Squarespace, Wix, Weebly and Godaddy Website Builders are all the rage. You've heard those commercials that promise you a 10,000 page website for $0.99. It still makes me cringe when I see the questions in those Facebook Groups from members that ask, “I'm starting my business and trying to choose between [Website Builder #1] and [Website Builder #2], which one do you all recommend?” and everyone comments and answers with one of the website builders they use.
My answer is “WordPress (software).” It' is also known as WordPress self-installed or WordPress.org.
It's not because it's the only way to build a website. There is of course Drupal or HTML or Joomla amongst other options.
My answer is simply Wordpress because it's the most user-friendly out the other non-website builders to launch a website. It also powers the majority of the internet and provides the most support and functionality for even the average computer person or the seasoned web developer. Basically, I believe it is a good baseline between being able to custom build a website while having the easy of use of a website builder.
But, why not just use one of the website builders?
There are a few reasons that I wanted to explain below. Please note: I use WordPress because it's our CMS (Content Management System) of choice but it could be one of the non-website builders I mentioned above:
- Do you prefer McDonald's or a Homemade Burger? The reality is that these website builders are McDonalds. They are built to mass produce. They lack the ability to be fully customized to meet individual needs of clients. If you work with a designer that mentions that you should use Squarespace and don't mention WordPress, I would probably guess that it's their limitations and not because of WordPress. Theres so much that you can do with a WordPress Website including e-commerce, membership site, blog, full-complete website, online brochure and on and on. While this might be an overly simplistic comparison, if you want more customization now or anticipate more in the future, don't trap yourself into using a website builder.
- Cost – The reality is that if you want to take time to learn WordPress.org (there's lots of free resources, even some that we offer). It's really comparable or even less expensive than website builders. You have to buy your domain, purchase hosting and install the WordPress software (it's open source which means it's free). Sometimes, you might purchase a premium theme or particular plugins. Now, hiring a developer or designer costs for their time and expertise is not free but this could be an investment for your business or organization. The difference between setting a website up just because versus setting up a website with a strategic focus like generating leads and opportunities is enormous. It can also be the difference between you building your marketing funnel from day 1 versus wondering why “you're not getting anything from your website.” Finally, it's important to understand what the real cost is. How much do you value your time? If it takes you 30 hours to build your website and you value your time at $100/hour. Unless that you were quoted more than $3,000 for that website, you could have focused on generating more revenue.
- Website Speed – When you mass produce website (see #1) it reduces your ability to access website files which are sometimes a way that you can increase the speed of your website. Compressing images is also important but you can't reach the files on website builders which restricts your ability to increase the load speed of your website. This is a ranking factor for SEO and I think it will be increasingly important.
- Customization – Your business is unique so why wouldn't you want your website to be to? WordPress uses themes (a little different from templates) but again you are limited by the number of templates that are available on website builders. WordPress (so is Joomla) is open source which basically means that it is widely support more so than any other website platform. I compare a WordPress Theme to a new outfit. WordPress itself is a software (your body) and you select a theme (outfit) to dress up for the world.
- Functionality – One of the things about WordPress and many other platforms is that you are able to add functionality to the website. Do you want to add a Facebook widget? There's a plugin for that. Do you want to add a slider on your website? There's a plugin for that. Want to make your site a membership site? There's a plugin for that. Want to take payments on your website? There's a plugin for that? Want to change the fonts? Download the plugin.Want to add a gallery? There's a plugin for that….You get the idea.
I fully understand that budget is a factor but I think that you should really understand what you are getting and what limits you may encounter by building a website with a website builder. Their commercials don't mention some of these things that I mentioned above. At the end of the day, you don't want to bankrupt your business or organization for a website (especially neglecting marketing) but you want to be really clear about what you want to do with your website today and 5 years from now. This will help you have an honest question with you and your team so that you can make a strategic decision.