Public Service Announcement – Please Say No to Sitebuilders

Last night I was online looking for the websites of some local restaurants to try and find menus, prices, etc. The usual Thursday evening. There’s a very nice looking and probably fairly upmarket Indian restaurant near me that I was trying to find a website for. It didn’t take long to find the website. But when I got onto the website I was wondering whether I was at the right place.

But the address of the place checked out. My jaw hit the floor in disgust. I wasn’t going to post the website, but I think it’ll help illustrate matters if I do.

This is the culprit

From that website you’d never know that the restaurant is a very plus looking, smart and inviting Indian restaurant. What you will presume is that it’s highly likely to be one of those slightly skeezy and always empty restaurants.

Not only does it look horrendous, but there’s pretty much zero information on it! There’s not even a hint of a menu, there’s one proper image of the food and that lot of completely unnecessary ‘SEO text’ at the top and bottom of the page. (Seriously, who thinks this works anymore!?)

I dug a little further and looked at the source code. That’s where I found something very interesting in the meta tags for content:

BT Customerstreet Sitebuilder 3.6

It was made using a site builder! ARGHH! Ok, I get it. Not everyone’s a web designer. Thank god. Not everyone can put a website together. And yet people still think that a cheap and sometimes free site builder is the best way to go to have their business represented online. Why!?

If you really want a free website, or near as free, and don’t have any experience in the web world go to WordPress.com and get yourself a free site there! No it’s not just blogs. Yes, you can create full websites. For free. Really, I’d say get some help from someone who knows what they’re doing. But if you’re intent on doing it yourself with no experience, go to WordPress.com. Sign up, read up and get some help in their forums if needs be. They’re really friendly people! Mostly.

But don’t, for the love of god, use a site builder. They will never do your business any justice. Or whatever you’re creating a website for.

I’ve just had a horrible thought – what if a so-called ‘web designer’ did design that site and used a site builder?

And no, I haven’t been sponsored by anyone to make this post. I just saw that website and was so shocked I felt the need to share. I love that more people are getting online and creating websites and the web is growing. But I’m not happy that it’s growing with so many half-arsed and ugly websites.

PSA done.

18 comments

  1. I totally agree with you. There are some awful sites out there. Designing and implementing a good website is not as easy as some people think. Yet so many people will hand it over to a friend’s friend who has “done” a website. They don’t think of it as an investment to their businesses and hire a professional. Having a bad website is worse than not having one at all. With WordPress and other free platforms out there, there is simply no excuse in not having an at least acceptable site.

  2. Thanks for this PSA! :)

    Just looked at the site and it doesn’t seem to be of this day and age. It doesn’t feel inviting at all. It should have pictures of people having a great time there and things like that. Maybe you should talk to the manager of the place and ask if you can help them redesign it?

  3. LOL: “There’s not even a hint of a menu, there’s one proper image of the food and that lot of completely unnecessary ‘SEO text’ at the top and bottom of the page. (Seriously, who thinks this works anymore!?)”

    It always blows my mind when I come across sites like these. Restaurants are common culprits. I’m not a designer at all, but it doesn’t take much to find a decent WordPress template and spice it up a bit. I bet some many could be made by just contacting these businesses and offering them an improved design. With a new layout and some SEO work, they would almost certainly see a steady increase in revenue.

  4. Ugh. You know my hatred for site builders. It’s like they take every rule for good, effective web design, and ignore them all completely.

    Having dealt with someone last year who used such a service, it was a nightmare to rescue. Their reason for using it was basically that it was cheap and came attached to the promise that a person with zero website knowledge could have a ‘professional’ site up and running in 24 hours. True, they had a site up and running with ease. Not true that it looked anything resembling professional. It commit every sin of bad design. Did I mention the black text on a dark grey background? The eye strain alone!

    I could rant all day about these companies but for the sake of my sanity, I’ll bite my tongue…

    • I’d love to rant all day about it. Well, I’d be able to! These sites are so far from professional. I really loathe the companies that use this as a part of their business. Wish there was a way to make people see and understand. It’s like saying I can be your accountant and do your books without having any knowledge of accountancy!

  5. Ahaha yea that looks totally amateurish. They aren’t even trying! They should take nice pictures of some of their dishes as well as the restaurant itself and put them on the website. It would be so easily to have a half-decent looking company website.

    • A little bit of nice photography goes a long way. Not just for their website but for whatever marketing they use. They must have something already done for that too. Ugh… annoyed!

  6. Every company these days needs a website. More so restaurants. But you are spot on – it is pointless having a website if it doesn’t sell the restaurant very well. It isn’t hard for these types of businesses to create a very professional looking website for little or no cost. I think images are key with restaurants and these could be taken by the owner and published through wordpress like you say. No cost at all.

    …having said that, they would of course need to buy their domain name. I wouldn’t trust a restaurant if it was using theritz.blogpsot.com !!

    • Yes, theritz.blogspot.com doesn’t scream well thought out… get your own domain name. They’re cheap these days!

      Photography is so much more important than people think. Just a simple, great photo can work wonders.

  7. hello Jaina,
    very interesting read
    just wanted to ask you one question though
    yes i agree these BT Sitebuilder sites look naf but they seem to rank highly in searches
    you found that one quickly for example
    so why do search engines rank these one page BT sites so highly?

    • Well for this one I actually knew the website address. So no Googling required.

      I’ve not noticed sites built wiht BT Sitebuilders ranking higher than non-BT Sitebuilder sites.

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