Web Design & Development

Website Page-builders – Should you use them to build yours?

Non-coding website page-builders are becoming ever more popular, but are they doing more harm than good?

With more companies offering the “build it yourself” editors, we’re seeing more and more people swap the high fees of hiring someone else to build it and dive right into building it themselves. Although this sounds like a no-brainer to the average joe looking to get themselves online, it could cause more damage in the long run.

Now I’m not going to start bashing website page-builders, because I agree that they can be very beneficial for smaller, start-up companies trying to get their foot in the door. And they offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to the visual aesthetics. I’ve built my own person Wedding Photography website using Elementor page-builder, which has served me very well.

However, both website editors & wordpress page-builders should only be considered if you’re looking for a quick solution to get you online. Lets dive into what you can expect when using a website editor and page-builder.

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The difference between Website Builders and WordPress Page-builders

Differentiating between a website builder and a wordpress page-builder is important.

Website Builders

I’m sure you’ve seen the countless adverts on tv and streaming services with celebrity endorsements encouraging you to spend your money on builders such as Squarespace & Wix, instead of option for a custom build from a professions. If you haven’t, then simply head to youtube and you’ll spot one advert on any video.

These builders offer you the world but once broken down, you start to see why they are possibly one of the worst choices you could make.

WordPress Page-builders

These page-builders, such as Elementor & Oxegyn, are mostly downloaded and installed onto your WordPress platform, allowing you to easily swap out the old editor for a new, easy to use editor loaded with pre-built themes and elements.

Now that we know the difference between these two, lets take a deeper look into what they offer and the possible negative affects they can have on your online presence vs a clean custom build.

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The Cost

The first place many business or start-up owners will look into is the cost. It’s what drives decisions in business, and for those starting out or looking to save as much as they can, website page-builders can be an attractive option.

The most popular builders available today offer service for as little as £8 per month, and theres many to choose from to. I’ve broken these down into sections to help you gain an idea of whats available.

Non WordPress Website Builders

  • Squarespace – An online website builder & hosting platform allowing users get online quickly & securely. Monthly memberships start from £10 and their highest reaching £30 per month.
  • Wix – Similar to Squarespace, Wix offers the same website functionality for half the price, with their highest membership setting you back £18 per month.
  • Weebly – Offer simple, basic functionality tailored to smaller, start up websites. They offer a free basic plan to a full business membership of £18 per month.
  • Godaddy Website Builder – Not as popular as the rest, but still used for website building. The Godaddy builder offers a basic CMS allowing you to create, publish and house all your website assets in one place.

WordPress Page-Builders

  • Elementor Page-builder – Arguably one of the most popular wordpress page-builders out there right now. Elementor offers a free editor (limited) , a personal account allowing up to 1 website installations for $49 per year, a professional account allowing up to 3 websites for $99 per year, and their highest membership, Expert, allowing up to 1000 websites for $199 per year.
  • Oxygen Page-builder – A page-builder which promises less baggage than the rest, but with a one-off payment. Their lowest basic plan is $99 with limited access, whilst their highest one of payment plan including everything is $249 – they also run regular offers on their plans.
  • Divi builder – The top dog of page-builders, Divi has seen thousands of downloads and users, offering many pre-built themes and customisation for $69 per year or a one of payment of $249.

These all might sound the perfect choice for your new online venture, and for some of you, they might just be the perfect match! But like everything, they all come at a cost…

Having used both website editors and wordpress page-builders before, I can tell you first hand that on the outside, they’re brilliant. They offer you pre-built pages, easy to drag elements and a very user friendly CMS. But whilst its great to use and visually appealing, it’s in-fact whats beneath the surface that has a more troubling affect on our website.

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SEO performance

One the most important factors to making your website successful is for it to have a brilliant SEO performance. Ask any web designer & SEO guru and they’ll tell you that everything website built needs to built with SEO in mind.

Although many of the page-builders above offer brilliant integration to plugins like Yoast & Pagespeed cache optimisers, it doesn’t exclude the fact your website will most certainly have a low performance score (unless you invest heavily in SEO services).

This is because website and page-builders come heavily loaded with extra code, some which may not even be used or structured well. This will affect how your page loading times and ultimately decrease your performance score. Now, there are plugins out there which can help boost this, such as Nitro Pack, however, they also come at a hefty price which only adds more to your budget.

Another reason this could affect your rankings is that you essentially have no control over your website code. You’re very restricted with what you could change because the page-builders are created for easy usage, and are not intended for deep coding.

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Mobile friendly

Having a mobile friendly website is the upmost important factor your website can have. This is because a number of reasons.

  • More and more users are accessing your website using their phones and devices – more users, higher chance of conversions
  • Google rank your website based on your Mobile Usability – simple terms, if your website is not mobile friendly, you can kiss your high ranking goals goodbye.
  • Person preference but how frustrating is it when you can’t operate a website on your mobile!

With a number of website builders, (such as Wix, Squarespace etc) mobile responsiveness design very limited. I’ve seen many Wix & Squarespace websites fall way below par and subsequently suffer on google for it.

As for WordPress page-builders (such as Elementor, Oxegyn & Divi etc) you do have an option to customise and build your mobile approach, although you are limited compared to custom builds.

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Standing out

For all you creatives out there, this might be the killer blow. Almost all of these page-builders (wordpress or non-wordpress) offer you an array of pre-built themes and pages, making it a lot easier for you to add, chop & change anything on your web-page with a click of a button. As pleasing as this sounds, you have to look at the bigger picture. The odds of another company using a similar, if not, exact copy of your layout are high, with many users option for the themes simply because they lack the knowledge of web design best practices.

This could have a knock-on affect for your business too. If clients land on your website and instantly recognise your using an online page-builder for £18 per month, it could instantly devalue your business. It could show them that if you’re willing to spend cheap on your own online presence, then they might get the same bang for their buck.

Limited Options

When you use a website builder, your limited in what you can edit & build. The biggest irritation I’ve found is that without installing additional plugins, you can’t really enhance your website further than the options available. This means that amazing functionality your saw on your competitors website is not possible to do on yours unless you spend countless hours hooking a paid plugin of hiring an expert.

WordPress page-builders offer a bit more flexibility, however again your are limited to what they release in future updates, meaning they have more control on what you can do with your website than you do yourself.

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Once your in theres no getting out

I’ve heard horror stories from users who opt for website or wordpress page-builders. With builders like Wix & Squarespace, you can buy your domain, hosting & everything needed within your account. This means once you opt for a change, it is 10 times harder to migrate or move you details. If you do get the option to transfer, be prepared to pay over the odds to do so.

Another worrying note, which not many people realise when option to use a website builder, is that you don’t actually own the website you’re paying for.

In fact, it is the company you’ve built it with who owns everything on your website, meaning their is literally no where to grow your business without starting fresh.

This isn’t the case for WordPress page-builders however, as you are only using their editor on your own wordpress platform. There is a down side to this too as many page-builders offer a monthly plan, which if disabled, can lead to errors on your own or you clients websites.

The Conclusion

While the temptation to use an online website builder or a wordpress page-builder can be high, it’s important to weigh out the long term plan and vision of how you want your online business to grow. Although you could set up your website for a lot less than hiring a professional, you sure see that return on investment vanish in the future.

My advice would be to avoid the website builders at all costs because of all the negative outcomes. If you are wanting to build a quick, easy to manage WordPress website, then the page-builder options might be good for you, but be prepared to put in the money and effort to make your website rank!

Finally, if none of the above options appeal to you and you are a person who would like to invest into your business future long-term rather than find a short term solution, then without a doubt, hiring a professional to custom build you a website it the path you should take.

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