Are DIY Website Builders Empowering or Frustrating?March 3, 2018 November 8, 2018 /
Cheap, easy, and good. If you’re starting a business, working on your side hustle, or doing freelance work, that’s what you probably want.
Over the last few years, companies like Squarespace and Wix have capitalized on that demand with website packages designed to satisfy the cheapeasygood criteria. They supply the designs and the tools. You supply the time, pictures, logos, and content. You pay for it with spare change from beneath the sofa cushions.
You cross “make website” off your to-do list.
But is cheapeasygood really, well… cheap, easy, and good?
Therein lies the problem with DIY website builders. For all their promises of empowerment, simplicity, and affordability, many businesses find them frustrating.
And as we’ll soon explore, they’re not always as inexpensive as they appear. Or as easy.
It’s not that the Squarespaces and Wixs of the world claim to do things that they don’t actually do. For a nominal monthly fee, you get a professional-looking website and unfettered reign to publish any content or make any updates whenever you want and without asking permission. That’s what they say they do, and it’s what you get.
The problem is that the things you get – the very things these services do promise and deliver on – often aren’t what you really wanted in the first place.
For starters, they’re not cheap.
We know, we know. Squarespace starts at $12 per month. That’s cheap.
The issue isn’t the monthly fee. It’s the time you have to spend getting your website up, running, and looking good.
And the time you spend keeping it that way.
When your time is valuable – and yours is valuable, right? – every working hour you spend doing something other than practicing your craft is costly. Basically, the more time you spend working on your website, the less money you ultimately make from it.
Let’s say you’re a budding photographer. You might earn anywhere from $50 to $500 per billable hour. When you use a DIY website builder, you’re probably going to spend an entire week or more…
- Learning to navigate GoDaddy and Squarespace and whatever other platforms you select
- Teaching yourself to write content that fits your brand and persuades visitors to contact you
- Making your new website look good (and pulling your upper lip over your head in the process since, let’s face it, it never freaking looks right!)
- Configuring templates since that’s what Wix and company use
- Searching the web for answers to the 37 questions you have. What’s an SEO meta description? Why do I need one? What’s a hero image? What’s so heroic about it? Stuff like that.
- Tweaking little things here and there. Then tweaking them some more.
And so on. You’re basically training yourself to be a newbie web developer on the fly.
So if you normally bill photography clients at $90 per hour and put in a solid three weeks doing all of this stuff, that’s $10,800.00 (plus $12 in provider fees) that’s no longer in your wallet.
To be sure, people who have used website builder tools before might finish faster. However, if you’re new to assembling a website, count on it taking even longer than three weeks.
If you’ve ever seen an “under construction” image on a website and the image was still there after a year, well. Someone somewhere is paying $12/month for that picture of a stick figure digging with a shovel.
For a $90/hr photographer who’s new to websites, DIY options could indirectly cost over $10,000 to set up. And that’s not including all the time spent making changes later on.
Kinda like hiring someone to do it for you, right?
By the way, companies selling DIY website builders tacitly admit that not everyone finds their software easy to use. At least one actually provides a list of contractors who can handle the whole website build for anywhere from $80 to $175 per hour.
We’re not trying to knock those contractors – they probably do great work! But at that price point, shouldn’t you just, you know… get a custom website?
Speaking of custom…
Don’t the DIY builders spit out really good-looking websites?
“Good-looking” is subjective, so we’ll reserve comment. All we’ll say is that a well-done Wix site will usually have a professional, official look to it. If that’s good enough for you, then it’s good.
But if “good” actually means “unique,” which actually means “custom,” that’s not quite what the DIY builders give you.
Most of them give you a set of templates to choose from. You get to add unique content, move some things around, and tweak the colors. However, at a fundamental level, you’re always reusing the same design that many other people (thousands?) have already used.
Here’s something else to parse. “Good” isn’t always about the way your website looks. A good website should also:
- Load quickly for all users so that they don’t get frustrated and leave
- Be easy for your everyone in your target audience to use, whether they’re on a desktop computer, smartphone, or something else
- Come with a real human being who provides reliable support and helps you fix problems right away
- Rely on good design principles for things like color palettes, font sizes, and content layouts
- Come equipped with tools like Google Analytics, so you can see how visitors use your website
- Offer iron-clad security to keep out hackers and malware
DIY website builders struggle with many of these demands. Since they try to be all things to all people, they tend to use bloated backend software that doesn’t load very quickly. And since you, the non-designer, are tasked with figuring out how the website should look and feel, you could unknowingly end up with a website that’s hard for your customers to use.
As for support, the situation varies. Depending on the arrangement you select, you might have access to a real human. Or you might just have help articles.
Ok. DIY website builders aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Now what?
You could hire an agency to do everything for you, but a typical agency is super expensive. Most of them also take a really long time to make progress.
That’s why we suggest working with a web design company that:
- Builds a truly custom website tailored to your brand
- Prices their services for small businesses, startups, and freelancers
- Provides personalized service from first contact all the way to handling post-design website maintenance, like software updates
- Includes coaching sessions on effective digital marketing since, you know, they’re truly invested in your success
- Finishes building a website within a very reasonable time frame
- Helps you create content that speaks to your target audience and achieves your marketing goals
It’s what we do at One Week Website. We also do a whole lot more, but that’s the gist.
In the long run, this option is more affordable than using a DIY builder, especially when you consider just how much time you’re spending on your website. You know, time you could be spending on productive, remunerative tasks!
And unlike Wix and Squarespace, your site will actually be as unique as you are. It won’t be a rehashed version of something else that’s all over the internet already.
Empowering, affordable, and beautiful. That’s what you’re looking for in a website, and it’s a hard thing to achieve with DIY builders. But with a design outfit that understands your situation, it’s precisely what you’ll get.
Choose wisely, and the website of your dreams could be launched and live in just seven short days.