“What’s the difference?!?”
A client recently asked us to compare our professional website design & development services with popular online site builders where you can obtain a domain name, build your own website and update it to your heart’s content using their flashy WYSIWYG editors with drag and drop capabilities, for free or at an ongoing cost where you only pay for the elements you need.
We thought long and hard…
Well, that’s not strictly true, we didn’t have to think for a great deal of time about it because we absolutely know the difference! We did have to spend a little time gathering our thoughts and translating them into full sentences rather than single words, entirely in uppercase, ending with exclamation marks.
Here’s how we see it.
Personal & Professional Design
1. A professional designer will come to you to discuss your company, your brand and your goals amongst other important factors such as, where your business has historically come from and how you want to be perceived, in order to aptly portray your message and values through your online image. A site built through an online platform such as Wix or Weebly, may very well have a professional template ready for a business owner to edit as required but the design simply will not be built around that business or brand, that brand will have to fit into a template and unless you are using a wordpress template and have been reading up on editing stylesheets & HTML, you might struggle to make any big changes or customisations to the design.
2. A professionally built site will be easy to expand and build on, as your business grows, your website will need to grow with it. A good developer will talk to you about where you see your business and your website’s place in it in years to come and ensure that any additional functionality that might be required can be built in to the chosen platform – a critical potential requirement that’s not compatible might change your choice, for example given the option to pay an extra 10% now in order to avoid starting again and paying 100% of the price of a whole new website in 5 years time, you may prefer the upfront 10%. This isn’t just relevant to the visitor’s experience, your management of the site should also be considered – exporting data in order to reduce administration costs, analyse trends even to duplicate and create a new website for a new branch of the company; if you intend to grow a business, and your website is a big part of it, it needs to not be restrictive. if you intend to grow a business, and your website is a big part of it, it needs to be scalable. If your site builder doesn’t have a feature you need, you can’t employ a programmer to build it in, or export all of your content to a new platform, the site can become a restriction on your business growth. You’ve got to start from scratch and ultimately, having spent all of those hours building your own site, it will cost you more.
3. A professional website developer will either host your website or refer you to an appropriate hosting company and your hosting package will be tailored to your requirements, if your site is not performing as you’d like it to be, you have a person to speak to who can troubleshoot it. Site builders host all of the sites built with them – if your website is performing slowly, there’s very little you can do about it short of auditing the size of your content and optimising it all yourself – not necessarily a simple task without the relevant tools!
4. Professionals will include, as part of your package or provide as an optional addition, SEO provision in order to ensure people searching for your product or service, find your website. Site builders not only ignore this requirement but are actually not Google friendly, you’ll need to pay for advertising that a professional website will do for you organically.