The question below…the one you’re about to read…might be the absolute best question any business owner can ask when they’re thinking about launching an eCommerce website to sell a product or service.
Here it is…
Why would any business spend money on a professional web developer when a web builder service (like Web.com, Wix.com or Weebly.com) can do it for virtually no cost?
Your mind is blown, right? Probably not, but rest assured your answer could mean the difference between an online business that booms and one that busts; one that makes customers call or one that makes customers cringe. With this in mind, let’s dive a little deeper into the cost and features of both options so you can make the best choice for launching your online business.
What will it cost?
Cost is an appropriate place to start because all businesses need to understand how they’re spending their money. And, as you may already know, web builder services cost less…sometimes a lot less…than professional web developers. So, for businesses operating on a very tight budget, web builder sites could be the best choice if—and this is a big IF—spending less money is the only consideration.
But the goal of your business is to make money, right? If so, you need to think about your website as so much more than just a place to sell your product or service. You need to think about creating an excellent customer experience (so you get repeat business and quality referrals) and a superior employee experience (so all day of everyday isn’t spent managing your website). This is where front-end features (what your customers see) and back-end features (what the business experiences) become critically important.
What will I get?
With most web builder versions of eCommerce sites, you will receive a templated website that has a handful of basic features to establish and run your business. Again, if your goal is to simply offer a handful of items for sale, web builders could be a viable option. After all, you will have a online storefront that allows a customer to visit your site and make a purchase. And you could—as these sites promise—have your site up and running in under 30 minutes.
However, there are some serious drawbacks to using web builder services if you have a desire to grow your business.
To start, you never actually own your store. With web builders, all of the information it takes to run your site is typically stored on their server and all of the files used to create your site (HTML, PHP, JPG, etc.) aren’t usually provided to you. This is critically important if the site builder service ceases to exist in the future. If they cease to exist so does your website. With a web developer, you actually own the coding, images and other files associated with building your site.
The coding, too, is protected. As a result, you can’t go into the code and make changes even if the changes will improve your website and your business. For example, if you need a modified checkout flow or would like to offer promotions, it’s often impossible to change the core logic to satisfy your business requirements. Web developers are the exact opposite—their goal is to build and manage your site so it meets or adjusts to your business needs.
Another important consideration is the user agreement. In particular, make sure you know what happens to your website if the site builder is hacked and your website is corrupted or deleted. Most web builders don’t guarantee against these types of losses. A reputable web developer will offer a far superior user agreement that shares liability for these types of events.
Think, too, about your experience as a customer who used a web builder service. Specifically, what is the process for getting issues resolved when you have a problem with your site? In most instances, you will call the web builder’s customer service and a representative (who you’ve likely never spoke with before) will walk you through possible solutions. If those solutions don’t work, you will likely need to submit a ticket for additional help. Sometimes the ticket is responded to quickly, but the fact of the matter is that you are just one customer in a long line of other customers who also need help.
If your online business can withstand a day or two (or more) without running properly, customer service probably won’t be a big issue. But if you rely on your eCommerce site to help you earn a living and pay your bills, then teaming with a web developer is extremely important. Web developers are more like partners who build a relationship with you. They understand your business because they consulted with you before developing your site. They have an account representative who is assigned to personally help when you have an issue.
Are web builders suitable for some businesses? Absolutely. They don’t cost much to start. They offer some basic tools to begin selling online. And they can usually have you up and running in a day or two. However, custom-built websites are a far superior solution that outpaces web builders in quality, flexibility, adaptability, customer service, and protection. So, choose wisely…your decision could be the difference between failure/frustration and success/smiles.
The following video should help you in better understanding the difference between web developer and web builder:
To speak with a professional about launching your eCommerce site, contact DotcomWeavers at
[email protected] or 888.315.6518.