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Why custom built websites are better for business

house Max Jacobson Jan 1, 2024

Wix. Squarespace. WordPress. If you're a small business owner building out your online presence, turning to a generic website builder is a quick and easy way to get your website up and running. These platforms boast that anyone can build a successful website in minutes without any coding experience.

That's a modern marvel!

Except: while these website builders are convenient and cost-friendly, they also have several limitations. Just like anything in life, you get what you pay for. But is it worth investing in a custom-coded web design complete with impeccable web design and high-level search engine optimization (SEO)? Or should you stick to the basic website builders?

Find out below!

Website Builder vs. Custom-Coded Website: What's the Difference?

Let's define our terms: Website builders are a user-friendly platform dedicated to simplifying the web design process. Small business owners rely on their comprehensive catalog of templates, using the in-built tools to change colors, add pictures, and make the website brand relevant.

Often, these platforms use drag-and-drop tools to ensure that anybody, even those with little to no coding experience, can build and customize their websites. Other features include hosting, contact forms, galleries, and even eCommerce functions.

Custom-coded websites, on the other hand, aren't just a generic design overlaid on standard code. These custom websites are built from the ground up by web developers, web designers, and SEO experts. Unlike the standard website builder, no two sites are the same, being tailored explicitly to the client's needs and brand identity.

Most small business owners lack the expertise to build such sites. That's why they rely on professionals with in-depth programming knowledge to create a site with more complex features and integrations than typical website builders.

Website Builders

Upsides of Website Builders

New to web design? Need a fully functional website on a shoestring budget? You're the target market for page builders like Wix or SquareSpace. If you want a portfolio website or are creating a side hustle in your spare time, these website builders can introduce all the important concepts without overwhelming you.

Common features such as eCommerce capabilities, SEO tools, and social media integration work seamlessly to build initial traction. And, if you have any difficult questions, there's a reliable customer support team or stack of tutorials to help troubleshoot issues or develop your skillset.

Limitations of Website Builders

Once you've learned a little about web design or SEO, once your small business builds a customer base, you've probably outgrown the generic page builders. They're built for beginners.

However, as your business grows, competing in the search engine rankings (aka SEO), managing Google Core Vitals (see below), ensuring your website is mobile-friendly, and checking it can withstand a blizzard of orders becomes critical to continual success. Clunky, slow, poorly optimized websites don't just hurt your Google rankings; they undermine all the hard work you've put in.

Consider these key limitations of website builders:

  1. Limited Customization and Differentiation: Website builders often have limited options for customization, making it challenging to create a unique website that stands out from competitors.
  2. SEO Constraints: While they provide basic SEO tools, website builders can lack advanced SEO capabilities, which is crucial for competing in search engine rankings.
  3. Performance Issues: Websites created with builders may experience slower load times and less optimal performance, impacting user experience and Google Core Web Vitals.
  4. Scalability Limitations: As your business grows, website builders might not support the increased traffic and complex functionalities required for expansion.
  5. Dependence on Platform: You're bound to the specific platform's rules and limitations, and migrating to a different platform can be difficult and time-consuming.

Custom-Coded Websites

Upsides of Custom-Coded Websites

Look at any successful, visually interesting, or highly optimized small business site; you can bet it was custom-coded. A talented web design expert sat down with the owners and their team, talked about the customer base (including their wants and needs), and got to work building nothing less than a digital work of art.

Then, the SEO experts and web developers ensured it contained all the necessary functionality to perform as well as the best enterprise sites. That could be fun animations, contact forms, resource centers (think videos, blog posts, and other news stories), and much more.

