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Karli Sensibello

Total posts: 2
Last post: April 6, 2020

The Downsides of Using Website Builders for Your Business

The Downsides of Using Website Builders for Your Business

By Karli Sensibello on  April 6, 2020

You don’t need to look hard to find a website builder that can help build a free website in minutes. Between Wix, SquareSpace, and any of the other options out there, website builders promise to be a cheap, quick, and easy way for you to make a website for your business. Sounds great, right? Turns out that there are some clear downsides.

Think of the scenario as if you were buying a $500 car from a cousin’s shady friend. For some people, that quick, cheap solution is an appropriate way to get from point A to B. However, it’s simply not a long-term solution if you need something that will perform at a high level for years to come. Nobody wants to deal with a broken-down car just months after buying it. The same goes for your website.

So, what makes website builders a potential money pit? These quick-fix solutions can limit your website’s potential in several ways, both in terms of performance, aesthetics, and user experience.

Website Builders Add Unnecessary Bloat and Bog Down SEO

“If it isn’t on Google, it doesn’t exist.” – Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia

As Mr. Wales suggests, Google plays a massive role in the success of your business. The problem with website builders is that they make it harder for Google to crawl your site and help you show up in search.

In general, website builders add a ton of unnecessary crap when it comes to the markup of your site. For starters, the HTML markup alone adds unnecessary bloat to the website. This unnecessary bloat causes page load issues that stunt your SEO score. Page load speed is extremely important as it determines how long someone is going to stay on your website, how much you pay per click in your ads, and your overall conversion rate.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a screenshot of HTML bloat on a website builder site. I won’t say which one... but it sounds like SpareSquace:

Unnecessarily long markup from a website builder that slows down site speed.

Meanwhile, the image below is a screenshot of the markup from a website built by the Aztek team.

Clean, efficient markup for a custom-built website.

As you can see, one’s a bit less fluffy – and by fluffy, we mean ugly – than the other. The ‘drag-and-drop’ interface of these website builders is only focused on the front-end facing portion of the website – the stuff you can see. But it's the code that happens behind the scenes that affects your SEO, ranking, page load, and a lot of other factors. As such, you get a monstrous markup like the one you saw above, and that’s just bad for business.

Website Templates Limit Your Potential

“What sets you apart can sometimes feel like a burden and it’s not. And a lot of the time, it’s what makes you great.” – Emma Stone, not a co-founder of Wikipedia

After Google updated its indexing algorithm, part of your site’s ranking is how unique it is. Unfortunately for people who use SquareSpace, Wix, or other website editors, all those convenient templates look like each other. If you’re using a builder, consider how many other websites have the same template starter that you’re using.

A popular website builder called Wix currently has over 90 million users. Their website says they have about 500 templates you can ‘customize.’ If you do the math, 90 million divided by 500 equals 180,000… meaning that as many as 180,000 other businesses could be using the same template as you. The easy solution doesn’t feel so customizable anymore, does it?

Website Builders aren’t Mobile Friendly

“The trend has been that mobile was winning. It’s now won.” – Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO and current U.S. DoD Innovation Advisory Board chairman

These days, mobile-friendly websites are practically a necessity. According to comScore, “mobile devices now account for nearly two out of every three minutes spent online.” Unfortunately, mobile optimization is a serious pain point for these builders.

It takes a certain level of skill and knowledge for a web developer to optimize for the many different screen sizes that a device can have. There are dozens of potential screen sizes to account for, but website builders just do not have the customization or the ability to account for all of them. That’s a pretty serious problem when Econsultancy estimates that 62 percent of companies with mobile-friendly websites had increased sales.

Website Builders Don’t Support You (and Never Will)

“I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you.” – Samwise Gamgee, honorable hobbit and enemy of website builders everywhere

A website is a living piece of branding. In order for it to grow, you have to feed it. If you use a website builder, you’re losing the support you could have from a web development company in case you want to scale your website or grow it. If the website breaks, do you have the technical knowledge to fix it? If you want to expand, do you have the time and resources to maintain the website? These builders oftentimes offer no CMS (content management system), making for tedious content updates that require a lot of technical effort on the website owner’s end to keep things current and fresh. Even the ones that do offer a CMS are often lackluster and require some form of learning curve and a poor user experience.

