C or B2B, that they need a web presence.
Building a website isn’t easy and it isn’t cheap. There are domain registration fees, hosting fees, and any number of other expenses related to a website, without even getting into the design and development. Therefore, drag-and-drop website builders (ex: Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, etc.) have become an attractive option for a lot of small business owners. The costs are low, contained in one area, and they can “design” it themselves using a predetermined template. But should small businesses use website builders?
In our opinion, you should not be using them. We’re not trying to knock them simply because they technically compete with our business. But if you are serious about your business and serious about using your website as an asset to drive business, you need to invest in your website.
The Pros of Website Builders
We totally understand the attractiveness of using a website builder. We’ve tried them in the past ourselves. So let’s take a look at some of the pros.
Low Cost – There really is no way for us to argue against this. We are firm believers in getting the highest ROI and if keeping costs low is the way to do that, we’re all for it.
Costs in One Place – Again, hard to argue against this one. Having to pay domain hosting in one spot, server hosting in another, email hosting in a third, and then paying a designer/developer via check can be pretty exhausting. However, there is something important to note here: do you want all of your eggs in a single basket? Think about how many options you have when it comes to a website builder. They are all competitors and can’t possibly all exist together forever. Eventually one of them is likely to go out of business. How confident are you that it won’t be the website builder service you chose?
You Don’t Need a Designer – Here is one we will argue to the death. In website builder services like Squarespace and Wix, you’ll be able to choose from a number of great templates. The problem is when you, a non-designer, starts messing with that template. You’d be surprised how quickly you can make that beautiful template, look gaudy. Again, we speak from our own experience as non-designers have tried to build their own and failed miserably. Design can be very fickle from getting the correct color palette, to the right typography, typesetting, spacing, kerning, negative space, etc. We see your head spinning already.
The Cons of Website Builders
One of the first things that you need to keep in mind, is what we mentioned earlier. Your costs are all in one place. If your website builder service goes out of business, now you have the unpleasant experience of not only starting your design from scratch but also transferring all of your content.
You Are Not a Designer – Like we said before, you likely do not know the first thing about web design. This can make for a terrible experience, even if it is a drag-and-drop website builder. You have to have a firm understanding of not only design, but user experience; how your customers will interact with your website. Do you have time to do all that?
Lack of Customizability – This is a big one with website builders. They are constantly introducing new ways to customize your drag-and-drop website with new features and add-ons. But they still fall short when it comes to truly being able to make your website your own.
Ability to Scale – Website builders might be great if you are a Mom & Pop shop just opening up for the first time. It is a super simple way to get your web presence up and running quickly. But what happens when you want to grow? The website builders aren’t able to scale in terms of functionality and customizability as well as other website services and systems. So instead of starting with something small and then needing to transfer your entire website to something that can scale, why not start with something that can scale from get-go?
What Should My Small Business Use?
We highly, highly recommend using WordPress for your website. We don’t mean using the free service either where your site’s domain would be www.domain.wordpress.com. You need to still have a custom domain. WordPress is the framework in which to build your website. It allows your website to dynamically generate content, based on what you input in the very easy-to-use admin area. If you can write a Word doc, you can write a page for your website.
Other great services include GoDaddy.com for domains and hosting, and ThemeForest for WordPress Themes. Of course, if you do go the WordPress route, you will need to hire a designer/developer to get your website customized and running. We’ve got just the people in mind for that.