Creating a website for your business can be an amazingly satisfying experience, if you know what you’re doing. If you don’t know what you’re doing, your web design project can quickly morph into a frustrating, time-consuming process. Many die-hard do-it-yourselfers, lacking the budget for pro, opt to use a page builder platform.
Several platforms have become extremely popular because they allow you to create a website with absolutely zero coding or web design ability. Most of them have standard templates and you simply replace your text and images with theirs. Page builder technology is growing and there are more and more built-in processes coded in, but there are just as many limitations. While responsive layouts and animated text have become standard, most will not allow you to manipulate page elements as freely as you’d like.
Web Design Should Be Unfettered
If you’re looking for the most versatile platform for web design, WordPress rules. There are numerous reasons why 30% of websites on the internet are built with WordPress. And, it’s pretty impressive that the New York Observer, TED, USA Today, CNN, Fortune.com, TIME.com, Spotify, TechCrunch, and NBC websites are all powered by WordPress.
There may be a steeper learning curve, but you’ll have unlimited design options with free themes and plugins as well as beaucoup premium plugins and add-ons. Themes vary in ease-of-use, but in the end, you have a better website and better optimization ability, which will get you better search results. Depending on your skill level, you can customize a theme, use a page builder within WordPress, or create your own layout in their core editor.
Like They Say, Content is King!
If you really don’t have an eye for good design or a good handle on what makes great content, you’ll find it won’t matter what platform or template you use, your results will be less than ideal. You may need to hire someone to create compelling content that will effectively tell your story and get the results you desire. Even if you are happy with your creation, it’s always good to have a pro look at it. Remember, your website is the first impression most potential clients will get. You don’t want to turn them away with clumsy writing, unbalanced pages, and questionable images.
About That SEO
To be honest, most page builder platforms will work against your SEO (search engine optimization); some in insurmountable ways. While improving your ranking on a SERP (search engine results page) takes dedicated focus and consistent effort, you will find it’s more difficult with platforms like GoDaddy, Weebly, and Wix. With these platforms, most of the page content is hidden within their page structure and driven by scripts. Your keyword-rich content won’t be seen by search engine bots and you’ll have to work extra hard to drive traffic to your pages.
I’ve used a few of the page builder platforms out there, so I thought it might be a good idea to share a a few tidbits about the most popular ones. Maybe it’ll save someone a lot of time and headache. I’ll give a brief overview of the top 5 platforms: GoDaddy, Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress, with an SEO Score of 1 to 5.
GoDaddy has been around for a while. Starting as a web hosting company, they took advantage of their built-in customer base and started offering a drag-and-drop page builder. With GoDaddy GoCentral, you can build a basic website, but you’ll have to do it within their design limitations. Their low-end business plan is free for the first month and then it’s $9.99/month.
SEO Score: 0 – Not recommended. I hear their SEO Wizard is dysfunctional.
Weebly is a another drag-and-drop editor with limited template options. If you’re doing a small, brochure-type site, it’s fine. Image editing is not possible, although you can add video backgrounds and custom headers. They have a free plan, but you’ll have Weebly ads on your site and won’t be able to have a store. Their paid small business plan offers fully-integrated e-commerce and starts at $25/month
SEO Score: 1 with the free plan. Maybe slightly higher with the paid plan, but still not good.
Wix is a slight step up from Weebly. The user interface isn’t logical to me and editing images is redundant time waster, but they do offer some text animation and mobile apps. It’s not very SEO-friendly and the free plan adds Wix branding, so your site will look totally unprofessional. The small business e-commerce plan is $17.00/month and they appear to be running a 50% off sale right now.
SEO Score: 3 – You can add page titles and descriptions, but page meta that gets loaded is duplicated from the home page. This may help your home page placement, but other key pages probably won’t rank.
Squarespace has some nice responsive templates. You can add e-commerce and blogging, and have a little more control over images. They also offer free domain registration and SSL certificates. The SoundCloud, Flickr, and OpenTable integrations are a nice touch and, if you have a store, Stripe payment processing is built-in. Squarespace doesn’t offer a free trial and it’s $18/month if you pay for a whole year in advance. Otherwise, it’s $26/month.
SEO Score: 4 – Slightly better; you can add individual page titles, but not descriptions, and they create a site map for the search bots.
WordPress is truly in a class by itself. A self-hosted WordPress site is easily customizable and SEO-friendly. You can create an amazing, feature-packed site with a blog, store, donation platform, appointment booking system, podcast, music downloads, and integrated email marketing with no monthly fees to worry about.
SEO Score 5: Your keyword-rich content, tags, titles, alt-text, and descriptions will make for a truly optimized website that will be easily recognized by search engine bots.
Ok, that’s the inside skinny on a handful of the page builders out there. Depending on the level of your web design skills, you could do just fine with any one of them. But, if you are serious about your business and want to give yourself the most competitive stance, work with a professional web designer and content creator to build a site you’ll be proud of; one that is primed for optimal search engine placement.