In this 7-minute read:
- Web developer or DIY website builder?
- What is a website builder?
- What does a web developer do?
- Pros and cons of website builders vs. web developers
Trying to figure out the best way to build your business’s website can cause a lot of frustration, but it doesn’t have to. You just need to determine the necessities of your website as you get started so that you can make the best decision.
No matter what you choose to do with your website, you’re not stuck with it forever. You can always change it down the line as your business grows and you need it to do more for you.
But for now, let’s talk about the best place for your business to build a website from where you are now.
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Should you hire a web developer or use a DIY website builder?
The answer to this question is going to vary greatly from business to business and person to person. You first need to determine the purpose of your website.
What do you need your website to do? Is it going to be strictly for sharing information or do you need the ability to book appointments? Accept questionnaires? Take online orders? Track web traffic?
Websites that require more functionality than a basic template site can offer may need a little additional support from a professional web developer (but more on this later). However, some very functional, professional-looking (and high-traffic) websites have been created and managed using the popular online web builders.
What is a website builder?
When we talk about website builders, we are referring to the DIY website solutions like Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, etc., that provide templates for you to choose from and an easy way for you to build your own website, without you needing to know a lick of code.
What does a professional web developer do differently from a website builder?
Professional web developers traditionally don’t work with DIY website builders. They have the skillset and knowledge of (usually several) coding languages necessary for designing and building a website from scratch, or at the very least to add the functionality and design you want to a content management system that they use and are familiar with.
What are the pros and cons of using a website builder?
Using a website builder isn’t for everyone. Let’s go over the pros and cons to determine if this is the right solution for your business.
Pros of website builders
Website builders are generally very cost-effective. Some options even let you build and host your website for free, and all it takes is your time to put it together. However the free options do have their limitations, so we usually recommend upgrading to a basic plan on any website builder, which can range between $4/month and $20/month. That’s still a darn good deal.
Website builders allow you to quickly get your website built and launched. You just need to sign up for the website builder of your choice and get started. When you’re finished, you can publish your site with the click of a button. Not many of these DIY builders require more than a day or two to get your site up and running, and some are nearly instant.
There may be one or two more steps to put your site on a custom domain, but that’s a quick process too.
Easy to use
Website builders are easy for almost anyone to use. It doesn’t take any coding knowledge. If you have basic computer literacy (meaning you can click to select items, navigate menus, and drag/drop images) you can easily manipulate and select all the different components of your site and load any text or media that you have.
You have control
When you build your own website with a website builder, you have total control (within the limits of the design templates, font choices, etc.). You are in charge of the design, when you want the website to be done, and everything that goes on it.
This can be good and bad sometimes, but for the most part it eliminates the middle man of a website developer so that no one is between you and your website.
Cons of website builders
The functionality of website builders is limited. If you need the ability to have an online booking system, customized forms, or other items that don’t typically come with a prebuilt template site, then this isn’t the option for you.
Some website builders do have plugin solutions, but those often require some expertise around how those plugins work in case you need to fix it later on.
Building your own website takes time. Do you have time to set aside to work on your website or an employee that you can delegate it to? How much time will it take to learn how to use the platform before you are able to actually get started?
Wait a second, didn’t we say that website builders are cost-effective? Yes. The actual price tag on a website builder solution is very reasonable. However, you have to take into consideration the time and effort that you are taking away from your business to build your website too.
Are you (or whoever you’ve delegated this task to) tech-savvy enough to get the job done quickly? How often are you going to need to train someone new on how to use and update the website?
Take into consideration the time that it will take and weigh the cost of your time to help you determine if it is worth it.
If you think a website builder is the right choice for your business, check out these articles to get started:
- Free site builders: Which one is right for your business? Pros and cons
- How to build your own business website (step-by-step walkthrough)
What are the pros and cons of using a professional web developer?
If you feel a website builder isn’t the right choice for you, then a web developer might suit your needs a little better. Check out these pros and cons to help you make your decision.
Pros of using a web developer
A professional web designer or developer will provide your business with a totally unique look for your website. It won’t be a cookie-cutter template option (or it shouldn’t be), so it won’t look like the hundreds of other websites out there that are using the same templates from another website builder.
Optimized user experience and page performance
Web developers always keep the end-user in mind. Who is going to be visiting the website and what is their experience going to be like? If something needs to be tweaked here or there to make that user experience a little better, a web developer can do that for you.
Also, a good web developer can optimize your site so page load speeds are super-quick, which is important for local SEO and attracting new customers.
Depending on the web developer you choose, you can have pretty much unlimited capabilities for your website. If you can imagine it—and have the budget for it—a good web developer should be able to make it happen (within reason, of course).
Cons of using a website developer
Hiring a professional web developer is much more costly than using a website builder, at least in the price tag of the product. You pay for what you get.
When you hire a web developer, you are paying for their time, skill, and knowledge to help make you a beautiful and unique website that functions how you want it to. However, the results can be worth it.
Time to publish
It can take longer to publish a site when you are working with web developer. You are no longer on your own schedule, but on theirs. That doesn’t mean you can’t set expectations and deadlines with them, but things can come up and you have to keep in mind that they may have other projects that came before yours.
You don’t have total control over your website when you hire someone else to help. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because your web developer will likely think of things that you didn’t and help bring your vision to the next level.
But this is something to keep in mind and be aware of as you plan to use a web developer.
Generally speaking, if you have money to spare, it’s a good idea to go with the professionals. But if you are just starting out, have limited funds, and don’t need heavy customizations on your site, give your try at a website builder (you can always choose a web developer later on if that doesn’t work out).
When you have a website, create a plan to improve your online visibility
No matter which option you go with for your website, you’ll want a plan in place to help drive traffic to your website once it’s live.
Setting up a Google My Business listing for your business (if you don’t already have one) and getting online reviews is a great way to get started.
Womply Reputation Management can help. This solution will allow you to manage all your Google reviews (and reviews across other platforms) and reply from one place with one login.
Womply also offers business intelligence, customer relationship management, email marketing, payments, and a dynamic customer directory that updates automatically with each transaction.