Sitebuilders. Are they good or bad?
They certainly have their advantages. For example, you can create a site quickly, you don’t need much (if any) HTML or CSS knowledge, and generally they are fairly cheap to set up.
First, it’s probably important to establish what they are…
Site builders are online resources such as Wix, Yola and Webs, where you can create a website online. You drag and drop various items onto a page and create a basic website.
I created my first website using one and remember feeling really pleased with myself when it was finished. I added a few photos, some audio of my piano playing, and a bit of blurb about my experience. However, after a few months I realised there were several drawbacks to my site builder website.
Here are some reasons why I believe you should avoid site builders…
1) Spammy domain name
I understand some people think this is ok, but having a page like www.martyncrostonmusic.webs.com looks like spam to me. It gives off the wrong impression and looks a little cheap.
First impressions are everything and potential students might think because your domain name looks cheap, your rates are cheap.
It really doesn’t cost much to have a professional domain name and you can buy one from as little as $10 a year with some registrars such as www.namecheap.com
2) Sitebuilders are restrictive
Although you can add elements such as photos, music and text, some sitebuilder templates are very restrictive. They often lack functionality and won’t let you add important elements such as headers or background pictures.
What if you want a vertical menu, not horizontal?
Supposing you want to move your logo a little to the right?
I know site builders are improving, but you have so much more control with your own site using a platform like WordPress.
3) You are forced to link to their site
I hate this.
A site builder website basically plonks a great big advert for their company on your homepage saying something like “Create your own FREE website using…”
Does anyone think this looks professional?
You can pay more to remove it, but that defeats the purpose of using a cheap site builder in the first place.
In my opinion, you are far better off just biting the bullet and creating your own site.
4) You shouldn’t purchase a domain and host it in the same place
I accept this point can apply to any website.
However, you are effectively forced into this situation if you use a sitebuilder and you can have issues if you want to move your site somewhere else if you have problem.
You are often tied into a contract, and if you want to transfer your domain name or move to a different host, it can be a tricky process and not as straightforward as you might think.
5) Poor Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
I don’t want to get into technical details about SEO, which basically determines how well your site ranks in the search engines. But generally site builder websites won’t rank as well as professional websites with top level domain names like .com, .net or .org.
This can mean you’re losing potential music students to your competitors. This forces you into looking at other methods such as paid advertising.
Try Googling your key search term e.g. “piano lessons Chicago” or “violin lessons San Francisco” and see how many sites in the first page use site builders.
Not many I bet.
If you want to do a website on the cheap and create one quickly, then using a site builder might be for you.
But I strongly believe as instrumental music teachers, we should have our business hats on and create the right first impression with potential students…
And having a professional looking website is a great place to start.
You can create one yourself (or have someone do it for you) and providing you market your business in the right way, it will definitely pay off in the long run.
I’d welcome any of your comments below. What’s your experience of site builders?