You might already know that I'm quite active on Quora if you have been following me or reading my articles in the past. One of the most common question on Quora about a career in web design and development has always been "Is pursuing a career in web design and development totally obsolete due to terrific rise of DIY platforms like wix, weebly, squarespace, joomla and wordpress?".
And yet, there's no satisfactory answer till date though most of the writers have tried to answer it. Tired of answering it again and again every few weeks, I wrote this article so that people still wondering about the matter would see my post and don't need to ask it again.
Before presenting you my opinion straight forward, i would like to talk a little about all these platforms, how they work and most importantly their strengths and weaknesses. So, let's start.
DIY (Do it yourself) WEBSITE BUILDERS
Wix allows users to create HTML5 websites and mobile sites through the use of online drag and drop tools.
WIX provides you with two basic options namely WIX ADI and WIX EDITOR.
WIX ADI automatically generates a couple of website templates after you provide some basic information about your business and you get to choose one of them. You can customize the theme to some extent and you'll also get a virtual dashboard for content management from where you can add, edit or delete contents.
WIX EDITOR comes up with a few templates from which you need to choose one. Then, you can use additional design features along with easy drag and drop options to modify the template as you wish. Basically, it provides you with a virtually dynamic website while most of the features that you see in modern websites are either not available or not for free.
Overall, WIX provides you with some cool frontend designs that are either free or cheaply available in the market while also allowing you to manage contents of your site without requiring any specific knowledge about designing or programming while there's also some options for professional designers and programmers to make changes to the site.
It seems to be the best option for small scale companies who want to make their presence online be felt but are not interested in investing heavily on that front at the moment. While it might be a good option initially, they must get back to professional service providers within a short while to integrate custom features to their site and also for SEO perspective.
Weebly is another DIY website builder specifically developed for online shopping stores though you can use it for blog too. It also allows you to customize the theme to some extent, customize contents and lets you display products too. But, if you want to make online transactions then you need to pay them.
With the advancement of technology and rapid competition in the market between ecommerce sites, sites built on Weebly won't be able to compete with the rest, so, it might be an option for physical stores that don't want to sell online but make their online presence felt to their targeted customers.
After all, if you need to spend money anyway to be able to make online transactions, what's the point to hold back and provide minimum features to your customers while you can be a brand and attract a lot more customers by spending big and get all those things done by others for you?
In this case too, I'd say, it suits much more to small scale businesses who want to make their presence felt online but don't want to go big by spending in that area at the moment.
Shopify is another DIY website builder that allows small scale stores to go online. It provides a similar feeling to wordpress, if you are one of those people who don't code but play with the customization options and DIY page builders to build a website in wordpress.
Moreover, it allows you to customize the theme or download it but you need to know Ruby before you could do anything in the core file which is obviously not a great option for people looking at DIY website builders to get a website created. It might be a great place to start as an online store but it also lags far behind while it comes to the design template resource which could be overcome with DIY editors though. It also can't provide better support when it comes to adding more features in the product pages.
Among the DIY builders, Shopify might be the one which has the potential to compete with custom built websites but this too requires a huge amount of time and effort to get things done which probably won't be the best thing a business owner might want to spend his time on.
CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (FRAMEWORKS)
JOOMLA, DRUPAL, MAGENTO & WORDPRESS
Though these applications can be categorized as DIY website builders to some extent, they are much more than just website builders. These are content management systems in fact which also support DIY website builder plugins. They offer a huge range of pre-built frontend design templates which you can customize or opt to write your own piece of code to build such templates. As said earlier, you can opt to install page builder plugins in those systems and simply create designs with drag and drop facilities.
Hence, I don't categorize these frameworks into DIY website builders and my opinions would be related to other platforms that I listed prior to these.
THINGS THAT MATTER THE MOST
DIY platforms cater to those people who are not looking for generating business through online presence but just want to make themselves noticed online by their targeted customers through cheap means. On the other hand, there are business houses who are ready to pay the price for tasks that can be done by themselves too.
People who care about their websites always seek for professional help because they understand the amount they loose on this part is always recovered from the amount of business it drives in. The ones using DIY platforms generally either seek professional help or simply don't care about their site in the long run because it won't bring business as they expected at the beginning.
Even if you keep close tab on a person working with those DIY builders, they'll start to learn frontend development with passage of time as those builders won't support creating specific layouts. Then, after a couple of years, you'll find them learning backend programming to keep up with the clients' demand.
For business owners, creating their websites on such DIY builders, it's going to be a huge mess when you need to rearrange contents or replace them with new ones as a design that looks good now won't look interestng after 2-3 years.
A lot depends on the convenience on maintaining the website and it's performance too. Custom built sites load much faster than the ones built on site builders. They don't allow you to store data too. So, once you remove the content or product from your site built on such site builders, there won't be any record of that thing. The convenience on using custom built content management system can never be bettered by the one provided by such builders. Moreover, sites built with such builders won't be able to compete with custom built on search rankings too.
It's fair to use one of those builders and get a website online if a person is selling only a handful of products because the online presence will make the difference but if he keeps on continuing the same for hundreds of products then he'll fail miserably for sure.
Soaring number of companies trying to make their presence felt online is a good thing for developers because as soon as they find out that they can't live up to expectation with sites built on DIY platforms, there'll be an increased demand for real developers.
People in need of a simple blog site or selling only a handful of products should actually go for such builders as there's no point in using a hammer to drive in a couple of pushpins. As their business grows, they will feel the need of greater functionality and features that'll force them to sail their ship towards developers with passage of time so that they can focus on doing their best for the business rather than wondering for solutions on their own regarding the website.
After all, these platforms offer something similar to "Learn to play guitar in 30 days" and the question arises "Due to courses like learn to play guitar in 30 days is it worthy to pursue a career as a guitarist?". Yes, you might learn to strum a guitar in 30 days but that won't turn you into a pro and help you earn a living from there onwards.
These platforms will offer you a working site which might not actually look as you wanted. But' once you start trying to make changes and add more features into it, they'll always fall short. Building a website is a lot more than creating pages and there will always be a market for helping people get things checked off their to-do lists.
For all of these reasons and more, there is always huge demand for developers and designers in the market. In fact, this is the best time to enter into the web industry. Every business is going online and there is an ever growing need of expert manpower in the field of web design and development.
Remember, a lot of people cut their grass yet gardeners are doing very well.