If you’re a start up or a small business with a limited budget, it may be tempting to cut costs by using a website builder like Wix, Weebly, or GoDaddy. Web designers are expensive, especially if you want top quality. (And since your website is your company’s face to the world, you want top quality.) But builder sites aren’t the way to go for any business that wants to impress clients and grow. If you’re not ready to invest in a real website, there are a number of ways to grow your business without one.

But builder sites are not a good alternative. Here are five reasons why:

Templates

Your website should be special and unique to you. It should represent who you are and what you offer. Using a template from a site builder will make your presence on the Web look exactly like that of any number of other companies and individuals. This means you won’t stand out from the crowd, and you may even have a site that looks a lot like those of your competitors.
Limiting yourself to the few templates on offer at a builder site will also get in the way of your branding, because it’s unlikely that you’ll find a template that matches the aesthetics of your logo. Finally, the templates can look cheap, cheesy, or bland giving a bad first impression to anyone seeking out your services, whether or not they recognise it as a template.

Formatting Issues

One of the ways that site builders limit your ability to customise your website is that they typically offer just one page. This means your site will be pretty one-dimensional. You can’t have separate tabs for different products, locations, or features of your business, and you’re limited in terms of the data that you can store online.

Builders also often use Flash, which is not at all search-engine friendly and can be hard to open on certain web browsers and platforms.
For example, Flash doesn’t work very well on Apple mobile devices. So if you count anyone with an iPhone among your customers, it’s best to avoid builder sites.
Flash is also inefficient, consuming a lot of power and making browsers slow. This could mean losing potential clients who don’t have the patience to check you out. Finally, Flash is famous for its security issues, so site builders could leave your website vulnerable.

Costs

Builder sites advertise themselves as low-cost or even free, but they tend to be more expensive than they initially appear.
Some give you a free trial and then start charging you. High-end sites might charge $30 a month, which means $360 a year, which you’ll have to continue paying as long as you have the site.
Compare that with hiring a design agency, which might cost you the equivalent of a few years of service at a builder site, but in the form of a one-time fee.
With a real website the only overhead is the cost of domain and hosting renewal, and that’s manageable even on the tightest budget.

Googleability

Google hates sites created by site builders. The use of Flash contributes to this, but using a builder also means that your site can’t be verified by Google’s Webmaster Tools. This is an advanced feature that allows you to monitor crawl rates, web traffic, and problems with your site like broken links.
It’s absolutely essential if you want to use your website to grow your business, and you can’t make use of it if you’re hosted by a site builder.
Additionally, because of outdated analytics technology, builder sites tend to give an inaccurate picture of how your website is faring in terms of traffic.
Google analytics is the only way to go for this kind of analysis, but it doesn’t always work with sites created by builders.

If you’re looking to stake out your business’s permanent space on the web, there’s no better option than a web design agency. Agencies are invested in your success. When you hire them, your website becomes another key piece of their portfolio, so they have an inbuilt incentive to do excellent work for you.
As your business grows, so does theirs. Builder sites on the other hand are looking to use you as free ad space, by plastering their “this-site-was-created-by” banner across the bottom of your page, which doesn’t help you in the least.

Agencies also come with the advantage of free support. Builder sites might have a support team, but sometimes you have to pay and often the department is understaffed. This could mean long frustrating hours on hold when problems arise. With an agency you’ll often have developed a relationship with the team during the building of your website, and you’ll have someone you can call up personally if you run into a problem.

Again, it may not be time for your business to start a website, but when it is make sure you invest enough to create the web presence you deserve. This means hiring a web design agency to create a real, customized website suited to your brand, product, and client-base.