Web Designer & Developer Vs DIY Website Builders

by Harry King - Web Designer & Developer

Freelance website designer & developer, based in Jersey, Channel Islands. Specialising in UX/UI design and front-end website development.

I get it so often, I jump on an intro call with a client who requires help with their website and so often they explain of their troubles with DIY website builders. If you are not familiar with the term, you would have surely heard of platforms like WIX & Squarespace. These platforms are enabling many to create pretty decent websites, with zero coding or design knowledge. If you are a business owner, in the early stages of your journey, then you may be considering the possibility of using one of these platforms.

Firstly, I feel pretty strongly that every business should have its own website. Without a website, you are almost invisible in the online world, and therefore, not even able to compete with other companies and adequately present your products or services to potential customers.

Here are some pros and cons of using DIY website builders, comparative to employing an expert.

1. Your Squarespace website looks like everyone else’s Squarespace website

Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but those in the web design industry can usually spot a Squarespace website slouched back in their seat after a 14 hour shift. That’s because these websites are based around a fixed template (we’ll get in to the restrictions of using a fixed template website later on in this post). When this platform hit the market a few years back, the templates were pretty fresh and trendy, but in my opinion these templates are already starting look dated.

You need a design that compliments your brand, and whilst you might get away with a pre-made website design, I can’t stress the positivity in approaching your website design from scratch and making sure it compliments your brand, as well as your customer’s journey when on your website.

That leads me on to this…

2. A professional web designer will offer you a unique design that best suits your business

It’s a bit like buying your kitchen in B&Q – the Kitchen designer has never seen your home, they’re winging it on the basis that you have four walls and a window. Likewise, using a DIY builder, they are locking you in to a template and hoping you have three services to display in those neat little boxes set up for you. But what if you have five services to display… what if one of your services takes priority over others? This is where a web designer will help you.

A professional web designer will offer you a unique design that will improve your visitors’ experience. They will analyse every page you need and establish a goal. For example, whether you are selling products or looking for user signups, then the design of this page will be focused around that initiative and avoid unnecessary, distracting elements.

3. Your site speed and Google – a match made in heaven (possibly not).

Moving into the world of web development now, one of the most important features of a website is speed and security. A fast-loading website will naturally improve visitor retention and make Google love you a whole lot more. ‘Google can love me?’ – yes it can. Websites created on DIY platforms are typically hosted on servers with thousands of other users’ pages. This can significantly reduce the load speed of your site, resulting in loss of visitors and poor user experience, two things Google hates and two things they’re getting more and more intelligent on discovering.

Unfortunately, not all freelancers and web agencies are going to host your website on quality hosting servers. However, over the years I’ve seen a growing importance for quality web hosting for client websites I build. Even if you don’t want to spend the premium for this at an early stage, by speaking with an industry professional, they will be able to upgrade your website’s resources easily for you.

4. Search Engine Optimisation – it’s super important if you want to make an impact!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of customizing a website to better rank it in search results. This will get your site more visitors and will generally boost you up the ranks on Google. Any web expert will make this an important factor when building your website and should advise you accordingly on content you may be providing them, and how best to make it SEO friendly.

DIY website builders are catching up quickly, but their tools still aren’t as great as using a web developer who can manipulate the code on your website – for example, by using something called ‘Schema Markup’ – and use important analytic and tracking software such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

5. Project costs and valuing your time

There’s absolutely no question, going down the route of using WIX or Squarespace can have some great financial benefits. Website creation is such a vast landscape when it comes to costs, with businesses spending anything from a couple of hundred quid, right up to £10,000 for a simple brochure style website. You as the business owner will know what’s appropriate for you and your company, and whilst a pre-built website platform is undoubtedly a great solution for starting-out, as your business grows and your client base requires more from you – then you will need to step up your game.

Another key factor to make, is how much do you value your time? I certainly know from starting my own business, is that an hour of my time now, is far more valuable than it was a couple of years ago.

Thanks for reading this slightly biased review on why/why not to use DIY website builders. Even if you are an avid user of these platforms, I’m always available to offer advice. Drop us a line over on the contact page.

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