Website Builders vs. Custom Web Design

Congratulations! You have decided that now is the right time to launch your first website. You now have two options – using a website builder or having one custom-built.

Website builders are great – there are lots of benefits to using a website builder.  But (of course, there was a “but” coming ) there can be some negatives too.

We are here to explain the pros and cons of using website builders versus having a website designed and created from scratch to help demystify it all and help you make the right decision to meet your needs.

What’s the difference between a website builder and having a custom web design?

Before we start on the pros and cons of both, it may be worth remembering the main differences.

A website builder is an “off the shelf” option. Normally based on a very simple drag-and-drop approach to insert your details into a pre-prepared website: a DIY approach. You may hear people talk about WordPress, WIX or perhaps Shopify.

A custom web design is when you work with a professional web designer who codes and builds the website specifically to meet your needs.  Designed and built for your Users, and bespoke to you.  This is written in code such as HTML, JavaScript, or CSS.

Pros of using a website builder

  • Speed of creation – within minutes you can have a website.
  • Cost – can even be free
  • Server Management – included so no worries about domain name and so on
  • Links with third parties – easy to link in with your social media accounts and other limited third parties
  • No expertise is needed – most are almost a drag-and-drop approach. You just need to know the info you want to share
  • Easy to customise – for example, there will be different colour palettes, fonts and images you can us

We agree that these benefits are fantastic and are worth considering but there are cons to be aware of. The cons may still be worth it – it depends on the stage of your business, and what you want to achieve from your website.

Cons of using a website builder

  • Speed of creation– whilst your website can be created in minutes, it can look like it! The cost of that speed can be leaving you with something that performs poorly, isn’t accessible and doesn’t give a great user experience
  • Cost – can quickly escalate. Every “nice touch” or add-on comes at a cost which can suddenly leave you with a cost you didn’t budget for, with an outcome that looks like a DIY website
  • Server Management – Tech support can be poor in extent and responsiveness
  • Links with third parties – tend to be limited to social media, and can be restricted, meaning you can’t link to other third-party providers you may already work with
  • Lack of expert input – with little or no help with SEO, performance, optimisation, legal compliance, branding, and market segmentation. This can all result in a slow, poor-performing website.
  • Limited Customisation – when you are buying off the shelf, so is everyone else! There is only so much you can change and adapt which means your website ends up the same as everyone else’s, leaving it feeling stale and boring.

As well as flipping the pros into cons, we would also add to the list:

  • Difficult to develop and move away in the future – a basic website may be OK to kick off with but what about when your business and team grows? You may want to improve the user experience, or the speed of loading, or work on the SEO which means moving away from your website builder. This can be anything from impossible to extremely challenging due to how it is set up.

The other option is to have a custom web design built. This doesn’t need to be complex or expensive, but like the website builder option, there are still pros and cons.

Pros of Custom Web Design

  • Bespoke Design – with strong branding and designed to suit your Users
  • Bespoke Integrations – allowing you to link with third-party applications already in use
  • Optimised – to make sure your website is quick to load and responsive
  • Yours to own – by developing and building on an open-course content management system, you can easily take the website and content to a new developer. (Not that you would ever want to if with Popcorn!)
  • Easy to use – you can opt for it to be built on a system which is easy for you to use enabling you to update your site directly if you wish
  • Partnership – we work with you, in partnership to support you long term. Whether that is with technical help, hosting, or SEO support.
  • Bespoke SEO services – what is the point of having a cracking website if no one can find it? A custom web design will make sure that SEO is tailored to suit your needs and make sure your website is found
  • Content – often you can get content creation and copywriting as part of the custom website design package. This can make it more cohesive and improve the User Experience.

Cons of Custom Websites

  • Time – there is no denying that a bespoke custom website is going to take more time than a drag-and-drop template.
  • Cost – a custom-built website will likely be more expensive. How much more expensive will depend on all the add-ons and functionality that you need to add to the basic template of a website builder.

So which is best?

There is no simple answer. It will depend on your business and your needs.

As you can see both can work well, and both have limitations. Now you know the pros and cons of both it is worth having a chat with us before making your final decision.

Make sure you think medium to long term about the needs of your business, and how best to invest time and money into a website. If it is your main marketing “shop front”, you want to make sure you stand out from the crowd and have a website that performs well so you may want to go custom-built.

If budget and time are tight, a website builder may be the right answer.

Give us a call and we can run through how both would work for you, and your needs.

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