Are DIY Website Builders a Good or Bad Thing for Retail Businesses?
OK. So you are almost convinced, it’s probably time for your business to get a new website. Either you don’t have one or the one you have is so hopelessly outdated/cumbersome/ugly that you can no longer ignore the fact that it is time for something new and the New Year is as good a time as any to get started.
And, like any sensible business owner, you are going to research your choices before making a decision on a web design company. Oh! But wait! As you Google you come across a number of splashy (and some not so splashy) ads for website builders that anyone can use.
It all sounds great. Build your own professional looking website in ten minutes! They’re Google friendly! They’re social media ready and SEO optimized! Plans start at just $6.95 a month. Well forget the professional web design thing then, surely this is the way for a business to go! But, before you dive in there are a number of things you need to know about using one of these services for your new business website that we think you should know.
You Won’t Actually Own the Website
Even if you do the sensible thing and create a website with one of these web builders using a domain name of your own rather than using their generic x.company @sitebuilder.com addresses we’re sorry to tell you that you won’t actually be getting a website that you actually own. It, or rather all of the design and any content you create, will only belong to you for as long as you keep paying your subscription. If you ever wanted to change platforms (and as technologies change people often do) you’ll discover that the contents cannot be transferred out of your web builder site and even getting your domain name back is a long and arduous process.
You Won’t Be Getting Your Own Design
Every business, no matter how large or small, needs to work towards building a brand. One of the cornerstones of a brand in this day and age is its website, so you want a site that is all your own in terms of design. Website builders use templates – usually divided into industries and ‘uses’. You can indeed customize them, changing some colors, some fonts, adding your logo and your own images but the bare essentials remain the same.
That means that for a local business especially choosing a template can easily mean that you’ll have the same one as several other competing businesses in the area (for example: you are a store so you all chose ‘Store Template 2’) How are you going to build a brand like that?
They Aren’t Actually Easy at All
OK, let’s look at that website in ten minutes claim. Yes, in ten minutes you probably will be able to set up a basic account and maybe choose a template. But that’s about it. After that, be prepared to put in some major time and effort. Each page does have to be built, the (SEO friendly) content written and then added, images sourced – you do know where to find them and how to resize them right? – and added in just the right places, fonts and colors chosen (from a limited set of options) and on and on. And that’s just for initial publication.
The Google Friendly Factor
DIY web builders also always make the claim that they are ‘Google Friendly’. But what does that really mean? Best practices as far as Google (and other search engines) are concerned changes all the time. What worked five years ago in terms of onsite SEO often no longer does any more and even some techniques and ‘best practices’ recommended 12 months ago are frowned upon now. Web builders are notoriously slow to keep up with such things.
And then there are the all-important social media links. Oh you wanted to add an Instagram feed? Sorry, that’s not supported yet, check back in six months. Want to change that template for one that’s more mobile friendly. You can’t, but we’ll be updating yours sometime soon. Then there is that link at the bottom. The one that says ‘This website is powered by ‘ xxwebbuilder.com’. The one that’s draining link juice from your site. You can’t get rid of that, no matter how many premium extras you add.
These are just a few of the reasons that web builders do not provide a good solution for businesses, we could offer several more. There are better ways. For example, if you don’t want to hire a web designer right now – or your budget isn’t running to that yet – WordPress is a great way to build a website yourself.
WordPress is, for the most part free, you retain control of everything – your domain name, your content, your brand – and it’s easier to learn to use than you might think. Joomla is another good choice although the learning curve’s a little higher. And in term’s of the web design cost, your site is central to your business’ success, whether you sell on or offline, or both, so it can, and should, be considered a smart investment well worth considering.Koehler Home Decor is a wholesaler of home decor accessories and unique gifts. Source quality wholesale merchandise at KoehlerHomeDecor.com and find tips for promoting your business on our blog.