Want to Use A D.I.Y. Website Builder? Here Are the Limitations

A Blog by Linda Darlene

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest;
second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience,
which is the bitterest.”
~ Confucius

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until
you hire an amateur.”
~ Red Adair

I’m not the first to address this topic, and I certainly won’t be the last, but I’d like to discuss the limitations of using D.I.Y (do-it-yourself) website builders. I believe that if you have a business, it is a good idea to hire a professional web designer from the beginning. There are some excellent reasons for doing so. 🙂

3 Reasons to Choose a Web Designer Rather Than Doing it Yourself (DIY)

1. Designers can work outside the box of those one-size-fits-all templates, adding details that these kinds of templates do not, and cannot, offer.

2. Designers will ultimately save you time and money, sparing you from making costly mistakes.

3. Designers are trained to give you a high-quality site, designed to attract visitors and to show you off as an expert in what you do.

Here’s a real-life story to explain my point.

Designers Work Outside the Box

I was hired by a realtor to ‘fix’ her website. Her real estate agency provides cookie-cutter templates that each realtor can take and personalize to a degree. For example, they can change the theme colors, choose from a few layout templates, select the hero image of their choice, and of course, they can write their text and content.

While there were several templates to choose from (that all looked alike to me), what the realtors couldn’t do was customize the template beyond three colors, two personalized images, and text in specified areas. They could not change the placement of where the text was designated to go. They couldn’t add or reduce the padding between sections, nor the width of any margins. They couldn’t rearrange sections, nor remove any template element. And they were stuck with the number of pages they had to fill up with content. In other words, they could not do any real customizations to personalize their site to match their business goals.

On the website that my client  had ‘designed’ for her by a colleague, a hero image was chosen that, unfortunately, did not evoke any emotion (See: Why Use the Golden Ratio in Web Design? – A Simply Golden Explanation), and the image did not necessarily ‘speak’ to her target audience. Wouldn’t you expect a real estate site to have images of beautiful homes or well-appointed interiors? Hers did — but at the bottom of the website.

Instead, the hero image, while highlighting a particular wealthy sub-division, proved to be rather uninteresting, with no ‘curb appeal,’ so to speak. Also,  the colors were drab, not complementary nor flattering. An organic visitor would probably not be attracted to hang around and visit the site.

luxury home

Luxury Home

And regrettably, her message content did not ‘add value’ for her clients by conveying the benefits of hiring her. Inexplicably, she listed her previously sold houses, all in the $200,000-$400,00 range, while listing homes for sale in the million dollar range. Potential clients landing upon this site would not necessarily get the impression that she was the realtor that could sell or buy a luxury home for them. In short, the marketing messages were off.

Designers Will Ultimately Save You Time and Money

Can we blame my client for getting it wrong? Of course not! Her experience is in selling real estate, not the marketing of herself, nor in the designing of websites. Whereas it’s laudable that her agency allows each agent the freedom to add a bit of personality to their websites, the template limitations inhibited their ability to fully ‘design’ or add flair with appealing customizations.

After wrestling for a while on her own with her site, in frustration, she turned it over to me.

I wanted to vastly improve her site for her, but, I received a limited ‘cookbook’ from which to cook. So, I was only able to do limited things. Still, I was able to find a hero image with loads of personality that she liked, and I was able to make sure that the colors of the header and navigation bar blended well and complemented each other.

I changed the overlay font and color of the hero image so that the text stood out. Then I edited her content to sound more professional. Did I improve upon what she originally had? Yes, siree. But did I create a remarkable site? Yes and no! That’s debatable. 🙂

Experienced Web Designers are Trained to Give You a High-Quality Site

I’m pleased to say that my client loved the new website I re-designed for her — and I have to admit that it is now very colorful and stylish — standing out among the websites of some of her colleagues. However, I cannot stop thinking about how much better I ‘could have’ made her site if I could do some real customizing. I used my eye for aesthetics to give her a website that would catch the eye — making improvements within-the-box. I did the best I could with the cookie-cutter template.

For branding purposes, the agency undoubtedly wanted their agents’ websites to somewhat look the same, and there is much to be said for that. It’s just that the agency chose original template styles that are not especially appealing — aesthetically speaking.

I contend that allowing a bit of CSS would not substantially change the branding, and it would enable the websites to show off more personality and improve design flaws in the original templates. My proof is the number of many beautiful WordPress themes that exist that are still ‘doctored’ by designers with customizations to create sites that are ‘just right’ for the target user.

So to summarize the issue at hand, can you use D.I.Y website builders or templates and ‘design’ a website yourself? Yes, you can, as in ‘yes!’, you are ‘able to do so.’ You are able to make some aesthetic decisions within the limits of those builders and get a site up quickly.

However, if you want a site that targets specific business goals, you will be better off hiring a professional web designer who has the marketing skills and experience to design not only a beautiful website for you but also a site that meets your essential business goals. Experienced web designers are trained to market you, the client, in such a way that you present a professional presence.

Check out my blog 12-Tips for Preparing to Hire a Web Designer. These tips will help you focus on what ‘you’ want in a website and will also ultimately give your designer a better feel for how and what to design. Let a professional designer match your vision with the designer’s eye for beauty and functionality that will attract a potential client’s attention and get you the sale(s).

If you prefer to put your creativity to the test and design a site yourself, by all means, go for it!  But then turn it over to a professional to tweak so that your website will achieve the goals for having a site in the first place, a credible presence in your marketplace. You’ll be glad you did.

Chinese for Aesthetic