7 Ways a Squarespace or Wix Site Will Stunt Your Business

Drag & drop web builders look like an easy way to get online. But here’s how they damage your business.

7 Ways a Squarespace or Wix Site Will Stunt Your Business

James Wood
James Wood
Author, web designer, lover of future things.
James Wood
James Wood
Author, web designer, lover of future things.

First things first, Squarespace and Wix are great services from great companies. But are they appropriate for your business? If you’re wanting to show professionalism and credibility, the answer is probably no.

They’re slow

Website builders are mass-market. They have to work for thousands and thousands of customers to earn the company a profit. That means that they have to be as easy to use without support as possible, and that often means that they inject a lot of code into your site to make sure that anything you try to do will work. More code means more sluggish browser performance.

Also, most website builder services use their own hosting which is usually on shared servers (and here’s why that’s bad). Slower performance really puts visitors off. As little as a one second delay in loading can cause 10% of your visitors to leave straight away, and 16% lower customer satisfaction for the people who stay. On top of that, page speed is a major factor in how Google and other search engines rank your website. Want to be found? You need a fast site.

They create code that’s bad for search engines

If you ever want to upset a web developer, just show them some automated code created by a website builder. In order to let people seemingly create any web page they want, these services use stunningly clunky, badly structured web code, and this matters far more than just upsetting techies.

it’s vital that the website’s code is properly structured and labelled so that the search robots can read it

The best web pages are easy for humans to scan because they use different levels of headings, sub-headings, text and lists to make it clear what the structure of the page is. You may not even consciously notice it, but analytics tell the full story: this page, for example, will show that people generally scan through the headings and then choose the sections that interest them. Search engines work in exactly the same way, so it’s vital that the website’s code is properly structured and labelled so that the search robots can read it just as easily as the humans. Website builders are very bad at this, and so the pages are more difficult for Google to index, meaning your site will sink down the rankings.

Their Content Management Systems are very restrictive

Websites aren’t static any more. They need fresh content to thrive, and so you need to be able to add it quickly and without fuss. If you just want to add a simple product for sale or a generic blog entry, then website builders have you covered. But venture off the bog-standard path and you’ll quickly find them very inflexible.

A friend of mine once spoke to me about wanting to build a knowledge base section on their Squarespace site. She had to use the blog functionality, but she wanted to hide the publish date as the content wasn’t date dependent and she didn’t want it looking out of date. Except she couldn’t. There was no way to stop the site from showing the date because it was treating it as a standard blog. She needed to come to a web developer for advice on how to hack the site to hide those pesky dates.

Websites that are built for you from the ground up will have everything specifically tailored for the content you want. They won’t force you to shoehorn your content into the closest piece of functionality on offer. And that means you can focus on creating great content for your visitors rather than banging your head against the wall of a one-size-fits-all CMS.

Your content is trapped

Like all great romances, you never go into a new relationship with a website thinking that it might end someday. But, sad as it is, these things do sometimes come to an end. And when they do, most website builders aren’t all that willing to return your content to you.

you’re likely to lose all of your painstakingly written blogs and content

Some have limited ways of exporting certain bits of your data, but you’re likely to lose all of your painstakingly written blogs and content unless you go through the whole site copying and pasting your text. Even if you do that, the images you’ve used likely won’t copy properly, so you’ll have to re-upload the originals, if you still have them. And the design that you spent so long perfecting in those early honeymoon days? That’s not coming with you, sorry.

A professional bespoke website won’t hold your content hostage like that. If you do end up wanting to move to a new platform one day, you’ll be able to get a clean export of all of your content, as well as properly structured HTML, CSS and Javascript, all written to best practice, so that your next developer can easily reuse anything that you want to keep.

Their analytics are limited

If you’re a freelance tradesperson who uses your website basically just to share your contact details then the simplified analytics built into the website builder services are perfect for you. You’ll be able to see how many people are coming to your site and the type of place they’re coming from (for example, social media).

If you do any kind of business or advertising online, though, that simply won’t be enough. You’ll need the detailed magical insights that only a full analytics package can give you. And while most services will give you a fairly easy way to connect to Google Analytics, the knowledge of how to set up and tune it to get meaningful reporting for your business is something that most people don’t have.

Make sure that your web developer includes a proper set up for Google Analytics (as ours do, naturally) so that you can actually see how well every step of your visitor flow is performing.

Working together causes everything to fall apart

Writers, by and large, aren’t designers. If it’s more than just you adding content to your site, then a website builder will give people too much control over the look of your site, when you really just want them to add content. People will change fonts, colours, sizes, position of images and, actually, spend less time working on the quality of the content.

Inconsistent design makes you look unprofessional

Inconsistent design makes you look unprofessional and will greatly undermine your business’ credibility. A bespoke site built for you will give your content writers exactly the amount of freedom they need, and no more. On our sites writers can use our rich text editor to create headings, lists, images, videos and links to best explain their content, but how those things actually look on the page is controlled by the designers. This keeps everything looking consistent and professional, avoiding the hotchpotch nursery-school-wall look you can get on sites that allow every person too many creative options.

You can’t design for your content

This is by far the most important reason to avoid a website building service, yet it’s the least well understood. The secret to a great website? You need to design your site to fit your content, not create content to fit the design.

you end up with weak content that is less effective at converting website visitors

The trouble with template sites is that they were designed for example content, not your content. So you’re given a beautiful template to start working with and you end up trying to find words to fit into all of the nicely designed blocks. But this means you end up with weak content that is less effective at converting website visitors into leads and customers.

A template will never give you the perfect match for the story you want to tell, so you’ll end up compromising. A bespoke website will start by looking at your content and designing pages to best communicate it to your visitors. Nothing bloated, nothing superfluous and definitely no filler. You get a streamlined, professional site that’s been built for the exact needs of your business.

Do you already have a site you’ve built on Squarespace or Wix? We can take a look at it and give you a list of quick ways to improve your conversions: Ask for a free web scorecard >