As the number of do-it-yourself website services continues to grow, many struggle with which platform to use for their specific needs.
I reached out to Robert Brandl, whose company Website Tool Tester, specializes in helping people find the right DIY site service. Robert was kind enough to answer some questions on this subject.
See more information about Robert and his company at the end of this article.
How do you get people started when they come to you and say, “I need advice on choosing a do-it-yourself website platform?”
Generally when a beginner has no experience at all with website creation we usually recommend to download our free ebook, which provides all the background knowledge someone needs in order to get started.
For example, domain name explanations and choosing a good one, or how to plan a website and to perform some basic optimization for search engines.
When you rate the DIY platforms, what are all the criteria you use to evaluate them?
Since our target audience is made up of beginners, ease of use is our most important criteria. A website builder that uses technical jargon or requires you to write code would not be a good match for our site.
Other than that, the number and quality of the templates is very important, as well as SEO features, ways to add password protection to your site and also how enjoyable it is to work with a certain site builder. For that we have a special criteria called the “Fun Factor”.
What are the things you consider when matching a client to a specific platform?
Well, the first thing we need to know is what they are trying to achieve. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, even though many tools promise just that. One person might need a blog for content marketing, another plans to open an online store in the future.
The next just wants fancy designs for a portfolio site. For every single use case there is usually a compatible website builder.
To make it easier for people to evaluate different providers, we created a comparison tool available on our site that lets you view all their features side by side.
So the client’s internet marketing goals play a big part in your recommendations, yes?
Yes, of course. A typical goal is to attract visitors through search engines. For that we need a website builder that lets you configure all the relevant page settings, such as the page title and the meta description.
Also, a blog is important to provide relevant articles on a regular basis. Very important not only for search engines but also to attract Facebook Shares and Tweets.
Then there are things like social media integration – how easy is it to add share buttons or to integrate your Facebook page with your website. Fortunately, most modern site builders are well prepared for these challenges.
What is your current favorite ecommerce DIY platform?
As I said, one-size-fits-all solutions are non-existent but in terms of ecommerce I’d recommend to take a look at Shopify, Bigcommerce (for medium to large stores) or Weebly (for smaller online stores).
What about a non-ecommerce favorite?
As for non-ecommerce I’d also recommend Weebly as it’s the most intuitive tool I know. Jimdo is also nice as it provides an all in one package of website, domain name and email address(es).
Do you find some platforms are better out of the gate with optimization for SEO?
Yes, definitely. Most site builders let you now edit all the relevant areas of your page settings. But Jimdo, Squarespace and Webnode are the providers you want to use if you need to squeeze out the last bit of SEO juice.
What is the biggest challenge you see people struggle with during the decision making process?
There are different challenges. We often receive questions from beginners who over-complicate the project. Before they sign-up for a website builder they would ask every possible question they can think of. Analysis paralysis kicks in.
Usually just doing a free trial would answer most questions in an instant. Many people have a hard time believing that it’s really not that difficult to create a website these days.
Other than that I would say it’s a lack of focus. When daily business is always more important than the website, it’s never going to be finished. In this case it might make sense to hire a trustworthy specialist.
What are some not-so-obvious benefits to using the DIY approach?
The main benefit of creating the website yourself is that you learn a great deal. A website is usually of strategic importance to most businesses these days.
Knowing what’s possible, understanding SEO and how to implement quick updates and changes can be a pretty significant competitive advantage.
About Robert Brendl
Robert Brandl runs Website Tool Tester. His company constantly reviews DIY Website platforms and posts them to his site. The company has been mentioned in the New York Times and on the CIO website.
They have helped thousands of people build their websites. You can find helpful information and DIY platform reviews on his site as well as the contact form to reach out to Robert directly.
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