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Why pay for a bespoke website, rather than using a website builder?

Dave Reeder

by Dave Reeder , 05 July 2020

Why pay for a bespoke website, rather than using a website builder?
A bespoke website can appear to be expensive compared to a website from Wix or Squarespace, but are there advantages that might make it worth while in the long run?

What's in this article?

    What is a Bespoke Website?

    A bespoke website, is a website that is designed and built (using HTML, Javascript, CSS etc) to your unique requirements by a professional web designer or web design agency.  This means that you, the client, can specify exactly how you want it to look and work. 

    You don't have to do any the work yourself, you can continue to work on other aspects of your business whilst the web designer does everything for you.  You will most likely have to provide content and approve designs before the website is built.

    bespoke-websites.jpg

    What is a Website Builder?

    Website builders use existing templates, so they could also be described as template websites.  They are not designed specifically for you, they are based on an existing design.  However, website builders have become quite advanced and can now be customised quite a bit to suit your requirements.

    Examples of website builders are Wix and Squrespace.  They allow you to build websites without having to edit HTML, CSS and javascript, so anyone can do it.

    You will create the website using the website builder yourself or you may have someone to do that for you.

    website-builder.jpg

    How does the cost compare?

    Unsurprisingly, getting a bespoke website is going to cost a lot more initially.  Anything with the word "bespoke" tends to cost more because you are paying for something that is specifically tailored to your personal requirements.

    The on-going costs will be hosting, any maintenance you require and upgrades to the software that the site runs on.

    Builders like Wix or Squarespace will charge a monthly amount for their platform and website.  This is normally a low figure.  It is possible that a site on one of these platforms will eventually have cost you the same, but you would need to keep it for a great number of years to reach parity.

    How do the features compare?

    Website builders are quick and cheaper to get going with.  But you need to condsider your long-term requirements form your website.  Of course you may be happy to get a new website is 12-24 months if you out-grow the website builder website.

    So how do the features compare?

    Planning

    When you order a bespoke website, your website agency will let you know what the process is and help you to plan the project.  Planning of larger websites is very important and will typically involve creating a sitemap to work out where all your pages should be and how far up the websites hierarchy each page needs to come.  The next stage is creating wireframes to make sure the User Experience (UX) works for each target audience and all users can quickly and easily find where they want to get to.

    UX is massive these days, people have realised how important it is to finely tune their websites so they work for everyone and deliver results and value to their business.  Large organisations will spend thousands on User Experience and when you buy a bespoke site you are paying for expertise and experience that the web designer has.

    If you use a website builder you can plan it out yourself and you should do.  You need to carefully consider who your market are, what questions they have and what they will expect to see on your website when they arrive on it.

    However, builder templates can be very well perfected for certain industries and well tried and tested.  If there is one that fits your industry and business then it could work out really well.

    website-planning.jpg

    Design

    If you really want a bespoke design then you have to go, er "bespoke".  It'll be unique and designed to perfectly mach your brand and the requirements that your business has.

    A good website designer will allow you to refine your design until you are 100% happy and ready to proceed to the build stage.

    Website builders use templates and you may end up with something that looks great, but there is little chance it is unique.  However, if you are a startup this may not bother you too much, afterall it's going to take time to build your brand anyway.

    design.jpg

    Support

    I always offer guides and the option of CMS training for bespoke sites.  Website builders are more DIY, so you would need to be confident that you have the time and ability to go and research how to use it and make any changes that you require.

    Also, once you get busy are you still going to have time to deal with your website or are you planning on delegating that to a web designer?  If so you might be better going bespoke from the very start.

    support-frustrations.jpg

    Hosting

    With a bespoke website you can host it anywhere you like, whereas with a website builder site you would need to keep it within their "platform".  This is not necessarily a problem so long as you get the help and support and the platform is stable. 

    I always say to people that before they select a hosting company it is vital to check they will get the support they need.  I have helped clients migrate their websites from some platforms which didn't offer the support they require.  For example, Digital Ocean is a fantastic host with a lot of flexibility, but it is only for those who are ready to take ownership with their server admin tasks and using SSH commands to work with their hosting.

    You'll want backups so you can restore your site if the worst happens and need a professional email address that ends in your domain name too.

    hosting.jpg

    Extending the site

    Before making a decision, try and plan out what you want to do with your business over the next few years and how that affects the website.  For example, you may want to launch a simple 5 page website because you're getting lots of referrals and really you "only want a simpe presence online for now".  But there comes a stage where the referrals start to run out or you want to "ramp up" your business and start marketing.

    With the marketing or SEO, if you want to run Google Ads you'll want to create some razor sharp, highly targeting landing pages.  Can the website builder do that?  You'll want to tweak your page speed for SEO and make sure your headings flow nicely from h1 > h2 > h3 etc - you really need to check this is possible.

    I'm not saying "go bespoke!", but some forward planning can save you a lot of problems in the future when you want to start really promoting your site.

    Big organisations always go bespoke, because they don't want limitations to what they can do.  However, they do of course have nice budgets to spend!

    extending-site-blog.jpg

    Turnaround time

    Using a website builder will most likely be faster because the bespoke process takes longer because it is more thorough.  Also the designer will need to design the site, get your approval, then build the site and get your final sign off before setting it live.  Mind you, if you are very busy running your business then you might struggle to find the time to complete the project in your website builder too, so the turnaround time ultimately depends on your situation.

    What happens next?

    Once live you will need to market the new website. The days of setting it live and getting lots of traffic are well and truely over, the internet is too competitve now. 

    So in terms of marketing, you need to make sure you choose a website builder that marketing companies can work with to add pages, make changes to existing pages etc.  If you go with a bespoke website make sure that the agency are building it using a CMS and are available to help out if required. 

    Make sure you choose the right marketing agency to help you effectively grow your website traffic and sales.  Get familiar with the different types of Digital Marketing on offer, but any good marketing agency should be able to recommend which marketing solutions will work well for you and your products/services.

    marketing.jpg

    Comparison Table

    At a glance how do bespoke websites and websites from builders compare...

    Feature Website Builder Bespoke Website
    Cost Lower monthly cost Higher up front cost
    Planning None, you have to do it yourself Fully planned, take advantage of you web designers knowledge and experience
    Design Template, well used / tested, but not unique Unique for your business  / requirements
    Support Some support, but you need to research some stuff to do it yourself Full support of your web designer
    Hosting Included, cheap but kept within web builder platform Choose nearly any host you like
    Extending the site Limited pages and functionality Unlimited pages and functionality is virtually unlimited also
    Turnaround time Very quick if you have time to finalise the site Takes longer because it is a more labour intensive process
    Marketing & SEO You could run into limitations, but standard SEO is normally very good Unlimited potential to tweak the code, standard SEO should be good, depending on the developer building it.

    Conclusion

    It is not my mission to try and stop anyone from using website builders.  But it's important you understand the difference between website builders and bespoke websites so you can make an informed decision. The which way you go depends on your budget and requiremernts.

    To harness the advantages of a bespoke website and it's support, choose a web design agency carefully.  You need to look for a well-established company that has good reviews, are easy to get in contact with and who recognise the need for great customer service too.  It is an unregulated industry, so buyers need to be careful to select a company that is here today and still here tomorrow. 

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