What is the true cost of that cheap website builder you’re so excited about saving money on? Let us count the pennies…
In a world completely upended – not quite apocalyptic, but fairly locked down and laser-focused on staying home and far from the madding crowd – the importance of a high-functioning, give-the-people-what-they-want website has never been more crucial to the success of your business.
With that in mind, how is the health of your website? Is it doing all it can to help your business succeed (or even just stay afloat) in a time when online is everything? Or is your website built on the wobbly foundation of a cheap website builder, doing the bare minimum to stay online?
We’re here to tell you that it’s definitely worth spending more to make sure your website is working as hard for you as it could be. Yes, we are all budgeting harder, trying to make it through to the other side with our sanity (and spending power) intact, but skimping on your website just might cost you way more in the long run.
Read on to discover the true cost of a low-cost website and why choosing to spend a bit more upfront on professional website design like WordPress might just save you money and a lot of moaning down the road.
6 Reasons to Skip the Cheap Website Builder
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” Benjamin Franklin, who uttered these words, might have lived long before the time of websites, WordPress and Wix, but he certainly was prescient. That one little sentence sums up the true cost of skimping when it comes to choosing a cheap website builder over a website design that is scalable, flexible, optimizable, and, ultimately, yours.
A quote from a guy long gone not enough reason to let go of your inner miser? Here are six reasons, rooted in the present, to skip the skimp and spend a little more on your website.
1. Lacklustre User Experience
If the user experience on your website is poor, you won’t have users coming back to experience it. #realtalk.
Not only this, but search engines too are placing increasing importance on user experience. By gathering data like time spent on your site, bounce rates, return visitors, pages per session, page load time etc, Google et al. are able to determine whether your site is a user-friendly resource, which is then factored into your search ranking. Three of Google’s biggest algorithm updates in the last decade, the Panda (2011), Hummingbird (2013), and RankBrain (2015) have placed user experience at the fore, with higher rankings given if you have a more user-centric approach to your website.
But what does this all mean in terms of your website, its design, and whether or not you’ve gone cheap with a templated site builder?
To create a really good website, one which offers both your customer and search engines a smooth, easy viewing, seamlessly navigated experience, you need:
- Great design (that is also mobile friendly)
- Good site structure
- Excellent SEO
- Compelling content that is relevant, useful, informative
- A menu that is simple to navigate (without being too simplistic),
- Fast load times
- Important information that is easy to find, and
- No dead links or broken images.
Does all this sound like something a ‘cheap’ or ‘free’ website builder might be able to offer you? Unlikely, wouldn’t you say, considering the size of the ask?
Cheap website builders might make the initial setup super easy, fun even, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, the things that make your site user friendly, searchable and rank-able, cheap just isn’t going to buy you much.
2. Most Cheap Website Builder Products Have Less-than-Stellar SEO
Cheap site builders might offer some tools to help you with SEO, but like most things in life, when it comes to SEO you get what you pay for. Given the importance of SEO in getting your site found, and the importance of your site being found given the times we live in, mediocre SEO might as well be money thrown down the drain.
Having a well-designed, professionally SEO-optimized website will improve your Google search ranking. This, in turn, will help your customers find you in a sea of websites and lead traffic to your site. Which, in its turn, may land you a new sale, lead or loyal fan.
While we certainly can’t fault budget-friendly website builders for their ease-of-use or their basic SEO options, most tend to not focus on the kind of SEO that really matters when it comes to helping your site rank better on Google. The code and structure of your site, which is built-in at the design phase, is a key element of SEO. With site builders, you do not have control of the code and you can’t use structured data to increase your local SEO. In short, one-size-fits-all site builders, with one-size-fits-all code, can’t possibly create an SEO package that would actually fit all.
