Development    3 min read

Using a website builder doesn’t always make sense

Website Builders

Last week I was talking to a client about a side project he was putting together. After enthusiastically describing the details of his new idea, he reluctantly broached the topic of website builders.

His first inclination was to use something like Squarespace to get a site up as fast as possible. Upon signing up for the service and fiddling with the website builder, he was less than thrilled. It dawned on him that he was having a hard time finding a solution that fit his needs.

He vented for a while then asked my opinion on the whole thing. After waxing poetic for the better part of a half hour, it dawned on me that others might find themselves in this same situation. So I gathered my thoughts in hopes of shedding some light on their purpose and why they might not always be the best option.

Here’s a common scenario

You have an idea for a product or service. The first thing you do is put together a website so you can share your idea with the world. And since you’re in the beginning stages, you probably don’t have a ton of money to shell out for professional web design services.

As such, you go online to look for a fiscally responsible solution. So you end up Googling “cheap website” and get hit over the head with ads from Squarespace, GoDaddy, and many, many more.

You sign up for one of these website builder services and it becomes clear that you’ve gotten in way over your head. Shouldn’t this be easier?

Website builders shouldn't be this hard

The idea was easy compared to building the website

Website builders aren’t one size fits all

While website builder solutions can have a lot of customization options, it’s definitely not a magic bullet. At the core, these platforms are no more than technical site building software. Squarespace and their competition have spent a lot of time and money to make their process easier to understand and more user friendly. However, if the web isn’t your thing, you might not make it past the initial steps and give up before you’ve gotten anywhere.

But let’s be positive—let’s say you make it through the preliminary process and you get your site up and running. The next step is where website builders show cracks in the armor. And that’s getting your site to stand out when all the website builder templates look the same.

Little boxes on the hillside...

🎶 Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky… 🎶

We all know a good brand experience is memorable. You want your website to portray your personality and reflect the ideals and values of your newly-formed company.

But the fact is, most people with big ideas aren’t designers. But slap some “customization options” in a website builder and they’ll spend hours trying to poke, prod, and pry their brand, ideas, and personality in to a pre-built layout. It’s agonizing.

If you have unlimited free time or are clinically insane, fighting with website building software might not be a big deal. But for an overwhelming majority of startup founders and product people, they simply don’t have time for this nonsense.

Time = Money

If the scenario I’ve described above sounds familiar (or something you want to avoid like the plague), there are still options available that won’t break the bank.

The easiest thing to do is to hire a web designer or developer to help ease the pain of customization. Someone with expertise and familiarity with website builder tools can point out pitfalls and help you avoid costly mistakes.

Buying a block of a professional’s time will certainly cost more than the $15/month Squarespace is charging you, but ask yourself, “How much is my time worth?“. The answer is likely “a lot”—especially when launching a new product.

Parting thoughts

It’s simple: Your website will be the first touch point a potential new customer has with your product. As such, it’s worth spending the time and money on creating a lasting first impression. Having a half-assed website builder template that lacks professionalism and personality is a sure way to make repel potential customers.

Website builders can get you up and running quickly. But make sure to take the time to work with a professional to assure you get the results you’re looking for. You’ll be glad you did.

Written by @mattdowney

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