Why Professional Websites are a Good Long-Term Investment
When starting a tour business, any operator must think of their digital presence. While social media provides a great starting point for some operators, most will come to the point where they need a website to solidify their digital presence. There are even more possible options for building a site than there are for social media, so how should an operator decide on where to go for a website? The short answer: go for a professionally built site. Even though many DIY (do it yourself) site-builders, like Wix or Weebly, are going to be more budget-friendly, they are not a good long-term investment for a tour business — let us explain why.
First and foremost, one cannot deny that DIY builders are going to be much more budget friendly than a professional site. The most expensive non-enterprise plan for Wix, for example, will cost $59/month and can cost less if you pay annually. They even have plans that allow you to make a site for free without a custom domain. Likely, you can bundle email and domain ownership with your Wix site plan, which makes things easier at the beginning but can prove quite a pain when it comes to transferring the site. Professional sites will definitely cost more than DIY site builders and you may not always be able to package the email and domain with the site purchase, but when it comes to a site you want to pay for quality that will last over time.
Think of sites like you would a cooking pan. You can go to a home goods store and find a non-stick pan for a cheap price (let’s say $25), but it won’t be long before that non-stick coating stops working – probably in less than a year. This situation leaves you with an annual purchase of a pan, even if it’s not that expensive. Now, let’s say you buy a high-quality, expensive non-stick pan for $100 instead. That quality purchase may cost more up front, but when you start to think of it as a long-term investment then you’re likely to get many more years of use out of that pan.
When it comes to businesses like Wix, their payments are largely modulated, meaning you’ll have to pay as you add pieces. For example, you’ll have to pay more with Wix to use a custom domain, if you want to add analytics tracking, or if you want a SSL certificate for the site. Professional builder pricing quotes will largely depend on the size of your site rather than all those smaller pieces of the site-build process.
The building factor of this comparison comes down to the DIY factor with builders like Wix – and pretty much the same advantages and disadvantages that come with any DIY type of project. Specifically with sites, however, there are a few things that are more pertinent when it comes to a DIY tour website:
- Time is a huge factor. You may be able to get a site up and running faster with a DIY site builder, but if you wanted to actually get a DIY site close to the quality of a professional site you’d personally have to spend time researching, learning the DIY builder ins-and-outs, and then testing things out for your specific site. At that point, you may have spent the same amount of time that a professional service would have spent on making a better site. When you’re also out there running a tour business, time is precious!
- Expertise will play a huge role here as well. DIY builders are great for people looking to learn how to control their own site and how it operates, but just because someone knows how to drive a car doesn’t mean they should be a Formula 1 driver. Sites are very similar. Professional site builders will know better ways to build pages to drive certain conversions like filling out forms, clicking on buttons, or going to a contact page. While you could learn to build the site on your own, you likely won’t have the industry knowledge of professional builders that allows them to build sites in a way that converts the most visitors. Professional builders likely have design teams as well to handle the colors, branding, and user interface/user experience of the site to make sure the site looks and feels amazing.
- Customization plays a large role when it comes to DIY versus professional sites as well. DIY site builders have a lot of template and feature options, but should you want anything outside of those options you are basically out of luck. Many sites can start and grow with these templates and features, but eventually they hit a wall when it comes to a specific feature for the site. With professional sites, however, they’re more likely to use custom themes or custom code when building. Likely, the professional builders will have a library of templates or features to choose from as well, but if you decide that you want something outside of those options their custom theme or code allows them to build out constantly. Put simply, the custom nature of professional sites allows you to work around any obstacles placed in its path. Our TigerCare service, for example, releases at least 2 new updates to the custom theme each month, and many of those update ideas come from features that customers were looking for but did not yet have.
Transferring the Site
It’s always wise to enter into any payment for services with some type of exit plan in the case that anything goes wrong. An exit plan for websites means you always want to be the owner of your site and you want to make sure you can easily transfer it to different servers should the need arise. Before going into this more, let’s do a basic lesson on websites and servers. Think of websites as books, and servers as libraries. If you want to read that book, you would access the library and they would lend you the book. At the end of the day, however, the book is stored in that library.
Wix, in this example, is like a library that will not let your book be stored in any other libraries. Should you move to a new area with a new local library, you won’t be able to get your book! Except we’re talking about sites, which are more expensive and important to your business than books. Wix, like most DIY site builders, owns whatever you make with their service, meaning you don’t own the site. Should you want to leave Wix, you won’t be able to take the site with you. It’s also impossible to export any backup files of the site or any of its data from Wix. So, if you’re planning on starting to generate a digital presence with a Wix site, just know that eventually you’re going to need a new site down the line if you ever plan on being away from Wix.
If you bundle the purchase of a site with domain and email, which is quite enticing for people just starting out, that can make things harder down the line as well. Let’s say you’ve purchased a professional site now that you’re ready to leave Wix, and your domain and email are controlled by them. You want to cancel Wix as you no longer need their site, but at this point, if you were to cancel your Wix plan, you would lose the domain and email access. This is a situation that we have dealt with many times before when building sites for clients. When this happens, you have to go through Wix support and their third-party domain and email suppliers, GoDaddy and Gmail, to transfer those specific things out of Wix’s control. Plus, when you go through the dashboard following the steps to transfer, Wix will flash big red warning notices at every possible step to frighten you. Seeing as most people who use Wix use it due to its lack of need for technical website knowledge, they use these notices to create fear that you’re going to ruin the website/domain/email by transferring out, but if you already have a new site lined up and contact other services for domain and email, then there’s really nothing to worry about. Wix is just trying to keep you on their service.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
When choosing between Wix and a professional website builder, you must consider this! SEO is one of the most important things to think about when trying to cement a digital presence with a website. Ultimately, it all comes back to the purchase of a long-term quality website, and SEO is a huge factor in what will make your site last in the long run. While the content you write for the website is a piece of SEO, your site should also be structured a certain way that helps it get noticed and ranked by search engines like Google. Professional sites are always going to have more flexibility when it comes to SEO structures. Simply put, Search Engine Journal states that “SEO for Wix is a nightmare.” Wix lacks most of the SEO structures that professional builders will have due to their use of custom themes and coding.
SEO is a beast in itself, and building up relevant, organic traffic (people finding your site via search engines) takes a lot of time and work. Creating a website for digital presence with DIY builders is a great way to heavily delay your site from ranking well organically. Considering how much goes into SEO these days, you want to be able to affect as much as possible with your site structure, and builders like Wix just don’t allow that much. A great way to think of SEO in this comparison comes down to opportunity cost. While you may save money by having a Wix site, you’re losing the opportunity to build up quality organic traffic over time which is usually the type of traffic that will perform best on your site and convert the most. If you’re going to put your budget into paid ads or a strong marketing campaign, then you may not need to rely on organic traffic and Wix may be the move for you. If you’re interested in generating consistent bookings over time with lower costs, however, you are going to want and need a professional site.
Here at TourismTiger, we build professional websites using a custom theme. You won’t experience any of the pitfalls of DIY builders when you come to us for a site. Please check out our reviews to see all the amazing things said about us, and you can check out our portfolio to see examples of the specialized tourism websites that we build. If you’re looking for a brand new site or looking to upgrade to something better than a DIY site, feel free to book a free consultation call or contact us!
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