Over the past couple of years, DIY website builders have become the go-to for many entrepreneurs and startup businesses. From platforms like Wix and Weebly to Squarespace, the perceived value for freelancers and small businesses is a low-cost solution which makes it easy to build a nice website that is “SEO-friendly.”
While website builders have rapidly gained traction, it doesn’t take long before their limitations are realized by a growing business; especially those looking to generate leads online. To support the growth of a business and its online presence, it is very common that the underlying code of these websites need to be customized. This can be very costly, as making changes here tends to be more cumbersome for developers. Moreover, integrations, plugins and features are limited on these platforms.
If you plan to use a website builder, here is my advice: understand that your business will likely outgrow this website and only invest what is necessary at the time. Either make the website yourself (and avoid getting lost in the details), or have it developed for under $1,000. Too many entrepreneurs invest weeks to months of their time or sometimes spend thousands of dollars to build a website on these platforms.
For example, an established media production company here in Toronto spent $4.5K on a Squarespace website and decided they needed to switch to WordPress within three months of launching.
WordPress now offers advanced third-party builders such as Divi and Avada, which are easy to use and far more robust than stand-alone builders. Despite the advanced capabilities of WordPress builders, I would argue that they require less effort to build a website than the competition mentioned above (especially long-term).
Consequently, I foresee WordPress builders becoming a growing trend and gaining more exposure as the superior solution in 2018.
Note: It is worth mentioning, I think Shopify is an exceptional platform for e-commerce. The debate of WooCommerce for WordPress vs. Shopify will have to be left for a future article.
What does this mean for the future of web design?
I anticipate 2018 will host sleeker websites that likely apply the same underlying design principles we’ve seen in previous years. Since website builders are the main trend, most WordPress themes have focused on efficiently integrating with builders and creating a better builder. As a result, WordPress themes (which most web design companies rely on) have not changed and will therefore provide the same visual building blocks for the majority of business websites.
To exemplify the above, we can take a look at the number one selling WordPress theme of all time, Avada. Overall, there have been no noticeable changes in the main design of the template. What has changed, however, is the underlying code, which provides users with a better website builder experience.
The state of startup websites in 2018
As the founder and digital marketing director of an agency, I have to look at hundreds of websites every month. From a web design perspective, corporate and small business websites are not advancing the way they should. Take a look for yourself by picking any industry: accounting, finance, health, etc., and grade the design of each website in the following categories: clarity, navigability and overall user experience.
I attribute the slow pace in the evolution of web design to a lack of awareness surrounding the critical role of websites when it comes to internet marketing. Through no fault of their own, many entrepreneurs don’t know that websites lay the foundation for better return on investment (ROI).
The good news is that, as entrepreneurs, we excel at learning from our mistakes; we can’t afford not to. Simply put, the average marketing solutions are often lost among hundreds or thousands of competitors’ websites yielding close to zero (and sometimes negative) ROI. It’s not surprising that a small but growing number of entrepreneurs are seeking competitive marketing online lead generation in order to stand out. As entrepreneurs, we must look for a marketing expert we trust to execute our vision, not necessarily the sales person from a firm with a big portfolio.
Looking for web design? Here’s some advice…
On this topic, the best generic piece of advice I can provide is this: if online marketing is critical to your startup’s success, I recommend avoiding all DIY website builders.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to establish an online portfolio so people can simply learn more about your business, WordPress builders are a great solution. If you don’t have the budget to satisfy the competitive landscape of your online marketing space, and you don’t have a website already, consider using a builder to create one in the interim.
Quick Tip: While price is certainly an indicator for design quality, it does not ensure it. Find an internet marketing expert or agency you trust and work with them to identify a website that will give you a stronger ROI on your marketing endeavors.