I'm just wondering what people think of online website builders such as Weebly, Doodlekit, Moonfruit and the like. They may not be perfect at the moment, but it seems to me that at least some of them are getting better and better, and given that they're bound to continue improving, I'm just wondering what the future will look like, say in 5 years time, for solo web designers whose target market is personal and small business websites. Will there be any call for using anything other than an online website builder? Perhaps in the longer term, even large company websites will be well provided for by a hosted online website builder, and the job of a web designer may be to adapt and indivualize the site, or work for the companies that produce them. I'd be really interested to hear what other people think - I'm no expert on anything, but just wondering.
The fact is that no matter how usable, the majority of clients do not edit their website. These tools are made to look good for clients but are still used by developers. The key risk to using these tools is a lack of control, especially of the server. Most of the time it can be argued that you don't need full control of the server. The tools are good for small web developer/design businesses that like big profit margins, as well as tech savvy business owners. There will always be a market for hosted CMS solutions, Open Source CMS solutions as well as (my favourite) custom CMS solutions. It will always come down to budget for the web develop/design business and the budget of the client.
I love Content Management Systems, if you want a client to use it though, go custom. Always.
We've had a question like this before, but the best and simplest way to answer it is to say this... while generic sites pre-generated by some friendly editor may be fine for the average site (plenty of blogs and stuff already do it), the need for a hand made custom website will not be lost. Large businesses will want something that isn't filled with bulky fluff and unnecessary features (and therefore will require custom solutions that meet their specific and niche needs), and most regular businesses will want something unique that will stand out. While the templates themselves on those services do look OK, the problem is that you really won't see much of a return on investment if you're just peddling around in a send-hand design that has no unique selling point and that is void of all emotion or relativity to the business itself.
In essence, handcrafted websites aren't going anywhere, they will always be the luxury option for those who want the best possible customer interaction.