A website is your place of business on the internet. And simply by being on the internet, you give your business the opportunity to grow.
But some business owners may still ask the question, “Does my business really need a website?”
The answer in most cases is yes. A website brings advantages that are hard to beat. A website gives credibility and works for you 24/7. It can also offer place to collect leads, give you a storefront online, provide a place from which to build a mailing list, and provide a home for customer support. It even offers a way for people to find your brick and mortar business. And, if well optimized for SEO, a website can attract new customers through search engines.
Two Approaches to Building a Business Website
There are two main methods to get a website up and running. (1.) You can use a DIY website builder tool such as Wix, Squarespace, Weebly or GoDaddy Websites. (2.) You can have a web designer or developer build a custom website for you.
Both approaches include both positives and negatives.
DIY Website Builder Tools – Pros and Cons
Millions of business owners and entrepreneurs are opting to use do-it-yourself website builder tools. Here are some advantages and disadvantages.
On the positive side, DIY website building tools are:
- Inexpensive, with costs typically ranging from free to $30 per month
- Fast to launch, often within a few hours
- Website is hosted for you automatically
- Safe with security handled by the website provider
- Attractive, with professional designs included
- Packed with industry templates, sample verbiage and images
- Easy to use — some tools literally as easy as “drag and drop”
- Easy to update on your own with no delays or added cost
- Enhanced with basic SEO and traffic analytics tools
- Capable of using your domain name, though perhaps with a bit of extra cost
On the negative side, DIY website builders:
- Have limited customization options
- Don’t let you own your website design — so if you switch website providers, you must start over
- May include ads with their “free” plans and have other limitations removable only if you upgrade to a paid plan
- May offer only limited use of advanced marketing tools and advanced SEO
- May offer support limited to online help with telephone support only available if you upgrade or pay extra
- Take some time to use even if they are easy to master
Custom Website – Pros and Cons
When it comes to getting a custom website built for your business, you’ll need to hire a Web developer to create one for you (unless you have rad development skills yourself).
On the positive side, custom websites offer:
- Full design customization possibilities
- Personal set-up attention, including someone to talk to and everything done for you
- Personalized support by someone you know and trust
- Use of any advanced marketing tools and add-ons you wish, not limited to the tool provider’s choices
- Use of your own domain name
- Ownership of your design, if the contract with the designer so states
On the negative side, custom websites:
- Are more expensive than DIY sites, typically $2,000 and up
- Take a longer time to launch, typically one month or more
- Require communicating your needs from scratch to your designer — this can be overwhelming if it’s your first website
- Require you to get your own hosting arrangements (your designer may help with this, but still it requires a separate arrangement)
- Make security your responsibility, including disruption from and clean up of hacked websites
- Require more ongoing expenses to operate, including hosting, updating, support requests, etc.
- Require time to find, evaluate and hire a web designer
- Require you to draft and review designer contract documentation
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing between DIY website builders and custom websites. Every small business and every situation may be different. It depends on what you’re looking for, how much time you can devote to using a DIY tool, how big your budget is, and how customized you want your web presence to be.
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The problem is having a website that looks like the next person. But I think that there are customizable options that doesn’t really require that you know some coding.
Great article Shawn, thanks for the share.
What is the difference in terms of SEO when it comes to DIY Website Builder Tools and Custom Website?
Hi Shawn, well covered.
From my perspective there are two serious limitations when you go with a DIY site (and you have covered these). Firstly, with most DIY sites you are relatively limited in terms of the SEO that you can put in to the sites and secondly when you go for a DIY site you don’t get the expert advice in terms of what works/doesn’t work, what on-page SEO you need to include and how you should structure the site.
At the end of the day $2,000 is not a huge amount of money when you are looking to build an effective online presence and could potentially save you months of messing around trying to learn it all yourself.
Yes. There are some limits. But some business owners don’t really have a choice especially if they don’t have thousands of dollars that they can invest in design.
Thank you for this discussion, it is so important for small businesses. While I use Wix for my personal business website, I serve on a board and run a small organization, both of which purchased custom sites. My input is that a custom site of any complexity is a lot more than $2000. In some cases, add a 0 if commerce and videos are involved.
There is also the need for on-going updates. On WIX, I can update the pages myself. In fact, it is so easy, I do it often. One needs to be sure they can update a custom site or have access to someone who can.
Both have merit.