Top five things to consider when using a hosted DIY website builder for regionals?

July 17, 2022
Est. Reading: 4 minutes
Jason Greenlees

By Jason Greenlees

Top five things to consider when using a hosted DIY website builder for regionals?
This is a rather hard topic because I know there are lots of people part of the network that love SquareSpace, Wix, or some other hosted website builder but is it really the best solution for you and or your customers?

Perhaps it’s better to do the design part yourself doing the UX wireframe and UI concept for approval by the customer rather than just jumping in and doing something with a nice template. Often it comes down to cost of time and money where you might have a win 60% of the time and that’s good enough to decide these tools are your best tool. I have to point out that these platforms are really nice, well designed for the most part and easy to use which is why your customers might like them at least initially and you can get the kudos you deserve for putting something together that your customer is satisfied with.

  • You’re discounting your skills and talent by using these platforms that a five year old can use. You’re telling everyone that it’s easy anyone can build a website and endorsing this to the world. Put up a picture and some text and get an IT guy to do the techy stuff to delegate the domain.

    There’s a solutions process that should be followed which is best practice that involves specialists in each area in order to get a more professional product that delivers results. You could use the process with specialist with these platforms but it doesn’t change the fact they are targeted at the end user as a DIY solution.

  • You’re not seeing the project long term for yourself or your customer. You want to have a relationship with your customer that grows their regional business. You want to see them succeed and be part of their story. You want them to shout from the rooftops you’re the best agency in the world. Ok, maybe a little bit too far but the point is using a hosted platform means that you’re delivering your customer to that business for them to make lots of money out of them in hosting and other charges. While you get something up front for the build their may not be as much of a need for you to be involved with them in the future and if you are to charge a maintenance fee, what exactly are you charging for? A couple of emails a year wishing them merry Christmas or letting them know that their website is down.

    Far better to have a hosting and maintenance fee that sustains you and gives you freedom to be able to properly manage and be part of their business in a way that means growth for you and for your customer. Why not host the site yourself on a platform you trust with a support team you call by name in Australia. You just need to cover yourself with an SLA and backup, backup, backup and be able to restore or have a site restored for you within 24-48 hours. Sounds terrible I know but most regional customers unless it’s an ecommerce store putting through thousands per day won’t even notice.

  • Accessibility and SEO – I put these two together although their really not related all that much. Many of these DIY builders do not have the same level of support for screen readers or WCAG support. SquareSpace for example don’t have alt tags on their images just to name one. WordPress and Drupal out of the box ticks most of the boxes on basic WCAG requirements.

    SEO has seen a big push from marketers on the DIY builders to try to address this negative point which has been a long time argument from professionals that these types of sites just won’t compete for speed and performance. There’s a lot of truth that comes from these marketers, it’s not just all fluff DIY builders do use some super quick content delivery networks (CDN) setups, caching and optimised images ticking the boxes where they can.

    However like any platform it often come down to the user or site architect on what they do with the platform after starting the project. For example I’ve seen a SquareSpace score an “F” on a performance rating while getting the same site on WordPress with the same assets score an “A”. One of the things I love to do is to take a site that is performing poorly on a DIY platform and rebuild it using our website builder of choice WordPress with an Oxygen builder setup to rebuild the site within a day and take it from an “F” to an “A”.  We then host the site ourselves so we get ongoing revenue from it rather than the DIY platform.

  • Flexibility to customise – If you’re really truly going through the steps of developing best practice in a business marketing solution then you don’t want platform constraints to hold you back or have to use a work around to achieve the outcome your looking for.

    While there are plenty of layout, colour, font, image and content choices there are still plenty of things that can’t be done in these DIY builders that can be done with WordPress or Drupal. Creating custom content or post types with fields is one for me that maintains structure and layout consistency and is something that always gets used on most projects.

  • Webbooks and automation plugin customisation – Most marketers would look at these things ad think its geek stuff. There is however real benefit to a customer being able to integrate multiple systems using web hooks and APIs.

I once ran a large project using Drupal where we had to migrate thousands of records GEO spatial records from a CSIRO database through to some custom mapping capabilities. Some customer modules were needed to be built to pull this data and to interface with the external database on a regular basis. There’s no way this could have been done with an off the shelf DIY builder like SquareSpace or Wix.

Jason Greenlees

About Jason Greenlees

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