Skip to main content

How to Find the Best Website Builder

  Finding the right people and tools for building a website can be daunting. There's many options out there for building a website. There's many ways to approach the problem. Typically, when a client asks me about this problem, I go straight to the end goals of the project. What does the website do? Is it a brochure site, ecommerce site, or site that performs a critical business function?

  From that standpoint, you can evaluate the 3 different classes of roles, tools, & software that the web development world has to offer.

 

 

Low-End Commoditized Services

 

  The web has been around for a long time. The problems of building of a website are pretty well known and solved. Around these problems many different commoditized solutions have cropped up. This has been good & bad for the average person looking for web development:

  • Good: Many options and cheap prices 
  • Bad: Many options and a bit of paradox of choice when facing a daunting number of options.

  For the DIY-er who isn't picky on the specifics of outcome ("I just need a website to display my business information") the low-barrier-to-entry website builder services are great. SquareSpace, Wix, WordPress.com, BloggerGoogle Sites, etc. are all "good-enough" options with free-to-little costs involved.

  The trade off you're paying here is you're limited in the templates, markup tools, and space given by the provider. Free comes at the cost of "if you're not the customer you're the product" relationship that is typically with any free web service; you get what you're given and expect to be nickel-and-dimed for additional features (e.g. custom mysite.example.com domain) if they exist at all.

 

  If you're looking for a bit more customization than website builder services, there's also the option of the ad hoc job social networks / message boards like Fiverr, Upwork, Craigslist, etc. These sites are the "gig economy" in practice. Though the magic of supply-and-demand, you can find low-to-mid cost freelancers who have commoditized their work into simple, custom work, with limited scope (e.g. "I provide a logo in Adobe PSD & vector format with a color palette of your choosing. I'll provide 5 custom static page designs for content pages of your choice."). 

  The trade off here is you'll get custom work, up to a certain point. The cost is low because the freelancer knows exactly the parameters, or scope, the gig entails. The more details, or requirements, you throw into the request can result in problems like confusing the freelancer (really low cost work usually comes from countries where American English isn't the native language) or it being more work than freelancer is willing to do. You also run the risk of venturing into an area where the freelancer has little-to-no experience. 

  These networks & freelancers can provide great value when you know what exactly what you want & the details aren't that hyper specific to require long discussion. If you need to compare many similar freelancers make sure to gather:

  • A portfolio of work (better if previous projects are similar to yours)
  • A typical budget range (if network/provider hasn't already fixed the price)
  • Some reference from previous clients (some networks provide this automatically)

  And compare/contrast the freelancers you have found.

 

Mid-Range Tailored Services

 

  For professionals that have been around the web for awhile, they have seen many trends come and go with the web. They have established themselves in a certain niche and have made a career around it. It's this mid-range that I, and my peers, occupy in web development. 

  We typically have a mix of long-term (industry) & impromptu (project specific) contacts. We're likely to "wear many hats" (e.g. design, marketing, programming, marketing, finance, etc.) as building a website or web application requires many different skillsets that we need to know about to complete a complicated project. If we've partnered or agency'd up, we're likely to be a bit more narrowly focused as the organizational division of labor requires us to, but not to the degree where you're likely to hear "that's not my job" or "I don't know."

  As small business owners, we're typically sympathetic to similarly-sized businesses. With these mid-sized professionals, you're more likely to mitigate the principal–agent problem; smaller professional groups are more likely to view your project as a partnership to bolster their brand, as well as yours. We employ peers & other contractors while working with small-to-large corporations that vary project to project. If you're not familiar employing professional web services, think hiring a contractor for building or extending a house; the business dynamics are pretty similar, the only difference is the body of work is digital, not physical.

  Employing single-person-to-small agency sized (think around 5 people, probably no more than 10) best provides value when you have a large project with some complex requirements (e.g. a custom modern design, some content management functionality, custom web application work, or a marketing campaign). but not the need (or budget) to employ a large team of dedicated specialists.

  As with finding a freelancer, if you need to compare similar web professionals make sure to gather:

  • Examples of projects previously developed.
  • The parts of web development (e.g. web application, web design, web marketing, etc.) they have expertise in (everyone should have some speciality besides being a jack-of-all-trades).
  • A project estimate (after delivering a RFQ document that describes the scope of the project).

  And compare/contrast the different professional groups you have found.

 

High-End Professional Services

 

  The last class is the largest. These are the larger agencies that have grown into medium-to-large sized companies. They've typically have matured out of the aforementioned mid-range class. If they're really mature, they've likely productized their services into some web platform (think Amazon AWS cloud computing); they offer something similar to low-end commoditized services but with ad-hoc tailored services where needed. 

  As with any large company, it comprises of roles that are more strictly defined. Being in the business of web development, you're likely to find individuals to know a little-of-everything, however that will probably be the exception, not the rule. Generally, the larger the company, the more it's individuals will be narrowly focused. 

Here, your relationship with the agency will vary based on your budget. At a certain size, the budget might not be worth the agency's time; they've priced in their overhead and, at certain cost, it's not worth the cost, barring some extraneous factors (e.g. the halo effect your company might have to entice others to work with you). The asymmetry in your relationship will based on the size of your company (and, by proxy, its budget).

Employing these agencies is best with large scope projects that span many different roles that will cover the entire spectrum of web development: web/mobile applications, marketing, & content creation. Large projects like these will need a project manager to keep everyone on task and to coordinate lines of communication between all the relevant roles on your company's side and theirs.

Just like with finding a medium-sized professionals, if you need to compare similar web agencies make sure to gather:

  • Examples of projects previously developed. Larger agencies are more likely to have developed case studies, for marketing purposes, that describe in-detail specific projects and the value they delivered.
  • Specific examples of expertise within the web development industry. Are they more technology, content, or marketing focused? If so, find out any inside-industry accolades they have received in those areas that differentiate them. 
  • A project estimate (after delivering a RFQ document that describes the scope of the project).

 

That should enlighten you on which is the best for your situation. If you need a customized site, with requirements that can be explained with a one-or-two pages of text, feel free to contact me to see if I can provide the services you need.

 

 

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
CAPTCHA
Are you a robot?
Loading Image
Thinking...