“Why should I hire a web developer when I can do it for FREE?”
At a glance, Web builders are the perfect solution to establishing your web presence. They offer an extremely affordable and intuitive platform to bring your ideas to fruition; whether it be a startup business, a blog, or to sell a product online. Big names like Wix and Weebly offer the answer to your dreams. Just a few clicks and a couple hours and you’re live! These services certainly appeal to those who aren’t so tech savvy. And I do have to give them kudos for showing the general public that owning and managing a website isn’t as scary as you think. You almost wonder why anyone would pay an agency or freelance web designer/developer to do the work for you. After all freelance designers on average can charge $50-100/hr for their work. And an agency starts at 5k upward.
There is no doubt that web builders have their niche in this economy and decade. But there are some major differences between the web builder options in contrast to hiring a specialist to do the work for you.
Search engine optimization
Google, Bing, and Yahoo are the search engines that lead the masses. 68% of users rely on google alone. Each search engine understands the consumer is looking for fresh content, actively maintained and secure websites. As technology grows, compliance to their standards have become essential to any online business’s website. In order to keep or improve your Google rankings and to increase organic search results, you must stay up to date. A website isn’t meant to be a static page. It’s meant to convey a current and unique image of your business or cause. A small business needs to stand out from the crowd and attract more exposure and attention. 80% of Internet users rely on a mobile device to research a given subject, to read blogs and to make purchases. Google utilizes a mobile first approach. It is important to have a responsive design that will resize to the users screen for ease of use. This will establish a professional image and improve your SEO. Wix and weebly are unable to stay up to date in their SEO processes. They tend to fall low on the scale for three main reasons. The first is less unique content caused by a limited number of cookie cutter designs. Second is a lack of integrated coding. Third, they don’t provide recognized meta data and keywords or phrases. Many of these processes are automated leaving out much of your important SEO real estate. They tend to fall behind 6 months to a year for compliance in SEO, resulting in lower search rankings and less organic traffic within your website. A specialist will be able to zero in and make sure all valid content and SEO data will be utilized to its fullest ability. Therefore, improving your search rankings and growing your business.
Most web builders offer support. More often than not, support is based over seas. You’re left with generic answers to questions, with limited understanding. Language barriers are the last thing anyone wants to deal with when something has gone awry. By hiring a specialist to manage your website, you’ll have the convenience of having that developer at your fingertips. They work at your beck and call. If you have a question they can answer it. Did you make a mistake? They can fix it. They’re here to help and be your biggest advocate in your business endeavors. It’s a one on one, personal approach from someone with experience. They’re not just the IT guy behind a desk, but also a contracted consultant on web presentation.
Your business is a chameleon. It changes, grows, and evolves. Just as you and I. Initially, you may only want to simply establish your web presence. But as you grow, you will find specific requirements and functions you need within your site in order to keep up with competition to portray a professional image. Web builders are lacking in this department. There will come a time when your business will outgrow itself. With a site like Wix, it is very easy to hit this threshold. If you decide to hire a designer or developer agency, later on you will not be able to transfer your website, forcing you to start from scratch. There is no ability to edit code within Wix, so there is no way to move forward into a custom site from this platform. If you intend to have a successful business, know that you will be starting from scratch when the time comes to graduate to a professional website. If you run a blog you will lose all prior written posts. This may not be a deal breaker from everyone. Think about your plans for the future, and if you’re willing to start over again when the time comes.
So how do web builders compare against hiring a professional in cost? One of the best features of hiring a professional, is that most developers will be up front and transparent about costs. If you draw a clear budget, many developers and designers can work with you on pricing, giving you exactly what you need, and with the ability to add additional functionality later on. Instead of opting for the most expensive and labor intensive option, in many cases I can easily scale the project down, simplify the project with extensions, or pre built compatibility for future expansion plans. With a web builder, you will be expected to pay a monthly subscription fee in order to gain really much of anything. Once you add additional features either your monthly bill goes up or you’re expected to pay for plugins that otherwise would have been free or already included with any other web design by a developer. Email marketing, reviews, contact forms, blogs; all of these things require add-ons in a web builder environment. But are assumed in any development project. What I’m getting at is both options will require money in one way shape or form. But with the help of a pro you have more control over the outcome, and can manage to keep a budget while also getting the features you need. I’ve found that the average Wix site runs approximately the same price over the span of 2 years as hiring a professional (beyond that time frame the web builder sites actually seem to cost much more). The overall price is about the same, both can run more or less than the other. You can certainly spend a lot more while working with a specialist, but only if you want to develop something that you otherwise would not get from a standard website. If you compare the Wix prices with shared hosting plan prices out there, shared hosting plans offer more features and a lower price
Overall I would say the decision should be pretty clear, when possible hire a pro. Look at your options and gain some insight. A web builder site can fill an immediate void for a website, but there is little to gain from one of these sites within the constrains provided by these web builder companies in the long run. As far as overall bang for the buck goes, satisfaction, peace at mind, professional appearance and investment, hiring a specialist would grant you the most for your money. And in the end you’ll be able to expand your limitless horizons.
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