Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years you’ll no doubt have seen the endless TV advertising campaigns for low cost online website builders tool plastered all over daytime TV, evening TV and everything and anything in between. One.com, GoDaddy, Wix and Moonfruit have all have their offerings put out there and by the looks of it they have been quite successful in doing so. But are they the future? Are they the sign of things to come and are they really all they’re cracked up to be. Sure, they might make things easier for the layman but are they adequate enough when it comes to meeting the needs for the business user or even the home user who requires something slightly more detailed than a single pager? During this article we’ll look at what they offer, how they work and the advantages and disadvantages when using one.
Are They Really A Substitute?
First of all, personally, I don’t think there is any real substitute for making a proper website yourself or even hiring someone to do it for you. I appreciate that not everyone has the knowledge or the funding to go down that route but when all things are considered I think it is a much better option. But that isn’t to say that they’re worthless, far from it.
To get started, like with most things, you’ll need to work out specifically what you want, need and what you ultimately want to acheieve. If you’re looking for somewhere to blog, somewhere to post a few family photos or a personal homepage of sorts then you’re probably fine but if you’re looking for something to advertise your business you might need to consider your options.
All of the website builders I’ve looked at seem to have several price points. Some base it on page count where you’re able to create up to 5 pages for a fixed amount. Some base it on template choice, so on a base package you’d have a choice of 5 designs, on a medium package you’d have a choice of 10 and on the premium package you’d have unlimited – and so on. This I thought was a good way to do it and entice users in, from a business perspective. But for the end user you’re going to end up paying more money for something just to make it look good – although you’d do the same thing if you hired a web developer privately, so it’s to be expected. Some price points are also based on where you will keep the site. If you’re using your own domain or would like to buy a domain to use with your new site then you’ll be expected to pay more. If however you’re keeping your new project locally, on a sub domain of the provider then you’ll pay less. The pricing at the provider end doesn’t change much for either of these options but as a consumer the price difference will be significant – I guess they need to make their money somewhere!
Which Offers Is The Easiest To Use?
One of the easiest ones to use, which I found during my investigations was the PrestoWebsite offering from UK hosting company, HostPresto. This, closely followed by the offering from Wix.com was my favourite during the testing. The PrestoWebsite site is particularly interesting as it offers mobile versions or mobile responsive versions on all of their packages. If you’re building a website in 2015 then you’ll need to have a responsive version. Mobile and tablet usage is constantly rising and it’s estimated that 60% of your overall traffic will come from mobile devices – so making a site without that compatibility is going to hinder your operations significantly.
So how do they work and how do the interfaces compare? Well, luckily if you’ve used one you’ll be able to use them all as they all basically do the same thing. They’re all drag and drop based which means you start with a blank canvas and simple drag elements onto it in the same place you want them to appear on your website. Adding text boxes, photos, logos and new pages is all extremely easy and even the least tech-savvy individual will have absolutely no issue in creating pages as they see fit. You can do all of your website development via the interface itself and you’ll need absolutely no coding knowledge whatsoever to do so. You will however need an eye for design and will need to know what looks good in order to get your page to at least a somewhat professional level.
Be sure to publish your site ASAP as if you don’t publish you’ll no doubt be inundated with e-mail after e-mail from the providers who seem to like to remind you 50 times a day to get your website online or upgrade to a higher package to allow you to do so!