With quick and simple do-it-yourself websites like WIX and Squarespace becoming increasingly popular these days, it’s no surprise that many businesses and individuals new to the online world are opting for these options to promote themselves. After all, they offer fast set up, payment plans and drop and drag page builders with backends that are beginner friendly and offer a very affordable way to get online.
But how do these cheap websites compare to professionally designed and developed websites? What restrictions are there and is there really any value for money in the long run? The answer is, as with nearly all things, it depends. Let's take a look.
On a recognised platform such as WIX or Squarespace, prices start as low as $15 (AUD) per month up to and exceeding $90+ (AUD) per month. These packages offer a set range of specific features with the ability to upgrade to a more feature rich package as your requirements dictate.
The pro's of these platforms are clear, they are cheap but you are more or less on your own on how to build it and add the finishing finishes. They are like buying a kit home that you then pay rent on.
A custom built professional website will generally be priced as an upfront cost with the average price ranging from $1500 - $4000 or more depending on the level of customisation required. In addition to the upfront cost of the design and development of the website, an ongoing annual hosting fee is generally billed on a year on year basis to cover the hosting, maintenance and backup costs.
A professionally built website is more expensive up front but can be much cheaper in the long run because their is not ongoing platform fees or commissions. This is like having an architect and builder construct your home which you own.
DIY website platforms are closed to the features and options that their developers provide. If you have a specific request or function that you would like added then the answer is likely to be no. Keep in mind that because they are locked down, this means that there is less flexibility in customising the website to your needs. So it's a bit like buying a kit home. You can change the paint, choose the bricks and the furniture but if you want skylights and a spiral staircase then the answer is most likely going to be a no.
It's also important to note that there is only one WIX or Squarespace so you really can't move your website to anywhere else. You are stuck there for life! You can of course sign-up with another platform but you would need to rebuild your website from scratch on their platform using their tools. So using our housing analogy from earlier, this would be like renting an apartment for the rest of your life.
This is like constructing your home with an architect and a builder. Generally the answer to "can I have....?" is yes because you are not locked down to a specific set of features. Feel free to chop and change and have your website function however you like.
Unlike the DIY option, you ultimately own your website like you would own your own home. You would still pay rates (annual hosting fee) but you would have the ability to pick your house up and put it on a different block of land if you wanted to. It's your website for life and you can host it wherever you like.
With a build-your-own website such as WIX or Squarespace you will choose from a range of pre-made templates and have to modify them yourself. Obviously this means that your website will be the same or similar to thousands of others. If you are looking for a unique design for your business then this might not be the best option.
It's very important to note that these templates utilise high quality graphics and photography which significantly add to their visual appeal. Thats ok, but just keep in mind that a design is only as good as the sum of its parts. If you add poor quality images and graphics to a gorgeous template then its going to go down hill pretty quick, so don't expect your site to look as nice as one that has been built by a professional designer.
It is also worth considering that you will be doing all of the work yourself. You will write all the text, source all the images, modify all the fonts, the graphics and ensure your layout is user friendly for all devices. It's important to factor in what your time is worth when building a website and learning the platform.
With a professional design you are paying for the time of a Website Designer to come up with a unique layout and look specific to your requirements. Not only is the design unique to you as the client but so is the functionality of the website. Want a specific pop up to convert users to sign up? No problem! Want to expand and add an online booking platform? Easy.
Our team does a great deal of work behind the scenes to ensure your website is built correctly. Visually, you will also be assisted through the process regarding the selection of images, use of text graphics and layouts. When our staff work on custom tailored websites, we offer advice on image selection and notify customers of images that are incorrect resolution, we resize images and compress them for you to reduce page load speed which is a factor in search engine ranking.
We provide free access to hundreds of thousands of professional stock images. We give feedback on wording to ensure that your search engine ranking will be as good as can be. We also offer to provide professional copywriting if requested. We set meta description tags, alt-image tags, schema markup and focus keywords. Additionally we design and test our layouts to ensure they are efficient for the user to browse on desktop, tablet and mobile, another critical component to search engine ranking.
If a large part of that went over your head then we don't blame you! Just please keep in mind that these are just a few of the hundreds of criteria which effect your search engine ranking and will make the difference between your website being found within the first search results on Google and being the last. Just because you have a website on the internet does not mean people will know it exists. If you are constructing your website yourself then you are likely missing almost all of these factors.
Online platforms generally offer support in the form of chat boxes, email ticketing systems or over the phone. They don’t have face to face support and you cannot access a brick and mortar location to speak with a staff member. You won't speak to the same people every time so you will need to quote a reference number or explain the situation over again if you are encountering issues. This is more or less the responsibility that comes with building your website through a website builder platform. Online platforms can offer assistance with how to use their software but don't offer design advise or SEO help.
Although, some online platforms offer VIP subscriptions so that your request goes to the top of the list.
At Hi Tech Creative, we offer face to face support in store and in video conference meetings during the entire build of your website. We are also available during working hours for phone or email assistance and you are always our priority so you won't need to bother with signing up to a VIP subscription. And don't worry, we learn our customers names too so you don't have to worry about being another number in the queue waiting for their turn.
Our custom tailored websites are specific to your business needs. We do all the hard work in making your website be as search engine optimised as possible and mobile responsive to help your website kick ass in the online world. We also make sure that your website is a benefit to your business’s development online through custom functionality which improves workplace efficiency and captures new customers. With full control over coding and flexibility, there is very little that we can’t do for you.
Both DIY and professionally built websites offer legitimate options to getting online. DIY options remove the most expensive component, the web designer and hand you the controls to construct your own website. While cheaper, they are more restricted in functionality, are locked down to one platform and become more expensive the longer you own them as a result of the ongoing subscription model. Support is generaly less personal and you receive no personal assistance towards the design, layout or wording. Generaly these site will rank lower as SEO critical criteria is often incomplete or overlooked completley.
Professionally designed websites are more expensive upfront but become more cost effective as time goes on. You own your website for life and can modify its look and functionality as much as you like. With the input of a web designer these will generally always rank much better on search engines than the DIY alternatives. Support is local, personal and the design, layout and wording is done for you.