With site builders, you do not have control of the code
3. Most Are Mobile…Unfriendly
Did you know that 62% of companies that designed a website specifically for mobile reported increased sales? (Econsultancy)
Or that 67% of shoppers report that they are more likely to buy from a website that is compatible with mobile devices? (Think with Google)
While website builders are certainly getting better every day, with some even offering options to ensure your site looks at least decent for mobile (and/or tablet) specifically, very few offer you the kind of baked-in mobile-first site design that is becoming more and more important for search success.
Mobile-friendly website design involves far more than just making sure your site is responsive to changing screen size. But that’s all cheap (or free) will buy you… if you’re lucky. For more on the importance of a mobile-friendly website design, and everything it entails, click here.
4. Sluggish Site Speeds Are the Norm
If your website is slow to load, at any stage or page, it’s bad for your user, which means it’s bad for search, which means it’s bad for rankings, which means it’s bad for business.
Let’s look at the stats for a second to back this up:
- 47% of consumers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less; (Kissmetrics)
- 40% of people will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load; (Kissmetrics)
- The change in a website bounce rate spikes to 100% when a page takes 4 seconds or more to load. It jumps to 150% if a page takes 8 seconds or more to load. (MobileJoomla);
- A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions; (Kissmetrics)
- If an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1-second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year. (Kissmetrics)
Site speed matters…a lot.
Now think about it: everybody likes free or cheap. You weren’t the only one to be lured by the cheap site builder you’re contemplating. In fact, as of 2021, Wix is host to an unbelievable 160 million websites (WebsiteToolTester). Weebly is closing in on 2 million (BuiltWith), and Squarespace hosts over 4 million (BuiltWith). That’s a lot of sites to be sharing server space with. No matter how powerful the server, this much sharing isn’t going to result in a whole lot of caring for your tiny fish in a big, big sea. Sharing server space creates less resources and slower websites. No debate.
For the kind of site speed that wins friends and rankings, you want your site to be hosted on a fast server without 72 gajillion other sites as your neighbours (no matter how friendly the neighbourhood).
5. Forget About Scalability & Flexibility – Very Limited
As your site traffic grows, your business will grow. As your business grows, you’ll want your site to grow. And so the story grows, erm, goes.
The thing is though… cheap site builders don’t allow for much scalability or flexibility when it comes to growing and customizing your site to your bigger, better, bolder needs. There are no options to easily modify originally coded templates or apps to add extra functionality or custom setups to your site. And while some site builders will offer support to implement such changes for you, there goes any pretense at cheap. (In other words, it’s going to cost you.)
By choosing to build your website from scratch on WordPress you might need professional help, some time spent learning how to manage it yourself, and a bit of extra budget for ongoing support, but it will be worth it in the end. You will have greater control over your site design, the ability to customize as much as you want, when you want (or when you can afford it), and the ability to scale up, down, sideways and roundabout.
6. The Low WOW Factor of A Cheap Website Builder
We’ve already established that the world wide web is a great big sea, the biggest of all the seas, and we are all but tiny fish in it. Standing out from the crowd online is undeniably hard. Do you know what makes it harder? Using the same semi-customizable template as a million other sites using the same cheap site builder, and associated templates, as you.
What’s more, your online customer is not stupid. They know when you’ve cheaped out on your website. Trust us. They know. They see your template (and, if you’ve opted for the free version of your site builder, the associated advertising), and they raise you a lack of trust in your brand. In fact, 48% of people cite a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business, while 94% cite web design as the reason they mistrust or reject a website. (IronPaper)
Bottom line? Going cheap on your website is not a good look, and it’s a look that your savvy 2021 consumer can spot a mile off.
While we completely understand the need to budget and keep costs as low as possible, a cheap web design is not the place to turn Scrooge. Not only can it lead to wasted time and money, but it could end up costing you more in ways that really hurt: your brand perception, your online reputation, your business’s ability to grow, and your bottom line.
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Our team are experts in online marketing with a specialization in SEO and website design! If you’re looking to make your website work harder for you, in all the ways that really matter, we can help.