Many small business owners face the same dilemma at the dawn of their entrepreneurial career: to use a website builder or to hire a web designer?
As with everything else in life, each of these two options comes with its own set of (dis)advantages.
Opting for a website builder is a practical and more affordable choice, but you are somewhat limited with the design and advanced functionality you might want to implement.
On the other hand, using professional web design services can provide you with more flexibility, but at a significantly higher price.
So, how to make the right decision?
Let’s look at some pros and cons for each approach and see if we can find the answer together.
The advantages of website builders
The main advantages of using a website builder to set up a business website are its affordability and simplicity. At the fraction of a cost, you can get a functional and representative website.
What’s more, regardless of the niche and business type, most small businesses just need a simple website to mark their online presence, which has standard pages such as:
- About us page
- Contact form
- Several features/services pages
This option doesn’t only save money, but it’s also time-efficient as well. You can build a functional website containing all the aforementioned features in a single day – even if you have little to no technical knowledge.
That’s why the market for DIY website solutions is growing. According to the data published by the MarketWatch website, the size of the global website builder market in 2018 was $1.48 billion.
If you need a simple website, as explained in the previous few lines, creating a small business website with a website builder is probably easier than you think.
For starters, all website builders offer a fair range of visual options for every John and Jane Doe out there. You can choose from a wide range of website themes that include homepage templates, portfolio pages, and different blog structures.
This diversity of choices gives every user a chance to add a personal touch to their website. Additionally, template designs are often adjusted to your business type, which helps you narrow down your choices.
Also, some business owners might want to work on their email marketing from day one. Most website builders offer simple but visually attractive contact forms. That being said, you will probably want to design engaging landing pages and use other lead generation tools if you are trying to build an email list.
Besides that, using online site builders brings some additional advantages:
- No need to install any software tools on your computer or purchase any licenses
- No hassle with hosting providers as website builders providers offer that as a part of their packages
- You can do quick changes on the website, as you do not have to wait on some 3rd-party service to do it for you
- You can make changes from any place and any computer
All these options can mean the world for hard-working business owners and digital nomads who might need to do everything on the go.
The limitations of website builders
Now that we’ve pointed out some practical aspects of website builders, let’s discuss possible limitations.
One of the most dominant website platforms is WordPress. According to the research done by WeTech, 30% of websites are built on WordPress today. Because of its popularity, WordPress has tons of plugins you can use to customize your website. The bad news is that some WP plugins might be in a collision which can cause a lot of headaches.
But that is an issue specific to WordPress. What all website builders struggle with is the implementation of creative navigational features, the use of advanced animations, and the incorporation of highly interactive elements throughout the page.
Since most website builders base their interface on drag-and-drop templates with limited customization options, you may want to find someone who can build your site from scratch if you need a highly interactive website.
Some further limitations of website builders include:
- Depending on the website builder, you might have a limited number of templates, which might mean that some small business owners won’t find anything they like
- Most free packages don’t allow for too much customization (but paid packages do, so take this disadvantage with a grain of salt)
- As you do not have access to the source code, even if you have a background in website design, you may not be able to implement everything you intended
- In general, their loading speed is not the greatest
The potential of web design services
Business owners that hire a web design service usually do it because of these three reasons:
- They do not have any time to do this themselves (or simply do not want to bother with it)
- They have no technical knowledge or design experience, so they are afraid that they can’t build something nice themselves, even with all of the templates that website builders offer
- They have complex requirements and/or want something unique—so they need a custom-built website
In the scenarios above, it is often wiser to work with a professional web designer. When you know that you have an expert working on that, you can focus strictly on your core business.
The drawbacks of hiring a web designer
In the previous paragraph, you saw that collaboration with web designers is beneficial for more demanding business owners.
The major drawback of this collaboration is the price. Most small business owners and start-ups don’t have too much money to throw around. Likewise, most of them won’t be interested to cash out $3000+ to an agency that will build their website.
Even though you can get a fine website for less money by working with freelancers, it’s still questionable whether it will be different from those made with website builders.
Another thing is that those complex websites aren’t simple to make, time-wise.
Their development might last from a couple of weeks to several months. For small business owners who are trying to make their business start working immediately, this often isn’t a reasonable option.
Moreover, hiring a web designer can bring some of these additional issues:
- Higher expenses for extra changes
- Costs can skyrocket when you want to scale and expand
- You often have to wait to see certain changes implemented
- The control of the website really isn’t in your hands
So, how to choose?
At the end of the day, what this all comes down to is how much money you have, how complex the website needs to be, and if you are willing to get your hands dirty.
If you have the budget, you can choose whatever you want. If you need a website with some unique features, you need to hire someone to build it for you.
In all other cases, website builders can do the job just fine. To be real, most businesses don’t need glitzy and fancy websites at all. That’s why using one of the website-building platforms to build your first business website is a more economical option. Even if you are not confident in your skills, these providers have customer support teams that can help you out every step of the way.
And there you have it. If you were on the edge, we hope that this information sets you on the right path.
Robert Brandl’s passion has always been web tools that make your life easier. That’s why he founded the WebsiteToolTester, where you can find reviews and tutorials for the world’s best website builders and e-commerce platforms.
These views are made solely by the author.