In the past few years, there’s been an explosion of online website builders offering a fast and affordable solution to anyone making their first steps in the www. Suddenly, the entire process of searching for a webdesigner and a webdeveloper, getting a brief together, negotiating a price and a deadline and waiting for the results has reduced to a few clicks and some plain old drag and drop.

More and more people choose these specialized builders when they decide to put their company or their projects on the online map, saving both time and a lot of money. On the other hand, webdesigners and programmers worry this trend will stick and slowly rob them of their jobs. But are these website builders really endangering the future of good old classic webdesign? Let’s take a look at each side of the story and see what lies beneath the ”noise”.

Target

First of all, webdesigners and webdevelopers are usually targeting a different public. Since they’re more expensive and capable of building complicated customized websites, they target companies that are willing to pay a higher price for better quality.

Website builders mostly target freelancers, artists and small companies that can neither afford to pay a webdesigners, nor need a complex, corporate website that only an expert can develop. All they need is a ”face”, a presentation website where they can show their work and communicate three things to their target market: 1. That they exist 2. How they can be contacted and 3. Where and how they sell their products/work.

Truth be told, these people would probably never hire a webdesigner to build them a website, it would be over their budget and they’d probably put up a blog or go with an in-house offline advertising strategy. So as long as webdesigners and webdevelopers understand that (normally) they’re not going for the same public as website builders, there’s room for everyone. Of course, there will always be a common slice of public they’re both trying to feed off, but this is an exception and should be treated as such.

Pros and cons of website builders

For a webdesigner, the good side of this website builder boom is the chance to sell templates for royalties or a fixed fee. And since these sites usually update their catalogue every month, you can make some good money out of this.

But let’s see why clients choose to use website builders and whether they get what they need or not. Obviously, there are both pros and cons:

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • No programming skills required
  • Fast implementation
  • Full service (hosting, software, maintenance)
  • Low cost
  • Feature-rich
  • Support
  • Security updates

Cons

  • Relying on one provider only
  • Limited flexibility
  • Control over data
  • Installing server-side code
  • Only suitable for simple websites

All in all, if you don’t need a complex website, if you’re ok with the limited flexibility and you’re willing to take the risk of having others using your data without your knowledge (although this is a risk you forcibly take when you go online, anyway. I’ve seen hundreds of copy-cats shamelessly stealing from hard working artists), then using a website builder can be an affordable and time-saving solution to your problem.

I was actually curious to try out a recently launched website builder called Imcreator and see if I can build a decent website using this tool. To be honest, I actually liked it. I liked the way they describe the process on their own website and how simple it is for someone who has no clue about programming or web design to make a website for free in a few easy steps.

Website creation for dummies

The whole process takes no more than 3 steps:

  • Choose a design (there are thousands of templates to choose from. Takes a bit of patience, but you can find some really nifty designs)
  • Customize your website (you insert your content – texts, photos, videos – with just a couple clicks)
  • Publish (aka press the Publish button)

If you ask me, these website builders could very well be good news for both clients and webdesigners. Clients can get a ”face” in the virtual world in no time, without shelling out a lot of money, while designers can sell their work to these websites and get some money. Sure, it’s not like working directly with the client, but if you think about the target separation, you can see this as a good opportunity to make some extra-cash.

header image courtesy of the UMF