Nowadays building a modern, functional DIY website is possible for almost anyone, given that they are ready to invest some time figuring things out. Here in Canaima, we believe DIY websites or websites done using tools like Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, Shopify, and others can be an amazing tool for starting or small business. Yes, we said it! We are web designers and developers but still, the truth is the truth. Code-less builders are getting better, but still: are they good enough for your business’ website? Let’s start checking out this quick infographic:
Now that we checked the basic points, let’s discuss each further:
Do you want your website to be totally customized?
Let’s be frank: not every business needs a totally customized website. Far are the days where templates were really ugly and outdated, today there are a lot of themes or templates with up-to-date, really cool looking designs. And further than that? A lot of small business want a rather simple website, so it’s not true custom web design is the key for everyone.
However many of our clients experience that the number of customizations (or the effort they imply) is sometimes insufficient for their needs, even if they want simpler websites. Sometimes adding little touches of color, small details, etc. can really give personality to a website, but more than that, what’s not taken into account when you decide to do your own website using DIY website builders is that the most important thing in a website is the design itself, meaning: the sliders images, the banners, the general concept, the font, etc. If you stripe a website to just the layout just like DIY website builders do you end up with a sum of columns distributions, maybe some cool scrolling effect, and “there goes an image, here some text”, etc. You can do this exercise for every website, no matter how complex it may be, and it’s pretty much the same always. This takes us directly to the next point:
Do you have the time to do the photo selection, editing, copy writing, etc.?
The same layout can look extremely different just because some brand has better photos, the design of the icons or the graphic content go better with the copy, the banners were designed professionally so the quality stands out, etc. Using DIY website builders basically means you have access to put and take out some elements (images, texts, lists, etc.) in a given layout. Can you turn that into something awesome? Totally! But it may mean being proficient using tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, knowing where and how to find copyright-free quality photos without breaking the bank, etc. Not only it takes time to develop the concept you want to recreate in your website (comparing competitors, looking out to what the recent web design trends are, etc.), but it also takes time to create each banner or graphic content you may use, plus writing the copy and making sure it’s relevant to your target and business objectives, etc.
You can add more “required knowledge” like for example user experience, responsiveness, etc. Building a website has many, many sides to it and creating an awesome website is hard without investing some time into it. You can find awesome content on the web explaining how to do all this using a DIY website solution and we’ve seen some amazing websites done by non-designers/developers. However, it’s also true that creating something good requires a mix of abilities or the time to learn them. Many of our clients come to us after trying to build their own DIY website not because they can’t learn, but because when considering the cost they decide their time adds a lot to it.
“I want to try!”, that’s awesome! How about responsive design?
Responsive design is tricky because it depends on the original design. Some things may adapt easily and others won’t. Some things will adapt to the size but won’t be readable or the display will be unattractive or not optimized for mobile. There is no easy solution! As web designers, we can create “rules” to determine how something looks in any size range, for example, each centimeter we could create a new set of display rules. The number of “jumps” or “size-versions” depends on the cost of the website and how the content adapts, here in Canaima Marketing we make sure your website looks good in 4 different steps or size standards (small mobile, large mobile, tablet, and desktop; both in horizontal and vertical view in each size!) but sometimes it takes a lot of code. The idea is that this is not something easy to automatize.
This is why responsive design is a bit lacking when we talk about DIY websites. Some DIY website services like Squarespace or Weebly offer responsive templates, but others like Wix don’t and the layouts are kept more simple to make the responsive side a bit easier to tackle. A customized web design will make sure your website looks goods in a lot of sizes and will create unique solutions, optimizing the content display for each device.
I don’t mind if my website is not totally responsive. But, do you want to own your website?
The majority of DIY websites services like Wix or Weebly host your website on their own servers, and you can’t access to the code itself, this means that if you stop paying the service you stop having your website or your website will show the logo of the website builder service, which looks unprofessional. When we develop your website, for example, the website is yours; you can change your web design company and we’ll give full access to your website. You can choose to keep paying our hosting services or just change hosting, and it’s okay. Your domain and website are totally yours.
Moreover, for most of these DIY website services, you can only have a custom domain name if you choose their higher plans, not their free or lower cost ones. The same goes for your corporative emails, as you don’t have a specific hosting they provide you with an external service that on the long run can be costly. This takes us to the last item…
Is it really cheaper to use DIY website builders?
It can be, depending on what you want to achieve and how much time you can dedicate to building your website. Also, different web design companies have different prices. As we can’t speak for others, let’s speak about as an example: our lowest plan includes hosting, domain, up to 7 pages, emails with your domain, one-year support and maintenance and the possibility of having your website in a second language. This costs you a one-time payment of $460 + yearly renovation of the hosting and domain service.
If you buy a website from Wix, to obtain similar benefits, you’ll need to go for the Unlimited plan, at $16/mo ($12,48 in the annual plan). If you take the compromise of the annual plan that’s $149 each year. Renewing the domain after the first year is $14,99, and preserving your custom email (at $4 each month) sums $48. The second year you’ll be paying $212.
Is it still cheaper? Yes and no: depends. With our Starter Plan, you won’t have to invest the time to build your website or to find how to add a widget to show your social media, or how to configure a contact form, which add-ons to use on each platform, etc. With us having a slider, or a form with personalized sections, integrating your social media, and many more things are as simple as asking for them. Plus, you just have to show us what websites you like to get a customized design.
So, it a DIY website builder good enough for your business?
Our opinion is: it can be! If you have not only the time but the will to dedicate some hours to learning and trying things until you build your own website, this tools can create amazing results. However there are many things involved in building a website, if you look at it only from the price side it may seem cheaper but your time, how professional the results looks, how your brand is displayed on different devices, how tied or not are you from the DIY website service provider, etc. should be taken into consideration too.
Share your story with us! Have you tried to build your own website, how was the experience?