The landscape for creating websites has changed dramatically in the last years. It has become incredibly easy to set up a website. This is due to the rising of website builder applications. Website builders are a platform that allow users to create beautiful and functional websites in a surprisingly easy process.
But it’s not the only reason. WordPress has become popular. As a representative of content management systems, WordPress has gained momentum due to the crazy progress in the development of themes. Themes are like layers that customize a website and give it a distinct and unique design.
I will discuss in a separate post whether content management systems like WordPress can be a serious candidate for your business website. In this article I will focus on website builders. I will point out when such an application should be considered for creating a business website.
The Website Builder’s Target Group
Deciding on a website requires you to have lots of information available. You will need not only information on what ingredients will make up your website (i.e. your content, images, videos, messages, store items, etc.). You will further need to be clear about what your business requirements are. You need to be conscious about your message and most importantly about your goals.
A website builder is an application or piece of online software that enables one to create websites without knowing any code at all. It was made specifically for those who see technology as a red flag. Website builders are incredibly easy to use, because they work by drag & drop. You don’t need to be knowledgeable about any technical peculiarities. You are offered pre-made templates that allow you to create a website – in a few hours only, in case you are prepared well.
Which Website Builder Is For You?
There are so many website builders on the market today, that it is challenging to create a final list. In my research I have found out two things. Either do web hosts offer website builder applications for their customers when they rent web space with them. Or, companies with the focus on website builders offer web space for clients who build a website with them.
If you want to find out which website builder is a good option for creating your business website, you can do a little interactive quiz. The WebsiteBuilderExperts who created it, have done a great job. All you have to do is answering four questions. Based on your responses you get back a list of the most appropriate website builders for your purposes. You can find the quiz here.
Note: Just make sure you click “YES – I definitely need a mobile friendly website” with question 3. There is no way to do it without that today!
Comparing Website Builders
One of your first steps is learning about features.
You can start with this impressive Website Builders’ Comparison Chart. Learn the features’ meaning and how they compare to each other. They created the chart based on surveys from users and it is updated regularly.
I myself found it valuable and think it’s a big puzzle piece on your road to learning about basic website features. It will help you making an informed decision. And, it will prove helpful to anyone who isn’t technology-inclined learn a great deal about it.
Features To Look Out For
It’s always good to know what to look out for when making a big decision. I have collected some major criteria that will help you to scan through.
- Security – do not underestimate this one!; an important factor for ensuring the safety of the system and content.
- Ease of Use – an intuitive interface is not only appreciated by novice users.
- Scalability – making sure it can grow with you.
- Responsiveness – don’t make compromises here; having your website look beautiful on mobile devices is a must-have.
- Feature Availability – how limited are the tools available for their free users? (Most of them “unlock” more tools once you become a paying customer).
- Pricing – this shouldn’t be your first criteria to look out for, that’s why I haven’t placed it on top. Even though there are possibilities to create websites for free, I would not recommend it for a business though. It comes with considerable design limitations and advertisements, and it doesn’t give your page a professional look.
Comparison Charts of Website Builders
Chances are you have found two or three website builders that might be a good match, but you just aren’t sure which one to favor.
The above mentioned website provides many more useful charts. Particularly helpful are the comparison reports of the most popular website builders. Some of these resources are:
- SquareSpace vs. WordPress
- Wix vs. SquareSpace vs. Weebly vs. Jimdo
- Wix vs. SquareSpace
- Shopify vs. SquareSpace
It’s also a healthy decision to consult another opinion. Review sites like this one offer another perspective with a different criteria set on the matter.
Contra Website Builders
Website builders are often the first choice for non-tech-savvy and web-inexperienced folks. They are this for obvious reasons. But they are not the holy grail.
If you haven’t done your homework and aren’t crystal clear about business’ requirements, you’ll run into problems. You might experience a bad awakening by running into some serious limitations that are inherent in website builders. In the long run this could cost you way more, than you ever had expected.
Thus, I encourage and urge everyone to carefully think through what is needed for their business. Also, think a bit further. Start dreaming and brainstorming about your next possible steps. What would happen if your business gets A LOT of success in no time? This is something we all hope for (at some point). But would your website builder be able to handle more traffic, more inquiries, more of everything?
Below I have listed a few of the most mentioned cons I have come across from some user’s experiences:
- Limitations in the variability of design options
- Limitations in available payment provider
- Limitations in SEO configuration
- Limitations in integrating 3rd-party applications
- Limitations in configuring membership sites
- Export Issues – what are the limitations of exporting the website’s data? Is it possible to import this data into another hosting service? (i.e., Weebly does support export into HTML, but doesn’t support an import back into Weebly; (the same applies to other website builders)
Website builders are an awesome invention. They are easy to use. And they have the potential to produce great websites.
Yet, they are not the right choice for your business website, if you aim for something complex or sophisticated. The more content you want to publish on a website and the more advanced features you need, the less appropriate is the use of a website builder.
Website builders are easy to use, but they cannot offer the more complex features. They were not made for that. Many users stumbled across their limitations in the variability of design options.
If you are planning a unique design, or at least considering your homepage having unique features, I recommend you watch out for a content management system. With WordPress (as one of its representatives) you can do just so much more! And it might be worth to face the learning curve inherit with it. I will talk more about this in a future article.