why i'll never fear online website builders

Sites like WIX, Squarespace and whatever similar tool GoDaddy have dreamt up to help you build your own website – These all don’t worry me in the slightest as a designer or developer.

These tools are great for consumers who want to get a website up and have very little budget or don’t require any bells and whistles. Some are also pretty good, Squarespace for one. It’s builder has a great GUI, meaning you don’t need to know any code in order to create your site and you can get a pretty decent site up and running in a short space of time for a really competitive price. They even offer a basic e-commerce solution.

They do however have limitations and these limitations are where you’d likely look for a designer or a developer to step in and help. Take a recent website I worked on for a client. I built features that there’s no way you’d ever be able to replicate using a web builder – it needed lots of custom PHP to function, as it was a complex membership based website with physical monthly products linked to the membership.

When a member signed up to the website, a ‘trial period’ and a ‘regular period’ of their membership was calculated. This essentially meant that I was able to reprogram the future payment dates for my client, who wanted to receive all payments on the 10th of the month. As I couldn’t control when the first payment would be as it was taken on sign up, I calculated future payments by taking the month, seeing how many day’s were remaining and adding 10 days to it. This then told the site to take the first payment instantly, then take the next payment in 12 days, followed by every other payment on the 10th of each month going forward.

A complex membership website alone isn’t achievable with a GUI based builder, let alone adding such control over a recurring payment subscription.

Next we had to consider the products that were linked to the membership. As the site was shipping physical goods, we needed somewhere to track what the member was being sent when a payment had cleared. This was accomplished using Stripes API to receive payment notifications through the website. When a payment was processed, transaction details were sent from Stripe and matched to a users profile. The information from the transaction, coupled with the customers data were processed to create an actionable order in the backend. When the members goods had been despatched, the order was marked as complete and an email was sent letting the member know that their order was on it’s way.

I’m not going to list all of what I developed as this post would become a case study, I’m just trying to say that as a designer and problem solver I don’t fear consumer focussed website builders. I understand they have their place in the world.

If you are a freelancer and you lose sleep over website builders, then I feel for you. If you don’t feel you add value through design and web development beyond the capabilities of what a simple website builder can achieve, then you probably shouldn’t be in the industry.

If you’re looking for a website that needs to do anything more than load a static page, I’d love to speak to you.