These days, the Web is flooded with ways to approach building a website. Do-it-yourself Web builders are often a very attractive option for those who are less than Web-savvy. Some of the more popular website-building tools include Wix, Squarespace, Weebly and Breezi, to name just a few.
These tools allow for a user-friendly drag-and-drop approach, which makes for a painless experience. For that reason, these companies typically advertise the speed with which you can build the site, as well as their vast technical support services and other features that sound attractive off the shelf.
At first glance, these tools sound like a quick, easy-to-use solution to building a smart, usable website, but there are many disadvantages that need to be considered.
Website builders typically base their layouts on a selection of pre-defined templates that share a somewhat generic look. Those who understand Web design will be able to point out these sites with a quick glance. Even those who know enough code to be dangerous are left with limited to no CSS or HTML customization within the builders. Styles are almost always set within a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor, greatly limiting the user’s customization options. The user has to settle for the features they are provided with. Another issue that is a lot of these tools do not offer very refined cross-browser support. The user can never be 100 percent sure that the site is going to display flawlessly across major browsers and platforms.
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Most of the do-it-yourself Web builders are advertised as free to use. With the free option, the user is normally able to build a basic site with limited functionality at a non-unique domain name. A custom domain and better functionality will cost a monthly fee. Web builders will often try to sell backups, better hosting packages, etc. Sometimes exceeding more than $20 per month, these services often end up costing much more than hosting and running a custom site.
Speed and Optimization
Many of these tools operate with page load times that are less than optimal. Not only does a slow-loading website cause users to drop off at a much higher rate, but it may cause them not to come back. On top of that, search engines like Bing or Google will penalize the site by recognizing the poor user experience, thus ranking the site low. Although many of these tools offer built-in tools for search engine optimization (SEO), they will only help your site to a certain extent.
Size of Website
When using site-building software, more problems arise as a site grows larger. Your site’s information is stored on servers that are not directly accessible to you. The more content you have, the bigger the risk becomes for something to go wrong. These sites require you to manually save your progress within their editors on a frequent basis to ensure that a crash that is beyond your control does not cause you to lose a lot of your hard work.
Similar to the customization issues mentioned earlier are the limitations with design. Since users are presented with a set of preset templates and tools, they are at the mercy of these to design the site. That being said, many of their options do not look as modern and as up-to-date as they should in a world where Web design is constantly evolving.
While do-it-yourself Web-building tools may be a viable solution for the new businessperson or small-scale blogger, if you’re looking to scale your efforts, build a brand or have significantly more exposure on the Web, you should consider custom builds. Custom solutions enable a lot more personalization and functionality with much better SEO and protection for a serious Web presence that will pay off in the long run.