In addition to this, if you do decide to make the switch and hire a professional team of developers and designers to make your website, there is no migration service. This means in order to go from your website-builder site to a fully functional custom website, everything has to be redone in a correct CMS. That means more money out of your pocket as opposed to if you had invested in a custom site from the start.

You Don’t Own Your Website, or Anything on It

“You have little power over what’s not yours.” – Zimbabwean proverb

You may think that once you build a website, it’s yours. If you use a website builder, you’re in for a rude surprise.

When you use a website builder, you do not really own the site. The builder technically does, at least to some capacity. Some website builders claim ownership over more aspects of your site than others. According to SquareSpace’s terms of service, you still “own” any content you upload to the builder. However, doing so gives SquareSpace “permission to use it in ways necessary to provide, improve, promote and protect our services.” Essentially, your content is theirs to use, so is it really yours after all?

Other website builders have their own rules about what you own, ranging from owning aspects of your content to having a stranglehold on everything on your site. This co-ownership is why they won’t let you easily migrate your site in the future.

Website Builders Think Your Users Don’t Matter

“Your users matter.” – Us, an actual web development agency

It’s likely that any of these builders have no idea what your client base is or how to target them. That’s a problem because your users play a crucial role in how you make money.

With a professional web design and development company, part of the discovery process is determining who your audience is and how to captivate them with your website's overall impression. Websites builders only care about one thing – getting you to sign up and give them your credit card. With a professional development and design team, there is effort and consideration taken into account – who are your users? What entices them? How can we get them to make a purchase? These answers will help you invest in a much better website that’s specifically geared to help your users.

Invest in a Website that Makes Sense for Your Business

When it comes to your website, you get what you pay for. If you simply need a space for your business to exist online, a website builder may make sense. If you’re a serious business owner that plans to grow your company in the near future, you should strongly consider a custom website tailored to your specific needs.

Are you in need of a new website to help your business grow online? As a full-service digital agency, our designers and developers can work with you to create a quality site to help you build your online presence. Contact us today about your web design and development needs.

Why Website Accessibility Matters for Your Business

Why Website Accessibility Matters for Your Business

By Karli Sensibello on  February 19, 2020

A good online presence plays a key role in attracting new clients and customers to your business. The problem is that unless you have an accessible website, you’ll lose out on chances to convert a sizable portion of potential customers.

Website accessibility makes it possible for people with various disabilities to shop, research, and do whatever else people do online. Unfortunately, a 2019 study of the top one million web pages showed that 97.8 percent of home pages were non-compliant with the Web Accessibility Initiative’s web content accessibility guidelines. Without certain implementations, these noncompliant websites can be as useful to people with disabilities as screen doors on a submarine – and it’s important to make sure yours isn’t one of them. Here are three critical reasons to make your website accessible.

Website Accessibility is a Legal Necessity

Accessibility compliance is no longer optional. In the U.S., it’s a mandatory requirement listed in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and companies that fail to comply pay the price. Netflix agreed to add descriptions to visually describe audio in its movies and shows following a lawsuit from the National Association of the Deaf. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Guillermo Robles, a blind man, when he sued Domino’s after he was unable to order pizza from the company’s website or mobile app despite using screen reading software. Domino’s argued that its website and mobile app shouldn’t count as places of public accommodation under the ADA, but the Supreme Court denied that claim. This isn't a "new" trend, either. Way back in 2008, ADA noncompliance cost Target $6 million in a class-action lawsuit with the National Federation of the Blind.

