I got an email this week where I was asked how web designers can compete against the large “easy-build” website companies. Well, I don’t think there’s any competition. Web designers like me cater for a completely different market.
The Halo Effect
Psychologists have long known about the Halo Effect. It’s a cognitive bias in our judgments where a person’s physical appearance can influence our views of him or her. Unfortunately, the way we look, dress, speak and the sort of homes we live in influence other people’s impressions of us.
The Halo Effect works with websites. The way a website looks and works effects our impression of the company or individual behind it.
You’ll notice I said “the way a website works”. Because websites created by simple website builders may look quite professional. But you will be severely restricted in what you can do with them. You may be happy with your 5-page website but what happens if you would like to:
- add certain social sharing buttons
- create a mobile version
- add a shopping cart
- create a membership area
- or even add extra pages and a blog?
Would you be able to do these things to your site if it was built with Intuit, 1&1 or any other “easy” website builder? I’m afraid the answer is probably “no”.
The Company you keep
Do a quick Google search for 1&1 and Intuit. The results speak volumes. Click on any of the results and you’ll see the usual spammy thin on content sites (like EasyBuildWebsite4U.com) saying how great those “easy” website companies are and not a lot else. Hover over the links to the websites and you’ll see that they’re affiliate links. A thin website with affiliate links? Run a mile!
A company may be satisfied with an “easy-build” website if they just want a few pages with contact details online. But, for a website to help a company it needs much more.
It won’t come as too much of a surprise to regular readers here but I will recommend WordPress as the software that powers 90% of my clients’ websites.
I don’t care how many templates, plugins and features “easy-build” websites may have – WordPress will have more.
Why? Because WordPress is, and always has been, open source software. This means you are free to redistribute it and free to access its source files. It is developed by the community surrounding it – a core team supported by hundreds of unpaid developers and testers.
It’s popularity and ubiquity on the web are not in doubt. It is used by an estimated 15% of the world’s top one million websites and is the most common CMS (content management system) on the internet.
For these reasons, almost anything a client will want to do with a website, will be possible on WordPress and there will be considerable documentation to help you achieve it. (With great popularity comes increased attacks on vulnerabilities so it is necessary that you secure WordPress).
How to use WordPress
The best way to use WordPress is to first decide on your 4 essential steps (research, domain name, host and content/design), install WordPress on your host, perform a few basic tasks for SEO and the like and start adding great content.
You could, of course, hire a web designer to do this for you. However all the documentation and guidance you will ever need for WordPress is out there on the web – mostly in the Codex.
If you’re not sure about this you could always dip your toes into WordPress’s free version at WordPress.com and set up a blog there within seconds.
However, WordPress’s founder developer, Matt Mullenweg, likens WordPress.com to renting an apartment and setting up a self-hosted WordPress.org site to owning your own house. If that’s the case, an easy to set up website through a company like Intuit or 1&1 would be like living in sheltered accommodation or in a cheap hostel!
What about you?
If you’re a web designer, can you think of many more ways employing you to build a website is more preferable to using an automated service.
If you’re thinking of setting up a website but don’t know what to do, I’d love to hear your comments down below!
Eye photo: Photo credit