As a designer & web developer, this is a question I see and hear over and over again from my fellow business owners.
It’s a common question these days because as the online industry becomes more accessible and more robust, more and more people are needing websites and they want them FAST, which means more website builders are being created and competing for their share of the marketplace.
So when I see business owners getting the WRONG advice when it comes to choosing a website builder, it strikes a nerve with me because I understand how being misinformed could mean wasting precious time and money.
That’s why when I noticed someone ask the infamous question, “Which website builder should I use for my business?” in a Facebook community the other day and found myself feeling frustrated (yet again) by the responses I was reading, I knew it was time to start educating my fellow entrepreneurs about the RIGHT kinds of questions you need to ask before choosing one.
First, when I was reading through other people’s’ responses, I noticed that most people focused on which website builder was “quicker and easier” than the other.
Squarespace, Wix, Strikingly and WordPress were all being compared to one another and while none of those are “bad” choices, there was zero context for these answers.
The person who asked which one to choose didn’t mention anything about their business and not a single person bothered to ask what types of products and services they sell! BIG mistake.
Here’s why: A website can have a DRAMATIC effect on your business, so if you choose a website builder solely because someone told you that it’s “quick and easy” to set up, you’re not giving your business the time and respect it needs to become sustainable and profitable. Your website is CRUCIAL to your success and “quick and easy” rarely gets the job done RIGHT.
Plus, factoring in WHAT you sell and HOW you’ll be selling it on your website is one of the biggest deciding factors in the type of website builder you should choose since not all of them are created equally or can handle what you need.
That’s why asking the RIGHT questions before you choose a website builder is the most important yet most overlooked step in choosing one.
What are some of those RIGHT questions? I’m glad you asked!
Below are 7 questions to ask yourself before buying that “quick and easy” website builder:
(TIP: These questions are not only useful for picking a website builder, but many other tools you might use in your business. Leah does an awesome job talking about choosing tools here.)
1. Will it complement the kind of business I have?
Certain builders are geared towards different business models. Maybe you’re a published author who frequently blogs, maybe you sell online courses, or maybe you run an Etsy shop. Whatever your business model is, make sure it’s aligned with the tool you’re using.
Squarespace is geared towards creative professionals such as photographers, painters and fashion models while WordPress has its roots in blogging but offers a ton of flexibility and scalability to create almost any kind of website you want.
Knowing and understanding your industry will help you make a more informed decision.
2. Am I fully maximizing the website builder I ALREADY have? (if you have one)
Some builders are so robust that it can take a lot of time and dedication to unlock all of their benefits, but try making it a priority to explore the different aspects and add-ons to any tool you’re using. This will often save you money and the headache of stitching together multiple tools.
For example, WordPress allows you to install plugins that are both free and premium that can expand the functionality of your website and prevent you from having to transfer everything over to a new service. Zippy Courses is an example of a WordPress plugin/theme that allows you to setup online courses on top of your WordPress site without having to move over to another type of website builder.
3. Do I need to buy more tools to fill in the gaps this website builder can’t fulfill?
If the builder you’re looking to purchase has some great features but is missing some crucial elements for your business, what will it cost to fill in those gaps? Are there competitive builders out there that offer ALL the key features you need? Try not to fall in love with one tool just because it has one awesome, cool feature but is missing a slew of other elements your business needs to succeed.
4. Does the website builder integrate well with the systems I currently have?
If you have multiple systems and tools in place, It’s very important that they’re all talking to each other and transmitting data and content seamlessly. Some systems integrate with only certain services. For example, Zippy Courses integrates with payment processors such a Stripe but doesn’t integrate with Square.
If a service doesn’t integrate with what you need, you can sometimes make it happen (but you may have pay for/do some heavy coding and integration), so stick to tools that integrate with or supplement for what you’re currently using.
5. Do I have my content organized and ready to publish when I install my new website builder?
When you look at website builders and templates, they often show examples of finished websites to really hit home with the “WOW!” factor. Once you purchase a website builder, you’re still responsible for your website copy, blog posts, images and possible testimonials. This can take some time to create and gather.
Make sure all of these assets are organized and backed up locally or to your cloud. Website builders are web-based editors, so let’s say you’re adding content in a coffee shop and the internet goes out– you might lose out on hours of work if you’re not properly backing up your work.
6. Does the website builder offer dedicated support that can help when you’re in need?
Many times, a company’s support staff and FAQ’s are overlooked or not used to their full potential. If you don’t have the budget to hire out right away, this can be a good option to help you out of sticky situations.
You can test a company by reaching out to their support team before you buy and have them answer all of your questions to see if it’s a good fit. You’ll get an idea of how well they handle their customers and this will also allow you to get the full perspective on their capabilities– not just what’s on the landing page.
7. Do I have the time to learn this without help?
You most likely have a lot of other responsibilities to take care of when it comes to your business, so it’s important to understand that certain tools have steeper learning curves than others. Is it worth the time for you to learn this? Will it provide a better ROI if you do? Would it be smarter for you to to hire someone to help you?
Time is money so make sure you’re factoring in how much of it you’ll need to get yourself setup with a new tool. If you find a new service that will better serve your business, bookmark it and make sure you’re prepared to make the switch before buying it.
No matter what website builder you’re looking at, the one thing they all have in common is the company that made it wants you to buy it! So they’re going to do their very best to make you think your website will be beautiful and function perfectly right out of the box. But trust me: No matter how “quick and easy” they say it is, you’re still going to have to spend hours setting it up and tweaking it to get it anywhere close to what you think it should look like.
So whether you’re just starting your freelance career or are a seasoned entrepreneur who’s building your first website for your business, be sure to take the time to research and ask the right questions BEFORE you buy so you can save a lot of time, money, and headaches in the long run.
ACTION STEP: Make a list all the things you want your website to do for you. (Don’t focus on the way you want it to look.) Now compare the features of different website builders to see which one will work best for your needs.