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website builders squarespace wix shopify
Aiste Martinaityte • Oct 30, 2018

Why website builders like Squarespace, Wix or Shopify might not work for your business

5 reasons not to use a website builder

The Internet is crawling with claims like there’s never been an easier time to get your website up fast and cheap. Why hire a design agency when you can save so much money and just do it yourself. While these sort of claims might seem appealing, you should be certain that it’s the right solution for your business.

Website builders such as Squarespace, Wix, Shopify or Weebly certainly have their place and they are great when you want to set up a website fast and on a tight budget. To be honest, I have recommended these types of platforms myself to some of the potential clients. Maybe you have a business idea that you would like to test or a personal project and you have a very limited budget. By no means, go ahead and Do It Yourself. But before you decide whether to use a website builder, you might want to read why it might be a bad choice for your business.

1. Time-consuming

time comsuming
Photo by Mitchell Hollander on Unsplash

Website builders invest a lot of money in marketing their product as a fast and easy solution to make a website yourself. But is it really that easy?

No, it’s not.

Website builders offer you a framework that you have to fill yourself and to do that you need to learn how to use it and have the time to actually build your website. Unless I’m completely mistaken, you probably don’t have the skills nor the time required to do it on your own. In fact, most probably you would start this process only to realize how much work it is, even with a “simple” website builder.

Your time is valuable and you should be spending it doing what you do best.

It takes a lot of time to build a solid website for a business. A solid website is much more than just a beautiful looking website. It needs to have a well-planned information architecture, good content, fast performance, be responsive, search engine optimized and more. Most importantly it needs to bring you results and convert those visitors into customers.

A professional design team will be able to help you do just that by following a certain process. They will help you identify your customer, help you define your goals and strategy, analyze your competition, structure your website and create a custom (unique) website based on good user experience principles.

2. Content

With all these amazing templates available on different website builders, you start jumping out of excitement on what your website will look like. You get lost in countless templates trying to find the best one for your website. Finally! this is the one! You eagerly start replacing the example copy and images with your own content and it doesn’t look that good anymore. After spending so much of your time you end up completely disappointed. And the many customization options available just made decision-making process even more overwhelming and tough.

Creating Good Content is Easier Said than Done.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some really cool themes out there, the problem is that you probably don’t have the cool content to match. A website is not worth anything without a well-structured quality content. I’ve seen how difficult it is for many of our clients to visualize what could or would not work in terms of imagery and copy, and it’s perfectly normal. Only a trained eye will be able to quickly identify the right image and structure the content.

A professional designer or a team will learn about your business and know how to appeal to that particular audience and reach your business goals. How to make the desirable first impression on your potential customer, how to keep him on your website and ultimately convert him to a customer.

3. Poor SEO

You might have the most beautiful website but if your website can’t be found, what’s the point?

poor seo
Photo by Patrick Zachmann. Vendor on the Pan American highway

A beautiful website only serves a purpose if it has beautiful amounts of traffic to go with it. That is the point that so many business owners take years to understand. Usually they are not willing to learn how to do it themselves or invest in paying an expert to help them. So they suffer.

– Erica Johnson

This is where SEO comes into play. What is SEO? (SEO – search engine optimization) Basically, it’s a process to help your website rank higher in search engines such as Google. More visibility in search results, more people will visit your website.

If you are not planning to optimize your website to be search engine friendly than either website builder or a website developed with WordPress stand pretty much on the same level. However, if you want to optimize your website to rank higher in search engines like Google you can do a much better job with a WordPress website.

yoast seo
SEO plugin for WordPress. You can control how the snippet will appear on google search for each page
yoast seo content analysis
SEO plugin for WordPress. You also get content analysis

Website builders such as Squarespace have only basic SEO tools. You can define a few general parameters, such as description, homepage and page title format, etc. You seem to be able to add a description on an individual page to be indexed by a search engine but it warns you that the description might be visible on some templates, and that’s something you might not want.

squarespace general settings
Squarespace screenshot. General settings for all the website
squarespace content description
Squarespace screenshot. You can only add page description that might be visible on the template.

WordPress allows you to install an SEO plugin that can help you make your site as search engine-friendly as possible. You can control how each page of your website will appear on a search engine, or even on social shares.

4. You don’t own your website

It might seem a good idea to use a website builder when starting a new business. Just to test if the idea is good enough. Later on, invest in hiring a design agency to take your business to the next level. No problem, you can take your website with all of its content and move it somewhere else with no design & functionality limitations, right?

Wrong.

own your website
Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

If you intend to move your website to another platform anytime in the future, don’t use a website builder.

You won’t be able to do this. Most website builders limit the amount of content that can be exported or imported from your website.

So, in reality, you will have to rebuild your website from scratch when moving to a new platform. You will have to manually copy and paste every text and image placed on your website. If you have an extensive content on your website that alone might be close to an impossible task. Also, all the links or traffic you have built for your existing website along the line might be lost.

Basically, there is no easy way to move your content to another platform and you might find yourself stuck with the same website builder for the rest of your website’s life. You cannot ever take it with you if you decide to leave. You will always pay a monthly fee and won’t ever own your own website. That’s a bad investment.

5. You share the same template

Templates are designed to be easy to use by a broad audience. They are not designed having your business goals in mind. You can change the colours and move a few elements around, but you won’t have a user experience or the flow of the website designed to engage your customer. Generic templates work for the generic audience. With thousands of other people using the same template, the results will still be alike. Even more so if you chose a template that is recommended for a specific type of business, let’s say, a barber. Your website will now look like a large number of other barber websites who are also using this template.

you share the same template
Photo by 浮萍 闪电 on Unsplash

A custom built website will help you stand out from the competition.

How much you invest in your business shows the value it has to you. Does knowing that you spent a little over 20$ on your brand’s website build trust or credibility for your customers? Do you think your customer would choose you with a Wix website over a business with a custom designed website?

You get what you pay for.

Wrapping Up

It certainly is true that website builders have created more options for more people to promote their business online. It is also true that in most cases having a low budget is responsible for choosing a website builder instead of hiring an expert to do it for you. DIY website builders are not meant to be a long-term investment and you will likely see a more significant return on investment with a design agency.

Before you make a decision, you should ask yourself:

  • Do you have the time needed to learn how to use the platform?
  • Do you have the skills to create quality content for your website?
  • Do you want your website to rank higher in search engines?
  • Is it possible you will want to switch platforms anytime in the future?
  • Can creating your website with a builder have a negative effect on how your business is perceived by your customers?

In the end, it all comes down to you. You can DIY but if you value your time and want a return on investment, hire a professional to do it for you. Web designers and developers have spent thousands of hours learning how to make effective websites.