In recent years web design market has seen an explosive growth of a new type of service: free site builders. It is a business model where a software company builds a platform and then sells ongoing subscriptions to access and use it. The 2 main advantages of this approach are convenience & low price. Most of the site builders even offer a basic package for free.
But let’s take a look at the two PROs more closely.
How convenient are the site builders?
While you are reading the promos and how-to’s, it seems to be extremely easy to build a site with site builders. They offer predefined templates and many nice features one can use.
To quote Webnode site builder: “You don’t need a developer to make a beautiful website.”
To answer Webnode site builder: yeah, you do. Why?
Well, as soon as you start actually building a site in a site builder, things start to look – shall we say – more real-life. The images you use do not fit the layout, your logo makes header a mile tall, site looks all weird on your smartphone, the nice features and add-ons lack exactly the little detail that you especially need. The whole things starts to fall apart and the site looks more and more like one made by an amateur. Which IS actually the case.
A website can really make or break your business. If your visitors get an impression that your site was built by a 13 y.o. who likes to play with computers, how likely do you think it is for them to take you seriously and trust you with their money?
Are they really free?
The short answer is NO.
One of the most popular site builders on the market is Wix. If your are going with their free package you will get:
- Domain name like www.wix.com/yourbusinessname
- Wix branded ads on each page of your site
To connect a proper domain, get rid of ads and remove a low bandwidth limit, one would need to pay 16,5€ / month if paid monthly or 12,5€ / month if paid yearly. That is 150€ / year minimum. Still looks cheap enough.
But let’s think about time and effort you invest into building your site yourself. There will be hours and hours of reading documentation, meddling with set up and searching for free images in attempt to get a half-way decent looking site. So, unless you consider your time to be worthless, site builders are not REALLY free or cheap.
50-bucks WordPress themes
In case of low-cost WordPress themes the “How convenient are the site builders?” section also applies. “Better” still, you will also need to:
The time you will spend on building your site will be substantially longer than in case of site builders, while the outcome will be the same or worse.
Another major problem is the complexity of set up and code bloat. It will take quite a learning curve to set up both layout and features right. And the resulting code volume will be tenfold in comparison to the professionally developed website This will potentially will increase your site load time.
Will you really spend just the 50-bucks?
The short answer is – again – NO.
Add price of domain rental, hosting, SSL. Add the value of your time. Add the fact that the result will range from “hideous” to “OK, let’s keep it for 6 month and then hire a pro for a redesign”.
Are site builders and cheap themes a big no-no?
Well, it depends. When can site builders and cheap themes be used?
If you need a site to represent your business, best course of action is to hire professionals to build it. In the long run, it won’t just save you time and money, it will MAKE you money!