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Web design 01

In a hyper-connected day and age of instant information, super fast services and the ability to find anything on the internet for a cheaper price, everyone is conditioned to look for a bargain on the web. There are certainly many great offers and services you can get for incredibly reasonable prices online, but there’s also a lot of cowboys, crap and claptrap that honest people plow their hard-earned money into for little to no results.

When it comes to web design there are so many different ways to get online these days – anyone not familiar with the industry can get overwhelmed with the various options, services and systems available, with a huge variance of pricing. So what’s the best option to go with? Is a cheap web design worth the money? Aren’t all websites the same?

All these questions and more will be answered in this article.

Run your web design race backwards

This may sound a little counter-intuitive but before you even start looking for a web design company or website service, you need to figure out what you want your website to do. Are you looking to generate more phone calls, email enquiries or newsletter subscriptions or are you looking to provide information about topics, your business or news items?

What’s the functionality you require? Will you need social media integration, blog articles, a photo gallery, etc?

Understanding how you want customers to interact with your website (how they convert) and required functionality will help you choose the right website design without wasting money.

Starting at the finish line and understanding how you want lookers to convert into customers will give you the main focus point of your website and you can start to build your conversion tactics around this. For example, if you’re a tradie (plumber, pest control, electrician, etc) that relies on people calling you to get you out for a quote, making sure your website has a prominent phone number that’s hyperlinked along with a mobile friendly website is essential to you getting conversions.

Free and low cost web design options

There are more and more free and low-cost website design options popping up these days. We’re even seeing TV advertising for services like Go-daddy’s Ray’s Flaming Hot Sauce that promise you the ability to “Build a website in under 1 hour. Flamin' easy.” All I can say is that if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is, but let’s break down these services as objectively as possible and look at the pros and cons of these services.

Godaddy Website Builder

(Free for first month, then between $108 AUD & $528 AUD per year)

You’ve probably seen that ad on TV for Ray’s flamin hot sauce, and you might have even visited his website https://raysflaminhotsauce.com/ and thought, wow! (Not convinced that Ray actually built this website himself though!) Let’s look at the pros and cons of this service.

Pros

Low cost - You can save some money up front with these low cost options.
Easy interface - The drop and drag nature of the interface means users don’t need any tech skills.
Support - They offer 24/7 support (but we all know it’s going to an Indian call centre).
Backup - You can create a backup of your site at any time.
Templates - They have some pretty decent templates that if used correctly can build a nice looking website.

Cons

They can terminate your website at anytime, without warning - This is by far the biggest issue I have with these types of systems.
Proprietary system - Once you choose this system you’re locked in – if you want to change your website system, you rebuild it.
Mobile view sucks - GoDaddy haven’t got this nailed yet for most of their templates.
Can’t change themes - Once you choose a theme that’s it, you’re locked into it. If you want to change you have to rebuild your website all over again.
Support - Yes they offer 24/7 ‘support’ but we know it’s going to be to an Indian call centre.
Templates - There’s only a certain amount of templates to choose from. If you want control over your design, you can’t do it in this system.
Scalability - Because of the drop and drag nature of these type of website builders, once a website gets above 5-10 pages it becomes a nightmare to edit.
Functionality - There’s no way to integrate additional functionality outside of what they offer – very much what you see is what you get.
SEO - The SEO capabilities of your website are going to be limited by using a system like this, sure you can add title and description tags but anything other than simple SEO is out of the question.
Extras - Like all low cost or free options, anything extra you want to add to your site (like SSL, email, domain redirects, etc) are going to cost you extra.
Extra Code - Want to add Google analytics, Google Tag Manager or any additional code to your site for other functionality (like charts, scripts or maps) – forget about it!

Is Godaddy Website Builder worth the money?

If you’re a complete newbie, like doing webby stuff by yourself without having semi-complex setups (like installing Wordpress or Joomla), want to save money, only have 1-3 pages for your website, and don’t care about the design all that much, aren’t bothered if you’re locked into a particular system and everything they offer totally meets your needs, then this system may work for you.

But there are several limitations with style and functionality that might not meet your needs. If you want to use your website as a marketing tool or plan on having any level of control over your website, it might be worth looking elsewhere.

Click here if you want to see some examples of the websites built on the GoDaddy Website Builder.

Additional reading on GoDaddy’s website build

GoDaddy Website Builder Review | Top 8 Things To Know About Them
GoDaddy GoCentral Website Builder: the right choice for your business?
GoDaddy Website Builder Review w/ Pros, Cons & Alternatives
GoDaddy Website Builder review
GoDaddy Website Builder

Squarespace

($192 USD to $624 USD per year)

Squarespace seems to be the new shiny flavour-of-the-month website builder at the time of writing and they’re certainly doing their fair share of advertising both online and offline. They make it super easy to sign up and start building a website and for certain businesses this can be a good option if they’re looking for an easy-to-set up, static website that once built, won’t be updated often.

Pros

Low cost - You can save some money up front with their low cost payment options that can be spread over the year or paid month to month.
Easy interface - The drop and drag interface means if you can use a mouse and drag things around you can use their system.
Support - They offer 24/7 support (but we all know it’s going to an Indian call centre).
Templates - Squarespace actually have some nice looking templates if you’re happy to have a templated website.

