I met with a potential client last week who’s been trying (without a lot of success yet) to put together a real estate site using one of the ubiquitous do-it-yourself sitebuilder packages on a prominent host.
He asked me point blank: “What can you do for me that’s better than what I can get on (name of ubiquitous host)?”
A very good question. We talked for about an hour, and I answered his questions and just submitted a bid for his project last night. But I thought I would summarize here… (Not in any particular order).
- Custom websites. I don’t use templates – if you go with a sitebuilder, you’ll be using a template that maybe dozens or hundreds of other sites are also using. If you go with a pro, you should get a totally unique site that’s customized to fit the goals and personality of your own business, not a carbon-copy of someone else’s.
- Clean code. Sitebuilder applications tend to put out really messy, bloated code. A pro who knows what he/she is doing will write clean, valid code and externalize all those scripts. He/she should also be checking across multiple browsers, testing for accessibility and validating code (IMO) and this isn’t something that probably occurs to most users of sitebuilder apps.
- (Probably) better rankings. I know that many of those ubiquitous hosts offer SEO tools, and that’s great. But the messy code and sometimes just confusion about using the SEO tools means that websites don’t get optimized the way they should be.
- No monthly fees. I know that (ubiquitous host) doesn’t charge much, but you generally pay by the month unless you pay up front. When you hire a pro, you pay and you’re done. And yes, pros charge more, but when you pay very little, you tend to get very little.
- More efficient use of your time. If you own a business, you’re probably a very busy person. Why spend hours or days or weeks working on a website that looks like many others? Hire a professional and get what you really want – something that makes your business look good and helps you establish and improve your relationships with your clients.
All my opinions, but I think they’re valid ones. DIY sites may be okay for personal sites or if you’re just starting out, but eventually moving up to a custom, professionally-built website is a better move for many small businesses.