How Does a No-Code Needed Website Compare to a Custom Website?

Custom Website or a No Code Self-Built Website:
What Are The Main Differences?

How Does a No-Code Needed Website Compare to a Custom Website?Modern software applications that enable non-technical end-users to design, develop and implement websites, for their business or personal needs, have become popular over the last decade. With the advent of cloud computing, the ability to use online servers to process the development life cycles of websites and apps has become very feasible for anyone. Traditionally, even before the popularity of Web editing software (e.g. FrontPage Express) and Content Management Systems (e.g. WordPress), websites were built from the ground up using a combination of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc. for the front-end. This approach of custom-web page development via manual coding is still popular today. In addition to coding, a web designer makes the website visually appealing. It is important to note that Web Development is the coding of a webpage, while Web Design is the use of graphic design for the visual aspect and visual arrangement of a webpage. Thus, how a webpage interacts and operates is via web development, while the aspects associated with visual appeal and arrangement is related to web design.

The modern approach to web development and design has two options: custom/manual code, or the use of pre-built website editing systems. For the latter, the user need only input text, color, media, etc. and add links along with organize the look of the website via click-and-drag method. This type of web development is more or less web design, since no code is being manually input. When using online or offline web designing software systems that require no code, they utilize pre-built designs and pre-built code templates that typically cannot be tweaked. With these templates, an end-user can create their own website without needing to study or utilize any code techniques or development methodologies. While this is convenient, this does not offer the same robust solution that manual coding offers. While manual coding can create a custom solution that works to provide businesses and customers with the best possible “fit,” pre-built website systems provide a “one size fits all” solution - an approach that may not truly meet the specific needs of an organization due to its inflexible nature.  

The Largest Difference Will Always Be Financial Cost

The main “benefit” for using pre-built website development systems is the lowered cost and reduction of overhead. While it is true that the bottom line of a company seemingly benefits from the use of cost-effective, cheaper pre-built development systems, in actuality, it is very common for clients and businesses alike to spend more due to the desire to tweak the pre-built templates to meet specific needs. This tweaking - if possible - occasionally requires hours of re-doing templates that have already been built, and then adding the necessary changes. In contrast, when building from the ground up with manual code, such tweaks can be made initially in an easy fashion, or can be altered later in a way that is similarly without difficulty. That said, the other advantage linked to cost is the efficient use of time, and the fact that saving time is saving money.

While the initial process of manual coding takes a significant amount of time, the immediate process of implementing pre-built website systems can be done quicker under some circumstances. This does not consider learning how to use the web development tools, shopping around for the perfect web development system, along with tweaking, maintenance and long-term development tasks, which take much longer for an end-user when using pre-built, no-code development software. Thus, as noted, often the main difference between manually developed websites and pre-built websites is in the long-term advantages of using manually coded, custom websites. These advantages include customization, configuration, security, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and much more.

Web Development is a High Skill Labor Cost

Web development requires highly skilled software developers or software engineers that are fluent in a variety of languages. These languages include client-side languages such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript. To develop a custom website that truly meets an organization’s needs, a developer that is fluent in the above languages - and the use of different frameworks - is required. This makes web development a high skill labor cost for any business. Whether the cost is worth the ROI is dependent on the business and its financial goals.

Website Building Tools Are a Highly Competitive Market

The software that is used to build and implement pre-built templates to form websites differs in many ways. Not only is the market very competitive, but some no-code web development systems are better than others. It takes time to search and compare such software systems to find the perfect solution that will meet specific corporate or personal needs. Because that software comes with pre-built packages that cannot be altered easily, this makes the comparison process more tedious in trying to find the perfect software. In addition to this, using popular software systems (and consequently popular pre-built templates) comes with the risk of creating a website that looks identical to hundreds of other websites that use the same templates.

