Website Builders Survey 2017

DIY Web Builders: A Survey of User Challenges, Goals & Obstacles to Improvement

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We surveyed 307 users of DIY website builders to get an inside look into their experiences building a website. We explored the challenges they face, the goals they have for their site, and the obstacles that prevent them from reaching their goals.

Although web builder users create different types of websites, they face similar challenges, goals, and obstacles.

Our Findings

  • Nearly a quarter (23%) of web builder users struggle to decide which tool is right for them.
  • Increasing overall traffic is the main goal users have for improving their websites (38%).
  • 37% of web builder users lack the time to act on plans to improve their sites.
  • Nearly half (48%) of users plan to upgrade their web builder in the next six months, while 31% may transfer their website to a content management system (CMS).

In an effort to guide individuals looking to build a website, this article explores how to overcome the trials and tribulations that average web builder users face in their journey to build a website.

Choosing a Web Builder More Challenging Than Using the Tool

Indecisiveness about choosing a web builder tool poses an even bigger challenge than the functional aspect of using the tool itself.

When asked to name the biggest challenge they faced when building their website, nearly a quarter (23%) said they were unsure of which website builder to choose.

Biggest Challenges with Web Builders

With so many different options available, it makes sense that individuals feel overwhelmed with the web builder market.

“I'm not surprised that users face indecision when selecting which web builder to use for their website. Even though [web builders] are designed to be user-friendly, there will always be a learning curve to them. The struggle may be with finding an alignment between a user's self-identified level of tech savvy and the level of sophistication that a web builder offers.”
Shawn Parrote, Director of Marketing & PR at Designli, a South Carolina based mobile app and web development agency

The challenge with selecting a web builder is finding one that not only meets your business needs but also is not too technical to set up and manage on your own.

Once individuals overcome the hurdle of selecting a web builder, however, their challenges are associated with more technical aspects of using the tools.

The second biggest challenge survey respondents face when building their website is difficulty using advanced features (21%). Examples of advanced features include a mobile optimized theme, HTML/CSS injection, search engine optimization (SEO) tools, integrations with third party services, and e-commerce.

In our first article on DIY web builders, we found that users implement multiple features and integrations to make their sites more complex: 68% of web builder users incorporate three or more advanced features, while 36% integrate five or more tools.

Knowing that the majority of web builder users have three or more advanced features or tools on their websites, it’s troubling that implementing these features is still one of the most challenging components of building a website.

So, what can web builder users do to address common challenges, like choosing a tool that matches their website’s functional needs?

To advise web builder users on overcoming these challenges, we looked to experts in the web design space to weigh in.

Parrote suggests experimenting with a web builder before investing fully in the tool right away.

“Most website builders offer a free trial period, so my advice would be to test out the one's you're seriously considering. Ask yourself, ‘Does it offer the level of customization you're looking for? Is it intuitive to use? What kind of support is offered when you get stuck? Will it support the needs of your business as it continues to grow?’”
Shawn Parrote, Designli

If after the trial period, you trust your web builder to fulfill these needs for customization, support, and ease-of-use, then it most likely is a great fit for your business.

Michael Gaizutis, Founder of RNO1, a full-service digital agency based in California, suggests a process for choosing a web builder.

“Finding the ideal web builder and technology platform can be difficult, so the best thing to do is work backwards. Map out what solutions you need out of your web builder/CMS, and from there, match [your needs] to the functionality aligns with what you’d like to bring to life and can help you scale and build into the future.”
Michael Gaizutis, RNO1

Before diving into the process of choosing a web builder, envision the end product and select the tool with the functionality to turn your vision into a reality.

Web Builder Users Seek Ways to Attract More Site Visitors

Web builder users believe that the primary way to improve their website is to increase overall site traffic.

When asked to identify a primary goal or improvement for their website over the next six months, nearly 40% of respondents said they hope to increase overall traffic to their site.

Goals to Improve Website Over Next 6 Months

Although web builder users also have more technical goals, such as improving user experience and design (25%), and more business-oriented goals, such as increasing conversions and sales (15%), the main goal is simply to attract more site visitors.

Increasing overall traffic to a website can be accomplished in many ways. For instance, improving the user experience of your website is a large step in the right direction. In fact, the second most popular goal web builder users have for their website is to improve its user experience and design (25%).

User experience plays a key role in increasing visitor traffic. By improving the user experience of your website you not only encourage repeat visitors, but also make your content stronger, establish trust, and help your SEO.

Gaizutis of RNO1 agrees that attracting people to your site is an important first step when launching an online presence.

“As a brand and digital agency, we feel we have to connect and then convert: making waves [disrupting] the marketplace. For us, the most important first step is to leverage the power of design to connect with those who can react and respond to your digital story. From there, we can drive meaningful and memorable outcomes.”
Michael Gaizutis, RNO1

A website that is easy to navigate guarantees a more enjoyable experience for the visitor.

Other experts point to SEO as a key strategy for increasing visitor traffic.

“The best way to get long term, valuable website traffic is through SEO. Attach a blog to your website and write articles that are helpful to your audience and better than anything else out there on your chosen topics.”
Nicholas Rubright, Founder of Dozmia, an entertainment streaming service based in Florida

Publishing content that provides value to your audience increases the likelihood that a searcher will land on your site after searching for a particular question or term in a search engine.

Whether businesses choose to invest more in SEO or UX design, the main goal that’s top of mind is increasing overall site traffic.

Not Having Enough Time is a Roadblock to Improving DIY Websites

More than any technical hurdles, web builders users indicate that the greatest obstacle to improving their website is a lack of time.

Obstacles to Improving Website

Even though all web builder users surveyed say they want to improve their website in some way, without enough time they are prevented from improving their websites to the extent they would like.

