Here’s a little secret. Most website builders have terrible Search Engine Optimization. They do not offer very robust tools when it comes to optimizing your website for search traffic from Google. Also, a good design firm can offer a ton of benefit when it comes to proper keyword research and website optimization. Therefore in this instance of web designer vs website builder, the designer wins.
Thanks for the write-up Nash! This looks like a very comprehensive list. I feel these site builders are great for individuals just starting out, as it does get them started online. Being in the website development space, we find many of the clients that come to us have previously started in this direction, and are now looking to take their business to the next level. While these tools are great for building… Without the knowledge of design, layout and general website design principles, these can often leave the site much less effective in conveying the brands messaging, telling the proper story and converting visitors into customers. The other main issue we see is the time that it takes for a new business owner to create a sub par site when they should be focusing on other aspects of their business.
Kevin, With website builders like Wix or Weebly, you can use them for free and there isn't a time limit. However, with the free plans, you won't be able to connect your own domain name to the website, and you will be limited to certain functions. But you can definitely publish a website. Further, all hosting services are provided by the website builders listed above. So you don't have to get your own hosting services. Jeremy
When dynamic web pages first developed, they were typically coded directly in languages such as Perl, PHP or ASP. Some of these, notably PHP and ASP, used a 'template' approach where a server-side page resembled the structure of the completed client-side page and data was inserted into places defined by 'tags'. This was a quicker means of development than coding in a purely procedural coding language such as Perl.
"As someone who came to web design from graphic design I work visually & use WYSIWYG web builders with some limited code knowledge - enough to do some minor editing, insert code into head/body etc but that's about it. However the spectre of responsive web design has been weighing on my mind of late, even though I can & do create dedicated mobile pages it is a lot more work, although I do prefer the look of dedicated pages as responsive tend to be quite plain & all the same. But I know having a responsive option would be a good thing to be able to offer if I get clients that want it. Your Mobirise is the first responsive web builder I have seen that is actually easy so importantly - intuitive!! Thanks!"
A domain name is the bit of the URL (the long address in your browser’s search bar) that identifies a web page — in this case your website. You can register them separately at sites like GoDaddy and Namecheap, but website builders offer to do it for you when you sign up with them. Most provide it for free (at least initially), while a handful charge a few extra bucks.
I personally don’t think site builders will ever replace web designers/developers completely. Most site builders are targeted at small businesses and could never meet the demands required for larger businesses with all their complex requirements. I think Shopify plus is the only product trying to take on the larger CMS platforms right now (e.g. Magenta, Demandware) in the eCommerce space
I agree with Jeremy. The purchase of the website should really go hand-in-hand with the business startup or company formation. Many startups think it doesn't really matter to get that best domain name, whether it is an exact match keyword, or a brandable name keyword, until after they've started up the business. This is so backwards thinking. Your domain name should be an integral part of your business and development plan, if any significant part of your business is going to come from your online presence. Taken to the extreme, if you are an online marketer, you don't want you domain name to be AppleTurnover.com, because your business premises are in Apple Street. and your company domain is Apple Online Marketing Agents, and AppleTurnover.com (which is anyway surely taken) was the closest name available. It needs careful planning. Of course depending on the size of your business. rgds stu
Web designers use a variety of different tools depending on what part of the production process they are involved in. These tools are updated over time by newer standards and software but the principles behind them remain the same. Web designers use both vector and raster graphics editors to create web-formatted imagery or design prototypes. Technologies used to create websites include W3C standards like HTML and CSS, which can be hand-coded or generated by WYSIWYG editing software. Other tools web designers might use include mark up validators and other testing tools for usability and accessibility to ensure their websites meet web accessibility guidelines.
Some sources state that 25% of the websites using content systems are using WordPress. Although started purely for blogging, now you can create amazing websites for any vertical using pre-made themes and templates. The advantages of WP is a huge community (that works to improve the product), and large marketplaces to cater for plugins, designs, technical help and much more. The learning curve is not too steep, but possibilities are endless.
Webnode offers a dynamic solution for small businesses in need of a simple, online store. The platform’s free ecommerce package includes 1GB bandwidth, 10MB storage space and enables you to sell up to 10 products. In order to expand that store, you’ll need to upgrade to one of Webnode’s premium packages — but its free offerings are ideal for a part-time micro-business.
Doodlekit is one of the most unusable and unintuitive website builders on the market. Editing the limited number of templates is confusing and convoluted and taking advantage of the advertised features is more trouble than it’s worth. Despite my extensive history with site builders and web design, I found myself confused and frustrated when trying to make even the simplest changes on my Doodlekit website.
"I just wanted to tell you how much I love your product — after coding sites since 1999 — I can have a world class landing page or simple site up in minutes. I’m having a freaking blast using this product of yours! :-) I am a perfect user for Mobirise Simple Website Builder, as I am that entrepreneur, the guy needing to frequently put up great web pages and small sites for new ideas, products, events, etc. in the course of running my busy business. Coding dumdums like me all over the world will flock to Mobirise Free Website Builder by the thousands and thousands for such a drag and drop platform for producing gorgeous, responsive, static sites with truly ZERO coding."
Speaking of usability, website builders are also made to be extremely functional and usable by even novice users. An average website can be built in a matter of hours and changes can be made in minutes. Something that users often fail to keep in mind is that a website is never completed. It is always a work in progress that requires changes and edits and they give users the ability to make snap edits and changes.
You can download WordPress and install it directly to any hosting service you want to use. Doing this is more complicated, though, and requires more effort. If you want to rearrange the layout of a particular template, for instance, you’ll have to modify the code to do so. Plugins exist and can help, but installation often requires more than a single click.
Although people tend to find your site through a branded search in Google, it’s still important to make your domain easy to spell/type out. If it requires a lot of effort to type correctly, due to trying to spell it, the length or the use of un-memorable words or sounds, you’ve probably kissed goodbye to a good portion of your branding and marketing value.
The templates are high quality, but nobody wants to have a website which looks like another. While that might be hard to avoid with the number of websites on the internet (tens of billions), giving it your best will surely pay off. A quality theme is surely a great start for a website, but the extensive admin panel gives you a lot of creative freedom to express yourself in your website, whether it is a personal blog or an online store.
Thank you so much – your evaluations will save my artist group members so much time and frustration. Wix and Weebly were my short list too. I recommended Weebly to them last year, as most members are not tech-literate and Weebly seemed the least frustrating for a first timer. Also, fewer and simpler templates were a plus in this case, rather than a problem. I will have another look at Wix now to see if the issues I had in my test site have been fixed. I agree with your comment on the Weebly statistics (e.g. it counted my edit tweeks as hits) and the constant upsell ads. As noted here by others, Weebly’s support by phone or online chat are excellent. I will have another look at Wix now and see if that might work better for us now that more members have some online experience. Thank you again for your excellent and well-written research.