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Web designers using free online builders to make client sites

Discussion in 'Website Design Forum:' started by Esh, May 18, 2013.

  1. Esh

    Esh Member

    Not sure if I've posted anything similar before, I may have done. I noticed it before, but it seems VERY common now. Graphic/website designers all over the place who use free online builders like wix, moonfruit and yola, to create sites for their clients and offering it as a service. In fact, many are set up simply as 'website designers/developers', and have built up full portfolio's doing this, some of which are really impressive, really good visually. I'm certainly not bashing them, my own portfolio is hosted on a free builder, but it's literally there to point people I know to, I'm not actually marketing myself as such, so it suits me fine for now. I do know though that when I'm ready shortly, I'll have to build it properly or get someone to do it/help me. I know there's a market for every level and budget, but it seems a little weird charging a lot to create a site in what is a builder that literally anyone can access. Don't know if I'd be comfortable with it knowing the site probably wouldn't do anything for them, other than be a point of reference (which is fine if that's all they want). Not sure what my point is really, and I know it P's you developers off, and understand that under the bonnet so to speak, all isn't great with these online builders...Saying that though, a lot of them are offering HTML5 versions now...if anyone could explain the main differences between that and Flash based sites...Even though free builders will still produce bloated/dodgy code etc, is it actually better than Flash based? What do you think is behind the huge increase in people doing it this way and not bothering to learn it properly? (FWIW, I'm 'studying' web-design'...all the techy stuff but i'm thick! Do excuse me for being an hypocrite!) Forgive me if it's a non-nonsensical post, it's just a dose of my typical loud thoughts/rants. Any views or experiences?
    Last edited: May 18, 2013
  2. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    This is the first I've heard of it, but then again I don't really keep a keen ear to the ground with regards to web design stuff. In a way, I don't see it as being that different to a developer using a framework to build a site for a client, or modifying a Wordpress theme for them. Obviously, the difference in skill level is rather large, but they're still just using a shortcut to provide a client with what they want, especially if the final result is as impressive as you say. The code these builders output is another question altogether though. If someone's paying a similar price for one of these sites as they would for a hand-coded site, then you could argue they're being ripped off, but on the other hand, if they don't do their research that's their problem. I suspect the price for these sites is pretty low though.

    Basically, fully Flash sites should no longer exist (though many still do). Flash applications were used pretty much as a work-around to do fancy functionality on websites that just wasn't possible any other way at the time. Now though, HTML 5 allows for much of the same fancy stuff to be produced through code, which is better because A) your site will load super fast (important for SEO), and B) search engines bots read code when they crawl your site (important for SEO). Flash sites do not produce readable code, save for the actual construction of the page that the application sits in. All the content users want is stored inside the application, and therefore your site appears to be pretty much empty to search engine bots because they can't see it.
  3. Corrosive

    Corrosive Moderator Staff Member

    I'm a bit confused Esh. Do you mean that designers are passing off pre-made templates for these sites as their own work or are they just using the content management functionality and still creating their own, bespoke designs?
  4. Esh

    Esh Member

    Hi, no I mean they use the free online website builders, and then use these to offer their services as website developers...So yes some use the same templates, others tweak and customise a little, and some design them from scratch. I guess it would be similar to using Dreamweaver/Kompozer in design mode, but I was just wondering about it as it's using a free builder (that anyone can use for free in an hour or two as it's literally drag and drop design) and so they're not really 'developing' it as it's all done back-end...As for the code they produce, I'm not sure as I'm weak on that stuff, but I hear often that they're rubbish as it's flash based. However, many are using the HTML5 version to design instead...I guess if this is better than it's not so bad.
  5. Theory Unit

    Theory Unit Member

    I think it depends if the client is getting what they want or not. If they are happy then they won't care how the website was built, it doesn't matter (the SEO issues of Flash aside). I don't think a client needs to employ someone who has spent a degree learning code when they get the same end result from someone who learnt how to use an CMS website - as long as it is the same end result. I think it's heading more in that direction to be honest, but hey, nothing is permanent, it's a fast changing world we live in.. =)
  6. Corrosive

    Corrosive Moderator Staff Member

    It used to bother me but it doesn't seem to any more. Bespoke code will always be better than any 'drag and drop' merchant. When it comes to CMS, we use an Open Source one, but we just choose to upload it and configure it ourselves. That's because it gives us the flexibility we need to create bespoke and well-coded websites. There is a market for everyone and some people don't have hundreds of pounds for a website. Just the same as I can get a thousand templated business cards from Vista Print for next to nothing. I don't need a designer or a local printer. I just know I'd get a better result if I did spend the cash for a bespoke design :icon_biggrin:

    @Theory Unit - Are you a Yeovil supporter? If so, fair play for yesterday. Fantastic achievement to get into the Championship. Just goes to show how poor the football teams in Bristol actually are!
  7. Theory Unit

    Theory Unit Member

    Yeah, absolutely you're right. I'm brushing up on my CSS and embarking on teaching myself Java, PHP and whatever else, for exactly those reasons - bespoke is always better and useful clients know that, not all unfortunately. It's the same with 'get a logo for £30' websites, they're a worry but I think they won't become the threat I used to think they might.

    Ha yes I'm still in shock to be honest! I thought they might just lose their bottle when it came down to it but no, unbelievable!
  8. Edge

    Edge Active Member

    I don't actually know of any online website builders that can produce really nice looking sites and it isn't my feeling that it's VERY common at all. Customising pre-built themes is pretty common though especially on e-commerce sites.
  9. Esh

    Esh Member

    It's actually really common. I've got myself into this strange habit of checking the 'source code' just so I can see the generator...and if you just google random web designers, a few of these online builders will come up...Also, if you go onto moonfruits site, or it's facebook page (and wix, weebly, yola, etc), and go through sites that have been created you see lots of web designers. I'd link to a few but that would be wrong to do.
  10. Katedesign

    Katedesign Well-Known Member

    I suppose it depends on how the 'website designers/developers' are selling their services. If they are up-front with the client then that's OK morally... but the client is still getting a 'bloated' site. And that does matter for SEO and organic listing in search engines.

    I am also a 'source code' junkie - it sometimes gives you a clue to who has built the site (the client, his 13yr old son, etc) and simple ways to suggest how it could be so much better!!

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