Designing a website is like picking a coffee drink at Starbucks – there are many options to choose from. One quick strategy is making use of one of the many website builder tools like WordPress, Weebly or Wix to set your website. Another option would be to build your own custom design by hiring a web dev company that fits your needs and budget. Which one of these two options should you choose and why? Let’s look into the various pros and cons of these alternatives.
Budget and Time
The budget is definitely the first thing that one must consider while choosing between a website builder tool and a development company. Building a website from the ground up can be expensive, not to mention that it is also a time-consuming process. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage for a web developer in the United States is between $30-$40. Even the simplest of websites can take between 5-10 days of work. In other words, your business must be ready to spend a few thousand dollars for your development project.
On the other hand, website builder tools like WordPress and Weebly come with ready-made tools to install and get started. This saves a lot of web development time. You will, however, still need to hire a web design or development company to customize your site. But the resources required are a fraction of what you will need to build a site from scratch. The expenses are consequently much lower and affordable.
Your Business Needs
Website builder tools are suitable for certain type of businesses that have certain static or dynamic content needs. However, they are not suitable for all types of websites and online services. If you have custom development needs that are unique to your business, chances are that they may not be easily fulfilled through a builder tool. Such businesses would do well to invest in a custom solution that is built from scratch.
Businesses update their website all the time, and even if there aren’t many new features to add, there are always bug-fixes and patches that need to be deployed on the source code from time to time. Unless a custom built website has been properly documented with comments, it may be difficult for a new developer to comprehend the existing code to make feature changes. This barrier to entry gives your existing developer the leverage to charge more for work on subsequent iterations of your website. With website builder tools, there is a plentiful supply of developers who can work on your source code. In such cases, the cost of implementing new features may be lower.
Besides tech support, builder tools also come with third party support which can be quite handy. There are thousands of themes and plugins that you could readily deploy for your WordPress website at the click of a button. Setting up a unique design for your website can be free and is as simple as downloading a suitable third party theme for your WordPress website and modifying it using royalty-free pictures that you can download off services like Burst or Pixabay. All of this could be done with little coding and is budget-friendly for bootstrapped startup entrepreneurs.
Security is not given much consideration while evaluating a website development strategy. Platforms like WordPress and Weebly are used by millions of websites and are built to withstand many of the common security threats like DDoS or SQL injection. Building a website that is as secure as a WordPress site can be expensive, not to mention that you are essentially just reinventing the wheel by building something that already exists.
But this is just one side of the story. Hackers and cyber-criminals prefer investing their time on large website platforms since identifying one vulnerability can help them break into hundreds, or even thousands of websites. The payoff for finding vulnerabilities on custom-built websites may simply be not worth it, unless you are a large business with thousands or millions of customers.
It may not always be possible to retrace your steps once a decision has been taken. Not only does it pose technical difficulties, but such a decision may also cost your business dearly. The choice of picking a website builder tool or going with an agency thus needs to be done after a lot of consideration.
Benjamin S Powell
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