Websites are getting easier and easier for the individual to make. Plenty of online services provide the tools for you to make your own site in exchange for a monthly fee. Simply choose one of several premade templates, set up the number of pages you need, type in the text, and upload some photos. There’s no need to work with a web designer or developer.
But is it really that easy, or is it too good to be true?
Without identifying these services specifically (since this is not a full review of any of them), I will take a look at the general pros and cons of them as well as give you information to help you make the best decision for your own website.
Pros for do-it-yourself website services
- They’re usually easy and fast to use. Simple point-and-click interfaces, text editing, and photo uploading is usually all you need, and you can have a website done in a day with little to know technical skills necessary.
- There’s no large outlay of cash. While working with a web developer or designer often means that you need to pay for custom, professional services, the DIY options usually charge a monthly fee instead.
- SEO is improving. While many of these services had terrible search engine optimization tools to help your site be ranked well by Google and Bing, most have made strides to shore up their SEO offerings.
Cons for do-it-yourself website services
- There’s little customization. Your website’s design is limited to a few templates they offer, and there’s usually no way to tweak pieces of it here and there. You may trade flexibility and customization for ease of use.
- You keep paying monthly (or annual) fees. While it is true that you would be paying for domain name renewals and web hosting with a custom designed site, the fees are usually a bit lower than what the DIY services charge.
- You can’t take your site with you. If you wish to move to another service, or the service closes, you will probably find that your website is actually their property. You most likely wouldn’t be able to export your content or your design to be used elsewhere and would have to start from scratch. (This could also apply to your domain name if you register it with them.)
- You may not get the functionality you need. Whether it’s an ecommerce solution, a calendar function, or a product review page, not all DIY services have all possibilities available.
Learn what’s right for you
It’s your website, and only you know what you need it to do. There are times when a DIY website service may be the right way to go, perhaps for something temporary, when there’s little cash, or when design may not matter. But when custom design and functions matter, or when it’s important that you own your website and can take it anywhere you want, working with a professional may be your best bet.
The bottom line? Read the fine print of any agreement before you sign on. Know what you need, and find the solution that can meet those needs.