Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 5 years, you’ll have no doubt seen the influx of online website builders. They’re everywhere. You’ll seem the advertised online, you’ll see them on TV and you’ll even hear them advertised on the radio from time to time. The marketing campaigns are extensive and they’re targeting everyone from the home user to the international business owner. Whether you have a knowledge of web design, the internet in general or you’ve never been near a computer – you’re a potential customer.
Whilst online website builders do have their place in the market, people are asking, is this the end of the traditional web designer? If people no longer need to hire a web designer to create a bespoke web solution where should they position themselves in the market? This article will discuss these questions along with the pros and cons of online website designers/builders in the hope that you can make an educated and informed decision.
There are lots of options when it comes to website builders. In fact by the time I’ve finished this article another one will probably have entered the market! It’s a very competitive industry with each company claiming to be the best out there. But the reality is that they’re all pretty similar. The same goes for web designers, themes and even web hosting companies. They all seem to do the same sort of thing for the same sort of price.
The major players at the moment seem to be Wix, Weebly, Moonfruit and Squarespace. Lots of web hosting companies are also getting in on the action too with their own custom offerings such as “PrestoWebsite by the popular hosting firm, HostPresto.com.
All of them feature a drag and drop interface to design the basic site, completely browser based but each have their own bells and whistles when it comes to features and modules. All of them will allow you to create a basic website though so unless you want something highly specific whichever provider you go with will no doubt suffice.
Sometimes… You Need Bespoke
Whilst online website builders have their place they are not without their limitations. Sometimes you need a bespoke build and in this scenario it would be much better to hire a proper web designer or developer. Sure if you want to build a 5 page simple site to advertise your home business then a site built by the likes of Wix will no doubt suffice. As will be one you create yourself via WordPress and such like. But if you’re a big business, want a user base or any kind of interactivity then you’ll probably be better hiring someone.
The primary limitation and one of the major off putting factors is the fact that you’re confined to the elements offered by the builder software itself. Obviously all of them come with ways to add images, blocks of text and so on and so forth but if you want to do something a bit different. If you see something on someone elses site that you want to include or if you want your website to act or perform a slightly different way then you’re going to struggle.
On Going Costs
One of the major off putting factors when it comes to using online website builders is the fact that you need to keep paying for it! You’ll be charged a monthly or yearly amount for the rest of time (well, until you shut down the site) and you’re also locked in, you can simply download it and move it to a new web host etc. You’re stuck where you are. Sure you’d have monthly costs anyway for web hosting if you had a bespoke build but they’d be much much cheaper than they would be if you had used an online website builder.
You will also have to pay to renew your domain name and some charge you if you want a mobile version of your site.
So as you can see, they most definitely have their place in the market. They’re not for everyone and if you want something other than a basic 5 page site you’re probably best hiring someone or learning how to do things yourself. There are options out there and it’s not just a case of hire a developer or use a web builder. There is a whole spectrum of things in between which may well end up being a better option for your project.