Website Builders. Why Not?

Many of you have no doubt seen the latest 1&1 Website Design commercials. They claim that with over 120 templates to choose from you can easily and quickly create a beautiful website for your business. It sounds simple enough, and certainly seems cheap enough. That’s probably why so many people have given it a try and why many other companies have tried to emulate that model. It breeds success for the company, but does it really mean success for your small business?

It Could Work, If Conditions are Right

In certain circumstances signing on for one of these do-it-yourself plans can be a great idea. They oftentimes have a fairly solid set of basic tools and sometimes offer even more advanced functionality such as PDF viewers and flash animation. If you’re looking to quickly build a splash page or a simple site to get up and running that will require no maintenance, then this could be a good route for you.

This can oftentimes be ideal for informal groups, 1-page personal bios, or brief projects. However, for permanent and professional business solutions you’ll want to look elsewhere. And here’s why.

Lock-inBill Gates Vendor Lock-In

First and foremost, as a small business you don’t want to fall for all the trickery that is out there. Free web design software packages are trickery. Let’s say you build your lovely new site with 1&1’s website designer for cheap. Well, what happens when they charge a new huge fee next year that you can’t afford? What happens when you need a feature they don’t offer? What happens when their customer service is terrible, your site is constantly unavailable, and you want to pick up and leave?

The short: You need to start all over again. If you sign on with one of these website builder hosting providers, you are at their mercy. Your site WILL NOT be compatible anywhere else and you will not be able to move it. You are stuck with that company forever and your content will stay there. No ifs ands or buts.

Restricted to their feature set

Sure, some of these website builders are getting pretty tricky with some bells and whistles. But what happens when you need a cow bell and they only offer tiny dinner bells? The same could be said with any number of features. When you buy into a static website builder you are limiting to the tools which they provide. If you ever need to use something other than their select few options, you will have to start from scratch, lose everything, and go elsewhere. Now that doesn’t sound like fun.

SEOsearch find

These sites can be harder to find. Search Engine Optimization is the process of making your website clean and visible to Google and the rest of the search engines out there. With a website builder, and often little knowledge of the intricate details of SEO, your website may look good but it will never be found on its own. These builders lack the enhancements to make your site appear on major search engines and your overall visibility on the web will be hurt.

Get what you pay for

If you don’t believe us, then just believe this old adage: “you get what you pay for.” Or is it “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” Either way, both sayings apply. Don’t try to do something on your own that normally commands some expertise. If you don’t really understand what you’re doing, you can hurt your business more than help it.

As we like to say, your website is like your online office and is many people’s first impression of your business. You want this impression to be the best it can be. So why cheap out on your online space when you wouldn’t dream of cheaping out on your offline space? Sure, you COULD do business out of a trailer but wouldn’t you rather spend a little extra money and get an office that will really help your business to succeed? Don’t purchase the online equivalent of a trailer to do business out of. Get a real office space.

Conclusion

Building your business website with a website builder may seem like a good idea at first, but upon closer inspection it may be more trouble than it is worth. Few business people have the time or expertise to build this site in the first place, even if it is in a “easy to use” builder (yeah, just like that playhouse was easy to put together last Christmas). Instead, save yourself the time and hastle and avoid other serious pitfalls in the process. Future proof your online office by giving it a real home that is easily found and equipped with everything your business needs for success.

Don’t fall for the web builder gimmicks. Fall for a web management company who will give you more than just a beautiful website – we’ll give you an online reputation.

Written by

David is an avid social entrepreneur and Boston sports fanatic. He founded Diversified Data Technologies way back in 2009 and stuck around to see it grow. His party quarks include unnecessary dancing and being an overly hospitable host. When looking, he can be found capturing the twitterverse at @DLanphear, being professional on LinkedIn, or bouncing around town with Foursquare.

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