A fully functional website is an absolute must for modern businesses who want to attract and engage with their ‘digital age’ customers.
However, getting that fully functional website isn’t always a simple task, especially for startup enterprises and small businesses that are usually operating on a tight budget.
The Cost of Building a Website
‘Free’ web building tools aren’t always free. That’s because it’s necessary to factor in the cost of the in-house designer’s time. An inefficient approach to using free web building tools can result in wasted man hours, along with a subsequent loss of production and, ultimately, a loss of potential income.
The cost of building a website will undoubtedly vary depending on the type of website that’s required. But when all aspects of development, content, functionality, and post-launch support are taken into account, the costs can certainly start to add up.
In fact, it’s estimated that the average web designer charges between $125 and $250 per hour to build a website from scratch.
With figures such as this, it’s not surprising that more and more businesses are bypassing dedicated designers, and are instead seeking out free web building tools such as Jimdo, MrSite, Wix, Weebly, WordPress, Joomla, and so on.
However, while there are many free web building tools that actually do a pretty decent job, and form a highly cost-effective solution, there is one big consideration to take into account: the cost of your time.
How Long Does It Take to Build a Website?
The length of time it will take to become familiar with free web building tools and use these tools to design a business website will vary significantly. We can design a photography website in a few days, but customisation can take 4-6 weeks depending on client expectations.
However, one resource suggests that using WordPress, it can take the average user 2 hours to create a simple blog, 8 hours to make an informational website, and up to 20 hours in total to design and build a functional e-commerce website using this design platform.
Of course, those estimates are assuming that the designer already knows what they’re doing! If they don’t, and if there is a need to learn the basics of the platform prior to site creation, even more time is required.
This could be up to 2 hours for basic WordPress training, up to 5 hours for training on associated tools such as Google Analytics, and up to 8 hours for comprehensive e-commerce training.
Time Efficient Tools
Businesses can significantly minimize the amount of time it takes them to build a website using free tools by knowing what to look for in a good web builder.
It’s best to look for tools that include easy-to-use features, such as readymade HTML templates and a ‘drag and drop’ interface to ensure the platform is easy to get to grips with. Low ad density is also important, as ads on free tools can be distracting.
It’s also important to know what not to look for. For example, if the designated in-house designer is not particularly well skilled in web design, a highly flexible web building tool which allows for customization may not always be the best option.
That’s because this level of flexibility can sometimes fail to guide website creators and could encourage poor design. More restrictive tools may be more efficient.
Web Designer v. Web Builder: Which is Better?
While it is arguably easier to hire a dedicated web designer, this option won’t suit all businesses. Young business and smaller organizations who are trying to keep their costs down may not be in a position to take on such services.
In such cases, a business may not have many alternative choices other than to use free web building tools.
Free web building tools can work, but whether or not they’re worth it for a business really depends on existing knowledge and the ability of the in-house designer to learn quickly on the job.
Some businesses may find it much more time efficient to utilize both free and premium tools which can often make creating a website faster and easier thanks to the wider range of handy features and functions available.
The best solution for businesses that are not in a position to outsource their web design to a professional provider would be a combination approach.
That approach may include the use of free web building tools as able and where necessary, opting for premium support and paid plugins to ensure great results. Those results should include the factors that go toward long-term conversion optimisation in design.
Your design must not only be professional – it must meet certain conversion goals; it must win clients or customers to your product or service.
Premium WordPress plugins, for example, make it simple to add SSL to a WordPress site, to collect subscriber details, to add a shopping cart for e-commerce, and even incorporate an informational FAQ to boost customer service. All of these features are basic and absolutely necessary to a web design that will convert your site visitors down the track.
For an extra level of support and guidance, businesses that have the funds to do so may find that they can save even more time when using free web building tools alongside an outsourced consultancy service.
A consultant can be beneficial for ad-hoc support and can, therefore, be a more cost-effective option to outsourcing an entire website to a website design agency.