Website builders are becoming more popular and many web developers go to great lengths to trash-talk them out of a fear that they will someday lose their job to a website builder.
My goal with this article is to look at the pros and cons of website builders and attempt to provide an unbiased view so that you can make up your own mind about whether you should use a website builder for your business or employ a web developer.
What is a website builder?
A website builder is a company or service that provides you with visual tools that allow you to design and build a website without needing to know anything about the code that makes it all work.
One of the reasons that they have become so popular is that they make it very easy for business owners or their staff (non-developers) to quickly create a website.
They offer pre-built templates and colour selections to get you up and running quickly.
They take care of the hosting.
All you have to do is provide the content and make a few choices about colours and layouts and, of course, pay them a monthly or yearly fee for the services they provide.
If I had to summarise the pros into bullet points, they’d look something like this:
- Easy to learn and use
- Fast to get a site up and running
- Don’t need to employ a developer
Website builders work very well when your website follows the established designs or patterns that they have catered for. They tend to struggle or become overly restrictive whenever you want to do something a little bit different.
In business, it’s often that something different that sets you apart from your competition so when you start trying to make it work in a website builder it can become incredibly frustrating.
Website builders often struggle with performance too. Their platforms cater to a lot of websites, all sharing the same resources in most cases. This can mean that traffic spikes on other sites hosted by them can affect the performance of your site. In addition, the templated nature of the website designs they offer can often leave you with a site that performs poorly on page speed which can affect your search rankings.
In addition, just because they make it easy to build a website that doesn’t mean it will be a good looking website or that it will provide the best user experience for your customers. Website design and development is often about more than just code and even if you can get away without a developer you still need someone that has a “designer’s eye” to build something that looks good and provides the excellent user experience that will keep your customers coming back.
So to summarise the cons:
- Not very flexible. You have to stay within their pre-defined templates’ limits.
- Performance can be an issue.
- No code doesn’t mean you don’t need to employ someone to help you build the site.
I don’t have one. The conclusion is up to you.
A website builder might fit your needs perfectly, or provide you with an easy and simple way to get to market quickly. You might find yourself employing a developer further down the line to rebuild your site with more bespoke features and integrations, but you need to get there first. If this sounds like you then a website builder might just suit your current needs, but you can make that decision now, knowing what you’re getting into.
You might have read through this and decided that your needs are more than a website builder can accommodate. That’s fine too.
This post was not about promoting a website builder or about talking you out of them. It was to give you the information to make an informed decision.
If you’ve got this far and you’re still unsure, I’ve included some of my opinions in the bonus thoughts below.
Website builders, in my opinion, will never replace designers or developers. There will always be a place for both.
Whenever a business needs to integrate their website with their CRM, warehouse management system or manufacturing processes developers will be needed.
Likewise, using a website builder doesn’t mean you don’t need a designer either.
I’m a big believer in using the right tool for the job. If a website builder can get you to your goal quicker, then maybe it is the right tool for your job.