It has become hard to browse the internet or watch TV these days without being exposed to an advertisement from a website builder company. I’m sure you have seen the ad of the two cool looking hipsters that magically “build” a site in front of your eyes in about 15 seconds by dragging and dropping content into it. You might have even heard that woman’s lovely voice on the TV ad who tells you that you can have your e-commerce site “ready and selling” in less than 15 minutes if you use their shop based builder. But the reality is that with everything their eye-catching templates (and commercials) promise, most fall short in what they actually can deliver.
Here are 5 things your website builder won’t tell you, but that you should really know.
The code, the code, the code.
For the everyday individual who wants to build a site or the novice web builder the idea of being able to simply drag and drop items into a blank page to create a website sounds fantastic. The issue is that in order to compensate for a user’s lack of technical knowledge website builders use code that ends up being non-semantic gibberish wrapped in too many divs and class names that more often than not end up working against the structure of your site’s content. So while it sounds great to simply drag and drop content and it might look great in 15 second video spot, in reality that is not how the web works.
Speed or lack of it to be exact.
Website builders promise beautiful sites up in minutes, what would take a professional, hours to develop. But all the flashiness they promise up front come with a huge price on the back end. Their sites are slower than molasses in January.
First, once more we have the code. Most builders inject large amounts of extra code into their designs. All this extra data needs to be stored by your site and sorted out by browsers increasing the time it takes for the content to get to your visitors. On average sites built with website builders load 2.5-3 seconds slower than sites built by web professionals.
Second, is the hosting. Website builders offer their own hosting which sounds like a very convenient all in one solution for users. What people don’t understand is that website builders host sites in shared hosting plans, which means a website will be at the mercy of everyone elses traffic on the server. It is a true fact, that there could also be sites sitting on the same server as yours which are of questionable content. This means your site could be blocked in some cases, just because you are sharing a server that has been flagged.
Your content is never truly your content.
Most relationships with a website builder start out on a positive note. But as your project grows and you soon start learning the limitations your site is facing things quickly turn sour. Once you want out it will be almost impossible to take your website with you since all your content will be locked into one of their proprietary templates. All your blogposts and copy that might have taken you weeks or months to build might just be lost forever.
Sure there are ways to migrate your site, but migration is a delicate and complicated process. Depending on your website, the price a web professional would charge you to migrate, might be close to what that developer would charge to build you a new clean HTML site, that would be yours to keep.
Depending on your website, the price a web professional would charge you to migrate, might be close to what that developer would charge to build you a new clean HTML site, that would be yours to keep.
Free domain names come with a price.
One of the gimmicks website builders tend to use is offering a free domain name. But their free domain names are usually tied to their own domain name and that simply lacks professionalism. What sounds more official to you, timemagazine.com or timemagazine.websitebuildercompany.com?
Such a long URL might work if you are building a personal site that not a lot of people will see. But if it is for a business or serious project you need a site name that is going to be memorable and meaningful. You need a dedicated official domain.
You still will need Google Analytics.
Don’t get me wrong, this is actually a great thing because Google Analytics is awesome. But the issue is website builders come prebuilt with their own analytic which simply don’t work.
While it is true that website builders have somewhat improved their analytics over the last two to three years there is simply no way of beating the data capabilities that Google provides. The data that you need for your website to thrive is currently not available via the analytic tools provided by any current website builder.
But website builders are not the root of web design issues.
In a way it is easy to criticize website builders. For anyone like me who has been building websites for almost 20 years, it is easy to spot the short comings in something that sells itself as an easy quick end all solution. But if you are simply looking to complete a small personal project, or are an inspiring young developer, web builders are an acceptable platform for you to explore.
But if you are in need of developing a website for a business or any significant project it is always wiser and more affordable in the long run to consult a web developer you can trust.
At OrangeBlue Web we specialize in working with clients to ensure they understand their project from beginning to end and we cover all the bases of web development so that their final product is a website that’s ready to rock! Feel free to call us today at 630.283.7652 or you can reach me direct at email@example.com and I will be happy to answer any questions you might have about your project.