Building Your Own Website Takes Significantly More Time

No-code web development software uses pre-built code templates of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. It is the job of an end-user to organize and implement the different objects and templates to form the website. However, as noted before, the time factor becomes significant when factoring in the time taken to shop around and find the perfect web development system, and the time for tweaking the pre-built templates, along with the time that is needed to learn and master the techniques and tools that the no-code development software requires. Outsourcing the development work to an experienced web developer takes the headaches out of finding, implementing, tweaking, configuring, customizing, and maintaining a codeless website.

The Project Becomes Your Responsibility

As opposed to using an outsourced specialist, who codes, maintains, tweaks, and secures your website, the DIY, codeless website development systems become the complete responsibility of the end-user. Such an end-user most likely is not a specialist when it comes to code/development, security, and maintenance. Thus, it is not uncommon for a DIY end-user to hire a freelance Webmaster or coder to fix, tweak, secure or maintain a faulty or incomplete website that was made using pre-built templates. In the end, such a situation ends up resulting in more money and time being spent as opposed to having used a manual coder from the beginning. If the aforementioned is not the case, then often an end-user takes time to learn about web technologies in order to develop a fully-functional website. Yet when outsourcing development work to a specialist from the foundation of the web development process, the responsibility falls on them to do what they have been trained to do: develop a functioning and secure website.

Time Must Be Taken from Your Business and Spent Learning the Tool

As noted above, self-developing a website using pre-built templates cannot begin until a user learns the ins and outs of the specific software system. In addition to this, such a user must learn and understand subjects like SEO, robots.txt files, server configurations, security, and website debugging/maintenance. Such subjects must be mastered to optimize workflows: if not, the user will end up taking more time completing or altering incomplete website development tasks that were not perfected due to a lack of knowledge on the subject.

Page Builders Have Very Set Parameters and Designs Compared to Custom Sites

The beauty of the most current version of HTML (version 5) is its interactivity and dynamic nature. Though mastering HTML5 takes time, its power and the utilization of its complete feature-set can only be leveraged when the code is manually input by a specialist. Contrasting this, pre-built website systems offer basic, rigid parameters and designs that were created to offer basic solutions to corporations and end-users. Thus, adding advanced JavaScript’s, securing page inputs via secure coding, customizing core PHP (backend) configuration files, and altering robots.txt files, etc. is often impossible. These aforementioned customizations are often necessary, and are feasible when manually coding a website. However, when using web development systems that require no code (e.g. WordPress CMS, Wix, etc.), altering such critical website structures is often not feasible due to their rigid design constraints.

Designs May Be Repeated Across the Internet Thousands of Times

Pre-built template packages typically have several design categories to choose from, with each composed of only a few designs. With thousands of users using a small number of popular development systems - and a good number of those users having overlapping niches - it is only natural that one particular design may be used by hundreds of users across the Internet. This is a situation that can be fully mitigated by developing and designing a website from scratch.

A Templated Builder May Not Let You Change as Many Little Details

For any business professional or DIY user, a truly complete and unique website is complete due to the details of the webpage. Such details are what sets the website apart from thousands of other webpages. Manually coding a web page allows for the tweaking and altering of specific details that otherwise would not feasibly be editable.

When a DIY web designer realizes how rigid no-code development systems are upon reaching a section that requires tweaking, it is common for outside help to be hired, which ends up costing more than the situation of having outsourced the web development work to a specialist in the beginning.

No Code Websites May Give Your SEO Less Control Over Certain Areas

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most important methods of bringing organic traffic to a website via inbound marketing. While manually coding a website gives a developer complete control of how SEO methodologies are implemented, the use of no-code website development systems greatly limits such SEO strategies. Such strategies include altering robots.txt files, submitting sitemaps, adding specific tags for analytics, utilizing meta tags, writing rich snippets, adding scheme (structured data) & micro data, and more, all of which assist the presentation of a website in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

This Doesn’t Mean They Can’t Rank in Google

While manually perfecting a website’s SEO strategies via its source code is the best way to assist search engines (like Google) in ranking and presenting a website, going the no-code route does not disqualify a website from Google’s search engine system. However, while some no-code web development platforms allow one to manually add code or perfect SEO strategies (or add SEO strategies without code), only full access to, and editing of, the source code can yield a complete and robust SEO methodology system.

