Crabtree + Company's Online Reputation Management (ORM) Series
Part Five: The Lure of Website Builders
There’s a reason why model homes are professionally staged and decorated. It’s the best way to highlight the home’s fullest-potential. And so it goes for out-of-the-box website builders that are gaining popularity among users who appreciate their aesthetic appeal and affordability.
But just as challenging as picking out paint colors and window treatments — in an attempt to achieve the same look and feel of that beautiful model home — websites created with these online do-it-yourself tools will only look as professional as the person using them.
In today’s fifth edition of Crabtree + Company’s ORM series, we will explore the benefits and challenges these new products present, based on years of experience working alongside clients who have utilized a variety of tools to get their messages across.
The variety of templates available with many of the latest website builder tools can certainly benefit those with little design training or experience. But many of them don’t offer much in the way of flexibility — you can only put your text and images in a certain place. If you’re looking to stand out, a content management system (CMS) like Joomla! or Wordpress, with a greater capacity for customization, may be a wiser choice than Wix or Squarespace.
Some website builders limit the number of pages you can create — and when you’re ready to expand, you may have to pay more for it. Keep this in mind when deciding how to move forward with your new website, and also consider that depending on your website builder or template, there may be limits to how much text you can include on any given page as well.
Website builders are known for being easy to use, but any interface that you’ve never used before is going to take some time to get used to. If you’re strapped for time, it’s good to have a marketing partner who can step in and help out.
A benefit of DIY website builders is that many offer photo galleries, and some — such as Wix and Squarespace — even offer a wide selection of stock photography for use on your site. Most also offer a variety of photo editing tools. Just keep in mind that others will be using the same images as well, which can dilute your brand.
5. Mobile Friendly.
Squarespace, a self-described mobile website creator, is one of the best — all Squarespace themes are responsive. Wix automatically generates a mobile-friendly version of your site and transfers all your content to it. This can be an advantage if you want to make minor edits to your mobile version, but it can also take extra time. For CMSs like Wordpress and Joomla!, mobile responsive themes abound — and many are free.
One notable disadvantage with most website builders is that you may not be able to move to another host. There’s a lot of custom code behind your pages, and only a few website builders — such as Weebly — are transferable.
7. Website Analytics.
Some DIY website builders are better with analytics than others so consider this before diving in. For instance, Weebly can show you page views, unique visitors for each day, and search terms used to get to your site. Wix, however, does not have built in statistics and requires a paid Google Analytics account.
8. Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
When it comes to SEO, the most popular website builders are up-to-speed. Squarespace and GoDaddy are very SEO-friendly. The former supporting for over 40 languages, and the latter having an admin system that gives you a lot of control over SEO choices. On the CMS side of things, Joomla has extensions for SEO and Wordpress' SEO features have been charming users for years.
In summary, DIY website builders have their place. They’re the right choice for some, and for others it’s a CMS. But what you can be sure about is that regardless of what tool you’re working with, it's smart to have a marketing partner on your side. And we'd be thrilled to be your partner.
If you missed Part One about Websites, you can read it here.
If you missed Part Two about Social Media and PR, you can read it here.
If you missed Part Three about Emails and Eblasts, you can read it here.
If you missed Part Four about Website Security, you can read it here.