Many web development companies will insist that you have a professional website created for your small business built on whatever platform they choose, but do you have to go with a web developer to create an attractive, functional website? Nope.
The truth is, there are many do-it-yourself options out there to help those with the time and basic skills to create a good looking website that gets positive results. Today we will take a look at DIY website builders and WordPress so you can make an informed decision on which one works best for you.
DIY Website Builders
Do-it-yourself drag and drop builders like Wix are becoming increasingly popular for several reasons. Here are some pros and cons to be aware of.
Pros to Using Website Builders:
Design—For many website builders, you can choose from hundreds of attractive, business-specific designs that are fully responsive and use HTML 5. The downside is that once you choose a template, you can’t change it.
Very Easy to Use—With drag-and-drop features, putting together a website is a snap with Squarespace, SiteBuilder.com, and similar platforms. Visual page editors allow you to see exactly what your page will look like as you go.
Website builders can be as inexpensive as around $5.00 per month and include hosting. You will need to pay for your own domain yearly. Watch out, though, as some DIY website builders offer free or very cheap introductory rates that go up significantly over time.
DIY Website Builder Cons:
Lack of Flexibility—DIY web builders lack the flexibility and versatility that WordPress offers. These builders are designed to handle typical websites as found with restaurants and small businesses. While you can do editing within a predetermined framework or template, you can’t go too far “out of the box.” Creativity is limited.
Limited Addons/Plugins—DIY website builders do offer add-ons to enhance your website’s functionality, but not nearly as many as WordPress. You can also expect to pay extra for them. On a positive note, because the add-ons are built in-house, they don’t have the bugs you sometimes encounter with WordPress plugins.
Hosting—While website builders come with their own hosting, it’s important to note that you can never move your website to another host. If you want to go with a different builder, you can’t transfer your site over. Additionally, most have limitations in the amount of bandwidth (traffic) even with the most expensive options. It’s also worth mentioning that if you want to upgrade to ecommerce, many website builders don’t allow for that, resulting in you rebuilding your entire website with another host.
Who Should Use a Website Builder?
DIY website builders will work well for you if you meet the following criteria:
- No experience with website html or css code
- Low traffic
- Small budget or little for upfront costs
- Need to launch within the next week
- Looking to build a basic, no-frills website
Building Your Business Website Using WordPress
WordPress currently accounts for around 34% of all websites on the internet. It has a relatively easy to use content management system with a vibrant community committed to its success.
There are two ways to use WordPress. The first way is through WordPress.com, where the site is installed and hosted for you. The constraints for this type of website are similar to DIY website builders in that you have limited themes and plugins to choose from, you don’t have complete control over your content, many things can’t be changed, and extras will cost you.
The second way is to create a self-hosted WordPress.org installation on the host of your choice. For the purpose of this post, we will be comparing the self-hosted WordPress.org option as it compares to do-it-yourself website builders.
While it is user friendly, there is quite a learning curve involved during the initial setup, which can be very frustrating for the average business owner. However, by having a professional web developer build your site, you can remove the frustration and make updates to your website rather effortlessly after launch.
Design Options—When using WordPress, you can choose from thousands of free and paid themes, many with their own customization options. You can easily switch themes or customize them as much as you please. If you want something more customized, you can hire a developer to create a custom theme.
Flexible—WordPress offers infinite possibilities when it comes to design and functionality. The key is knowing how to accomplish your website goals.
Versatile—You can run any type of website on WordPress, whether it is a personal website or blog, a large online store, or anything in between. This can make WordPress seem overwhelming, but it is helpful because you have the ability to scale up or add functionality as your business grows.
There are literally thousands upon thousands of WordPress plugins available for use on WordPress websites, many of them free. If you can imagine it, chances are there is a plugin to help you achieve your website goal. However, pay close attention to plugin reviews before installing them because some of them can perform inconsistently.
You can install WordPress on any host that uses MySQL with PHP support. If you ever want to move to another web host in the future that provides better service or pricing, you will have no issue doing so. This gives you the freedom to choose the hosting plan that gives you the speed and performance you need to provide visitors the best possible website experience.
Significant Learning Curve—WordPress is powerful, and it is fairly easy to modify/update content. However, there is certainly a learning curve involved, which can be very frustrating to those with no working knowledge of the platform.
Backend Editor—WordPress uses a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editor, which is more challenging because you can’t see your changes in real time. Instead, you have to click “preview” to see what your page looks like on the front end of the website. You can find plugin-ins to have a front-end editor.
While WordPress is free, you will likely end up needing to hire a developer to help you get your website up and running (at the very least for initial setup) if you are a novice. Additionally, you may need a developer to help with ongoing maintenance or system/plugin updates. Of course, you will also pay for your hosting and domain on an ongoing basis.
Who Should Use WordPress?
WordPress is the way to go if you:
- Can wait at least a week to take your website live
- Need a large site built or one with complex functionality
- Can afford the upfront cost of hiring a developer
- Want something highly customizable and scalable
- Want the ability to switch hosts
- Expect a high-traffic website
- Need functionality you can’t get from a website builder
What About SEO?
When it comes to SEO, which is always a hot topic for business website owners, every website builder is different. Wix is rated among the best when it comes to search engine optimization tools, but other builders fall flat in that area. It’s important to do your research before choosing your website builder so your website appears as high as possible in search results.
WordPress has long been touted as the best when it comes to website optimization. This is due to the plethora of robust, user-friendly SEO plugins available to its users. These easy-to-use features give WordPress the competitive edge in the SEO department.
WordPress and DIY website builders can both be good options for a small business website. To determine which one is right for your small business, consider your business goals, expected traffic, and what you want included on your website.
If you are considering going with a WordPress website but need help getting started, give us a call. We specialize in helping small businesses by developing websites that bring in quality leads and help with business growth. Contact us today to learn more!