While the aforementioned companies are bigger than your average bear, that doesn’t mean the law only applies to massive corporations. According to accessibility law resource Seyfarth, plaintiffs filed at least 814 federal lawsuits about allegedly inaccessible websites in 2017 alone. That number rose to 10,206 in the first 11 months of 2019, an increase of over 1,153 percent from 2017 to 2019. Accessibility noncompliance isn’t a matter of if it’ll hurt your company, it’s when.

Website Accessibility Benefits Your Business

Making your online presence more accessible does more than just get the law off your back, it’s also good for business. By ignoring accessibility standards, you’re missing out on a large portion of an audience – 61 million people and counting in just the U.S. That’s a lot of potential customers or clients you can lose if your site or app isn’t built to accommodate those users. Fortunately, an accessible website can help your business in a couple of ways.

It doesn’t chase away disabled users

Want to inspire disabled users to give you their money? Make your site accessible. According to the U.K.’s 2016 Click Away Pound Report, 71 percent of disabled users with access needs click away from a website when they experience difficulty accessing it. The same study showed that these lost users had an estimated spending power of £11.75 billion, which then equated to roughly $15 billion. If that seems like a lot, research indicates that these users would spend more money if a website was more accessible. The study found that over 80 percent of customers would spend their money on websites that had fewer barriers for them, not necessarily on websites that had a cheaper product or service.

Adding accessibility improvements does not change anything for your current customers who do not have disabilities, but they can and will attract new customers to improve traffic and conversions. By improving your online accessibility, you’re showing people that you value their business. In turn, they’ll be more likely to give you that aforementioned gift – their money.

It benefits your SEO

Improving accessibility isn’t just good for humans, it’s good for search engines as well. Writing clean, accessible, and easy-to-follow code makes it easier for search engines robots to crawl the site. When the code is well-structured, search engines treat your website much better because they’re able to gather more information. In fact, many of the same factors Google uses to judge your site just so happen to be methods that can make your site more accessible. These include:

  • Adding meta descriptions and page titles
  • Using descriptive alt texts for your images
  • Utilizing the correct header tags
  • Following color contrast rules for improved readability
  • Ensuring content is machine readable
  • Providing descriptive link text

Accessibility can increase traffic, decrease bounce rates, and improve sales from a community of people that are often overlooked. The better your SEO is, the more users you gain on your site. The more users you gain, the more conversions you receive. When it comes to the bottom line, embracing accessibility really has no downside.

Website Accessibility Affects More People Than You Know

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 26 percent of the U.S. population – about 61 million adults – live with some form of disability. Disabilities can come in many forms and need to be treated with the same level and consideration as any other consumer. We often forget that there are many different types of disabilities. Sometimes they’re temporary, like an employee who broke her arm and still needs to shop online. Other times, they’re permanent, like a blind user who is just trying to figure out a store’s hours online.

It’s also important to remember that accessibility extends beyond just those with diagnosed disabilities. From 2009 to 2014, mobile screen reader usage went from 12 to 82 percent, and not just because of people with visual impairments. Whether it’s someone with dyslexia or an older individual who has trouble staring at displays, screen readers are becoming increasingly important. For years, designers and developers have focused on making websites responsive and providing a good user experience on mobile devices. Making sites and apps machine readable is a part of that now.

Embrace Website Accessibility

Accessibility has several benefits, including reducing legal risks, strengthening your reputation as a brand or business, improving your SEO, and bettering your user experience. People with disabilities are a notable part of that potential consumer base with more than $544 billion in disposable spending power. Implementing changes to make your website more accessible will only increase your popularity within a community of people that are oftentimes ignored – especially by your competition.

Aside from the financial benefits of website accessibility, it's also the right thing to do. With a few changes that will just so happen to help your business, you can make life a little less difficult for a large segment of the world’s population. With website accessibility, everyone wins.

Are you ready to make your website more accessible or need a new website altogether? As a full-service digital agency, Aztek's team of web designers and developers have the expertise to help you build fast-loading, quality websites with your entire audience in mind. Contact us today to talk to our team about your web design and development needs.