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16th April 2015


So you’re setting up a business and as it’s 2015 you will naturally need a website. You have a distant cousin who dabbles in a bit of web design but you decide to go it alone and get DIY website builders from a well-known online service. Maybe you’ve seen their TV commercials, they do look pretty snazzy. 

You’re thinking that as a professional web design agency naturally we are going to convince you that a custom designed site will be better for your business. Well, you’d be right but we’re not going to slate these services as they do have a purpose. We do however want to highlight some of the pitfalls of these DIY website builders so that you can make an informed decision, you’re investing in your business and there’s a reason that successful brands spend fortunes on their brand image and online presence.

1. Do you want to actually be found online?

Many of these website builders use Flash. What’s the problem with that? Simply, it isn’t Google friendly. Google can’t read websites built using flash and they advise against using it. Considering they are the most widely used search engine in the world, it’s probably best to keep them sweet.

Many modern web browsers won’t have Flash plug in turned on which means some of your customers won’t even be able to see your site and those on iphone and ios definitely won’t be able to see any or all of your site.

 2. You don’t own it.

This is a biggie. Looking at a very popular website builder’s terms and conditions, you don’t own your website yet you are responsible for your content. Why pay for something that isn’t even yours? As a result of this they can change your website at will and there isn’t anything you can do about it. Take a look at this snippet from a disclaimer…

“All material and services available on the Site, and all material and services provided by or through {said website builder company}, its affiliates, subsidiaries, employees, agents, licensors or other commercial partners including, but not limited to, software, all informational text, software documentation, design of and “look and feel,” layout, photographs, graphics, audio, video, messages, interactive and instant messaging, design and functions, files, documents, images, or other materials, whether publicly posted or privately transmitted as well as all derivative works thereof (collectively, the “Materials”), are owned by us” 

“We may modify, replace, refuse access to, suspend or discontinue the Services, partially or entirely, or add, change and modify prices for all or part of the Services for you or for all our users at any time and in our sole discretion.”

 3. Unwanted Adverts.

Free template builders need to make money somehow so they put ads on your site, that make it look ugly and steal your bandwidth. We think this steals your thunder somewhat and it doesn’t look great.

 4. You never stop paying.

Sure £30.00 a month sounds good as there isn’t a big payment up front, but you will be paying this all the time for as long as you have the site. If you read the previous point, this price can change at any time. If you have the site for five years at £30.00 a month, this will cost you £1800! If you had a professional agency or company, you’d pay for the site and then about £15 a month for keeping it online with a top quality hosting service. Bear in mind that this is a custom site tailored to you, that you own, that you can have complete control over.

And going back to the fine print, some of these sites will take a percentage of your hard earned sales.

 5. They don’t care about you. 

All they want is to take money from you. They don’t know about or understand your business or know your customers. You will never see or speak to a human, no matter how loud you scream. A web professional will take the time to understand you and your business because they care. Web professionals are passionate people who want to see you and your business succeed with the aid of their services. Invest in someone who shares your passion.

 6. Over loaded servers. 

It’s not uncommon for some these sites to have strange technical issues, certain pages just don’t seem to load, pages intermittently can’t be found etc. This is going to sting if it loses you valuable customers or frustrates existing clients, and could cost you money in lost sales.

 7. Poor analytics.

Want to know how your site is performing? Google analytics is the only way to go and the other alternatives on these sites are not really worth considering as they can be inaccurate.

 8. Improper Domain Names. doesn’t sound great, and doesn’t look good to visitors. First impressions are very important so if your site sounds unprofessional, they already have a negative impression of you before they’ve even been onto your site! That’s going to hurt your brand and give the impression you’re operating from your mom’s spare room.

 9. Mobile, mobile, mobile.

Having a mobile friendly site is so important these days. Every site should be compatible with mobile and tablet devices, it’s not a debate anymore.  A good proportion of these builders don’t cater for this, which is bad news for you and your business.

To echo the point, Google’s search rankings now take into account whether a site is responsive or not so if it isn’t, your site will be lower in the rankings than a competitors whose is. Ebay have just done a campaign to show the importance of mobile commerce and mobile friendly websites.

This is an absolute necessity for any modern website.

 10. Bulky Code = Slow Website.

This is something many of you are not aware of but we are. The code for these sites is way longer than it needs to be. What does this mean to your site? Quite simply poor performance and slow. You may not notice this on a fast computer but someone on a slightly older one will. Slow sites gives your customers a poor experience, and may result in them going elsewhere if they can’t find what they are looking for.

 11. First impressions do count.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I’ve never really been a believer in this saying, we all judge and we make snap decisions based on our subconscious impressions of something. Despite how snazzy the templates look on the adverts, they never really end up looking like what you have in mind. There’s a reason that we spent copious amounts of money on student loans and gaining experience crafting our skills in graphical communications.

Would you do DIY your own dentistry? I wouldn’t.

Besides, do you want a website that potentially looks like 500 others?

 Bottom Line?

You get what you pay for. Sure it’s cheaper and even free with some builders, but just because it costs you less money doesn’t mean its not going to cost you in other ways.

  1. Potentially lose customers, you don’t know who you are turning off.
  2. It could be slow with technical problems.
  3. It’s not yours.
  4. The fees can change at any time.
  5. You won’t really know if it’s performing well.
  6. It will be hard for people to find you.
  7. The site is not tailored to you.
  8. Customers could get a false first impression of you.
  9. It may not work well on phones and tablets.

Invest a little more in your business and you will be so glad that you did. As all the great entrepreneurs say, you’ve got to spend money to make money. When you pay for a website you’re not spending money, you are investing in your business. The whole idea is to invest intelligently so you can build a profitable business. By doing this properly you will earn the investment back and the profits will follow.

Plus your time be better spent doing what you’re good at and starting your business, outsource the rest to someone who cares.

If you look after your business, your business will look after you.

*In reference to the points concerning the costs of designing and building a website, This isn’t necessarily the cost of a full website design and build, that will depend on site size, content and functionality requirements.