In the age of website builders such as Wix, Weebly and Squarespace, many are asking: Why bother hiring a web designer when I can do it myself for free? If you can build it yourself what do you have to lose, right?
The Old Adage
Building a site yourself is only free if your time is worthless.
DIY may work for some, but the bottom line is that it’s all about time. We all know the saying: “time is money”. While, site builders such as Wix and Weebly remove the need to know code, they still require you to spend the time to set up a site properly. There are countless websites out there that you can tell the owner built themselves only to give up halfway through. The design suddenly goes from nice and structured to haphazard and slapped together.
We are all guilty of it at some point. Sometimes we run out of time. Sometimes we just want something to be done already. But is that the message we want to send our clients? So if you do decide to go the DIY route, make sure you have…time.
Website builders, such as the ones mentioned above, organize content into blocks which are designed specifically to work within whatever theme you choose. This creates a lock-in effect. Should you ever want to change your design, you will have to start from scratch.
For example, this is from Wix’s own support forums:
Currently, it is not possible to apply a different template to a Wix site that you already created. That is, once you create a site and add content, you cannot then apply a different template to that site. It is also not possible to combine two different Wix templates in one site, you can only work with one template at a time.
They actually suggest that if you wish to use a different template, create a new website with the new template. Easier said than done.
…But not Really
In reality I should have said: “Forever Theirs”. You don’t actually own your website when you sign up for most of these web builders. Websites created under these services only work on that specific company’s web servers. Additionally, since you are bound by that company’s terms of service, you run the risk of having your website removed should you ever breach those terms.
Remember, your website will only work on their servers, so once it’s gone, it’s gone. Even if you had a chance to collect your data, it can’t be transferred to a different host. You will have to start over.
Limited Design Choices
Website builder’s offer hundreds of themes for millions of websites. It’s kinda hard to stand out when hundreds of thousands of sites use the same theme. It’s likely controversial among other designers, but I actually have no problem with templates or themes in general as they can save a lot of time and money for both the designer and the customer. That being said, templates only work if they fit the content and don’t cause too much bloat to the code. You want to fit your design to your content, not the other way around. Additionally, if there is something you wish to change with the layout, design, or functionality, you are forced to stay within the constraints of the builder. Not all builders allow custom code.
I touched on this concept in the previous post and it fits here as well. If you do decide you must use a site builder, please please please opt for the plan that removes all of their company’s ads and branding.
48% of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business (source: IronPaper)
It devalues your brand to have an advertisement on your page that’s unrelated to your business. Personally I don’t even like putting my name at the bottom of the sites I make primarily for this reason. At times I worry it may hurt my prospects, but, to me, you paid for it, it should be your website.