We’ve come a long way from Geocities in the past fifteen years or so – but Geocities has never really left the website design industry. Even now, there are a number of website builder services which people and businesses use – sometimes with great results – to power their online presences.
Are these services really worth the time you’ll save using them, though?
What are these services, and what do they give you?
There are a lot of website building services out there – the most popular being systems like Weebly, Squarespace, or GoDaddy’s proprietary Website Builder service. There are even ultra-fancy services like The Grid.io, which uses AI to create websites based on formulas you interact with as a user.
Each of these lets you accomplish varying flavours of the same task; getting a website online and visible really fast, without a lot of technical knowledge. What’s behind the curtain in terms of additional functionality differs.
Squarespace is pretty good with presenting livable mobile versions of their pre-built themes – a huge bonus these days, with mobile-friendly website design being such a big deal.
Weebly’s design tools are a bit better on mobile – and its eCommerce capabilities are passable, but very minimal still. It’s got a reputation for being slightly cumbersome to work with, compared to WordPress in particular.
GoDaddy has the benefits you’d expect, being an internal tool from a domain registrar – but it’s very simple, often to a fault.
The Grid, while an amazing idea, is part of a new wave of website builder systems, and as such isn’t quite as robust as you’d expect. It also has a history of delivering heavy websites, which isn’t the best news these days, with impatient mobile users.
What’s the actual value of a website builder service?
Time and effort savings, really. When you sign up for a service like Weebly or Squarespace, you’re basically making a decision about how much effort you want to put into your website.
The upkeep on one of these services ranges from free, to about double what you’d expect to pay for a self-hosted website – which makes sense, as you’re not then paying separately for hosting. By locking yourself into the tools the service provides, you’re electing to focus on deployment more than design – which can be good for those of us who need something today, right now, as quick as possible.
With any of these tools, you’ll have a certain amount of control over your design. You’ll be able to make changes to colours, probably upload a logo, and edit your content fairly easily. If that’s all you need, great! You’ll be able to deploy your website and edit it as needed, without a lot of consideration.
Where does the value end?
The bigger your needs, or the more specific your taste and brand, the less any website builder service will serve you, and the more you’ll want a personal touch from a professional website designer.
Any business with a branding scheme to follow, a desire to execute a content strategy or digital marketing plan, or which has a bigger library of eCommerce functions their website must complete will likely hate working with any of these services – and want to make sure they’re represented online by a fully considered, tailored website experience.
No self-service website builder will ever proofread your text with a copywriter’s attention to form and readability. It won’t tell you the colours of your images clash, or that your pictures at full “I just took this with my DSLR camera” resolution will bog down their websites. They may work around these concerns with some semi-intelligent tools, but until those functions become anywhere near as good as the designer’s eye, it’s still limiting the potential of your website.
Website builders are a case of “Useful for” rather than just “Useful.”
The same way that owning a pair of running shoes doesn’t really make you a runner, using a website builder service to design your website will only get you so far.
If your goal is simply to get something visible for a new business, or display specific information for a limited time campaign – then you’ll probably get some decent dollar-to-effort mileage out of one of these services.
However, you’ll be missing the core benefits of having a website design professional to work with – firm control of your design and branding, and the designer’s eye making sure everything meshes well.
Source: Hello BLOG