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Should You Use a DIY Website Builder?

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Should You Use a DIY Website Builder?

Wix, Weebly, Snap — while they might sound like breakfast cereals or kid's toys, they're actually DIY web design tools. For free or a small monthly fee, you can easily build your own website without having to learn a single line of code.

Website editors like these are often called WYSIWYG, and awkward acronym that stand for "What You See Is What You Get." Using a WYSIWYG editor, you can edit a website as it appears using drag-and-drop interfaces and text-editing toolbars.

WYSIWYG editors make building a website quick, cheap, and easy. You can save time by not having to learn any technical skills, and money by not hiring a designer. These services often offer hundreds of design templates to choose from, with some options to customize your website. Some offer e-commerce support and features like analytics, blogs, mobile apps, and calendars.

But as web designers say, do you want your website fast, cheap, or high-quality? You can only choose two. WYSIWYG website builders are fast and cheap. But if you need a high-quality, professional website, they may be lacking.

For some needs, these free website builders might be perfect. Need a quick, simple website set up for a party or event? Wix or Weebly will have just what you need. Just follow the steps below to weigh your options, choose your platform, and get your new website up and running for free or a small fee.

On the other hand, if you're launching an online store or starting a website for your bricks-and-mortar business, it may be worth it to invest in a professional web designer. WYSIWYG editors could leave you stuck with a slow, unoriginal website that's difficult or impossible to upgrade, and that "free" website may end up losing your business money.

While WYSIWYG editors make building a website more accessible for many people, they're not the optimal solution for everyone's web presence needs. Compare your options below to find out which option is best for you, and decide whether you need your website fast and cheap, or high quality and professional.

Wicked WYSIWYG - DIY Websites

Wicked WYSIWYG: What About Those DIY Websites?

You don't have to be a professional designer to get a web presence anymore, thanks to WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) services like Wix®, Weebly®, SnapPages®, and countless others. But, is quick, easy, and cheap ever a viable replacement for professional expertise?

Why People Go for DIY

  • Little to no technical skills needed; get your website online in minutes.
  • Affordable to use; you can save even more because you don't have to pay someone to make changes to your website.
    • Usually includes free hosting, so you don't have the additional expense.

DIY Websites: Free vs. Paid Subscriptions

Wix: Free and Paid Plans

  • Free plans come with limited features and storage space.
    • Displays ads on your website.
  • Paid plans range from $6.90 to $29.90/month.
    • The cheapest premium plan will still display ads on your website.
    • Annual discounts available.
  • Features include:
    • Choose from hundreds of templates
    • Drag-and-drop design
      • Customize anything
    • eCommerce support
    • Mobile friendly design

Weebly: Free and Paid Plans

  • Free plans come with limited features and storage space.
    • You cannot use your own domain with a free plan.
  • Paid plans range from $4 to $25/month.
  • Features include:
    • Themes
    • e-Commerce support
    • Apps to customize your website on-the-go
    • Blog
    • Site Statistics

Snappages: Free and Paid Plans

  • Free plans come with limited features and storage space.
  • Paid plans are either $8 or $30/month.
  • Features include:
    • Drag-and-drop design
    • Customizable themes
    • Blog
    • Calendar

Like a Professional?

While these DIY website builders can get you up and running quickly, they're not quite like having a site designed by a professional, because they:

  • Will likely load slower.
  • Shared hosting environments mean you're sharing bandwidth with other accounts, which results in slower load times.
    • This is especially true if you have large images.
  • They will not be 100% unique.
    • Template based designs mean any other customer can use the same template.
  • Don't offer the freedom and flexibility you can get with a professional designer
  • May include advertisements to support your "free" website.
  • May not be possible to move your website to your own platform or professional designer later, should you decide to.
  • Don't offer the knowledge and experience you'd get with a professional.

Quick and Cheap = DIY

When & How to Use DIY

Using a DIY website builder can be an effective option when you:

  • Don't need something complex
  • Have a limited budget
  • Don't mind having something that will look like someone else's website
  • Need to get a quick and easy online presence

How to Use a DIY website builder:

  • Choose platform
    • Compare features available in free vs. paid plans to decide which one works best for you.
  • Sign up for free plan/trial
  • Choose template
  • Upload photos/logo
  • Add business info
  • Publish

If you like the results:

  • Upgrade to a paid plan
  • Purchase domain if you want your own unique URL that will work independently of your DIY website service provider.
    • Some companies like VistaPrint, will own your domain.
    • If you want to take your domain elsewhere later, you may not be able to.

