One of the most important things a business should have is an attractive, functional web presence – not only for brand visibility, but to generate leads for your business and give your clientele a point of conversion.
Previously, this has been a massive pain point for fledgling businesses – developing a website had often come with a large investment cost – but this has been greatly democratised in the last five years, however, with the advent of platforms such as Shopify, Squarespace and Wix – freemium platforms with easy user interfaces that allow you to build your own website.
These are great options when budgets are tight or if you’re just starting up, and if you’re not a full-time coder, the user interfaces are very simple to understand and navigate, but each platform comes with limitations that aren’t always known before you run into trouble.
But before opting for a DIY website, make sure you know these major hidden limitations before opting to do it yourself.
While there are a free or freemium solutions offered by the above platforms and other similar platforms, don’t be fooled! Outside of your hosting and domain registration costs, many functionalities you may think come part and parcel with your subscription are often paid add ons. This is especially true of Shopify, where most apps from their App Store require a monthly subscription before they can be integrated.
This is a frustrating realisation, especially when you have a specific budget you need to stick to, leaving you with a larger monthly cost than forecasted or worse – a website that only does half of what you need it to.
LACK OF CUSTOMISATION
Think about the kinds of websites that really capture your attention. What do you like about them? More often that not, the answer is they look unique and offer something you haven’t seen before. To rip the band-aid off right away: this is not something these free and freemium websites can mimic. These platforms work with preset templates that are pretty rigid in terms of what you can change/move/remove, leaving your website looking less unique, and more uniform with others built on the same platform.
This also extends to the way your content is shown on the site. Most free or freemium web builders have very limited options to what you can amend on your site, leaving the finished project as something not quite want you want it to be.
WHO OWNS WHAT?
One of the major negative points of building a DIY website with a web builder platform is to do with ownership, namely, what happens if you want to move your website off the platform. For website platforms like Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace, you will never outright own your website, rather you will indefinitely have to pay a subscription to their service in order to keep your site online, and due to coding language differences, you won’t be able to migrate your website as is to another.
This can be incredibly frustrating to find out down the line, especially if your business has outgrown your original platform and you want to move to a custom site. This will require you to start again from scratch, which can become costly and time consuming (not to mention adding downtime to your website!).
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE?
It’s a given that if you’re doing something yourself, it will take time out of your day to accomplish this, but with the glossy advertisements of web builders, it seems that building your own website can be done in a few clicks. This is not the case.
To get your website looking professional and exactly how you want it, you will need to dedicate a good amount of time to it, taking you away from more pressing things you need to do for your business. This also isn’t taking into consideration the time it will take you to collate your assets, and to familiarise yourself with the dashboard of the web platform you’ve chosen – what might seem like a quick and cheap solution can often take far more time than thought – costing you both in spare time as well as money (if you’re a one-man band!).
Ultimately, there’s pro’s and con’s to web builders as well as hiring a web developer (and neither option is for everyone!) but before making your decision, make sure you’re fully informed about what’s right for you.
Words by Paige Richards, Senior Production Manager at Tailor Digital