One of the major stories at the start of the 2018 Formula One season was how the car from the American team Haas F1 is accused to be a Ferrari replica. The practice of running a ‘customer car’, a car (or a car design) that has been designed and built by another team and then sold to another, usually from a bigger team to a smaller team, has been banned completely since 2010 so the Haas issue was a major point of contention.
Even before the ‘customer car’ accusation was raised, Haas was considered a bit of an oddity in the paddock. Unlike other teams, Haas outsourced the parts for their car as much as possible in order to save cost while still being competitive and it works, their 2018 car was widely considered to be the best of the smaller teams. Haas’ approach here is parallel to the practice of using website builders in web development and while it might be an especially convenient way of building a website, it might not always be the best option.
Taking the easy way out
Formula 1 has always been expensive, all three of the new teams that entered in 2010 for example has already collapsed by the time the 2016 season has come to a close and the teams’ financial struggle since then has been widely documented. Haas’ method then makes perfect sense financially, they buy parts from other teams, mainly Ferrari, as much as the rules allow them to and they contracted the Italian company Dallara to design and build their chassis using Ferrari’s wind tunnel. And it paid off as unlike the three teams that entered F1 in 2010, Haas was considerably more competitive in their debut season.
On the other hand, Haas’ close relationship with Ferrari means that they’re constantly referred to as Ferrari’s B-team, which is also true. The thing about relying on your competitor for parts means that common sense dictates that they’re not going to give you anything that could lead to you, the customer, having the upper hand on the seller. As long as Haas continues down this path, they’re never going to win anything as long as Ferrari’s there.
What’s true in Formula 1 is also true in web development. If you want to be the best, you’re going to have to rely on yourself. It’s okay to make compromises for the economical reasons or for sheer practicality as long as you can live with those compromises. Website builders are numerous, relatively easy to use, cheap and doesn’t require any advanced technical skills but you also need to be aware of downsides of using a website builder and the compromises you have to make.
It’s not going to be able to accommodate everything you want
The difference between using a website builder and designing your own from scratch is a bit like the difference between store-bought suits and bespoke suits. Store-bought suits are cheap and you can literally just pick one off the shelf but the fit might not be perfect, the lapel might not be to your liking or the button placement might be a little off. With bespoke suits, you are literally in control of everything, as long as you have the money.
Website builders are designed around templates and if you find that the available templates aren’t able to accommodate what you need, you’re out of luck. Either you have to make do with a lesser alternative or you have to tinker with the underlying code, which defeats the purpose of using a website builder in the first place and still won’t work or look as well as it should. This can be especially worrying if you have certain needs or wants that are somewhat uncommon.
You have to be satisfied with looking like 70% of the population
Website builders are like shirts from Uniqlo; they’re definitely competent but slightly basic. They’re fine when I need to buy 4 different shirts for the purpose of work but if I’m looking for something that could definitely stand out, they’re not going to be my first choice. Website builders, Squarespace in particular, do have a way of making your website look good but since they’re designed for mass consumption, it’s quite probable that you’re going to end with a nice-looking but generic website.
You have to contend with subpar performance
Apple’s chips are generally faster than Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips, which are commonly found inside Android phones. This is a fact and has been for quite some time. This is partly because Apple has a license from ARM that allows the company to essentially design their chips from scratch while Qualcomm usually use customized ARM-based CPUs referred to as Kryo. The second reason is because Apple design their chips for use with their phones only while Qualcomm’s chips are designed for use in various phones ranging from Samsung’s, Google’s, LG’s and other companies.
This is essentially the same case with customized websites that are designed from scratch to fit your needs and wants compared to website builders that are designed to be as accommodating as possible to a large group of people. In a customized website, every line of code is there for a reason while in a website made from a builder, it’s common to see codes floating around that aren’t actually necessary for your website, which would have an effect on performance.
You’re going to have to rely on customer support when there’s a problem
I once worked in a position where in order to do my job; I have to rely on the competence of another division. I never thought of this as a problem until one particular issue back in 2017 where long story short, I was forced essentially forced to clean up their mess. Keep in mind that the frequency of cyberattacks have gone up recently and you’re going to realize that having to completely rely on another company for your website might not seem like the greatest idea anymore.