Turning it Over to a Professional

You should turn your website design project to a professional when you:

  • Need something more complex than what the DIY builders can provide.
    • Members only section / premium membership website
  • Are not as constrained budget wise
    • There are designers out there for nearly any budget you may have.
  • Want something that looks completely different from other websites out there
  • Don't have a solid knowledge of Internet basics.
    • If Facebook or email is confusing at times then building your business's online presence yourself may not be for the best.
  • Don't need an immediate web presence and you can take time to develop it
  • Want more time to focus on your business and don't want to micro-manage your online presence.
  • Want more freedom and flexibility with your options.
  • Anticipate future growth and development

The Future of DIY Website Services

Web design is currently a $20.1 billion industry in the United States alone.

16 million new websites are being added to the web every month.

  • More than 70% are built with pro-developer platforms like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, with the assistance of a professional.

Only 3% of websites today are built using DIY tools.

  • Amateur users find it difficult to finish the process on their own, so only 3% of customers who sign up end up with a published website.
  • B2C web design market is struggling to gain market share, as many DIY design tools are used by designers themselves to improve their business.

DIY website designers have their place in the market, but will have to continue to make services more accessible and easy to use to compete with the professional design circuit.


KeriLynn Engel

About KeriLynn Engel

KeriLynn has worked as a freelance writer for various websites. She is an advocate for domestic abuse victims and has way too many hobbies.


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Davis Brown

July 1, 2015

There is buzz around all the tech communities as well as tech enthusiastic about DIYWebsite builder tools. Those who do coding stuffs never want to use website builder tool. There are so many website builders around us like wik, templatetoaster, Weebly, Squarespace who claim that anyone can create a website without doing any coding. But I am a little bit confused on this. As a web designer, I always prefer the best among best from the technology as well as in term of quality. So I don’t know it is right to use these tools or do web designing by myself.



July 13, 2015

Great post, and beautiful graphics. Personally, my opinions are a little stronger. I don’t think anyone who can’t set up a blog in wordpress has any business blogging. It’s really competitive for bloggers, and if you don’t have the patience to watch a 5 minute youtube video on how to install wordpress I think you’ll have larger issues. If you are completely technologically illiterate, stick to facebook or social media, that’s what those sites are great for – easy content posting for friends and family. I am just about as tech-stupid as it gets, but still made my own blog with wordpress (shameless plug, http://www.borntodiy.com). And I think it looks just fine.


Tom Francis

November 11, 2015

Great infographic! I think there is a solid place in the market for website builders – websites can place a high barrier to entry for small business trying to get started. A more complex website can always be built further down the track once some income has been generated. I’ve written reviews of the big players in the website builder game which can be found at https://www.itpages.com/, let me know if you have any questions, cheers Tom


Ray Richards

May 14, 2016

There are plenty of free website builders that are quite easy to use and with a bit of effort (not too much) you can end up with a nice looking website in a short amount of time. Weebly is probably the best, free option because of its easy drag-and-drop feature that works very well. Wix is also a top-notch solution, but the free version does show some ads that can be too much for some people. And there are a lot more options available, free and paid; it’s a question of which one to choose?


Nikola Chongarov

July 5, 2016

This is a great article even though it is made a few years ago. The pros and cons of the two are well explained and it’s good to see a place where people don’t say straight “WordPress is better than all of them” or “If you want to be unique you should definitely go for a dedicated website designer and developer”. That is what made me read the article and just nod in agreement with the graphic representations.

I believe though that there is a type that has been missed in putting it as a “this vs that” discussion. There are certain website builders which are more leaning towards pre-made website for a specific business than the usual jack-of-all-trades builder. You can check some of those at website. They offer you the trend to go for the default product and just use it as is for a low subscription fee or go ballistic on requesting modifications to the default product to make it really unique, having every bit of it rebuilt if you desire and are willing to put up with the extra fee that would cost to get developed by their great website developers and designers. So it lays on the middle you get a relatively cheap website builder yet you can opt-in for lots of customizations if you are ready to pay a reasonable price for them and the best part is – you don’t need any coding skills at all.


Frank Moraes

April 4, 2017

Yes, you can use WordPress as a website builder. I recommend that people just install WordPress, find one of the thousands of themes that appeals to them, and then configure it from within WordPress itself — to do things like put up a custom header image. It really isn’t necessary to do anything more. WordPress is amazing all by itself. But if you really want a website builder, TemplateToaster is worth looking at.


Rika Guite

November 30, 2018

Great article, and amazing infographic, KeriLynn!
Not everyone has the resources and knowledge for building custom websites. Being a graphic designer, I’d prefer focusing on designing graphics rather than designing and coding a website myself. For most creative professionals, website builders are life savers. I’ve built my website on Pixpa, and it offers almost everything that I need to run my business online. Isn’t as flexible as WordPress or custom coded website, but definitely gets the job done. The main point here is to decide the functionalities you need in a website, and then look for options.