The truth about Wix and Squarespace
If you are on the fence about a website builder, ask my son. He created a website when he was 5.
As a first-time mom, I naturally held on to my all of my son’s masterpieces — until the collection of paper became a fire hazard! Together, Griffin and I created his own website that showcases his curated art.
Griffin’s website was one of his better show and share moments during circle time! Our son’s website made me realize something very important about DIY website design. The technology is relatively incidental because it’s the marketing that brings your website to life.
If you are considering a website builder such as Wix, Squarespace or Weebly, here is what Griff could tell you about the DIY web design process and whether it’s the right fit for you.
Affordable website design with a process that works for you.
Website builders are cheaper than hiring a professional but they require a lot of your time.
Griff had a leg up on website design because … well his parents know a thing or two about website design. However, a majority of the population does not understand domain name registration, DNS records and nameservers — let alone style sheets and image compression. Also, Griffin’s WordPress site required a lot more effort than DIY website platforms that force you into a template.
If you are launching a blog or a new business website without startup capital, a builder such as Wix and Squarespace is viable option. They are often very affordable — even with the inevitable add-on fees on top of the advertised price:
- customized URL = add-on fee
- take the Wix banner off your website = add-on fee
- search engine optimization (SEO) = add-on fee
- security compliance so you’re website isn’t flagged by Google = add-on fee
These website builders make it look so easy! Wix is an all-in-one solution — set up your domain, get personalized business email, install an SSL certificate and get started designing your website. Boom. Done.
OK. Not exactly.
The design part can take some time. Even for the technologically proficient, it takes time to learn a new program and to hone the design to fit a unique brand. For people who have never designed a website before, the design process takes even longer.
Griff didn’t have to worry about resizing his artwork for .jpgs, writing the content, setting up the theme, installing plugins, optimizing for responsive design, etc. As a DIY website designer, you have to learn all of these details on your own.
And once the website is launched, the job isn’t over. In some ways, it’s just beginning. Every website platform, including Wix and Squarespace, have software updates that can affect the design and functionality of your website. As a DIYer, it’s up to you to troubleshoot these transitions. The customer service for website builders isn’t exactly instantaneous either, because in most cases you’re not talking with a real person. Instead, you’re searching for answers in knowledge base articles or customer forums that never seem to answer your particular problem.
If your website is down and you have to hire a professional web designer to get it back up and running, you will run into issues. There are many website professionals who won’t touch your website because of how annoying it can be to work with DIY web builders. You can’t just migrate your site or copy it to another platform because Wix and Squarespace type builders don’t have that option.
DIY websites never look like the picture on the box.
I wish I could say I was a crafty mom who loves to bake. One Christmas, I tried making snowmen cupcakes with marshmallows. When I handed over my little gifts to the neighbors, the snowmen were falling over and the black frosting for eyes had run down their faces — more goth and less Christmas.
Websites from DIY builders can be like Pinterest projects gone wrong. They never look as professional or as sleek as the demo — partly due to the user’s skill level but mostly because the advertised sites are produced with limited content and striking stock photography. And once you choose a look, you’re stuck with it.
I can spot a DIY website on first sight. First-timers make the same mistake: They dive into the website process without putting any thought to planning. They input their credit card information, choose a template and start plugging away. The final product is loaded with loud headlines with different typefaces, confusing and misleading messaging and functionality issues.
DIY websites never do what you want them to do.
Griff’s website was easy to set up because there isn’t any functionality; it’s a long-running blog with photos. And because he’s a kid, I instructed search engines to not index his site — if only business websites were as easy!
In today’s competitive digital marketing landscape, the pressure is on for a seamless, intuitive and even delightful user experience — from online forms and e-commerce stores to client portals and robust galleries. So, in addition to high quality content, all websites require fine tuning small details. If the site is sluggish, you have to figure out what’s causing it. If the payment gateway is confusing for the end user, you have to figure out a way to simplify the process.
Many all-in-one web building applications focus so much on what the templates look like that they neglect user-friendly functionality and digital marketing. Wix and Squarespace have remedied a lot of these issues, but they are still catching up with the rest of the digital world.
Wix and Squarespace, for instance, have been plagued with negative reviews for a lack of attention to SEO and easy Google Analytics installation.
Wix recently fixed some of these issues — such as bad URL structure, alternative texts for images, blog meta data and Flash. They’ve even added an on-page SEO add-on. Squarespace also had a change of SEO heart.
Many articles about website builders, however, agree that current issues with SEO is a combination of user error and lack of SEO planning.
The bottom line
If you’re set on the DIY website route, using a website builder like Wix may be a good idea at first. It’s easy to use. It’s cheap.
Like all marketing efforts, web design takes your precious time. While you’re fussing with finding the right color to match your logo, fixing that image that overlaps text or searching for the areas to add SEO descriptions, you could be running your business.
For Griffin, he’d rather play video games.
How well do you know your website?