18 May 2021 Update: When I originally wrote this article in 2016 there were only a few DIY website builders worth mentioning, namely Wix and Squarespace. And back then, they were a nightmare to work with even as a web designer. Fast forward 5 years and there are plenty more platforms, and many of them have come a long way to improve user experience and build better websites. However, we still believe that business owners should not be building their own websites.
“Leave it to the professionals” is not something we say to grow our bank account, it is something we say to help grow yours! In our experience, small business owners do not give websites and website marketing the credit it is due. Thus, when the time comes to re-design their website (or simply put one up for the first time) they are quite happy to save a few Randelas and build it themselves using free website builders.
There are a lot more factors to consider other than just how it looks. Here are just a few reasons why you shouldn’t use free website builders to build your website:
- You are not a designer
- You are not a developer
- You are not a marketer
- You are a business owner
And there’s plenty more where that came from, but let’s dive into these three reasons for now.
1. You are not a designer
We aren’t going to state that all free website builders look terrible, but in our experience at least 90% of them do. Most of the free website builders are limited in terms of design choices, and often the templates on offer do not match your company’s fonts or colour scheme. Even small things such as distorted images or pixelated logos can really make your website look sloppy and haphazard.
Your website is often the first point of contact between you and your consumer, and your consumers judge your business based on your website design. You might be the best Electrician or Dentist in the country, but if your website is messy and unappealing, chances are people will think the same of your services.
2. Poor search engine visibility
Even if you do build a “nice looking” website, people still have to find it – and that comes down to your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategies. Although the on-page SEO capabilities of these free website builders has improved over recent times, it still requires an understanding of basic SEO principles in order to get the most out of them. So, more often than not a site may look great, but it’s not attracting any traffic because it hasn’t been correctly optimised for search engines.
Any decent web design company will provide you with a customised SEO and SEM strategy for your website.What good is a website that cannot be found? Save yourself the time that it would take to learn about SEO, and let a professional company help you out.
Side Note: If you are hosting your domain on their servers (eg. mywebsite.diybuilder.com) then your search engine visibility will be really compromised. You should have your own domain, with dedicated hosting – this is the best way to ensure optimal website performance and load times.
3. Website design takes time
While it’s true that doing the work on your own can save you money, it doesn’t mean it won’t cost you anything. Any time away from your business is time that can be spent working on your business. All the time spent working on this site could have been put into a current or new marketing strategy, number crunching, or simply reaching out to find new customers. Time is something that a small business owner never seems to have enough of, so it’s a good idea to spend it in the most effective way possible.
While your website is part of your business, it’s something that can be handled by someone else who is more qualified and able to deal with it. Not to mention that website development an art! And mastering an art takes time. Designing an effective, functional and beautiful website takes hours of strategy, design and development.
There many online platforms out there that claim you can build your own ‘professional’ website for little money and without much effort. They all make similar promises and the promotion pages make everything look wonderful and easy – but if website design were that easy, we would be out of a job.
As web designers, we should be telling you not to build your own website, just as a dentist would tell you not to pull your own teeth.
Key Take Aways:
- Use your valuable time productively on your business – don’t waste it on learning how to use these ineffective programs
- Save money in the long run by investing in a proper website now – don’t cut-corners with your website, ever.
- Build your website right the first time and hire professionals to do it. You won’t regret it.