So you must be interested in building a new website, the first decision you must make is the reason why you are here and using my 10 years+ experience in web design I will break it down for you so that you understand the decision better.
Firstly let’s get our heads around the fact that website builders differ immensely and now in 2016/2017 you have very credible services out there compared to the poor offerings of the past and the ones offered by most hosting companies. For clarity, I am going to focus on website builders such as Wix, 1and1 and Shopify as these seems to be the most popular ones that people reference.
In this article I will talk about aspects that you should consider when starting a new business or website, digital marketing including search engine optimisation (seo), technical points, web design, hosting, upscaling and most importantly cost.
Starting a new business
Undoubtedly one of the most exciting times in your career, starting a new business or website is a big deal. All your marketing materials will direct people to your website, new customers will check your site out before they commit or more importantly use your website to buy goods. It has to be on point, first impressions count here, actually it is bigger than that, people are ruthless when it comes to websites, they will hit that back button faster than your page loads if you haven’t got the mixture right. Don’t be fooled into thinking that all you need to do is make a pretty looking web page and everything will fall into place… it won’t.
Lets look at some of the key success criteria, if your new website is to be successful it needs to make a good first impression, it needs to load fast, it needs to be consistently branded, your customer problems will be answered through carefully thought about content and website structure. Gets these things right and you will be ahead of most of your competition already. Looking at the question, if you feel like you cannot provide these things yourself using a website builder then you have your answer already! Find a local web designer!
Looking at the question, if you feel like you cannot provide the key success criteria yourself using a website builder then you have your answer already! Find a local web designer!
If on the other hand you are confident that you can deliver then a website builder can provide you with a platform to tick these boxes however, dont take this as a green light, read on first…
What has marketing got to do with who builds your website? Your website is a form of digital marketing and other forms of digital marketing rely on your website to be successful, therefore getting your website right will impact on other strategies that you will use to generate sales. For example, a common problem that we see is when a customer has a logo (good or bad) and then uses it in a website that has a different style which creates an unprofessional look. On this point alone you are increasing your ‘bounce rate’ (people hitting the back button). Website builders will give you specific parameters to work within, this can and will hold your business back. You should be free to explore your style and brand identity, this could be the angle that differentiates you from your competition. It’s a big tick for the web designers here because they will get this right (the good ones).
Another very important aspect of digital marketing is search engine optimisation (seo), a successful seo campaign heavily relies on your website being optimised for the search engines. Website builders will allow some seo but when you get serious about seo, a website builder will stop you from going further. Arguably seo is the most powerful digital marketing technique, get properly found in Google and your business will have more leads than you can handle!
I’ll keep this part short because I dont want to get too technical. However, if your thinking about building your own website and your not the type to handle technicalities well then the answer to the questions is simple! Website builders do make a good job of making things simple for you to build a website but you will need to have a solid technical competency as well as patience! This will be a very time consuming process unless you rush it of course and that will only end up with one outcome… no sales!
The parameters that I spoke about earlier really come into play here, one of the main drawbacks of using a website builder is that fact that you will want something that the supplier cannot handle, in this circumstance you dont have an option apart from to start again using a system that allows the type of upscaling that you are after.
No matter how competent you are in I.T just because you know the difference between a .jpg and a .png doesnt mean you have the skills to make something work in terms of design and functionality. There are so many layers to web design, its like nothing else. Here are some of the aspects that a web designer has to cover:
- Human Computer Interaction (HCI)
- Digital graphics
- Copy writing
- Competitor research
- Device platforms
A website builder should allow you to cover most of the list above but the point here is that its not just about what the system offers, its the person using the system that is even more important. In theory a web designer using the website builder will surely design and build something that looks credible, but will you?
All website builders are hosting on their own servers thats just how it works, this is the achilles heal because you should be free to go wherever you want for hosting. For example, large corporates are targetted by hackers so you dont have the ability to host your website with a more secure provider. Page speed can only be optimised marginally, host your website with other providers and a hole lot more can be done and considering people are inpatient and Google ranks faster website higher, hosting can be a dealer breaker.
Even though I have mentioned this above, its the most important part of the argument, basically your business will be a success (yes it will!) and therefore any successful business will evolve, grow and change. This will impact your website massively because you will want things changed, you will get to a stage where your provider cannot give you what you need. It is at this stage where you will go back to the drawing board and start again! It can also have a negative impact on your search engine rank if you do not properly migrate over to the new website.
So there you have it, your website is a multi-layered aspect of your business that is intwined in everything that your customers will see and use to make decisions about you and will ultimately effect sales and the success of your business. For the sake of a few pounds, hire a professional and get the job done knowing that you have laid down the foundations for a profitable business.