Where DIY website platforms fail
DIY website builders (like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace) offer easy drag-and-drop tools that allow non-technical users to put their business online in a matter of hours/days, using pre-formatted templates that don’t require any knowledge of coding. They are best when you use the template as its designed to be used, but often fail where customization comes into play. Some platforms don’t even enable customization: the assumption is, if you knew how to code and customize, you likely wouldn’t be using the platform to begin with.
DIY website drawbacks
Limited customization/flexibility: Using a website builder means you’re limited to what the provider has to offer. You might want a certain template for your website but if the website builder doesn’t support it, you’ll have to choose something else. Squarespace templates are beautiful, but if you need to change a header color, or menu position, you’ll need to add custom code. The solution, if you don’t know how, is to hire a Squarespace developer. Wix, another hugely popular builder, does not allow you to choose elements you may like from different templates, so if you want added features your template does not have, you’ll need to rebuild your website using a new template. Shopify, home to many e-commerce sites, adds a different challenge when dealing with customizations: unlike other website builder platforms, Shopify created it’s own coding language (called Liquid), which makes simple fixes and customization much more difficult. Hiring a Shopify-Liquid coding expert is much more expensive than hiring a web developer who knows HTML. (NOTE: Shopify will not host US e-commerce sites in the marijuana industry, but they welcome Federally-legal Canadian businesses.)
The simple DIY solutions for getting setup online quickly all fail as businesses change. If you think you’ll ever need re-branding, which is something to consider as your business and website begins to age, it won’t be a simple process – but a brand new website build, perhaps on a different platform.
Dependence on one provider: If the provider closes down, then your site goes down it. Ideally, the website builder that you opt for will remain in the long run. If your business changes, and your website needs new functionality that is not supported by the website builder, you may face challenges exporting existing sites: Wix sites can’t move.
Data location: When you go for website builders, you won’t have control over the location of the data. It’s up to the providers where they choose to store information.
Lack of advanced functions: Using PHP, Java, and SQL is not possible for website builders as you’re stuck using their internal programs. If you’re a programmer, you won’t have access to advanced functions when using a website builder.
Alternative to DIY website solution
You’ve likely heard of WordPress. It’s the most widely-used platform on the web with 100’s of millions of websites using it. It’s an open-source platform that 1000s of integrations and software solutions that can be added as plug-ins. WordPress allows both the flexibility of starting with templates (themes) and then adding customizations, or complete site design using custom coding. Changes to websites don’t require working in code, but the HTML code is accessible if needed.