Nowadays, getting a site up and running is faster and easier than ever. Many hosting providers offer “free” website builders that allow you to put a site together with a few clicks. These are great if you need a simple web presence with a few pages (homepage, contact, blog, etc.).
The trouble begins when you need any sort of custom functionality specific to your needs. This is when “Free” isn’t so free anymore. You may be in the predicament whereby you need to purchase expensive premium add ons or plugins.
Another caveat to drag n’ drop website builders is that they add a lot of unnecessary markup and code to your site. This results in slower load times and a poor user experience. Website and page builders often become unmaintainable by an admin in the long run.
The first little pig
The first little pig used a freemium website builder
The first little pig owned a hair salon and decided to build a site with a free web builder through a hosting provider. The first little pig was up and running in no time. With a few clicks of a button and uploading some images, the first pig had a simple homepage, blog, services page, and a contact form ready to go. The site was a success right out of the gate. Clients were able to communicate through the form, get in touch with the salon, and view the services provided.
As the business grew, the pig decided that the site needed some sort of scheduling solution to create appointments for clients along with a user login/profile. With the web builder, there wasn’t a ready solution out of the box that could achieve this. There were several premium scheduling add ons for a monthly fee, but none tailored to a salon.
The theming and styling of the plugin didn’t quit fit the look and style of the pigs site either. Bummer, the pig ended up having to reach out to the plugin provider to request a custom solution for the site that ended up costing a big chunk of change. This is just one small example of some of the issues you will run into while scaling a site created with a web builder.
The second little pig
The second little pig used a theme-in-a-box with a page builder
The second little pig represented a new luxury apartment complex that needed a site created to feature amenities, surrounding points of interest, rates, floor plans, along with a leasing portal. The second pig decided to go the cms route and leveraged wordpress. Instead of hiring a developer, the pig decided to purchase a premium “theme in a box” tailored to apartment and condo leasing. Surface level, the theme had everything the pig needed. The demo data within the theme showed amenities, floor plans, and a easy click integration with a 3rd party leasing platform.
The pig installed the plugin, imported the demo data, and then started to plug in his content. This is where the trouble begins. While adding content, the pig discovered that the theme was pieced together with FIFTEEN different third-party plugins including a page builder framework. The theme was heavily reliant on these plugins for a lot of the desired functionality. That means that if one of those plugins breaks during an update, it could jeopardize the entire site.
The pig also discovered that the page builder was very difficult to work with and modify. There was just WAY too many unnecessary features and settings. Taking a closer look, the theme wasn’t very responsive either. It looked great on desktop, and it looked good on mobile, but broke in between breakpoints.
To make matters worse, the themes speed relied on another caching plugin. In reality, the site was very inefficient with slow load times. Poor load times result in a poor user experience and a higher bounce rate. The prebuilt theme needed to be scrapped and the pig had to higher a developer to rebuild the site. This ended up costing the pig more money in the long run.
The third little pig
The third little pig went with a custom developed website
The third little pig owned a distillery and was looking for a unique site that would help his company stand out from the rest. He decided to hire a web developer for a custom built site tailored to the brand. Before diving into code, the developer scaffolded a wire frame and provided mockups to illustrate the flow of the site. This laid out the foundation for the exact desired functionality. Once the pig gave the approval, the web developer began coding the site.
The end result was a unique, optimized site with all the features requested by the pig. This included a unique user friendly navigation, an interactive directory map to locate where a customer can buy the product and custom product pages. The site was also very easy for the pig to update using a simple modular approach with custom reformatted blocks.
A month or two later, the pig decided that it would be a good idea to add a home for cocktail recipes complete with video tutorials to the site. The pig reached out to his web developer with the request. Since the site was built in a modular way with future growth in mind, the developer could easily add this new custom functionality with ease.
As the business grew, the pig was able to easily scale and add new functionality as needed. By avoiding the pitfalls of a website builder or a prebuilt theme, the pig ended up saving time and money in the long run.