Small Business Websites
I recently completed a client’s website. While he is not an author, he provides small business services in a related field, and his original designer was unable to complete. His needs were slightly different to that of an author, in that he needed a web presence site rather than an ongoing content site, and he needed it fixed up quickly. With that in mind, I’d like to compare working with GoDaddy’s Website Builder (V7) to working with a standalone (not WordPress.com) WordPress installation:
There are a lot of variables involved in pricing out websites. That said, we’ll compare the raw pricing that I give my clients versus the pricing that GoDaddy offers as a baseline. Line item changes, such as different domain suffixes, different bandwidth needs, and so forth will change pricing, but let’s price out a standard .com domain for the two, with the caveat that I do not normally offer my services through GoDaddy, but instead prefer NameCheap. Thus, looking for the domain JimJoeAuthor.com, we get the following:
Comparison: WordPress vs GoDaddy
JimJoeAuthor.com $14.99 per year
“Privacy Protection” $9.99 per year
“Business” Hosting with Website Builder $9.99 per month
Total: $144.86 per year
WordPress (as per Interrobang’s Author Services)
JimJoeAuthor.com $10.69 per year
“WhoisGuard” $2.88 per year
Hosting $9.88 per year
WordPress Installation $Free
Total: $23.45 per year
Obviously there is quite a difference there. Why, then, would you choose the GoDaddy option?
Pros for GoDaddy’s Website Builder: It is a drag and drop, WYSIWYG editor. Most functionality is available without writing a lick of code. Social media sharing is easy, mobile site creation is automatic. SEO optimization is fairly straightforward. The contact form is very easy to create. There are a number of widgets, and the potential to add others through adding HTML. But if you’re willing to do that, I’m guessing you could move to a better solution than GoDaddy’s Website Builder. Bottom line: if you can make a nice looking PowerPoint presentation, you can probably make a nice looking website through this tool.
That said, I’m betting that you, like me, have sat through some pretty awful PowerPoint presentations.
Cons: There is no way to edit a page’s HTML/CSS, and there are no stylesheets. If you change your font in one place, get ready to change it everywhere. It appears that once a page is published it cannot be hidden, but instead must be deleted to get it out of the hamburger menu. The hamburger menu doesn’t appear to be customizable (I may come back to update that comment later if I figure out how to do so.) Pages and sites cannot be password protected. Blog content feeds can be linked to, but will not appear natively on the site. Mobile site optimization isn’t as flexible as I’d like. Analytic tools can be added, but only from third parties.
The best reasons to use GoDaddy’s website builder are if you:
- Want to do it all yourself without a designer
- Want a static website
- Do not wish to add any blog content or update your content regularly
- Do not intend to switch to a shopfront at any point
- Like the pre-made themes
Pros for WordPress running on your own site: If you like the premade themes your time to up and running is minimal. (I’ve gone from installation to live and posting in under an hour previously.) So. Very. Flexible. WordPress is now considered an Open Source content management system, not just a blogging platform. As a result there are tens of thousands of plugins that support any variation of blogging/content management. Creating a mobile theme is easy thanks to JetPack. You can change anything you want. Anything. A-ny-thing. And if your content changes a lot, WordPress is ready for you.
Cons: Unless your site (or your maintenance company) ensures you’re running the latest code, there can be a gap between version deployments and site updates. If you’re doing it yourself, you need to feel confident that you can deploy the code on your site. If you want to customize things, you’ll need to be willing to go under the hood. While it’s not rocket surgery under there, at first it can seem daunting. It can be a challenge to find the plugin that will work best for you, and at some point that plugin may no longer be updated. And while you can change anything, that’s only true as long as you can find a way to do so (but there are some easy ways). There can be small text-handling issues that will drive the nitpicky crazy until they can resolve them.
The best reasons to use WordPress are if you:
- Have frequently updated, active content
- Want to be able to restructure your site layout on the fly
- Don’t mind tinkering a bit, or are willing to hire a designer to get you up and running
- Know you’re in this for the long-haul and want a site that grows with you
- Want an infinitely-customizable experience that keeps up with technologies almost as fast as they emerge
I need to say that I’m used to WordPress and I have never used GoDaddy’s Website Builder prior to this experience, so I am biased. I did find certain aspects of the Website Builder frustrating. I come from a graphic design background (before I was a network engineer) and I like my graphics precise. I want to position and size things on a pixel by pixel basis. Image positioning was in some ways easier with GoDaddy, as I just dragged and dropped where I wanted images to land. However, when I clicked on them (or on text) they often jumped a few pixels, which drove me mad.
I also found the inability to hide pages infuriating. I wanted to leave my customer’s old website intact after the cutover, but hidden. I could take it out of the main navigation menu, but not out of the hamburger menu. This may be user error on my part, but I’m still looking for a way to fix that menu.
It was much easier to work in columns or different page areas using GoDaddy’s Website Builder. I find that WordPress can be a bit flaky when dealing with columns. I’m still looking for good solutions to some of my problems there.
There did not appear to be an option to retina-optimize a GoDaddy site. That said, mobile optimization was made easier thanks to a one-click “Hide from Mobile User” option for all text and images. (I utilized that in order to serve YouTube clips to both desktop and mobile users. My desktop users see a silent, autoplaying videoclip and text underneath inviting them to click to see the whole video. Those elements are hidden to my mobile viewers, who instead see an image I placed under the desktop video. The image is a preview of the video with a fake YouTube play button. Once the user clicks on the play button, it opens up the linked content.)
Would I use the GoDaddy Website Builder again? Yes … if that was my client’s choice. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t horrible. However, I would not recommend it for anyone who wanted to update their content frequently. For them, I’d say WordPress every time. There is simply no comparison.
Was it significantly easier than WordPress? For a novice user, almost certainly. However, keep in mind that my client had turned over this installation to a designer, and then to me as a second designer when that designer couldn’t produce for him. That, to me, is telling.
I’m sticking with WordPress for myself, and that will continue to be my recommendation for my authors and writing clients who want to write, not code. I am much happier rolling out WordPress based sites than GoDaddy Website Builder sites. Which isn’t to say I won’t do it again, but I have my preferences.