Published on February 14, 2019
It’s 2019, and the Internet is full of website builder services. Wix, Squarespace, and GoDaddy all offer users the ability to create modern, professional-looking websites completely online, and without knowing a single line of code. Many of these website builders offer the service for free or for monthly fees, so why would anyone even consider paying a developer to make sites for them anymore?
As it turns out, there are plenty of good reasons, but they can be boiled down to design, features, and cost. It’s inexcusable in this day and age for a business to lose sales because of their website, and whether it’s poor design, inadequate features, or the business trying to be cheap, these lost sales are avoidable by making a sound investment in one of the most valuable assets of the Information Age, a professionally developed website.
Every website builder these days offers about twenty or thirty different design templates. These are essentially site layouts that allow users to fill in their own data in pre-set boxes. This can result in some very professional-looking sites, but by now, the world has seen every single one of these templates multiple times. Anyone looking to have a website that stands out from the crowd should be wary of using templates lest they appear generic. A website’s design should also be consistent with your brand; it should use the same colors, fonts, and styles as everything else you do. Unless you want to rebrand yourself around one of these templates, you should definitely invest in a professional web designer.
This is perhaps the best reason to hire a professional: they can take your vision for your brand that’s been stuck in your head and bring it to life. They can transform an idea into a hard design that you can see. Some developers will even do an initial consultation for free. There’s no reason in this day and age of technology that you should have to compromise your brand and your vision.
Website builders love to boast about the multitude of features they offer. Wix and Squarespace even split their lists of features up over several pages to make them seem more numerous. What they don’t want you to realize is that every single one of those features was built by a developer, then watered down to make them usable by as many of their customers as possible. For example, on Wix, an online shop selling German car parts has to use the same e-commerce interface as an online shop selling cosmetic bag subscriptions. From a business perspective, the user interface should be very different between these two stores, yet they have to use the same e-commerce template and hope they can shoehorn their product offering into the interface. That’s the opposite of how it should work. Your website is an extension of your brand, and therefore it should be built around your products and services.
And what happens when you decide to grow? Many of the features on these website builders aren’t scalable, so even if it seems to work for your needs right now, it won’t support any type of expansion in scope. Wix’s restaurant feature allows users to create online menus and make reservations, but what happens when they decide to open a second restaurant? There is no option to select a location because the feature has been made for the lowest common denominator of restaurant owners. Additionally, while there are many custom web services out there that you could pay extra for, there is no guarantee that these external services will be compatible with Wix or your existing management systems.
The better solution would be to have your website custom-built for your needs right from the start. A professional developer can build all the features you need, in exactly the way you need them. They can also suggest and implement any changes or upgrades you may need down the line.
Finally, we look at costs. Most website builders have an option where you can build a website for free. Of course, nothing is ever truly free. The free version of Wix requires you to use their subdomain (yoursite.wix.com), which doesn’t give you the professionalism or brand identity of your own domain.
Of course, you can have these ads removed by paying a higher monthly fee, but then these costs begin to add up very quickly, especially if you decide to add any extra features to your site. You’re locked into paying this monthly fee as long as you want to have your website up, because when using a website builder service you’re essentially renting your own website. Also keep in mind that you’re still going to have to have someone creating and editing the content on your site. If this is someone you’re already paying to do other tasks, there are the costs of their lost time to consider. If you’re going to be the one making the content for your site, then it’s your lost time. How much is that worth per hour to you and your business? This makes your website a budget expense – a liability.
The takeaway? Having your website professionally developed will have a higher initial cost, but once the site is built, it’s your property – an asset that you can use in the long term to generate revenue. Operating or maintenance costs are substantially lower, and they could be zero if you choose to make your changes in-house.