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D.I.Y. Website Makers: Are they really worth it?

Updated: Jan 16, 2021


What Is a D.I.Y. Website Builder?


D.I.Y. website builders are a way for regular people to design and build their own websites without using code. Early websites had to be manually written using html, css, SQL, java, etc. Technological know-how is no longer an obstacle to you getting online, whether you’re an entrepreneur or a hobbyist.


They’re being used by more and more people.


That being said, a lot of us still do not have the time or natural inclination to learn how to build a website from scratch using one of these D.I.Y. website platforms, nor do we have the money to pay a professional to do it for us.


On top of that, many of these D.I.Y. website platforms have more glitches than they do features which will leave you feeling more frustrated and helpless if you have a website that is more complex than a 1-10 page info-site.



Are Website Builders Here to Stay?


Convenience, flexibility & control are the reason why D.I.Y. website builders are still here to stay, and we confidently feel like within the next 10 years they will get to a point where they can be the all-in-one turnkey solution so easy that grandma could do it. Why?




The Pro's of a D.I.Y. Website Builder


What’s great about website builders is that they’re effectively for everyone. Amateurs and professionals alike can use them to set up websites for business or pleasure.

Templates are designed to cater to a wide variety of site types:

- Restaurants

- Blogs

- Ecommerce

- and more

A growing number of D.I.Y. builders are explicitly focused on ecommerce — selling things online.


They provide the framework you need to get an online store started. Shopify and BigCommerce are the big dogs at the moment, with platforms like Sellfy looking to keep them on their toes.


The main value of D.I.Y. website builders is allowing you to focus on design and function. They tend to take on one of two forms: drag and drop, and generated.

Drag and drop builders do what they say on the tin (if they’re any good). You simply position the elements of the page where you want them and style as you see fit. Generated sites will ask you a few questions then make a site for you based on your answers. You can still customize the results and add or remove elements, but they’re usually a more structured experience.

In the backend they help you manage search engine optimization (SEO), giving your site the best chance possible of ranking well on Google and Bing. Many also offer analytics, which allows you to see how many people are visiting your sites, what they’re doing, and where they’re coming from.



Cheap Pricing


The long and short of it is D.I.Y. website builders are only expensive if you choose to go with the expensive plans. There are no tricks, no underhand fees. A basic site will only require the resources of a basic plan, and that’s all you’ll need to pay for. An advanced site with more demands will require the resources of an advanced plan.


For what it’s worth, our research ranked the following three builders as offering the best value for money:

Figure 1 & 2: Wix Blog Site vs. Ecommerce Site Pricing


Handily, they each offer quite different website building experiences. Wix is drag and drop, Strikingly is simple and structured, and Weebly hits a balance of both. They all offer free trials, so there’s ample opportunity to see which one clicks with your business industry & the type of features you need to have pre-developed and ready to go for you to use.


If you’re just starting out, the last thing you need to do is throw money around, which is another reason why small owners should really consider consulting with a technical team who specializes in the pricing tiers, features & functionality each website vendor provides to make sure you are setting your website up to scale with your business.



The Cons: What D.I.Y. Websites Are Not Trying To Provide Any Time Soon


Like anything else, website builders aren’t perfect. Knowing what their weaknesses is just as important as knowing their strengths. Websites are a serious business and you don’t want to saddle yourself with the wrong platform.

Here are some of the potential shortcomings of D.I.Y. website builders:


Limits on customization. Some website builders can be quite restrictive when it comes to customizing your site. It’s the price you pay for structure and convenience. Drag and drop builders of the Wix variety strive to give you as much control as is reasonably possible, but even they have their limitations. For truly unique functionality and presentation there’s no way of sidestepping HTML and CSS. All roads lead to code on the world wide web.



Shared hosting. Websites need a place to be stored where anybody can access anywhere at anytime. This is called hosting. Most website builders do this for you, but you’re site will be sharing resources with other sites in the system. This is called shared hosting. It’s seldom an issue for small websites, but as they scale up there’s a risk they won’t be able to cope. Sites on shared hosting risk slower loading speeds or even complete outages if enough people are trying to visit it.



No backups. With the exception of Weebly and IM Creator, website builders typically don’t let you backup your site. This makes moving from one platform to another very difficult. Website builders aren’t charities. They want to keep you as a customer once they’ve got you, and this is one of the main ways they do it.



They don’t scale well. This isn’t universally true, but it’s the case often enough to flag. The bigger your site gets the less suited to a website builder it’s going to be. For small sites they’re ideal, but if you have dreams of a large, complex site you may be better off going with WordPress.org from the outset.


Many of you will never be confronted with any of the above. They’re small hurdles, but it’s worth being clear website builders are not without their drawbacks. Most of them offer free trials or freemium services, so there’s ample time to weigh things up for yourself before spending a cent.


If you’re starting out, there’s a strong case to be made for website builders. They’re an introduction to the world of web design. Even if you outgrow your site and look to something more advanced, your experiences will leave you much better equipped for that journey.


Most of their features are incomplete. Many of these websites have add-on's, but many of those add'ons end up not working or having serious issues leaving you back at square one.


They do not offer any custom development or testing services included in any of their packages. It is said that about 80% of all websites that exist have more than 5 major website mistakes. 60% of those websites are stemming from D.I.Y. website vendors because

of the fact that many people forget to test certain aspects of their website before they deploy it live.



Conclusion


In short, website builders are for limited financial and technical resources but keep in mind

they also are limited in terms of features & functionality depending on your business.


However, the cost of building a website is a constantly moving target, with a lot of scope for getting out of control so the fixed rates of website builders mean you can foray into the world of web design without burning a hole in your pocket.


In conclusion, in order to build a successful website today, we recommend that you 1) Purchase one of these website plans and 2) Get yourself a cheap technical team that you trust and can pay a la carte whenever you need custom optimizations, training or other general consulting.


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