I am – and I’m sure most design firms are – asked quite often what we think about the bevy of DIY website building services. While it’s completely understandable for designers to turn their nose up to them, I think they have a legitimate place in the web design ecosystem. First, let’s review the pros and cons of using these tools.
Benefits of DIY Website Builders
- Low-cost or free.
- Good for the one-person business, nonprofit or hobbyist.
- Can be used as a stepping stone to a more professional web site.
- Good for when you only need a few pages without the bells and whistles.
- Recommended DYI sites: Wix and Squarespace.
- Great if you don’t need a marketing strategy.
- They have support forums, which can give quick answers to very general issues.
Drawbacks of DIY Website Builders
- The SEO services that go along with these builders is not competitive, nor does it work on a strategy based on your unique business.
- Have strong limits on creative control. Most of the time, you’re using inflexible templates.
- Your site will look like someone else’s. Almost exactly.
- They often insist you include their logo or they insist on advertising over which you have no content control.
- A lot of features are flash-based, limiting their usefulness on mobile devices.
- They lack enhanced functionality that can make a website more of a profitable marketing tool.
- Should you choose to move to a more affordable hosting company, you’re screwed.
- You can get detailed support and assistance from people that have a deep understanding of your site.
When you weigh these factors, you can see the niche these tools can serve. I think that they’re perfect for the shoestring entrepreneur, musician or hobbyist that needs a web presence, but can’t afford the rates that professionals charge. For web designers, it keeps them from lowering their rates to some absurd amount, and commoditizing our craft, just to draw in business. And freelancer just starting out can consult with these tools, giving them a start while they perfect their web chops.
I truly feel that these services are legitimate and have their place. Are they a worthy substitute for medium-sized businesses looking for serious growth? Absolutely not. Do you agree? Either way, let me know in the comments!