If your business doesn’t have a website, then in the eyes of many shoppers today, it does not exist. Even if you do most of your trade through a brick and mortar store, that doesn’t mean that you are exempt from needing some form of web presence.
Shoppers want to be able to check your opening hours, find out what special offers you have running, and contact you without needing to pick up the phone.
Websites give you a chance to answer those questions and can serve as an initial contact point for prospective customers.
Using a website builder allows you to create a good looking, search-engine friendly website without needing to have any knowledge of HTML or back-end coding. They’re a great option for people who are looking to make their first steps into the online world.
The technical challenges of building a website
Online stores, forums, chatbots, contact forms, and the other features that make up modern websites are powered by complex code. Even the ones made by site builders.
Even making a static website – one that has content that doesn’t change – requires some expertise to produce the HTML and CSS that describes how you want the site to look.
Add buttons, sliders, photo boxes, and other features, and you have quite a complex project on your hands.
There are some options for people who don’t want to sit down and code a website by hand, either because they lack the expertise or simply don’t want to invest the time.
The most obvious option is paying a developer, but it can be expensive to put together a fully-featured website, and you can’t be certain that the developer will produce a site that looks and feels how you want it to.
Another option is using a content management system such as WordPress, but that comes with its own challenges.
WordPress requires maintenance to ensure that it remains secure and performs well. It’s also a complex and bloated system that is designed for large blogs.
Why pay for WordPress hosting and all of its bells and whistles if all you want is a static site? Speeding up WordPress is a skilled task itself, and a waste of time for someone who just wants to put up a visually appealing “online business card”.
Website builders level the playing field
Website builders allow people who are not web designers or programmers to create websites in minutes using a drag and drop interface.
While it’s fair to say that it is fun and satisfying learning how to make a website, your business website should not be your first foray into the world of markup and programming.
There are a lot of considerations that a web developer has to take into account when deploying a site, including:
- Search engine friendliness
- W3C compliance
- Data protection
- Mobile-friendliness / responsiveness
- Loading times
- User experience
Would you know where to start?
It’s entirely possible for a novice web designer or developer to make a website that ‘loads’ but that is so poorly built that it would end up being penalised by search engines.
It’s also possible to make a website that looks OK on your computer, but it almost impossible to use on a mobile phone or on a device that is running a different browser to the one you tested it in.
A website that cannot be found in the search engines may as well not exist at all. A website that can be found, but that looks bad to the people who visit it, will do more harm to your business than not having a website at all.
Website builders free you from having to consider those points. Instead of worrying about the code or trying to figure out how to make your site send an email when a user pushes a button, you simply load up a control panel and type out the things you want to appear on the site, just as if you were using a word processor.
Website builders let you drag and drop page elements. You can put an image next to some text, make a heading big and bold, create buttons and links with just a few clicks of the mouse. Adding a contact form is as simple as going “please put a form here”, then selecting the questions that you want the form to ask.
Website builders have other benefits, too. If you only plan to have a few pages on your site, you’ll find that not only can you get up and running more quickly using a website builder, the site should load faster for your visitors.
In addition, you don’t have to worry about future security patches and upgrades, since the company that created the builder will handle all that for you.
Perhaps the most important benefit of website builders is that they are incredibly easy to use and if you do run into problems you can get support quickly.
With content management systems such as WordPress and Joomla, there are a lot of things that can go wrong, and no two installations are the same.
The host you choose, the server ‘stack’ that the host is running, the version of the content management system you have installed, your theme, your plugins, and the configuration options you selected all make a difference to how your content management system will perform. This makes it hard for people to provide tech support for content management systems even if they have a decent level of technical expertise.
With website builders, every ‘installation’ should be the same, all you can change as an end-user is the content and the cosmetic side of the site. So, if you run into problems you can contact the company that supplies the website builder and they should be able to answer your questions immediately.
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There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to making a website. Website builders allow anyone to get online and start promoting their business, regardless of their level of technical expertise.