Are website builders really right for you? 

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Pick a template, choose some colors, throw some words down…a few clicks and you’re done. You can build a website faster than you can say “business plan” these days — or so it seems. Once that pesky hurdle is jumped, it’s time to focus on the really important stuff like customers and extra kerching! Right? It looks so fast and easy. You’re probably already thinking ‘Perfect, what website builder should I use then?’ But, is that really the best way to go?

Instead of considering your website as just a means to an end, perhaps it’s better to think of it as part of the end, or even something that doesn’t really end at all. Now, that doesn’t mean you’ll be creating your website forever. It just means that you need to consider how your site (along with your business) will evolve over time — and it’s best to consider that right at the start.

So, to find the best website solution for you, we won’t simply compare website builders. We’ll compare your wider options to give you the big picture. 

First, let’s dive into exactly what web builders are and why they may (or may not) be what you need in the long run.

What is a website builder exactly?

Website builders, like Wix or Squarespace, are basically software that allow you to create and customize websites without the need for extensive coding or technical expertise — although there are other platforms that can do this too. They generally offer pre-set templates and other ‘drag and drop’ elements that let you add, edit, and arrange the components of your website’s pages.

Other important elements, such as domain names and web hosting, are usually thrown into the package — although not always with much choice or technical transparency involved. But, again, that’s fine if it’s really what you need. More on that later.

If it seems too good to be true…

Obviously, all this speed and simplicity comes with some drawbacks that you should be aware of before signing up and locking yourself in. For all their promises, it’s important to address some of the common disadvantages of website builders.

Trapped content 

Should you decide to leave the website builder, transferring to another provider can be extremely challenging. You may be able to export your content onto files, but you could lose specific features that depend on the platform’s JavaScript and CSS. It’s often not even possible to switch to a new site on the same platform. For example, you can’t export content from one Squarespace site to another if you decide to pivot or expand.

Complex migration

While there are methods for moving your website, the process is intricate and time-consuming, particularly when dealing with images and other digital resources. Unless your website builder generates clean HTML code that belongs entirely to you, you risk losing a great deal when terminating your contract. Particularly when using website builders’ ‘exclusive templates’.

Why is it so hard to move? It’s because you probably don’t really own your website outright. You’re basically renting it. The website builder/company may own some of the crucial areas like layout, design, and underlying code. Like a shop landlord laying claim to all the furniture and fittings, and potentially more. 

Growing pains

So basically, if nobody moves, nobody gets hurt. But if you want to upgrade, adapt, or grow your online business to meet new challenges or opportunities…good luck. The hidden costs of website builders are not necessarily visible straight away, or financial to start with. It’s more about how much time, effort, and potential growth they can cost you. 

There are other more general website builder limitations, such as SEO issues and limiting designs, but the inability to adapt and grow is key. 

So I need to code then?

Well, not exactly. If you’re up for the challenge of coding then you can ultimately have the most freedom and scope to create exactly what you need, but getting to grips with coding languages just might not be for you. You could always hire a developer to build your site for you, but this may prove more expensive. And while you would own your site, you’d still be dependent on outside help to update and adapt it when necessary. 

Ultimately, the decision to code a website yourself will come down to how comfortable you feel with technology. But there is another way… 

How can I own my website without code?

If you want to own your site without needing to code it for yourself, it’s worth considering a content management system (CMS) instead of a standard website builder. 

Now, a system that manages content may not sound like the right thing to create a website, but really the best ones are so much more. Over 43% of the world’s websites are made using WordPress, which is the world’s most popular CMS. That’s a massive 810 million+. 

It’s because many are open source, and they allow users to store, publish, delete, and modify content in a database. This allows you to own your own content. Options like WordPress also offer a huge range of design templates to choose from, including both free to custom-built purchase options. So you can have access to the visual elements you need for a great-looking user-friendly site.

A CMS may not seem as overtly simple as a website builder, but remember that popular phrase "Invest a little more time upfront, and you'll save a lot more time later."? It’s a popular phrase for a reason. 

What about the extras? 

It’s important to consider that a website is just one aspect of what you need. For example, you will need to choose a domain name to give yourself a web address, and select your web hosting to power your website and literally take it online. 

Sourcing these products and your other services, like enhanced business email, from separate providers is common but hardly going to make for a very efficient business. This is where website builders can seem like such a good idea. As mentioned before, you tend to get your website builder hosting and domain name thrown in without much of a mention. But you should also take a closer look at what you’re signing up for. 

Choosing a domain name

Your domain name should be considered properly — it’s basically the name of your online brand and identity. Think about what your business is called. Will it work as a domain? Is it already taken online? Which top-level domain (TLD) do you want? Will you choose a .com domain for immediate trust and recognition? Or select a newer option like .ai or .io to show fresher credentials? It’s an important first step. Make sure you own your domain, and that you’ve got the right one. 

Adding your hosting

What about getting the best web hosting for your startup or small business? You may not care too much about it right now, but think about what type of hosting plan you are going to be on with a website builder. Probably the most basic. Can it handle all the customers you need? Can it accommodate email? Can it give you extra websites if you need them? Can you upgrade if you need to? You don’t want your website slowing, crashing, or just not fit for purpose. 

Most website builders are designed and marketed to get you in and online fast without too much thought. That might seem great initially, but it is also part of the problem. Sometimes, it’s better to see a clearer picture of your options before you commit and get stuck. 

The best of every world

Most would have to admit that choosing the CMS route has not always been the easiest way — especially for beginners. You need the freedom to pick the right CMS platform and the extras to really build an online business. Plus you need greater choice and transparency, but you still need it to be as simple as possible from start to finish. That’s a lot of needs. And that’s always been the problem. The ability to choose, purchase, and connect everything you need into one simple platform has never been as simple as it sounds. 

Even at our sister brand, Namecheap, delivering truly connected products in the simplest way possible was something we spotted needing improvement. That’s why we created Spaceship to be at the forefront of domain and web services.  Using its unique Unbox™ system you are able to choose your domain, hosting package, email services, and more, then connect everything into one easily managed platform. 

You can then choose from a range of open-source CMS platforms (yes including WordPress) or even build your own site using code if you prefer. You can also upgrade or add services in a few clicks as you grow. Still worried about what to choose? The Spaceship platform can even recommend product bundles for you to get started more easily. It can bring everything together like never before. 

Make the right choice for you

Ultimately, it’s about what you really want. There are advantages and disadvantages of using website builders. If you’re seeking a quick website builder for small business needs — and believe that will always be the case — then go ahead. If you’d like more choice and freedom to pick and connect everything you need into one place, a platform like Spaceship is the best option. You can be website ready in minutes, and ready to grow your ideas online without so many limitations. 

It really comes down to whether you want short-term gain or to build for longer-term success. Instead of thinking ‘What is the easiest website builder?’ think about what is the easiest way to build a website for your successful future. The answer is closer than you think.

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