The website builder market is red hot

Or is it?

Sep 10, 2015 · 5 min read

The do-it-yourself website builder market is heating up. Right? One thing’s for sure it’s super crowded. A Google search for ‘website builder’ turns up the usual suspects…Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, Strikingly, Jimdo, Yola…not to mention the longtime market leader: Wordpress. And dozens of other vendors.

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Choices, choices…

Just when the market seems saturated and commoditized, new entrants make big splashes on Techcrunch. Startups Pagecloud and The Grid both launched in 2015, hoping to disrupt the sleepy website builder market.

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Ooh, this looks disruptive!

Small businesses need an online presence

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“What is the purpose of your website?”

A modern, professional website should produce a steady stream of leads, whether by way of phone calls, emails, or directions to a physical location.

VC funding: Follow the money

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VC money raised, in millions

Google data shows that 55% of of small businesses don’t yet have a website. And there are 28 million small businesses in the US alone, according to Forbes. So the addressable market looks impressively large. And there are a few monetization strategies that could work: Ads or subscription, for example.

Is the website builder market huge?

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Google Trends

Why no growth?

Pagecloud would say existing tools like Squarespace don’t offer enough design control. The Grid would say the problem with DIY is that web design is too manual. The Grid wants to avoid the expense of creative website design altogether by offering automated design. Will creative website designers be replaced by AI? It’s a helluva bet.

The agency model is still king

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Hm, this looks complicated. Maybe we do need an agency

But even more importantly, the purpose of the agency is to provide digital marketing expertise, tech support, and accountability — this is what small businesses really want for their website.

The “web guy” is just a phone call away when something goes wrong. And something always goes wrong.

Cost of DIY vs a freelancer

The promise of cost savings with a DIY solution may not be resonating with individuals and businesses.

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The Wix editor: Looks simple, right? Hm.

DIY’s fatal flaw: The customer does all the work

Beautiful, intuitive drag-and-drop editing functionality appeals to everyone at first glance. But the average business owner get frustrated almost immediately. For business people who don’t design websites for a living, the website building experience is stressful and feels like a chore that someone more qualified should handle.

DIY means the customer has to do all the hard work

That explains why so many businesses sign up for a self-serve website building service but quit the service. The trial experience leads them to decide to hire an agency or freelancer.

Great products create customer value by doing heavy lifting for the customer. While DIY platforms save customers from having to do difficult coding work, they leave the customer with far too much non-coding work and responsibility.

So while the website building market may seem red hot at first glance, an overwhelming volume of businesses still do it the old fashioned way, by calling the “web guy.”

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