Back in the day, a business card was the first tool in any new company’s arsenal. Now what every start up needs most is a branded online presence that generates business. Cue the onslaught of DIY website platforms like Wix, Weebly and Squarespace that promise to be the best website builder for small businesses. At ACS Creative web design company, we beg to differ. While these platforms offer drag and drop features that appeal to non techies wanting to go live in a jiffy, they have several major issues in common. So before you sign up for what seems like a too good to be true “best” website creator, check out the caveats below.
You’ll be stuck with isolationist technology.
Companies like Wix, Weebly and Squarespace rely on their own, uniquely created technologies that appear similar to WordPress, but are not WordPress. That means you have to depend entirely on that company for all your website design ideas. The problem is that more often than not, your DIY website builder will have limited functionality. For example, it may not integrate with e-commerce. It may not allow for best practice SEO strategies. Google analytics? You might have to forget that, too. And tracking of conversions? Well, that’s probably too much to ask. Essentially, when you choose these “top” website builders, the ease you think you are gaining is countered by a significant decrease in your ability to leverage your online presence to build a more successful business—which is the whole reason you need a website in the first place.
Your best website builder for small business is a web design company.
That’s because web design companies and freelance web designers almost exclusively build sites in WordPress. The latest stats show that WordPress accounts for nearly 57% of content management systems. Over 500 WordPress sites are created each day. The reason for this platform’s popularity among personal web design and those searching for the best website builder for a small business, is that it is an open source website creation tool. Translation: WordPress technology is free. It’s not owned by a private company and it’s not exclusive to users paying a monthly fee. Anyone can design in WordPress and anyone can create plugins for WordPress. (There are currently over 44,000 plugins available.) All this creates numerous benefits for small businesses.
Realize ALL your website design ideas.
Unlike those other platforms, WordPress gives web development and design companies the ultimate freedom to create a tailored site that provides just about any functionality you can dream up. These functions can really boost your business. If you think websites are just images and words, you are missing the rest of the iceberg. Modern websites are content management systems that integrate marketing functions. They can generate leads and capture consumer data. But to really harness the power of the Internet, you need a website built by experts. So unless you are a website design/developer, you should leave the website building to those experts.
Once you go with a DIY website builder, you can never leave.
There’s another drawback to using an “easy” website builder that relies on proprietary technology. If you decide that Wix, Weebly or Squarespace no longer works for you, then you have to scrap your website and start over. From scratch. You can’t transfer your site elsewhere. Other hosting companies like GoDaddy, HostGator and Network Solutions won’t be able to host it. So all that money you spent, in the end, gets you nothing. Alternately, websites built by web design companies, especially those using WordPress, can be hosted on all the major hosting companies. If your hosting plan gets too expensive or you decide the security on that server isn’t up to snuff, you can just take your website elsewhere. Simply download the files and upload them again.
Your website design has two audiences.
Most lay people assume they are building their websites for their customers. That’s only the half of it. You are also building it for Google, Bing and other search engines. Those “best web builders” allow you to easily add content and images and get your site live. You look at your spanking new site and think: “What an awesome online brochure.” The problem is, if you think of websites as virtual brochures, you are neglecting all the backend work that goes into getting a good search engine ranking. Google is your most critical audience. Web development companies understand how to harness meta descriptions, key words and other tools so that Google likes you. When Google likes you, your site ranks high and customers find you. When Google doesn’t like you, you might as well not have a website at all. Think about how many times you go past the third page of search results. You want to avoid that abyss at all costs.
Those web design quotes are a bargain. Really.
The reason most people go with an easy website builder is cost. These companies make their profits over time. There is a small upfront charge (if any) and then you pay them monthly. If you want to end the contract, then you lose your website as noted above. In contrast, a web design company will bill you up front. Many small companies balk at the initial expense. The difference can be in the thousands. However, when you consider that 1. your website will function properly as well as look good, 2. that Google will be able to find you, and 3. that you get to keep your website forever (or until technology evolves again) the upfront cost is a great value. (And you can amortize that cost. Just ask your tax accountant.) The bottom line: being stuck with a monthly fee for a site you can never own, doesn’t integrate with the majority of other technologies and isn’t as effective as it can be at generating leads, is truly the more costly option.