One of the biggest trends in web design is the growth of the DIY website builder, often labeled as “drag-and-drop” website editors. They bill themselves as the perfect solution for people who don’t know how to code their own website with what they call intuitive and easy-to-use tools. Some of the more popular options are SquareSpace, Wix and Weebly, among others.
Quite often we’ve seen customers come to us frustrated because these tools just aren’t getting the job done and leave them wanting more. They aren’t terribly intuitive, aren’t that easy to use, and to often involve plenty of hidden costs. Here are some of the biggest reasons why you should avoid these types of sites.
Never truly free
Most people look to one of these sites because they want to have a website, but they don’t want to have to pay for one. It makes sense from a dollars and cents perspective, especially on the surface, but there are almost always costs associated with it.
Besides your time spent building your site instead of your business, you will probably also have to shell out money for almost everything past the absolute basics. That could mean paying for enough storage space to host your photos for a gallery or your online store, or getting some of the premium features that you need to build the site of your dreams. Plus, you’ll definitely have to pay money for a custom domain. Even worse, you could build your site for a couple of weeks only to find out that it was a trial account and you’ll be locked out of all your hard work unless you pony up a credit card number.
Can look unprofessional
There are a variety of ways that DIY websites can make you and your brand look unprofessional, and that usually starts with the URL. You’ll often see websites like mybusiness.wix.com or mybusiness.squarespace.com. These can often be red flags to potential customers, making your business appear unprofessional.
In addition, although some free services say that your site will be mobile optimized, that usually means that they have a few guidelines in place to help you create a mobile site. With a free plan, you’re not going to get options to create multiple layouts of a page based on device size, and with smartphone usage doubling since 2011, you’re losing out on a lot of customers if you don’t have a good mobile site.
Lastly, your free site is probably going to be chock full of advertisements that you can’t control. You won’t be able to edit the placement of these ads or the content of them. You’re at the mercy of your web service to make sure your brand isn’t associated with something you don’t want to be.
Will hurt your SEO and your business
Free DIY website builders will give you the smallest sliver of space possible on a jam-packed and shared server. That matters because it leaves you more vulnerable to hackers and intruders who just need to break into one of the hundreds or thousands of sites on the server to gain access to yours.
On a much less scary note, these crowded servers and the limited bandwidth dedicated to your site mean that it’s going to load really slowly. How many times have you given up on a website because it was taking too long to load? Your potential customers will do the exact same thing if your site isn’t as fast as absolutely possible. Plus, page load speed is a factor that Google uses in determining your page rank. It may not be the biggest factor when it comes to SEO, but every little bit counts.
Stuck with proprietary options
If you’re still hooked on using a DIY website builder at this point, you must really love it. That’s good, because you’re going to be stuck with only their options for ways to customize your site. If you want a contact form brand with more security, an email marketing tool that’s tailored to your needs or a photo gallery that shows off your features in a certain way, good luck. Every DIY website platform is going to have its limitations, either due to partnerships or just their choice of available features. A good web designer doesn’t have those limitations, and can build you just about anything you need using a multitude of resources.
Developers can’t rescue you
At the top, we mentioned that we’ve had customers come to us looking to upgrade their site from one of these DIY website companies. While we’re always happy to lend a helping hand to small businesses in need, moving these sites is as hard as starting from scratch. Most of these free website builders don’t allow you access to your site files, even if you’ve upgraded your plan. This means that developers can’t touch the code to edit your site like you want it and usually end up having to start from scratch on a different platform to solve the problem.
You don’t own your website
This may seem like a no-brainer that you don’t truly own your website if you haven’t paid for it, but the ramifications of this are potentially catastrophic.
Just take a look at SquareSpace’s Terms of Service, and you’ll notice:
- They can terminate your site at any time without cause (Section 12).
- They make no guarantees that your site will always be up and working, nor will they guarantee that emails sent to or from your site will work. (Section 15).
- They can make pretty much any change they want at any time (Section 17).
However, our favorite line from the ToS comes from the beginning of section 17:
“IN THE EVENT OF ANY PROBLEM WITH THE SITE, THE SERVICES, THE MATERIALS, YOU AGREE THAT YOUR SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE REMEDY IS TO CEASE USING THE SITE, THE SERVICES AND THE MATERIALS.”
How’s that for customer service? Essentially, if you don’t like it when there’s a problem, you can leave.
Websites don’t have to be a pain, they don’t have to take up a bunch of your time, and hiring a web developer from the start doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. We can create you the site of your dreams, and if there’s a problem we’ll always be there to fix it. Most importantly, we’re not going to charge you a thing to get a quote and see exactly what we’d be able to do for you, so shoot us an email today!