What is a website builder? Are website builders free? Are website builders any good?
What is a Website Builder?
There are tools out there called website builders which, for the layman, can be make the process of building a simple website something they can do for themselves, and that’s great if you want to try your hand at some DIY web design without knowing how to code.
But having worked with some of these website builders (Wix, WordPress, etc), I can see that the additional code many of them generate, which along with the usual plug ins, very large images, and dozens of links to large external code files, etc., can result in a website which might look good, but loads slowly and isn't favoured by the search engines.
There are exceptions, of course. Webflow, for example, allows the user (or designer) more control over the code it generates, and at time of writing this is my prefered website building tool by quite some margin.
Are website builders any good?
As tools, some website builders are quite impressive, but I'm more concerned with the end result, because that's what matters. In many cases I have found that some website builders generate excessively heavy code files which are 10-20 times larger than most sites require.
I also produce images which are better suited to the page and screen size of the device than a one size fits all approach that can so often be the case with website builders.
What does that mean in reality? Is it really a problem?
Large code files can contribute to a website being slow to load, and rank poorly by search engines. Large images can be an even bigger problem. All of this can result in frustrated users or customers, who are more likely to leave your website than they would if it was quick and easy to use.
To explore this in further detail, check out my article on Page Speed and Website Builders.
I maintain very tight control on image sizing when I build websites. Besides streamlined code, images need to load quickly, and therefore they need to be of a size, format and resolution which will not keep your visitors or customers waiting, nor consume excessive data when viewed on a mobile phone.
Using different versions of an image and serve the most suitable version for desktop, tablet and mobile is the best approach. In many cases each webpage I build can have up to 7 versions of a background image. Why? To fit large desktop monitors, laptops with different screen resolutions, tablets with landscape and portrait orientations, and of course mobile phones.
Images, as well as other elements on a webpage, also need to load without them moving other elements on the page around during the page rendering. Google calls this
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) which is one of their
Web Vitals Metrics
It can be a huge frustration, especially when you click on something and it suddenly moves causing you to click on something else instead.
Is that so important? We sure if it means accidentally hitting:
Yes instead of
Buy instead of
June instead of
Try for yourself!
I have provided a few examples on a separate page called The Importance of Page Speed which shows how one of Google's tools rates the amount of time a web page takes to load.
Take a look and you'll understand why I prefer to produce more streamlined websites. That extra bit of effort, care and attention can certainly pay off!
Still want to use a website builder
By all means go ahead. Many of them are free to use, and you might be pleased with your efforts. If you get stuck, overwhelmed by the process, or come to realise that your time could be put to better use elsewhere, feel free to get in touch. My number is at the bottom of the page.
Likewise, if you reach the point where you have got your domain name registered and your website has been uploaded onto your hosting server, if you need some help with what needs to happen next, contact me.
We can provide a website health check, and have a range of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) services which might suit your needs.
- Page Speed and Website Builders
- Search Engine Optimisation
- The Importance of Page Speed
- Website Health Check
About the author: Daron Harvey started building websites and working on SEO back in 1996. From 2000 spent 20 years in eCommerce, project managing and maintaining global multi-lingual websites. Subsequently founded Targa Web Design, specialising in website design, UX and SEO.