Why free website builders are taking over: Should you use it too?
Websites have become an integral part of business today. Most successful companies have websites and online shops. In the past having a website would cost quite a significant amount of money, one would have to contract a developer to develop, code and upkeep the website, a web designer to design the website and images and have a hosting company that would host the website.
Lately more and more people are opting for free or very cheap website builders that cost less and promote a do-it-yourself website design, with the intention of saving costs and time. The question is do website builders really save time and money?
First thing first: what is a website builder?
A website builder is a tool that allows for website construction without manual code editing. We can distinguish between two types of website builders, online and offline. Offline website builders come in software format that is downloaded and installed on the dedicated computer. Files are saved on the computer and website files are uploaded to the web host.
Online website builders run on the web host providers services and everything is web based. No files are downloaded to a computer, no software is installed, all one needs is internet connection and a web browser like Firefox, Google Chrome or Internet Explorer. Usually a website builder comes with web hosting services.
Which companies offer website builders?
There are a lot of companies that offer website building, we looked at the top rated website builders as well as their pros and cons.
Wix is the biggest website building provider and has the best reviews among them. The pros of Wix is that the site speed is really fast, there are many different templates to choose from and they offer loads of help and support. The cons of Wix is that their free plans force Wix branding, the site is not transferable, meaning that should you wish to move to another web hosting service or builder you would lose the site you have with them. The other cons are that their premium packages are single-site only and tracking and analytics of how the site is doing can only be seen on paid plans. Adriaan Brits, the CEO of Sitetrail says that “Our resource has shown people a step-by-step guide on how to build a Wix website only because it is popular. In reality, people are better off opting for a custom WordPress solution that can overcome the limitations of Wix, thereby avoiding frustration”.
Network solutions are one of the oldest internet and domain registration companies. The pros of Network Solutions are that they offer easy and user friendly website builder tools, their biggest cons are that they are expensive and customers have complained about hidden costs, they have also been criticised for their customer support.
Squarespace is one of the front runners for blogging, portfolio and online store website builders. They do not offer free website building options however their prices are quite affordable. The pros of Squarespace is that they have lots of themes and templates to choose from, they have a blogging feature and great customer support. The cons are that their usability and user friendliness of the builder can be updated, they are also not suited for larger websites and their page speed has been rated poorly.
So is a website builder better?
To be honest, it all depends. After looking into the different website builders and what they have to offer the initial cost is definitely lower than appointing a website designer. The problems come in at a later stage when you need to move your website. Website builders tie companies in quite quickly to host the websites through them as well asn use the builder as bait. One of the limitations in being tied in to the website builders web hosting services is that if the web hosting services are not up to standard the website will experience a lot of downtime and might have slow loading speed. It should be kept in mind that a WordPress affiliate management system is not available via most website builders, which disqualifies the e-commerce and affiliate industries from the inferior solutions web builders offer.
We recommend doing thorough research on website builders and read the T&C very closely. Should web hosting be part of the deal look at reviews on the web hosting services. Make sure you can move your website should you need to without hassles, and lookout for hidden cost. The appointment of a website designer and choosing one’s own website host might be better for your company in the end.