Are website builders killing freelance development?

As the market for websites is getting larger, so are the options for website builders and designers. Here I discuss the reason why I think these options are killing freelance development.

The reality is, the cost of living is increasing everyday and naturally we find ourselves wanting to get more for our money. It’s no different when it comes to getting a website.

Every person and every business is different – this results in huge differences with the budgets people have available for new projects. In my mind, this is absolutely ok.

The trouble is because of these cheaper options, there now seems to be a misconception on how websites are built, how long they take and how much they should cost.

Website builders are regularly being advertised on TV, on the radio and within online content. As with any other business, they showcase themselves to try and sell their product. Their message being, anyone can have an amazing website which can be made in just a few clicks and cost you just a few quid.

To be fair to these companies, this is what they give you. However, you have to bear in mind these websites are being generated based on your preferences. They are not being built by hand and as a result, often produce code that is an absolute mess. This means these websites produced by website builders, often aren’t very optimised and don’t do well in search engine results.

In regards to website designers… there are some amazing ones out there. Most designers have on point design skills but aren’t great at coding. They will often work in partnership with developers – this provides great design and website that works well too. This is how is should be. However there are instances of designers “having a bash” at coding and not doing a very good job which could potentially cause problems for the clients new website.

You will also get the odd few developers (like myself) who focus on the development side, but also have an eye for design too.

The one thing I have been noticing though, is a lot of website designers (and agencies!) who are knocking out websites at a fraction of the cost. Whilst they are providing pretty websites, they are using pre-made themes for their own websites, and often the same one for all their clients too.

I can’t help but wonder, do their clients know this?

How is this effecting developers?

My fear is that people don’t know what they are buying with these cheap website options. They think they are getting a good deal because it’s cheap and looks pretty, without realising under the bonnet they have poor quality components.

Subsequently, they do not appreciate the work and time that developers put into building a website professionally.

For me, it’s becoming a common occurrence for people to ask for a website with the expectation to pay less than £100 and have it completed in a heartbeat.

If this is how people are beginning to think, I wonder if quality developers will still be here in 10 years time.

Questions to ask

This blog post isn’t about getting customers, it’s about raising the awareness of these cheaper services and what they can and can’t do for your business.

Regardless of who you work with, here are some questions you should be asking before paying money for a website:

  • Will I be able to update my content? If you’re using a CMS such as WordPress, you should be able to easily update your content. Make sure your designer / developer is not hard coding anything in that you won’t be able to update later on.
  • Will I get full access to my website? Unfortunately I have seen many instances where the clients access has been restricted so that they cannot change anything. Make sure you’ll be getting full access, after all it is your website.
  • Will you be using a pre-made theme or template? Using pre-made themes and templates is fine if that works for your business. You do have the right to know about it though, so make sure you ask this. No bespoke website should use a pre-made template. If you’re paying for bespoke, make sure that is what they are giving you.
  • Will I have full access to my website? Make sure you are given full administration access to your website. Too many times I have seen people unable to adjust or manage their website properly because they haven’t been granted full access.

Final thoughts

Quality, professional websites take time to build. If someone is building you a website in a day and charging you very little, you have to wonder why that is.