Cons

They can terminate your website at anytime, without warning - This is by far the biggest issue I have with these types of systems.
Proprietary system - Whilst Squarespace is one of the better low cost website builders I’ve used, it’s still a system you don’t have full control over.
Changing themes - You can actually change themes with Squarespace however because of the positioning tools they use for content areas, menu etc, expect to do a lot of shuffling if you wish to change themes.
Support - Yes they offer 24/7 ‘support’ but we know it’s going to be to an Indian call centre.
Templates - There’s only a certain amount of templates to choose from. If you want control over your design, you can’t do it in this system.
Scalability - Again these drop and drag websites builders are great if you only have a couple of pages, once you get beyond that editing multiple pages is laborious and time consuming.
Functionality - You can’t add anything to your website that’s not inside the Squarespace universe. Want to add some cool widget you found on the web to your site - can’t do it.
SEO - The SEO capabilities of Squarespace are limited and simple at best. You can add title and description tags, not much else.
Extras - Again, if you want additional functions outside of the basic package you have to pay for it and all of a sudden your ‘cheap’ option starts to add up.
No Trash - Accidently delete a page? You’re not getting it back.
Extra Code - Squarespace uses their own analytics platform so you’re not able to add your own like Google Analytics for example.

Is the Squarespace website builder any good?

I have to say that yes, Squarespace is a good system however there are many limitations you need to take into account. If you’re happy with these limitations (like not having control over your site, using limited templates and being locked into one system) then it’s a good option if you’re a small business, just starting out or want to play around with a website builder that’s based on a drop and drag interface.

Click here if you want to see some examples of the websites built with Squarespace.

Additional Reading about Squarespace

27 Reasons Why WordPress Crushes Squarespace Every Time
Why Squarespace sucks and will never be a WordPress killer
What is good and bad about squarespace?
Myth: SEO with Squarespace sucks. Here’s the facts
10 Reasons WordPress Will Always Be Better Than SquareSpace
Would Squarespace be a viable way to build a website?
7 Things to Expect When You Move from Wordpress to a Squarespace Website

Wix Website Builder

($54 USD to $294 USD per year)

Whilst their literature says that it’s super simple to set up a cheap, effective website through their service, I’ve had to work in this system for a few different clients and I have to say I was less than impressed. The drop and drag functionality of the website builder seems easy to use and intuitive at first, however once you start getting above a few pages, this really becomes unmanageable.

In addition to this, the fact that many templates don’t allow you to have drop down menus means that any website above 3-5 pages is almost useless (in terms of being able to manage it effectively) if built in this system.

Pros

Low cost - This system is free if you’re happy to have a sub-domain (eg. mywebsite.wix.com) or you can pay a small monthly fee to have your domain name pointed to the site.
Easy interface - Yes, using the drop and drag system is ‘easy’ but only if you have a minimal amount of pages to manage.
Templates - Wix has some decent looking templates however there’s not much room to change them if there’s isn’t anything that fits in with your brand.

Cons

Support - The only support that’s offered is online through a knowledge base.
They can terminate your website at anytime, without warning - If the company goes out of business or gets bought out by another business, contracts, pricing and delivery can all change quickly.
Proprietary system - Again, this is the big issue I have with these types of systems. If you want a particular piece of functionality these systems don’t offer, there’s no avenue to build it yourself or change the core functionality of a plugin or module to your liking.
Portability - If you wish to move away from the Wix platform to build your site in say, Joomla or Wordpress, good luck. You basically have to start again as you’re not able to export or copy any elements of your website.
Scalability - A drag and drop interface – whilst easy to use, doesn’t enable you to scale your website easily past a few pages.
Functionality - You’re not able to have anything added to your site that isn’t inside the Wix universe.
SEO - I’ve tried to SEO-ify several Wix websites that people have had built for them or have built themselves and let me tell you it was a painful experience and the results were very average (clients knew this going into the job but decided to go ahead anyway).
Extra costs - Like all these ‘free’ systems, if you want anything additional on top of the very basic options, you have to start paying for it.
No Trash - Accidently delete a page? You’re not getting it back.
Extra Code - Wix tends to strip out any additional code you add to web pages so unless they have a widget or plugin that you can use, you’re out of luck.

Is the Wix webpage builder any good?

If you only want to build a 1-2 page website and like a drop and drag interface, then this service is a good option. If you don’t mind giving control of your content over to another company and you’re happy with the limitations around building a website with these types of platforms, then Wix is for you.

Click here if you want to see some examples of the websites built with Wix.

Additional Reading about Wix

Why Wix Sucks
Why Wix Can’t Help Your Business Grow
Wix.com Review – The Flexible Website Builder
Why Online Website Builder Wix is a Bad Choice
13 Key Things To Know Before You Use Wix.com – Wix Review 2018

In closing I would like to stress that there’s nothing wrong with using systems like Squarespace, Wix or Go-Daddy to build a website as long as you know what you’re getting into. There are certainly benefits to these types of webpage building systems, but there’s also many drawbacks.

My main drive behind writing this article is to get potential customers to understand the limitations within these types of systems so they don’t get deep into building their own website on one of these platforms and waste a huge amount of time before they realise they should have chosen a different path.

If you choose to use a website building platform like the ones mentioned above, go ahead and give them a go, but it would be wise to find out all the pros and cons first, then perhaps build a small test site to make sure it’s the right system for you.

 

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