🌪️ My new book is available for pre-order! Reserve your copy.

21 reasons why you shouldn’t use DIY site builders

Update: October 14, 2014: Turns out the people at the DIY site builder that rhymes with “Six” didn’t like this post, so they sent a cease-and-decist order demanding its removal. I haven’t said anything that’s not true in a majority of cases, but I’m removing their name.

  1. Flash. In the case of many site builders, especially the one that rhymes with “Six”, sites are usually created with Flash. No matter what they say, Flash is not search engine friendly. Google recommends against it.
  2. 1 page only. Because they sometimes limit you to just one page (the Flash portions make it seem like you have multiple pages, but technically, you don’t.), you decrease the amount of content Google can crawl. Decreased content means fewer keywords. Fewer keywords mean fewer searchers and traffic.
  3. No data. Again with the 1-page-only thing: you can’t create multiple kinds of keywords, page titles, or meta data to be indexed for other search terms. It’s like having a phone book with only 1 page.
  4. Google unfriendly. Google can’t verify your site in Webmaster Tools. That may be too advanced for some right away, but for a team like us, we use Webmaster Tools to monitor site downtime, crawl rates, broken links, and search traffic.
  5. Poor analytics. Inaccurate site analytics, caused by older scripting technologies, don’t allow many site builder users to get an accurate picture of a site’s traffic and performance. We use Google’s highly recommended Analytics service. All of our clients receive a report each month indicating how their site is doing.
  6. Bad taste. The templates look like something out of Microsoft’s template directory. If you think that’s okay, I have a bridge to sell you.
  7. Bad first impressions. “I’m just a small shop, I need a site for cheap, I’ll use one anyway.” Have you ever heard the expression, “First impressions are everything?” You may think your customers aren’t discerning enough to figure out the difference, but they’ll know something is lame about it. Would you trust Amazon.com if it looked like your site?
  8. This is what you get. Just look at this example. No really, just look.
  9. Not mobile friendly. Slow-loading self-built sites, that are data and graphics laden, turn off all mobile users and churn through limited data plans faster. Only desktop users can see your site and they won’t wait longer than 5-7 seconds for a site to load. Would you?
  10. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You can build a website with any other site builder in about 30 minutes. It takes more time to bake a cake. Don’t you assume your business or organization deserves more time and energy for it’s most important public-facing thing than a cake? We take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the size and scope of a project.
  11. No branding. Without a real domain name, having a URL of suchnsuch.com/username sounds a bit cumbersome to put on your business cards, or say over the phone.
  12. Flash. Again without a domain name, you’re missing out on the most important thing Google looks to for keywords. “Hmm, this site must be about nothing”, said Google.
  13. No differentiation with your competitors. At the time of this writing, The main competitor has about a few hundred templates. GoDaddy has far fewer. Some boast 42,785,291 users. GoDaddy has many millions, too. Guess how many other people have a website that looks exactly like everyone else’s.
  14. Ads. You get a big “THIS SITE WAS CREATED WITH SUCH-N-SUCH.com CREATE YOUR OWN FOR FREE!” banner at the bottom of your site. We put our name at the bottom of our sites because that’s what artists do. But we don’t put a big “HIRE US TO DO YOUR SITE TOO!” down there.
  15. No support. If you have questions, no one can hear you scream. They have support staff, but in many cases you have to pay. Would you pay your bank or insurance company everytime you called to ask a question?
  16. Forever costs. The highest-priced plans are about $30 a month, or $360 a year. Forever. If you hired someone (we’d love it to be us), you could pay for a new site that would pay for itself in about 2 years with no monthly payments in perpetuity aside from the domain and hosting renewal costs.
  17. Flash. Have I mentioned Flash? The support they give you is purely technical. They won’t review your site for errors, they won’t help you craft a marketing message, they won’t help you build a better business or tell your story. The same goes for GoDaddy’s site builder, Register.com, 1and1, the whole lot.
  18. No such thing as a free lunch. Nothing’s ever really free, is it? 1&1’s “My Website” starts out on a free trial, and then charges you. I know a company that was paying $1250 a year for their Register.com online store until Register.com lost a license to do business with eBay and shut them down because of Register.com’s own screwup. They are now happy clients of ours and they paid that once for the setup and they’re good to go.
  19. Domain holdups. We had a phone call from a site builder user who wanted to move away from them. She had been paying for their professional design services (see #8 again for a sample of those services) for some time and was shocked to learn of the many parts of her site that wasn’t driving traffic. And she knew it wasn’t because she didn’t have any business. Now that she wanted to get away, the domain registration was tied up with the site builder. Her domain name was stuck in some DIY Hell.
  20. Bad business. GoDaddy is a company we don’t support anymore on account of their terrible business practices, objectification of women, and their former CEO used to hunt elephants for fun. Even Forbes says you should get away.
  21. We care. No one cares more about your success than a good team. We have every incentive to help your business grow because when you grow, we do too. We’re only as good as our last project. The builders, however, will continue to find people who don’t know better and don’t care and are only good so long as their shareholders are happy.

Want to know when stuff like this is published?
Sign up for my email list.

Photo of Justin Harter


Justin has been around the Internet long enough to remember when people started saying “content is king”.

He has worked for some of Indiana’s largest companies, state government, taught college-level courses, and about 1.1M people see his work every year.

You’ll probably see him around Indianapolis on a bicycle.

11 thoughts on “21 reasons why you shouldn’t use DIY site builders”

    • Unfortunately not yet. Wix claims a few hundred HTML5 Templates, which is a start. The vast majority of their users are still using Flash templates. I notice because I don’t have the Flash plugin installed for Safari and I see them often from prospective clients and other small businesses.

  1. Wix has moved from primarily having Flash to HTML5 templates. Some of them are obviously ‘cheap’ looking but there are many others that are very professional. I agree that some of the monthly fees are insane, the least expensive being about $100 a year.

  2. Forgot to add that all templates currently come with a mobile template that users have the option to turn on. You can customize what to show on mobile devices and what doesn’t and it doesn’t affect the desktop version at all.

  3. I just started using Wix a couple of weeks ago for my real estate website. It doesn’t look cheap. Yesterday I set a record in the number of unique visitors compared to my old platform, and my bounce rate is way down. 3/4 of the visits are organic.

  4. Justin, #8 . . . what’s your point? JK . . . I see your point. Thanks for the tip to not to use Flash template.

Comments are closed.