Almost every web hosting company out there (Breezi, Weebly, Jimdo, InMotion, Web.com, Wix, Square, and more) offers some sort of website builder. A word to the wise! There are some serious problems ahead if you decide to invest in these ‘proprietary builders’ for your business website.
Obstacles that can cost you in the long run, don’t just cost your marketing budget, but your time and energy. Before addressing the obstacles, let’s look at trying to use a builder yourself. If you have a small budget and you’re thinking that doing it yourself is the way, awesome! Please set aside at least 3 months worth of learning time to get truly proficient before you publish your site for the world to see. Don’t waste time asking one of your employees to try it out. They cannot communicate the details of the effort enough to help you see how much (or how little) effort really goes into producing a decent result.
Design and Functional Portability
The look and feel of your ‘builder’ made site, is almost never owned by the web site owner. As I understand it, only Web.com allows the web site owner to buy the site design (and associated images) they assemble for you. And it’s not cheap! I have yet to find anyone else that allows this. So if you’re moving to another web hosting company, you’ll have to completely rebuild the site, including replacement of any images they provided or manipulated for you. Do you have the skills to do this yourself? Do you have the money to have someone else rebuild it? To buy new images? Realize that there will also be a negative effect on your search engine traffic. What causes that? Possible downtime during the transition from old site to rebuilt site. Does the path (URL) to each page on your site stay exactly the same? If not, do you know how to set a redirect to move any search engine link juice to the new path for each page?
Do the Capabilities Provided by the Website Builder, Move with You?
Did your ‘builder site’ have a certain brand of special gadgets or functions that no one else has? Things like a mail-list manager, shopping cart, form manager, etc.? Does the new hosting company have exactly the same software or software version as the old company? Can you export the data or configurations from the old site to import into the new? Can you do this without help? How long will that take?
Do the Builder Site Skills, Transfer to the New Site?
Even though using a template to make the site, seemed to make your life easier. You probably had some learning curve to overcome. There were a few things that you realized that you could not do or that you later realized you should not do. You learned from those mistakes and overcame a learning curve for that website builder. What are the chances that you’re new skill set will seamlessly work on someone else’s website builder? Is there going to be another learning curve? If you don’t want to hit the learning curve, can you find someone already trained in the new website builder’s nuances? Can you afford them?
Solution: Open Source Content Management Systems (CMS)
The best way to avoid the pain points and massive headaches mentioned above is to do your homework looking at Open-Source CMS. There are several to consider and there are Pro’s and Con’s for each. SonFisher Web Studios uses WordPress to build all of our client’s web sites. We offer classes so you can gain the necessary skills and we point our customers to participate in the local WordPress community. The strongest reasons we have chosen this path is that WordPress is very portable and supports a transferable skill set.