More than likely, you’ve heard of the new website-building platform, the Grid.
Whether you’re submersed in the tech world or not, the Grid is quickly gaining lots of attention. It’s a fairly simple-sounding pitch: upload your own text and images, and the Grid magically makes them into a website for you—no web designers necessary. Almost like the Instagram model to build websites, the Grid’s big draw is that it uses AI to design, not people, and you’ll still get an attractive-looking website that seems to have been “designed”, including a seller’s area and conversion rate testing. This comes with a price tag of $300 a year.
To those who want a website that’s cheap and easy to use, and who can’t be bothered with web designers, the Grid sounds mighty good. Instant updates? Simple operation? Looks pretty good? Awesome!
Except…is it really that awesome?
One of the Grid’s main targets here are small- to medium-sized businesses. Startups and smaller companies usually don’t have a ton of cash yet and probably want a no-hassle website that’s lower cost. However, by using a template-type website building tool like the Grid, companies (and individuals) will lose out on quite a few things.
Think about it: who wants a cookie-cutter website?
Uniqueness is key, especially for a business. Branding, style, your own distinct voice—these are all invaluable elements of standing out in the marketplace. There’s nothing more bland than a “one size fits all” anything, and websites are absolutely no exception.
The Grid also seems to make some fairly big claims… but if no humans are around to actually monitor the sites, logic seems a bit thin here. For example, the Grid boasts how easy it is to sell things with their format: post a product, stick a price on it, and a shopping cart manifests on the site, BAM, just like that. But any online store owner should know that sales aren’t that simple. There are factors to consider like taxes and shipping. The AI can’t automatically know if a seller uses Fedex (and not UPS) for shipping. Suddenly, it begins to sound like more work than the customer expected…
And possibly the biggest issue: customization.
There’s no way that a platform that uses AI instead of a human team can provide the same level of customer tailoring and support. With an actual web designer—a living, breathing, human one—sellers and individuals can have a totally customized website built by people who are able to offer answers about tricky technical issues and quandaries. Customers can ask all the questions they want before, during, and after the website-building process. They can be as specific as they want about every small detail. In short, they can have their dream site. Not something that thousands of other people and businesses have, too.
“One lesson almost every website builder learns after a few years in business is that users get frustrated if they can’t customize even the smallest parts of their website,” says Steve Benjamins of SiteBuilderReport.com. “Users want to nudge their nav bar. They want their exact brand colors. They want to tweak border sizes. They want to adjust font sizes.”
Your website should be a representation of your brand, NOT a replication of someone else’s…
Choosing to have a website custom-built by a designer may be a bit pricier, but to be honest, users will get what they pay for with an out-of-the-box price. You just can’t shake that “template” feel, and other areas are certain to suffer as well. If you have a proper building job done by a professional web designer, it’s well worth the price to have a site that has your every specification, as well as constant answers to your questions. And while one of the Grid’s proudest features is that changes can be made easily by users, these same changes can be made just as quickly with an actual designed website.
Anyone can spot a clone…
Even those who aren’t techy will be able to tell after awhile that something feels thin about these websites. Businesses will suffer if not for the flavorless websites, then from a not-detailed-enough shopping cart.
Be unique & stand out!
Website building tools like the Grid come and go. Similar platforms pop up every now and then, and although they get very popular for awhile, eventually users ditch them for a more customizable site.
Why? Because in the end, people want to stand out and be their unique selves. Especially businesses. An AI tool like the Grid will simply give people generic websites that are trendy but barely remembered and nothing special.
When it comes down to it, template sites that “design themselves” like these aren’t much more than glorified Facebook pages.
At Marqana, we build all our websites to our clients’ exact desires. They know we’re there for them with the answers and help they need, anytime!