Even before COVID-19 hit, it was received wisdom that every business needs a website. But having a website became really crucial when we were living through a pandemic. All around the world, people were under lockdown orders or independently avoiding in-person shopping in order to protect their health, so purchases shifted online.
Globally, ecommerce grew enormously from the pandemic, and that’s not likely to reverse. McKinsey found that 40% of Americans intend to spend more online even after COVID-19 ends, even though the same proportion of the population say they will reduce overall discretionary spending this year.
At the same time as consumers shifted online, markets dropped. Yelp! data shows that close to 100,000 businesses closed down permanently in 2020, and a report from PWC stated that 36% of consumers plan to spend less over the next 12 months, double the number who said this before the pandemic.
The bottom line is that in 2021, your website is going to be every customer’s first port of call. Even if you’re running a local business and all your customers arrive by word of mouth, you’ll still need a website so that customers can place orders or book appointments online. The only real question is how to do it.
You could hire a freelance web designer through Fiverr or Upwork, or use a web design agency, but for most small businesses the cost is too high to be practical. Unless you’re a website designer yourself or have a lot of techie knowledge, building your own website is just too difficult.
There’s one more option: to use a website builder service that can help you with the technical side of things and speed up some of the time-consuming workflows. SMB owners can be nervous about website builders, so here are the primary advantages of using such a service.
1. They’re low cost
One of the biggest reasons why SMB owners don’t get around to building a website is the price. Going through a web design agency can cost you around $3,000— $6,000 which is a lot for a small business, especially if revenues have dropped during the pandemic.
But website builders cost around $5-50 per month, with website hosting included in the price. Some are even free for small websites that don’t yet get a lot of traffic. That means you can begin with a small, simple website for minimal outlay, and gradually expand it as traffic and profits increase.
2. They speed up the process
In most small businesses, no one has any time to spare for extra tasks. It’s rare for you or your employees to be able to dedicate several days to building a new site, and you want it up and running as fast as possible to catch those customers who are getting away.
When you use a website builder, you can complete the whole project in just a few hours by using pre-built templates and pre-configured elements. There’s no need to test the code, because it’s all tried and tested long ago, or to spend time creating web elements from scratch.
3. They are easy to use
Even the least techie of business owners can manage a website builder. They typically come with prebuilt elements and drag and drop editing platforms, so you just select the web object you want and place it in the desired location on the site. You don’t have to know a single line of code.
What’s more, they make it easy to update the site too. You won’t have to go back to the web designer and pay again for every tweak and addition, and web maintenance is simple.
4. They make your site consistent
Website builders offer a wide range of templates for every aspect of your site, from the homepage structure to your “contact us” footer. As well as speeding up the process, using templates helps you ensure that the structure and layout is consistent across the entire site.
5. They are fully featured
Building a website means a lot more than just the site itself. If you use WordPress, for example, you’ll need to add a lot of plugins to take care of SEO, forms for email signups, payment processing, etc. Some plugins are free, but many come with a fee which means yet another cost before your website is complete. Plugins can also be a backdoor into your website for hackers and cyberthieves, so the fewer you need, the better.
When you use a website building, it’s all built in. Most platforms come with SEO tools, marketing tools, analytics to track traffic and customer behavior, online store capabilities with payment processing tools, and more.
6. They include stock images
Every website needs pictures, but you don’t want to have to pay yet another fee for royalty-free images and video clips, or to hire your own photographer to produce original work. Website builders usually include large libraries of images, video clips, and even music themes to accompany your visuals. .
What are the disadvantages to using a website builder?
Based on all we’ve said so far, using a website builder seems like a no-brainer. That could be the case, but there are drawbacks to website builders as well:
- Lots of other SMBs use the same platforms, with the same templates and images, so your website might end up looking a bit same-y
- Customer support can be limited from website builders, especially if you’re on one of the lower tiers. A web design agency will give you much more personal attention.
- If you’re not sure what you need for your website or which themes or colors to use, you might want an expert opinion instead of making your own decision.
Website builders can be the best option for SMBs
For a typical small business without unusual needs, using a website builder is far more cost-effective, fast, and efficient than going through a web designer or trying to work it out alone. Website builders offer all the tools you need, are easy to use, and enable consistent branding that meets all your business needs.