Using a “Site Builder” – Yes or No
By: Andrijana Jarnjak
Last week I read an article on how web designers should embrace web site builders on Webdesignerdepot. The article had some good points, but we felt the need to tell you a story from our perspective. So what type of site builders are we talking about in this articles? We are referring to online services where you can build your site, like Webflow, Wix, etc. Are site builders the way to go? The answer in my opinion is not that simple, and I’ll try to explain why you should/shouldn’t use it for your web projects in this article.
Currently, I work as a designer. Prior to that I was a front-end developer. It doesn’t mean that I don’t follow current trends in the development world, but I’m now more focused on design, seeing as that is my current job.
So what’s my opinion on this topic? First of all, I wouldn’t call those services website builders. Why? Because, for me as a former developer, a website builder is a plugin like Visual Composer or Content Maker. We use these in our themes, which enables you to create a site using blocks of content, which are already prepared in a premium theme, or maybe a free theme. But those are plugins, which can be extended to any functionality you need. Also they are hosted by you. You have total control over your content. Although some of this „Website builder“ services enables you to export the code, many of them are already hosted and you have a subdomain on these sites. Some people say that they use those services as a starting point and then fix and tweak the code. Hm, why don’t you code it by yourself then – it’s easier and faster, and you know what you get with your own code.
For me, these services are great way to go if you, as an individual, don’t know how to code and don’t have enough money to pay someone to make something custom for you. These builder sites would allow you to „make“ the site by yourself. However, for any serious website you need a professional dude/girl/team that will design your site and develop it. Why? Because a tool can’t replace human eye and expertise, that’s why. Also I disagree that custom work is expensive. It always depend on a project. If you have, for example, a small business in carpeting and have 5 pages on your site which all are static, or maybe with a blog (that’s one dynamic page) you don’t need $15,000 for someone to develop and design this. Ok, maybe you need it if you have some totally wild and crazy ideas J. But in the end, hiring an agency or a freelancer to do a custom project will give you a page that is unique, with great UX and SEO and that will lift up your business. The point of having a website is just that – to lift up your business.
Are website building services time saving? Of course they are. But if you are a good designer and good developer you won’t need it. Why? If you’re good, you won’t need one month to design or develop a simple site with a small bit of content and pages. Why am I saying this? Many people like to say that not every client has $15,000 to spend on a simple site as I already pointed out. If the site is so simple then you won’t need to charge someone to do it for $15,000, right? And if you’re good you’ll be able to make it in a quick time span and in a budget that suits you and the client. Win-win situation. If you are delivering a simple site for $100 then, if you are good and know how much your expertise is worth, you won’t use a website building service. There’s no ROI in using those services and you should focus your effort somewhere else if you are going to develop and design it by yourself.
Another point that I don’t like in website building services is that it doesn’t help me grow in my expertise as a designer and developer. Why? Because I love to experiment – in both design and development. I often create something totally wild in design that needs to be custom coded. There are no existing scripts or plugins for my ideas. And for me that’s great, specially when clients and our theme buyers like it and use it on their sites. It means that I went out of the box, created something totally unique and wild, which also has real purpose and value. Those services don’t enable me to create that kind of work. That’s the reason I am in this industry and why I love what I do. I want to evolve and bring something new, start a new trend, learn as I work.
I don’t want to be totally negative about website building services. Some of them are really great. You get high quality code, SEO for your website is good, etc. But, in my humble opinion, that it isn’t the right choice for an agency or an individual that wants to grow. It’s a perfect choice for an individual who wants to make a site by himself or an agency that is focused on large number of clients that doesn’t need a custom solution, or at least that’s what people say… I would advise every individual that is creating a site, with the purpose of lifting up business, and wants to be on the top in his industry to go with a custom made site.
What’s your opinion on this? Do you use Website builders? How often and for what purpose? I would love to hear more opinions and work practices from fellow artists and developers. Thanks for reading.