How to choose the right website builder for your business?
Every day, tens of thousands of websites come online. Some of them are for personal reasons but many are created to help businesses increase their reach.
The reality is that a website is no longer optional. If you’re running a brand and hope to see it grow then having a well-designed site is almost a prerequisite. Not only because of the benefits alone but also because your customers expect it of you.
This presents another challenge. What tools should you use to build your website or should you hire someone to create and manage it? In this guide, you’ll learn a few important things to take into consideration when looking for the right website builder for your business.
What is a website builder?
A website builder is a software tool that is normally accessible through a web interface and is used to create website pages without having to write the underlying code. They can be used to make multiple types of websites and pages such as portfolios, blogs, software sites, and more.
Many website builders are specialized to serve specific types of businesses so they have features and templates to support that objective. For example, Bigcommerce provides software for eCommerce brands. A major benefit of website builders is that the software provider is responsible for keeping it updated and ensuring the security of the platform.
Website builder vs hiring a web designer
Many organizations opt to use a website builder because it’s inexpensive and cheaper to maintain. Other brands choose to hire a web designer because they provide more control over how the website looks and works.
If you’re new to creating websites, working with a web designer may be a good way to learn best practices and ensure your design is professional-looking. Request that the designer uses a website builder so you can maintain your site and make changes going forward.
If you’re experienced with creating websites and have the budget, you may consider a designer so they can make a design that stands out. When you’re inexperienced and don’t have a large budget, using an inexpensive website builder like Wix may be your only option. Before you choose a website builder, there are a few things to take into consideration.
What to look for in a website builder
The following factors are important but make sure you take your situation into consideration. For example, a website builder may have a laundry list of features but most of them are irrelevant to you.
List out all the features you think you’ll need now and in the future. For example, a tool may have everything you need at this moment but won’t be suitable for you after you pass certain milestones. It may be better to skip the platform entirely because switching from one website builder to another can be difficult and at times it’s impossible without a lot of manual effort.
If the tools have features you need right now and the ones you’ll need in the future, think about how those things have been implemented. For example, a lot of website builders say they have a drag-and-drop editor. That assertion may be true on the surface but some of them allow you to drop elements on the page but force the elements to snap into predefined sections or blocks. Other tools allow you to drop elements on a page and drag them exactly where you want them.
Also, take the level of customization into consideration. Do you have access to HTML, can you change the colors on all buttons? Do you have the ability to change the layout of the menu? How many different elements are there to choose from?
Pricing is always important to take into consideration. Some tools cost hundreds of dollars a month and others cost less than ten dollars a month. Before you begin your search, decide on a range that you’re willing to comfortably pay for a website builder.
It’s also a good idea to look at how the brand has increased prices in the past. Did it suddenly raise them and force customers to leave the platform or upgrade their plans on short notice? Do they raise prices often? As mentioned earlier, it’s hard to switch from one website builder to another so be wary of any company that has suddenly forced a price hike on users.
Ease of use
A website builder may have the perfect price and have all the features you need but it doesn’t matter if you can’t figure out how to use it. Feature-rich tools often become bloated and difficult to navigate over time. Options are hidden behind dozens of clicks and you have to consult the knowledgebase or reach out to customer support regularly.
Depending on your needs, this may be inevitable but try to avoid it as much as possible – especially if you’re working with multiple people. Even if you can eventually figure it out, they may find it difficult and productivity will take a hit. Most site-building tools provide a free trial or even have a free version. Take advantage of it to see whether the software is something you can learn without too much effort.
If the user interface is well-designed and the tool is easy to use, you probably won’t be contacting customer support often. Even if this is the case, an issue will eventually come up. You want to make sure the people you’re going to communicate with are responsive and knowledgeable.
There may not be a direct way to test this yourself but so you’ll have to rely on the opinions of others. If many people praise the customer service in reviews then you can be sure it’s good. If people stay silent about the customer service then it’s adequate but not exceptional. If there are many comments about it being bad then you can safely assume that it’s horrible.
Many people think about the way the template is designed, whether it’s relevant to their business category and if they’re able to tweak it to fit their brand. Yes, these are important considerations but not the only things you should think about.
You should also figure out how versatile the templates are. Some website builders don’t allow you to change the template after your website is live. If you change the theme or template, you’ll lose all your content and start from scratch. Try to avoid a website builder that has these limitations.
SEO is an important part of the marketing mix for most websites. The website builder you choose doesn’t need to have advanced SEO tools but it should allow you to do the basics like update the page titles, meta description, SEO title tags, insert image alt tags, control the robots.txt, and a few other things to set yourself up properly for SEO.
Mobile editing or auto responsiveness
More than half the internet traffic in the world is mobile. Depending on your niche, you may get a much higher concentration of mobile users than desktop users. If your website doesn’t look good on phones and other mobile devices then those people will leave in favor of a website that’s mobile optimized and search engines will stop showing your website to mobile visitors.
Check to make sure the pages are optimized for mobile automatically. Most platforms provide this feature but don’t take any chances. Also, look for platforms that allow individual desktop and mobile editing. It’s not a deal-breaker if they don’t have it but it’s a nice feature that lets you put your best foot forward.
Whether you build your website from scratch yourself or hire a web designer, there are many benefits associated with using a website builder to host the site. This list has gone through some of the major considerations before choosing a tool for your business. Use these tips to shortlist a few candidates and then test them one by one until you find the right tool to meet your needs. You can also use our helpful reviews of the best-handpicked website builders to narrow your search.