A website builder is a service provided that allows the user to create a website that doesn’t require a large cash investment, nor knowledge of coding and design.

Some examples of these services are Wix, Weebly and Squarespace. (These are the three biggest, but there are tons more.) For a low monthly cost, they will host your data and allow you to have an online presence with little fuss and muss.

You might be asking yourself why I’m talking about these website services, since they are seemingly in direct competition with what I do.

You’re right. They are.

The reason I’m taking about this today is two-fold. I believe that every artist or arts-based business that wants to have a good looking website should have one. I don’t really care where they get it as long as it works for them.

I’m specifically talking about these website building services today because they’re not a good solution for everyone. Many of my clients come to me after nightmarish experiences with one (or more) of these services.

Unfortunately, the world of website builders has done three things:

  • it has created a place where people can go to make their own websites quickly and easily,
  • it has also created a place where people looking for a low cost website solution can get lost in trying to make something look good and get easily frustrated,
  • it has also opened up a quick and easy way for people who are not web designers to offer their services as designers.

Of course there are fantastic success stories of people using website builders, but there are also myriad stories of people spending thousands of dollars on a website that has significant limitations and devastating drawbacks, leaving them with an incredibly sour taste in their mouths.

Right now it probably sounds confusing. Should you go with a website builder or not? Here is a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of using these services.

Advantages of website builders

  • DIY: You don’t need to work with a designer to create your website.
  • Easy to use: These services have been specifically created to work for those who don’t have any web design experience at all. Many of them include drag-and-drop interfaces.
  • Template Options: Website builders will often offer templates for you to use as a place to start. Of course, they can be customized to suit your needs.
  • Low-cost: Most services can be had for about $10 a month.

Disadvantages of website builders

  • DIY: Being able to “do-it-yourself” also means you need to do it yourself. If you’re not sure what works or looks good online (or don’t have the ability to create any graphics), you might end up with something you hate.
  • Not for large or complex websites: If you’re looking for anything other than a website with simple, static pages and a blog, you’re likely not going to find what you’re looking for here.
  • File-sizes limited: There are limits to the sizes of files you can upload, which might mean that you can’t upload images of your work you’re happy with.
  • Data control and ownership: Your data lives on someone else’s computer, in someone else’s hands. It might even be out of country. I also strongly suggest a good, solid read through the company’s Terms of Service agreement before you click “I agree.” You might be giving up rights to your work.
  • Limited SEO capabilities: This is possibly the most devastating disadvantage. If a search engine can’t determine what your website is about and be able to deliver it as a good result for someone’s search, you will be ignored. A website simply can’t survive with no SEO these days.

The point I’m making here is not that website builders are bad and you should run screaming. My point is simply that just because it’s cheap and looks like it’s the perfect solution doesn’t mean it is. Look deeper before jumping into a service and pinning all your hopes on it.

Do you have questions about a website building service? Ask me in the comments!