Nine Problems with DIY Website Builders 

DIY website builder

There have been an explosion of DIY website builders1 over the past ten years. They promise to be easy to set up and simple to maintain, but are they really as good as they claim to be?

If you’re a small business owner, finding the time to work on your website can be a challenge, especially when you’re working 12 hour days already. The claimed convenience and alleged affordability can make these DIY website builders start to sound pretty attractive. However, when you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll soon discover that they aren’t all what they’re packaged up to be.

The Truth Behind DIY Website Builders

They do a good job of selling themselves with the 'quick and easy' set-up slogans and the 'cheap to run' tag lines. So if you genuinely don't know what your looking for and just want 'a website', it's pretty easy to see how they’d sound tempting.

The thing is, nobody really only just wants ‘a website’. You want a shop window for your business, an online method of generating leads; to grow sales; a digital marketing strategy; to attract new customers; to increase your customer loyalty and countless other things. You see, your website is there to serve your business objectives, whatever they may be.

When you pause to consider why you want a website in the first place, and what you need it to do, you'll quickly realize that your needs are specific. And if you want your website to perform as best as it can and market your business effectively, then you need it to do exactly what you and your potential customers want it to do. This is where DIY website builders start to falter.

The Problems

To help you make an informed decision and put those DIY website builder sales pitches into perspective, we've put together some of the top reasons why DIY website builders honestly aren't likely to meet your needs.

Standardized Sites = No Originality

DIY website builders often have a limited number of templates (or designs) to choose from. This means that there’s a large chance of many other websites using the same design as you. If thousands of websites look exactly the same as yours, you’ll struggle to stand out, which will hurt your online brand, especially if you’re running an e-commerce store2.

2. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Implications

Getting to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) when your potential customers search for something related to your business on Google, Bing, Yahoo and so on, is one of the best ways to find new customers online. With DIY website builders, the help on hand to achieve this is limited and the effect of built-in SEO capability is often below par3.

3. Domain Name Restrictions

It’s important to have an easy to remember web address (or domain name) for your website. It’s what people will see in search engines and on your marketing materials. Most website builders don’t allow you to create your own domain name3, so instead of www.MyCateringBusiness.com, you’ll have WebSiteBuilder.MyCateringBusiness.org or something just as hideous.

4. Unintuitive Content Management Systems (CMS)

When you make changes, create new pages or edit your web content, you’ll use a CMS. Some of these website builders have a difficult to use CMS, which makes it hard to create new pages, edit content and make changes on your website4 quickly and simply. Some only let you build one page websites too, which is more restrictive than gardening in a straight jacket.

5. Inefficient Support

If you’re new to the internet or you’re creating your first business website, having support on hand when things go wrong is important. Some DIY web builders can take a while to respond to service requests, sometimes taking longer than a day to get back to you4. How many sales might you lose in 24 hours?

6. Poor e-Commerce Facilities

Few website builders come with e-commerce facilities either as standard or as an added extra, and those that do tend to be poorly executed. You might be able to get your online store up and running, but making any customized additions and specific changes is virtually impossible5, and expanding is also a challenge6

7. Hard Blogging

When it comes to online marketing, blogging keeps your website fresh and is often the cornerstone of your user engagement. DIY website builders often make blogs difficult to customize, hard to maintain and they usually have less flexibility over RSS feeds7and social sharing. Some might not even help your SEO8, which is one of the primary reasons for blogging in the first place!

8. Sub-Standard Website Analytics

To make your website better and increase sales and leads, you need to know what’s happening on it; what your users are doing and why they’re leaving. You can use website analytics to do this, but many DIY website builders use old tracking scripts9, which lack accuracy, or only offer limited features10, which won’t help you make informed decisions.

Making the Right Choice

DIY website builders are well intended and mean no harm. As comparably cheap and easy to set up as they may, in some cases be, they almost certainly won’t meet your business needs and you’ll outgrow them quicker than a toddler does its shoes.

