It all started with a classic tussle between business and technology. Business always thought it was smart enough to move mountains, if only tech cooperated. Tech on the other side wanted to help, if only business knew what they were doing. If you ever ended up on any of the sides you would know what I am talking about.
This post is written from the point of view of a business person. If you are from any other side, please keep that in mind
Now, I have been on the business side and worked with technology for a long time and had all sorts of feelings (I’m not going into the details of these, wink) about how they went about doing their work. On many occasions I’d get a feeling of wow by the developers’ work, but on many others it was disappointing.
When it came to building websites, for launching new products, or events, or for other promotions, this feeling was more accentuated. I knew exactly what I wanted, and knew it could be done faster, more gracefully, and with performance. When developers took like a week of time to complete a landing page, my frustration would be hard to contain. Especially after they originally tell me it would only take a few hours at maximum. Every time there would be a timeline given, faltered, a new timeline and so on. All this while, I’d plan for a marketing campaign and wait for my pages to get ready, and lose my patience.
Apart from venting my frustration with coworkers (cheap behavior, of course, but I want to be honest) there was little I could do. Help came in the form of website builders. I’d include even Wordpress into this, but it’s too archaic and needs some hundred things to be done before you could even touch the thing. More on that for another day.
I used tools like Weebly, Squarespace, Wix, and a few more. Most had a browser based builder that lets you build pages on the fly and host them on their own servers. To me it was godsend, and I just fell in love with them right away. I felt stupid for not having tried them and get free. It was great in the beginning and I really liked the speed at which I could build a dummy page. I even dared to show it off to some developer friends and bragged about my new cool toys.
When it came to building something for real, these builders, and I tried each of them started to throw tantrums. From elements getting attached to the cursor and refusing to leave, to lack of sufficient templates, I experienced bugs, limitations and worse, pricing. Can you believe it that none of them allows you to pay on a monthly basis when the only thing you get to see on the pricing page is a monthly price?
I agree, the builders improved over time, but the world has moved on too. Who has the time to wait for the builder to build a feature to adjust a little spacing or color? And that’s not even the problem. What if you can’t get what you want and have to stop doing it and run to a designer/developer to get the whole thing done again? The ramifications in such a case could be deadly. Your marketing plans go out of the window leaving you with a half baked website that no one wants to own.
Let’s say you decided to convince yourself to settle down with what the website builder has to offer and went ahead. A friend of yours who is also into marketing stops by your shiny new website and tells you that there is duplicate content on some of your pages (a very common thing, by the way) and if you don’t canonicalize them, you risk losing your brownie points with Google. You don’t recollect seeing any such thing like that on the builder and start frantically searching for it. After a couple of hours of research, the settings, the help section and Google, you decide it is nowhere to be found. You not only lose reputation with Google, but end up feeling drained, cursing yourself for the adventure - important time and energy lost that could have been spent better growing your business or doing something fun.
The irony of today’s website builders is that there are agencies that have mushroomed offering to build websites on these builders.
Can you believe it? A website builder that was built for people who are from a non tech background to let them build their websites all by themselves, being used by web design agencies to service their clients? I don’t wish to name these agencies, but you get the point. If you Google “New York Squarespace experts” and you will see what I mean. Funny to see some of them charging like $1500 for a website built on Squarespace or Weebly.
If this is the state of affairs, I feel sorry for the countless business owners who are suffering in the hands of website builders, trusting them with their money, time and energy and getting a raw deal in return. Again, I hold nothing against the website builder companies. I’m sure they started with good intentions, to help entrepreneurs save money and time. And honestly, they made a good start by making entrepreneurs feel confident that they could build their websites by themselves.
Unfortunately, they became part of the very system they wanted to reform. They have played into the hands of the traditional feature rich Content Management Systems (CMS) and turned into a CMS themselves.
Where does this leave us? At Gurujada, we believe the solution lies in making custom websites more accessible and affordable. Come, join us in the journey to help a million Entrepreneurs get a website they are proud of. If you know someone struggling and building their website themselves, tell them help is here.