Web builder users should remember that improving their website design, attracting more visitors, and increasing conversions takes time. One approach is to simply improve your site in phases.

“The key is to realize that having something is better than having nothing. There’s always time to grow, expand, and redesign once the site is launched.”
Eric Bowlin, Owner of IdealREI, a real estate investment firm

As tough as it can be to build a website, once you begin, you at least have a foundational online presence that you can improve and expand at a later date.

Lack of Web Design Know-How a Secondary Pain Point

As web builder users work to improve their websites, another big pain point is a lack of technical knowledge.

Although DIY web builders are designed to eliminate the need for any technical expertise, 31% of survey respondents indicate that they still struggle to implement the functions their web builder provides.

Web builder users lack technical knowledge

To overcome the two main challenges web builder uses face, a lack of time and technical know-how, experts make two suggestions.

First, they advise prioritizing creating content to publish on your site.

“Create some kind of routine into your schedule to be sure you're creating new content and improving the user experience on a regular basis. Potential customers or clients will be searching for you, so it's important to prioritize your web presence.”
Shawn Parrote, Designli

Having content on your site increases your chances of being found organically in search engines and thus attracting more visitors.

Second, look into hiring a professional web developer or designer.

“I think if people are clear about the benefits, and if they combine that with their curiosity about website technologies, it usually doesn’t take them long to finish their website. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who are not very comfortable with tech. These are usually the ones who are best advised to find an expert who can help them create their website.”
Robert Brandl, Founder of ToolTester Network, a reviews platform for website builders

External expertise can help you navigate the more technical aspects of improving your website.

Despite Challenges, Users Will Invest More in Web Builders

Despite the challenges web builder users face, they still see value from investing in the tools. Nearly half (48%) indicate that they anticipate upgrading to a higher pricing plan in the next six months.

Planned Actions to Improve Website Over Next 6 Months

Although the majority of web builders, like Wix, SquareSpace, and Weebly, offer free versions and/or trials, people elect to pay for the premium functions and support that come with the upgrade.

One reason why web builder users upgrade is to get more features and functions, explains Gaizutis of RNO1. “Upgrading to a higher price plan often runs in parallel with more options, power, and functionality. Who doesn’t love more options?”

If you’re wondering what the next steps should be for your website, it’s helpful to look at other web builder users’ plans. Thirty-one percent (31%) of survey respondents indicate that over the next six months, they plan to recreate their website on a content management system (CMS), such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. A CMS is software that facilitates creating, editing, organizing, and publishing content on the web.

For Kim Chappell, Head of Communications at Weebly, a DIY website builder, the interest in transitioning to a CMS is surprising.

“I was surprised by the number of people who plan to move their site from a DIY website builder to a CMS platform like WordPress. This can add workload and most important, a site creator's precious time, which is the number one thing this crowd says they do not have.”
Kim Chappell, Weebly

CMS platforms are often more time-intensive to manage than DIY web builders. However, there are still benefits of transferring a website to a CMS, like more technical support and greater ability to customize.

First, a CMS allows individuals to build a website but with the constant reassurance that a professional is nearby to offer immediate support.

Second, a CMS platform allows for the construction of a more complex website that incorporates a range of features and integrations that regular website builders may not be able to provide.

Differences in Types of Websites Has No Effect on User Challenges

No matter what type of website is built, the users behind the computer screen all face the similar challenges, goals, and obstacles when using DIY web builders.

In our first report on web builders, we found that out of all the websites built using DIY web builders, there is almost an even split between websites built for personal purposes and websites built for business.

Additionally, we found that websites built for business implement the functions of DIY tools in a more complex way than those built for personal use. Nearly half (46%) of web builder users whose websites are built for business integrated five or more tools in an effort to generate more conversions and customer interactions. Comparatively, only 27% of users with personal websites integrated five or more tools.

We compared the types of websites built using DIY web builders – business versus personal – to users’ challenges. Despite variations in the types of websites built and their level of complexity, our data shows that users’ challenges remain relatively the same.

Biggest Challenges with Web Builders: Business vs. Personal Websites

People who use web builders to create either personal or business sites encounter the same challenges: uncertainty selecting a web builder provider, difficulty implementing advanced features, and difficulty with website design.

We also found this to be true with the primary goals web builder users aim to achieve for their websites over the next six months, as well as the biggest obstacles they encounter to achieving those goals.

Conclusion & Final Takeaways

To help entrepreneurs, small business owners, students, and other individuals understand the goals, challenges, and obstacles associated with creating a DIY website, we surveyed 307 individuals who use web builder tools.

We found that regardless of the types of websites they create, the challenges they face using web builder tools, the goals they have for their website, and the obstacles they encounter are similar.

Consider the following advice to make building your DIY website easier.

First, have an idea of what you want your website to do and look like, and then experiment with the free trial of a web builder to see if it can provide what you want.

Second, keep in mind various tactics to increase the overall traffic your website receives, such as focusing on a solid user experience design and SEO strategies.

Third, remember that building a website will take some time. Break out the creation process into phases or look into hiring a professional to take some of the process off your hands.

Fourth, be aware that creating more complex websites with multiple integrations and functions may not be possible with a simple DIY web builder. Transferring your website to a CMS can give you more customization and support.

Finally, know that you're not alone in the process of building a website. The challenges, goals, and obstacles you experience for your website are most likely the same as the person sitting next to you. No website will be perfect, but you will never know if a web builder is right for you unless you try it.

About the Survey

Clutch’s survey included 307 respondents who are users of DIY website builders. Data was collected throughout December 2016.

Have any questions or feedback about this survey? Contact Jenna Seter at [email protected].


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