I’m yet to find a DIY website builder that can address each of the above points, like you would if you went to a proper development company. So don’t fall for the sales pitch; take your time, do your research, understand what you want, then speak to people (link to http://www.fasttrackteam.com/connect.aspx) who can help you achieve your goals properly.

This way, you’ll have a future proof, professional, unique and purpose-built website that will grow with your business and constantly meet your needs. And isn’t that what a website is supposed to do in the first place.

References

1 http://www.top10bestwebsitebuilders.co.uk/?kw=easy%20to%20build%20websites&c=42443432077&t=search&p=&m=e&adpos=1t2&dev=c&devmod=&mobval=0&a=2021&gclid=CjwKEAjw9qafBRCRiYrL4-fpuFkSJACvocQ1zc6qaxRoQgRCTZCXcH63h27cYiIgpofmZAAcOruS1RoC1MLw_wcB  

2 http://www.techradar.com/news/software/best-e-commerce-website-builder-8-reviewed-1029591

3 http://cyberjunkeez.org/2013/08/does-free-website-builder-affect-site-page-rank.html

4 http://superbwebsitebuilders.com/moonfruit-review/

5 http://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/best-ecommerce-software/

6 http://shopping-cart-review.toptenreviews.com

7 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS

8 http://www.websitetooltester.com/en/reviews/wix-review/

9 http://superpixel.co/21-reasons-shouldnt-use-wix-site-builder/

10 http://website.1and1.co.uk/web-analytics-mobile-app

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Posted by Sunday, August 17, 2014 3:51:00 PM Categories: B2C retail marketing web design web development website

Five Security Tips You Need To Implement 

By Steve Hoag

Website security tips

Website security is a huge issue right now. Heartbleed has affected many people. Homeland Security claims it’s no safe to use Internet Explorer anymore. A new threat, ‘Covert Redirect’ recently reared its ugly head last week. Multiple US agencies and Fortune 500 companies were affected by threats like these. That’s why it’s becoming increasingly important to maintain a high degree of security on your website. You never know when you may be the target of a cyber-attack. With that being said, check out these five tips you can implement right now to keep your site secure:

Restrict users from uploading files to the website server.

One of the easiest ways to boost your website’s security Is by preventing users from accessing your server files or uploading their own. Clever hackers may eventually find their way in, but don’t make it easy for them by allowing them to upload malicious files.

Require passwords that use a variety of character types.

There are too many people out there that have easy to guess passwords for important websites. Your password should never include your name, or anything else that’s easy to guess. Make sure that your website requires users to choose passwords that include upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.

Keep your website software updated.

CMS developers will often come out with new updates to address performance, security, and technology issue. Always make sure to update your site to take advantage of the latest developments! Hackers look for websites that aren’t updated, because their security systems aren’t up to snuff.

Read the news!

This may seem like a no brainer, but staying up to date with current events is an easy way to stay aware of new security threats and how to avoid them. Imagine if Fortune 500 companies decided to stop keeping up with current events and never heard of HeartBleed. They would have a huge problem on their hands, and have no clue what they were dealing with! A scary proposition indeed.

 

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Monday, May 19, 2014 11:53:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web development web trends website

How To Improve Website Accessibility 

By Steve Hoag

how to optimize your website accessibility

Website accessibility is all about making sure anyone and everyone can access your website. There are many users out there who have disabilities or may be using devices that require additional accommodations. That being said, some things that can be done to improve accessibility will improve the user experience for everyone. Check out these tips on how to optimize your website accessibility:

Ensure your color scheme has an appropriate amount of contrast.

Color blindness is a very common condition among users. Make sure that your color scheme has enough contrast so that people with color blindness can still distinguish what exactly is on the page. Tools like colorfilter.wickline.org help to mimic colorblindness on your website so that you can see where to make changes.

Utilize alternative content where necessary.

Alternative content is useful for users with vision/hearing problems.  Alternative content means using text for non-text content. For instance, using words to describe images, or including transcripts along with videos for users who are hard of hearing. A text only version of your website can also be useful for users with slower internet connections or devices that are outdated.

