Do-it-yourself website builders sure look like a good deal. The price is a fraction of what you’d pay a developer or agency. The features are seemingly comparable to most of those big website development packages. The examples you see certainly look professional.
But for many companies, the DIY route isn’t enough. It might work when getting started, but as the scope of your marketing efforts and the offerings of your company increase, you’ll run into hurdle after hurdle that a self-managed website option can’t overcome. Let’s take a closer look at several specific situations in which the DIY route won’t suffice.
Rigid templates and your bottom line
There are more than 28 million small businesses in the United States alone, and many of those have a small footprint. They are main street storefronts, local restaurants, or people running part-time businesses, who, yes, need a website, but don’t need it to do anything particularly exciting. That’s who DIY solutions are designed for.
For anything beyond the bare minimum basics of visual design, though, these sites often aren’t enough. Because you’re using the same basic set of templates that millions of other businesses are using, and are limited by the same dozen or so modules, your website could easily look forgettable without a lot of extra work.
Self-starter template website options lack key functionality that can help you with marketing and, because of the rigid nature of mass use templates, it will be extremely difficult to customize and update in the future if your business demands it. If you plan to invest money driving traffic to your website, the limitations of a DIY site will actively make it more difficult to deliver ROI.
Ease of use can be an illusion
The companies that offer self-started websites make web design and development look extremely simple. Just point and click and you’re done. That’s potentially true if you stick within the limited options of their prebuilt templates. If you need to adjust even the most basic feel or function, you’ll likely need an experienced developer or designer to make it happen. By design, these services are not particularly flexible, as they need to work for everyone under the most common circumstances. The tradeoff is you might be out of luck if you need to customize a prebuilt module to support your latest ad campaign.
If you do hire a pro to help you make customizations to your templated site, the developer or the designer will need to be an expert on your particular platform. And not all of the DIY platforms encourage you to customize their code. In fact, some platforms will not even offer you support once you’ve colored outside their lines.
You need a fast, reliable website
While downtime isn’t excessively common from these services, there are several documented performance issues that can severely slow down your site or impact the user experience. The hosting environment is designed to designate as few resources to each individual site as possible. If traffic suddenly increases to your site, most DIY platforms aren’t ready for it and can slow down substantially or even crash.
Other factors, like the code that these sites use to block code exports, can equally slow them down, and there have been horror stories about how long it takes for Google to index and rank a site launched in these sites. In some cases, it takes months just to appear, let alone start ranking for your targeted search terms.
Customer service isn’t a priority
This is a big one, and it’s easy to overlook.
Because you will rely on the proprietary code of a large third-party company, you are at their mercy if there is a problem. And suffice it to say, their customers are not particularly impressed.
Squarespace, one of the largest DIY solutions on the internet, has a sub-2.0 rating on TrustPilot with more than 377 reviews. Wix has a 1.5 rating with more than 1,300 reviews.
For small businesses that “just need something,” these sites check the right boxes. And when you have an issue with your site, you don’t mind waiting because it’s not business-critical; this is a reasonable tradeoff for cost and convenience. However, if you expect to have questions, want to make changes, or otherwise engage with customer service with a reasonable expectation of getting your issues resolved, they frequently fail to get the job done.
Building the right kind of website for you
Deciding who will build your website, how it will be built, and what features to prioritize can be a stressful experience. The cost ranges from a few dollars a month for one of these DIY solutions to tens of thousands of dollars for a professional build. What makes the most sense for your business and how do you balance it against your short-term need to manage the budget?
Keep these five issues in mind when you make that decision, always considering what your business and marketing efforts will look like in 2–3 years and how much of your current efforts you are willing to replicate. If digital marketing is a huge part of your business growth strategy, a DIY is almost certain to be insufficient for your needs.
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