Due to Decreased Options Many SEO’s Don’t Want to Work with No Code Sites

The lack of SEO strategies that can be feasibly implemented within the framework of self-built sites discourages many SEO experts and strategists from creating SEO methodologies for such websites. This is a natural result of having less options to choose from, which ultimately affects the bottom line of any business in a critical way: a lower SEO which affects rankings in Google’s SERPs.

The Speed of a No Code Needed Site May Be Significantly Slower

Functional website source code not only affects the interactiveness and operations of a webpage, but it also determines the speed of a webpage. This includes the speed of the web page’s initial loading in a browser, and the subsequent speed of image loading, JavaScript running, and overall website responsiveness. This is a critical aspect of a business or personal website. A study by Kissmetrics shows that 30 percent of internet users abandon a web page after six to ten seconds when using a mobile browser, while 25 percent of non-specific internet users abandon a website after four seconds of loading (Sean Work). At the same time, 40 percent of customers who shop online abandon a web page after three seconds of loading [1].

Websites Are Essentially Giant Blocks of Code that Get Fed to a Browser

Web pages are bundles of HTML coded files served by a web server, which is fed to the client-side application of an end-user, which parses the code and renders the HTML files into a standard format.

The Browser Reads the Code and Then Generates the Web Page

In line with above, web browsers are application-layer, client-side software packages that read HTML code and generate web pages based on the code.

Tools That Build Sites That Don’t Need Users to Enter Code End Up Using a Great Deal More Code Than if They Were Custom Built

Pre-built templates include a variety of parameters that may not be needed by most end-users. For this reason, pre-built websites require a large amount of code that will never be used, or is seldom used. This is why such websites take longer to load, since all HTML code is parsed by a browser in a given viewing. Contrasting this, each page of a custom website will only contain code that is actually needed to fulfill a particular requirement. Web development follows a comprehensive design phase where all requirements are mapped out and code is later input to fulfill those particular needs. This, of course, is not done with pre-built websites.

The More Code on The Site The ‘Clunkier’ It is For a Browser to Load

A browser may be overloaded with code to parse in order to generate a web page. Such large batches of unnecessary code take processing power to parse, and require computing resources to generate the final web page. This results in an unresponsive website that may also crash frequently.

Self-Built Sites May Have Less Available Integrations

Integrating websites with third-party systems can be done by utilizing APIs. This can add functionality, security, and other features to a website. Such third-party systems may include platforms, frameworks, applications, or libraries. No code sites do not typically allow for a wide array of third-party integrations due to the rigid, self-built nature.

Making a Custom Site Connect with Other Programs is Simple and Straight Forward

Using APIs with custom websites can be built into the code from its foundation, making it a short and simple process. This gives custom websites a large advantage over pre-built websites. Custom websites can also integrate security into the code to minimize the harm that a hacker can do, which is potentially much greater with pre-built websites that do not offer templates that were built with secure code.

Making a Self-Built Site Integrate Requires the Site Builders to Have Built the Integration Already

As a pre-packaged deal, a self-built website’s templates must be built with all integrations already there. This is because the templates have rigid parameters that are not editable. Unlike custom code that can be customized, pre-built websites are not made with customization or functionality in mind, but only with convenience in mind. Thus, adding third-party integration to a pre-built website is only possible if the website builders already added that integration in the building process.

Summary

Building a website for a business or for personal use should be a process that allows for customization and the addition of details that reflect specific goals. The use of pre-built websites give users a certain level of convenience, but in the long run does not provide the robust features that custom build websites provide. As websites should be dynamic and adapt with changing or growing needs, both time and money are saved when outsourcing web development needs to a specialist who can create a custom-coded website that truly matches the exact needs of any client.

References

  • (Sean Work, Kissmetrics) “How Loading Time Affects Your Bottom Line”

         Retrieved from: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/loading-time/

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