In this article, I want to talk about website builders. Of course, there is an entirely different view of builders depending on whom you talk to.
On one side, many small business owners use builders to make an inexpensive website for their business. Also, many graphic designers use these builders to provide a service they are technically not skilled enough to offer. So these builders give both groups an element of comfort and, ultimately, provide them with an end-product that doesn't look horrible. But, of course, in saying it "doesn't look horrible," a caveat is automatically added that implies the website also doesn't look great.
The other side of this argument is that there is never a reason to use a builder, and the end-product is always inferior. I fall in the middle of this debate, but I tend to side more with this group than with the first group.
Weebly, Squarespace, and Wix are popular web platform builders you may be familiar with. Even Godaddy offers a simplistic web builder program that can be used to create a website. These are often great for small business people who do not have the budget to hire a professional to design a website.
It is vital to understand my opposition to this thinking as it is a shared sentiment by many. There are only a handful of scenarios where this is a good idea. For example, this may be a viable option if you're a small business owner working nights and weekends while also working a full-time job to make ends meet while you grow your business. I'm sure there are other scenarios as well. However, if you're reading this article, there is a good chance that you need to stop making excuses and hire a professional.
Trust me; I understand that this feels like a conflict of interest. You're reading this on the website of a company that offers web design services. That said, you need to understand that I'd be far happier for you to hire a competitor to build your site than for you to make it yourself. Even if you're a graphic designer, you probably don't understand the best user experience for the website or a proper conversion flow. If you're the business owner and understand sales, you probably don't know how people interact online with a website. If you're in the rare group of people that understand everything it takes, you probably own a web design business or a business that offers those services. Truthfully, this may seem harsh, but it is true.
You don't own your website when you host with a website builder company. Yes, you might be able to move customers and orders, but that will be a complicated process, and the companies behind these builders do not offer any tools to help you leave them. Even Shopify, a platform that we work with, is complicated to leave once you've joined it.
We choose to work with WordPress and Shopify as our preferred platforms. This choice is due to the overwhelming advantages these platforms offer for eCommerce and the ability to add monthly recurring revenue to your business.
With WordPress specifically, it's easy to pack up your site and move elsewhere. While I'm sure some hosts try to hold your website hostage, the truth is, you can take a WordPress site anywhere, putting you in control of your online business if that's what you want. Wapiti provides high-end hosting. We host websites for both; clients we've developed for, and clients fed up with cheap hosting providers and wanted something more solid.
WordPress (and Shopify) offers a vibrant developer community. This means if you want something specific, it probably exists and costs pennies on the dollar compared to custom development work.
The developer community referenced above has created quite a few builder options. These builders (WPBakery, Elementor, Beaver Builder, Astra, etc.) exist to fill this very same void for people that don't want to pay to get it done right. But, of course, the problem with these builders is precisely the same problem with platforms like Wix and Squarespace - they limit what you can do to make it easy for the novice.
The team at Wapiti is versed in building websites around the WordPress structure and ecosystem. In addition, we are fully capable of hand-coding sites from the ground up. So why do we use a builder?
It's simple. The builder we use saves us close to 50% of the time we would spend hand-coding from scratch but gives us the full capabilities to do anything and everything we need. This builder is called Oxygen Builder.
Oxygen is powerful and convenient, but the novice will shy away from using it because it has a steep learning curve for someone that doesn't already know frontend development basics. This is also the beauty of Oxygen, however. A client that wants to jump that hurdle can have full customization ability of their site. If they don't, we can use Advanced Custom Fields to enable a ton of customization without the learning curve.
If you're serious about your business, hire a professional to build your site. A website builder is rarely ever worth it in the end. If you want to make changes yourself, hire an agency that enables you to make those customizations. If you don't want to, hire an agency that makes it clear and easy to make minor edits and then rely on them for further customization.
Website builders might seem like a great idea initially, but I've yet to see a well-functioning business that loved being stuck on a builder platform apart from Shopify. Set your business up for success and hire a professional to present your business to the world. If you're looking for that professional, contact Wapiti. We're happy to help.