Web Design | April 10, 2017

Should I use an online website builder to build my own website?

by James Williamson

“You can go to a hardware store and buy everything you need to build a house. Does that mean you go ahead and build your own house?”

kasio99 - should I use an online website builder to build my website

I often get asked by people “Why should I get a professional web designer/developer to develop my website when I can use a online website builder application?” My short answer is “You can go to a hardware store and buy everything you need to build a house. Does that mean you go ahead and build your own house?” You may be able to build something that gets you by, though I doubt it would be anything as good as if you get a professional to build it for you. The same applies to websites.

What is an online website builder application?

There are a number of online website builder applications that allow you to build your own website. These applications include WIX, Squarespace and Weebly. These applications provide pre-built templates with drag and drop editors for you to populate with text and images amongst other common website functionality. This may be sufficient for creating a basic website for you to point clients to as a catalogue style website. If you want to generate new leads, customers and sales through your website then I don’t recommend using an online website builder.

Online website builder applications are not ideal for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Great SEO achieved from a combination of different activities and usually ongoing tweaks are required to achieve the best results. Your website’s content is important though there are a number of activities that take place in the back-end of your website that help to achieve optimal SEO ranking results. Unfortunately online website builder applications limit the ability to control these.

SEO is important for generating leads, and driving traffic to your website through organic search results so it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Optimising your website’s content for best results isn’t impossible though does require a steep learning curve and time that could be better spent on running your business. I recommend that you have a professional web designer/developer assist with your website’s content and setup.

Will your website be able to grow with your business?

Many people choose to launch a website using an online website builder to test the waters with a new business idea or venture. This allows them to get the website up and running with little initial investment before knowing if the business will succeed. There are a couple of things to think about when taking this approach:

Building a website yourself may end up costing a lot more than you think when you take into consideration how many hours of your own time you will need to put in.

An online website builder pro package can cost up to $60 per month. Plus you need to take into consideration how much your own time is worth. Let’s say your time is worth $50/hour and it takes you 40 hours (1 week, though likely to be more) to pull all your content and images for your website together. Let’s say that you dedicate 5 hours per month maintaining and updating the website.

Estimate cost of building your own website after 1 year
40 hours initial effort @ $50/h $2000
5 hours per week for 1 year of maintenance @ $50/h $3000
1 year Pro Package subscription $950AUD
Total $5,950AUD

This is close to, if not more, than it costs to have a website built by a prfessional web designer/developer  on a much more scalable platform. Plus you get to put the 100 hours of your own time back into running your business.

You can’t simply move the website that you built to another more scalable platform

“So now my business is booming and it is time to move my website from a website builder to a more scalable platform, how can I do that?” Unfortunately you can’t simply move a website from one platform to another. There are tools that can assist to lift and shift your website from one platform to another though you will find great effort is required to achieve the best results. Having a  professional to do it properly this time is going to add to your initial investment though will get you the best results.

It’s difficult to find a template that will cater to all your needs.

The templates available for purchase on most of these online website builders are created to suite a very wide range of customers and aren’t very flexible. Therefore it is difficult to find a template that perfectly suits your needs.

A professional web designer/developer will be able to build your website on a reputable platform and either customise an existing template or build a custom template from scratch that perfectly suits your needs.

You want to give your website the best chance to succeed

Finally if you are serious about your passion and want to give your website the best chance of achieving its objectives, then it’s best to have it built by a professional on a scalable platform.

In Summary

Building a website can be great fun and you will learn some fantastic skills doing it. After 10 years living and breathing digital I still find that I’m learning new things everyday. If you have the time and the motivation to learn about website development then go for it. I recommend building a WordPress website with a template that fits with what you want to achieve. WordPress is a common platform with plenty of documentation & online resources. It’s also scalable and one of the industry standard platforms that most developers can jump in and customise if the need be. Be warned that there is a very steep learning curve to get a great website over the line.

If you don’t have the time and the desire to learn how to build a website and all the complexities that comes with it, then get a professional to do it for you. You can put the extra time towards growing your business and servicing your customers.

Contact me today if you would like to discuss having your website built by a professional.