TL; DR: Weblium is putting professional site design within reach for SMBs with a compromise between unreasonably priced services and DIY site builders. The platform allows users to turn their thoughts into visual prototypes before the company’s expert designers take the reins. With a turnkey approach and enhanced SEO tools on the way, Weblium is continuing to help small businesses look their best online.
Pinterest, an inspirational source of recipes, crafts, and other creative projects, has enabled users to find, save, and organize creative ideas since 2010. And, as the tongue-in-cheek “Nailed it!” memes illustrate, it’s also the driving force behind some seriously epic failures.
The lesson here is that the do-it-yourself route isn’t always the one to take.
David Braun, CEO of Weblium, told us this applies to website building as well. “If you take a look at 100 websites made with popular DIY website builders, a majority of them will be poor quality — and it’s not because they’re bad platforms,” he said. “It’s because no matter how easy they are to use, people lack the knowledge to build a great site.”
The other option, David said, is to let the pros take charge — but that’s often a costly move. “If you hire a freelancer or go to an agency, it’s pretty expensive, with prices typically starting at $1,000,” he said. “Then if you have to tweak your site in step with new technological changes, you’ll be invoiced again.”
Weblium creates a happy medium between the two models with its “Do-It-For-Me” website builder, in which the company’s designers create custom sites that users subsequently manage through an intuitive editing platform. The process begins with free prototype creation and leverages automation to cut costs on routine tasks. With a turnkey service allowing users to maintain, control, and promote their sites after creation, Weblium is with customers every step of the way.
A Middle Ground Between DIY Builders and Web Agencies
It’s hard to believe in 2018, but 36% of small businesses still lack online representation. Considering that 97% of consumers go online to research local products and services before making a purchase, that’s risky business.
David told us that approximately 40% of Weblium customers are small businesses with three to four employees who want a website for image building and lead generation, but can’t quite get there alone.
He said skill level and cost are two major roadblocks for those SMBs, and that’s why Weblium employs a hybrid solution fusing the best of site builders and design agencies.
“People make the most mistakes during the site development stage, but when we establish the structure first, it’s very easy for them to manage posts and change photos,” he said. “Our platform helps us create custom sites quickly so we can keep them affordable — creating a website is usually three times more expensive with an agency than it is with us.”
All sites include fresh designs in accordance with the latest trends and best practices, hosting through Google Cloud, SSL certificates, protection from DDoS attacks, and access to a library of free stock photos and icons. All sites are fully responsive and mobile friendly. Unlike some site builders, Weblium provides full access to downloadable source code. In addition, users have 24/7 access to the website experts who built their website.
The Weblium staff, which currently consists of six team members, creates an average of 30 to 40 custom sites per day. “Our ultimate goal is to open franchise studios and create 1,000 custom websites per day,” David said.
Turn Website Ideas into Prototypes with Draftium
Have you ever formulated what seemed like a winning idea in your head but found you couldn’t spit it out verbally? Weblium introduced Draftium, a free tool enabling small business owners to structure their thoughts and visions, to solve that problem.
“There are a lot of people who will say ‘My website is under construction’ for two or three whole years,” he said. “I started to dig into this issue and ask these people why they do not move forward, and their answer is often that they are still in the ideation process.”
Draftium takes you through that process quickly and easily, so you have the confidence to move forward. Clients first choose from a range of main page templates designed for industries like technology, real estate, tourism, and manufacturing, among other businesses.
The tool then presents customers with a library of ready-made blocks that are stackable in any order. Users simply select the blocks they want, tackle preliminary content creation, and share their site structure with colleagues before agreeing on a final prototype.
“When they play with this prototyping tool, they’re already writing text, switching out pictures, and uploading their logos, so they’re getting set up in terms of the content,” David said. “When we go to design the site, it usually takes just 48 hours to get it up and running.”
Alternatively, Weblium’s user experience experts will conduct research and create a unique prototype within 24 hours for just $15.
“Draftium has become a killer feature for our product because 90% of the people start with it, make a free structure, and once the structure is done they can go to an agency, or just do it in one click with Weblium,” David said.
A Holistic Approach: Maintain, Control, and Promote Your Site
David told us site creation is only the beginning of an SMB’s online journey. After your site is up and running, you’ll need to manage it, evolve it in pace with technological advancements, and promote it through SEO and social media channels.
“The problem many business face is they don’t have an employee who can handle those things, so they end up hiring lots of different subcontractors and the responsibility is on their hands to make tough decisions,” David said. “We are creating an ecosystem where all those subcontractors — copywriters, photographers, SEO and SEM experts, etc. — participate in a free freelance exchange through Weblium.”
The beauty of this system, David said, lies in the fact that prices will be predefined. “Often, customers don’t have any indication of what these services should cost,” he said. “I want to create a golden standard in terms of website creation and management.”
David told us he is adding these services in response to customer feedback. Clients were happy with the design service but found it overwhelming to seek out contractors for additional work on their own. “We had to complete the journey because people were feeling overwhelmed with all the choices and no standard pricing,” he said.
Coming Soon: Enhanced SEO and Social Network Management
In addition to a building a community of certified partners, Weblium is planning an upcoming Your Webmaster program that will connect businesses with real-time virtual assistants who will help them fulfill a variety of tasks. “We understand that creating a website is only the beginning and want to position Weblium as a smart and reliable partner along the way,” David said.
In addition, the company plans to enhance the user experience by including payment system providers, A/B testing tools, and increased automation of routine tasks. They’re also working on a robust management platform that will enable businesses to monitor SEO, benchmark themselves against competitors, and oversee social media accounts.
“We will allow them to do everything — all the management and monitoring — within a single platform and sign-in process,” David said.
Finally, Weblium is working to provide a DIY mode in which the company serves as a safety net whenever needed. “We will give you the instructions and the tools you need, but sometimes people try to build a site, for example, over the weekend and end up completing only 80%,” David said. “Then, Monday comes around, they have to go to their daytime jobs, and they’ll come to us to finish the last 20%.”
This way, if your site heads to the land of DIYs gone wrong, Weblium will swoop in and save the day.