Website Builder vs. Custom Web Design
So you’re thinking about starting a website project, either a new site or a redesign. You ask your friends and family for recommendations and you’re told that with a website builder, you can build your own website easily online for little to no cost. This sounds amazing but is it really as easy as it sounds? And how does building your own site using a website builder differ from using a professional web developer? Let’s take a look at the advantages and pitfalls of the options. Keep in mind that this article will be considering website builders in general, not focusing on a specific vendor or product.
Ease of Use
The biggest appeal of using a website builder is that it allows people of all skill levels to easily create a basic website. Many builders use a simple drag and drop interface where you select the type of element you want to add to your site. As such, it is fairly quick to set up a basic website and start creating and posting content within a few hours of starting. The more customization and options that you want on your website, the more complicated it becomes. While it will still be easier than building a website from scratch, it can be frustrating at times to work within the limitations set by the builder program depending on the result you want to achieve.
If something goes wrong, available support becomes incredibly important. When your site is down your users cannot use it. This could lead to lost sales, frustration for your customers and a lot of time on your part to get things fixed. Depending on the website builder you use and the package you select, the quality of support can vary drastically. Larger companies will have more available support hours outside normal business hours and may make it easier to reach someone for support. Because of this, you generally will only have access to a queue of representatives. The knowledge of these agents will vary from service to service and person to person. Consequently, they are not familiar with you or your site. This means you will have to spend more time explaining what is going on and what you want done.
Working with a web developer like Effortless Web Solutions is the easiest way to build your site. Because you have a professional working for you, we can deal with issues quickly. If something goes wrong, we deal with the issue. This includes much of the frustration that can come with fixing an issue. If you want more than a basic blog, we can take care of custom elements. We can recommend changes to improve readability and SEO practices. This means we are also the easiest way to help drive new clients to your site. Most developers include a certain amount of support, either included or paid by the time. Since they know your site, they can fix issues with much less explanation. This also means they can have your site up and running faster.
A resulting downside of having a single developer or smaller team of developers means they aren’t as available in comparison. Having said that, good developers will make themselves available when you need them. At times, they may be a bit slower to fix items as they aren’t working with a set site. The result is that there are more things that can go wrong. Getting the site up and running will also generally take more time to get started. Of course, this depends on how much extra time you have. If you’re busy and cannot take the time to build your website, the developer may be faster.
Website builders use templates to make it as easy as possible for you to build your website. This means that the options you have are limited by those same templates. Your website will look more generic and similar to a lot of other sites. If you have a signature style for your business it can be difficult to match the website to the style. However, if your content (e.g. photographs, written articles or blogs) is the central focus, the basic look may be sufficient. Many of the templates work well enough but the quality of the look and functionality of the sites will vary depending on the builder used. Because the templates tend to use drag and drop mechanics, moving things around is quick.
Working with a website developer like Effortless Web Solutions gives you a near infinite number of options for the look and feel of your site. Because you are working with professional designers and developers, you can be confident that the design of your site will be professional and use current best practises for website development. Although a custom website will take more time to create, the result will be a custom design that will match your style, your personality and your audience. Like many developers, we have our own “starter” templates we use to base our designs on, which saves time and allows for faster project turn around. However, each project and client is unique, so we take the time to understand your needs and customize the design to match you and your business.
Updating Your Site
Updating your website is very simple once you have everything set up. You can drag and drop new elements to where you want them on your page or click a “New Post” button to create new content, depending on the builder used. Doing an overhaul to the look of your website can be as easy as clicking on a new theme in the option menus. However, depending on the themes chosen, this simple could mean you have to reformat everything on your page.
Updating your website is as easy as sending an email to your developer advising of the update you want. This can be a bit cumbersome though as you have to wait for them to action the email. Contrarily, many website developers today use Content Management System (CMS) to build their websites. These programs allow for much easier management of the content on your website. Your developer may be able to set up the site using a CMS that will allow you to create content by yourself as easily as the builder sites.
Costs for a website builder range from free to hundreds of dollars per month. This usually covers domain names, hosting, and a varying amount of support that will vary between builders and packages. The other cost is your time. You have to build, update, maintain, and even fix your website. When everything works correctly, it can be quick. When things go wrong, however, it can be extremely time consuming and frustrating. The hours you can lose to a project and the additional stress can become very expensive as spending time fixing your website is time you aren’t servicing your clients.
Website developers are going to have a higher upfront cost during the development of your website. Your time is limited to helping the developer get a feel for what you want in your website instead of trying to develop the site. There will also be hosting, domain name and support costs that will be on going, as with any website. But the biggest savings will be to your time and stress levels. Having someone able to efficiently solve issues as they arise and process changes for you can be extremely beneficial.
Both website builders and website developers have their place. For those with a limited budget and lesser website needs, a website builder can be a great way to start a blog, display images or create a basic brochure website. As your needs grow, a website builder can be more difficult to use. You also need to consider that if something goes wrong, it can cause you a lot of time and stress. With a website developer, the sky is the limit for possibilities. The upfront costs do tend to be higher but your time and stress costs much lower. Developers can support larger sites and have the expertise to respond quickly and easily to problems. It really comes down to your resources and the result you want.
For instance, if you are a photographer and just want a simple portfolio for your photographs, a website builder could be ideal for you. Comparatively, if you want a full service website with a small online shop and contact forms, a developer would be the better choice. Look at your available time, money and the needs for your website. This will give you a better idea of which option will work best for you.
And, as always, drop us a line below, or give us a call, to see how Effortless Web Solutions can help!