Utilize skip links.

Skip links allow speech software to skip over links/navigation items that are repeated on every page. This is useful for people who are vision impaired and don’t want to listen to the same menu items being repeated on every page. Skip links allow users to skip over repetitive links so that they can access the primary page content.

Explain Select Menus.

The default value on select menus should describe what the menu is intended for. For instance, if a form is asking for your bodyweight it should label the default value of the select menu as ‘select body weight’ instead of leaving it blank or including number with no explanation. This will help to ensure everyone clearly understands the purpose of forms and fields.

Use descriptive link names.

Use descriptive links whenever you can! A link that says ‘click here’ isn’t nearly as useful as ‘click here to download Windows 2010.’ When in doubt, be more descriptive. 

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Tuesday, April 29, 2014 11:24:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web design web development website

What Is Website Usability? 

By Steve Hoag

what is website usability

Website usability is essentially the ease of use of a website. There are a variety of factors that go into usability including things like font, page load times, site search accessibility etc. It's important to ensure a high degree of usability so that more users can easily access and utilize your website. So how do you improve website usability?

Keep load times reasonable.

 Users are going to go to another website if a page takes too long to load. Users are fickle. They aren't going to sit around waiting for your website to perform better.

Use an easy to read font/color scheme.

What good is a website if a user can't read any of the content on it? Pick a normal font and color scheme to make life easy on your users. The last thing you want to do is burn your customers' retinas.

Intuitive navigation.

Another important factor in website usability is employing an intuitive navigation system. Make sure all the important sections of your website are easy to find and access in the nav system. It's important to also ensure that your nav system isn't overly complicated. Don't include too many menu items. Stick to the basics to keep it as streamlined as possible. 

Keep copy concise and explanatory.

A website with a high degree of usability makes great use of its copy. It's concise, easily digested, and very informative. There isn't much filler to discourage or frustrate users.

Make sure headings are clear and descriptive. 

People don't read website copy word for word. They skim and scan the entire page for what's important. That's why using clear and descriptive headings is useful. They can often replace a long-winded paragraph, and are much more user friendly. Would you rather read a sentence or five sentences to understand the same message? Exactly.

Make URLs meaningful and user-friendly.

Using meaningful URLs that have keywords in them can be helpful for users and search engines alike. They can help users understand where they are within a website, or the purpose of a page. 

 

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Monday, April 28, 2014 10:35:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C SMB web design web development web trends

The Biggest Web Design Mistakes to Avoid 

By Steve Hoag

biggest web design mistakes

Web design is a constantly evolving profession. There are new trends and technology popping up with regularity. As things change, it is important to take note of what you should and shouldn't do while designing a website. We are going to focus on what you shouldn't do. For example:

1. Making the design too flashy.

You know what they say, sometimes less is more. Everyone wants to create a website that wows people. That doesn't mean you need to jam pack it with tons of videos, images, and effects. You don't want to be overbearing and make your client's website look like a 13 year old's MySpace page. There's a reason minimalism has made a comeback recently. 

2. Not making a website responsive.

Not making a website design responsive can create a huge competitive disadvantage for any business. Users aren't just using computers to access the Internet. They're using phones, tablets, game consoles, and more. Mobile browsing is exploding in popularity. If your client can't afford a responsive design that's one thing. You should definitely recommend it if they can though!

3. Creating a confusing navigation system.

Having a confusing navigation system is like trying to figure out a terrible map. It can become virtually impossible to figure out where you need to go, and create a ton of frustration for anyone using it. You need to keep the navigation as simple and streamlined as possible. More options can create more confusion. Focus on what is essential for the user, and make important pages easy to access.

4. Using hard to read fonts.

There are some pretty cool, crazy looking fonts out there. That doesn't mean you should use them for a public facing website. Users need to be able to read what's on a web page without having to strain themselves. That means picking standard fonts and colors. That means no wingdings and no neon colored letters. Make life as easy as possible for users' eyes.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, April 16, 2014 11:27:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise web design web development web trends website
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