In two words, that's the difference between website builders and fully coded websites: talent and expertise. Here are some key advantages to turning to the experts:

  1. Tailored Design: Imagine having a website that's like a custom suit, tailored just for your brand. That's what custom-coded sites offer -- designs that perfectly capture your brand's essence and appeal directly to your audience.
  2. Advanced SEO: With custom coding, your site can be fine-tuned for search engines. It's like having a secret weapon in SEO, helping you climb up those search rankings and get noticed.
  3. Flexibility and Growth: Think of it as having a website that grows with your business. Whether it's handling more visitors or adding new features, a custom site can adapt without a hitch.
  4. Speedy and Smooth: Nobody likes a slow website. Custom-coded sites can be lightning-fast, offering a smooth experience to your visitors, which is excellent for keeping them around and pleasing the search engines.
  5. You're the Boss: Full control over your website -- sounds good, right? From choosing your hosting to making tweaks and updates, you call the shots without any platform restrictions.

Limitations of Custom-Coded Websites

Nothing in life is perfect. High-quality work, like a tailor-made website, costs extra. There's no avoiding that. However, as many web professionals can attest, what you spend on web design, functionality, and SEO, you gain back in business expansion and new opportunities.

There's also the time factor. You're paying for an expert's time when you commission a website. Often, that payment is ongoing -- particularly for SEO services. But you're also paying to save your own time. You don't have to revise the website. You don't have to perform an SEO audit. You've got a team of vendors and professionals who've got your back.

Google Core Vitals and SEO: What You Need to Know

What are Google Core Vitals?

Talk to some SEO experts about ranking factors, and they'll reel off factors like mobile-friendliness, safe browsing (aka no malware), page navigation, and load times. No doubt these are critical SEO ranking factors -- the ones website builders take into account.

However, Google is evolving its algorithm. The new Google Core Vitals will form the backbone of Google's new "page experience" score. That's the search engine giant's way of evaluating your page's user experience (UX).

Currently, there are three known core web vitals:

  1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This is how long it takes for the biggest part of your webpage (like a large image or headline) to show up. Ideally, this should happen in under 2.5 seconds to keep visitors happy.
  2. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Ever been on a site where things jump around as they load? CLS measures that. The goal is to keep this jumping around as little as possible, under 0.1, so everything feels stable as you read or look at the page.
  3. First Input Delay (FID): It refers to how quickly the website responds when you click on something. For a good experience, it should react in less than 100 milliseconds, so it feels like it's responding right away when you interact with it.

Another fourth factor, Interaction to Next Paint (INP), is set to replace FID in March 2024. It will expect pages to respond in 200 milliseconds or less.

Why Do These Factors Matter?

Reliant on a generic website builder? If so, you're unlikely to know about these factors, let alone edit your website to consider these substantial changes. In contrast, small business owners who hire outside SEO experts and web design professionals will undergo routine SEO audits.

Based on the findings, these experts will advise key, effective changes to the website to ensure it ranks high on Google and offers a high-quality, engaging UX. (If you're not ranking in Google, you're not getting organic website traffic.)

Other Website Factors to Consider

Google's Core Vitals is a big change in SEO. But it's not the only factor that determines website success. Trusting in a standard website builder means your website is vulnerable to these key pitfalls:

  • Poor Quality Web Design. Ever find yourself wearing the same clothes as another person -- it's a little awkward. Well, imagine having the same web design. You no longer have an original and impressive website; it's just an "off-the-peg" design.
  • Limited SEO Customization: Relying solely on a standard website builder can restrict your ability to fully optimize your site for search engines. You might struggle to stand out in search rankings without the ability to tweak and refine SEO elements.
  • Scaling Challenges: As your business grows, a builder-based website might be unable to keep up, lacking the necessary customization and scalability.
  • Mobile-First and Fully Responsive Design: As of 2021, 54.4% of all global website traffic was generated by mobile devices. Ignore this trend at your peril. Standard website builders might not offer the level of responsiveness needed to ensure your website looks and functions well on all device types, potentially alienating a large portion of your audience.

Book a Free SEO Audit with Red Rock

Want to know how you could benefit from professional SEO and web design services? Let us perform a 100% free SEO audit for your website. We thoroughly analyze your site, looking at everything from Google's Core Vitals, web design, mobile responsiveness, and other key SEO factors.

Simply enter your email address and website in the form below, and we'll generate a report/audit for you. Are you ready to take your small business website to the next level?

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