One of my closest friends works in a multinational company. We were having a casual chat when she asked:
“Since you’re closely associated with website development space and one of the recent projects assigned to me involves a website development task, I wanted to ask you which is better: website builders or to do PHP coding and build it from scratch?”
Inquiring further, I understood that the client wanted a classy business website and knowing the availability of high-end website builders to accomplish the same, I recommended website builders like Bookmark to her. Pleasantly surprised, she asked whether the website builders can achieve what the client wants. A 30-minute discussion later, she felt convinced and promised to talk to the project manager about the benefits of using website builders.
These kinds of discussions isn’t new, having participated in many over the last 8 years. Sometimes, people make the mistake of comparing website builders with WordPress but you’ve to understand, WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS), not a website building tool.
In this column, I will present the argument for website builders, hoping it will help my readers.
What are Website Builders?
A website builder is a tool to facilitate the creation of a website without manual coding. These could be online proprietary tools or offline software running on the computer to create pages for publishing.
In the early 1990s, websites were manually coded in HTML. An early leader in the space was Dreamweaver but it came with various criticisms, a major being non-compliance to W3C standards. In 1996, W3C started Amaya as a showcase of web technologies as a ‘web client’. One of the first modern websites built without any technical skills was Geocities, purchased by Yahoo! in 1994 for $ 3.6 billion and shut down in 2009.
Online website builders like Bookmark and Shopify introduced the modern ‘templates’ medium of web publishing. You sign up with them and access these templates, which are fully functional demo websites waiting to be made live by the user with custom features and content. The range of services go from personal web pages to full-fledged ecommerce websites, with modules that are fully customizable.
Using the website builders doesn’t require prior experience. How-to videos, help documentation and technical support comes with the package. These builders are suited for freelancers, small businesses, startups and ecommerce retailers.
Pros and Cons of Website Builders
Let’s see what you get and don’t get when using website builders.
Pros of Website Builders
Here they are:
#1 One-Stop Shop
The “plan” or “package” includes hosting, software, blog / online store and automatic feature updates. Programming skills aren’t required to use them and they are lot easier to use than CMS platforms like WordPress and Joomla. It’s easy as setting up a LinkedIn or Twitter profile. Just place the element where you want and it’s done.
#2 Handles Traffic Spike & Low Cost
Without a website builder, you need to make a separate web hosting purchase, that means additional cost. The cost of signing up with a website builder is often similar to buying a web hosting package. Some website builders come for ‘free’ (limited to certain features) but hey, the web hosting is still included for a limited measure of web traffic. This brings me to the next point.
With a builder, spikes in traffic will not cause website downtime. Usually you buy a shared hosting package and when the site receives a sudden burst of traffic, the site faces downtime because thousands of other sites are also working on the same server and the server resources get distributed. Website builders can handle high amount of traffic due to their custom-created hosting infrastructure.
#3 Drag-Drop Integration
These is absolutely no-coding involved. Website builder templates are often in widget format. Just drag and drop the widgets such as Google AdSense, audio players, video players, PayPal button, contact forms and more on the website pages, ‘Save’ them and you’re done.
Lastly, as I mentioned before, there is no limit to technical support. All data is scored with maximum security.
Cons of Website Builders
Here they are:
#1 Business Stability
It’s necessary to use trustworthy and popular website builders from a business point of view because if the business of the website builder goes bust, you lose the website too. Even though you can regular backup, it will be simply more of a hassle to setup a new website in future. Go with an established provider always.
#2 Limited Flexibility
For certain functionalities and use, a website builder may not be suitable. For example, if you want to build a database oriented search engine like Housing.com, a website builder will not be suitable as it requires custom coding. As I said before, website builders are best suited for freelancers, small business owners, startups and small ecommerce retailers.
Website Builder Options
There are a lot of website builders in the market. I am going to give just two examples.
#1 Website Builder Example for Normal Sites – Bookmark
Bookmark is a website builder for freelancers, professionals and small to medium business owners with varying website needs. From personal blogs to professional portfolios to service sites, this tool does it all. Requiring absolutely zero technical skills, the Bookmark templates enables you to create feature-websites in a jiffy. Just pick a template, change whatever you want and ‘go online’ instantly. Also, these websites are responsive on all devices.
To help their users succeed in their businesses, there is a detailed resource section with tutorials and guides, and e-learning courses.
#2 Website Builder Ecommerce Example – Shopify
Powering over 270,000 stores, Shopify is one of topmost ranking “one-stop shop” ecommerce website to build small and large online stores. Shopify team and software takes charge of creating the ecommerce store, leaving you to focus on building the business. There are premium storefront themes with an extensive app store and advanced ecommerce tools to allow multiple integrations with just one-click setup.
You can check some live examples of stores here. While WordPress could be an option to create ecommerce websites, it doesn’t have the flexibility and capability as Shopify does. You do have WordPress tools like WooCommerce plugin to attach necessary ecommerce features to the website but you need to piece together various plugins and modify CSS codes and embed payment methods and more to get the website running. You can either DIY or hire someone, which increases the budget and is time-consuming.
But, with Shopify, you can think of it as custom created for building ecommerce stores. It is powering thousands of smaller businesses and they also have enterprise solution for businesses with six to seven figure yearly revenue.
Website builders are better as ‘one-stop’ solutions due to its cost feasibility, low learning curve, technical support and simple but effective website creation options.Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community