When the time comes to build your new website, you’re going to have a lot of different types of website builders available. Even though the search might be a little overwhelming, this is actually a good thing.
Back in the day, it was much more difficult to build a website and use to involve having to hire out the work. But, the plethora of beginner-friendly tools available today makes the process of building your website much simpler, and even enjoyable.
The two main options you’ll probably consider are using WordPress or a website builder. Although they both accomplish the same general goal you’ll find that the process for doing so differs greatly.
Below we’ll explore what a website builder is, how it works, provide a website builder comparison,and finally offer you some advice for choosing the best option for your needs.
What Is a Website Builder?
At the core, a website builder is a tool that lets you quickly create a website without any previous design or programming experience. Most of these builders will come equipped with drag and drop or point and click functionality that’ll allow you to easily add and remove site elements.
Website builders are usually equipped with dozens or even hundreds of different starting themes or pre-made templates. These act as the foundation for your new website. Usually, you’ll find themes that cater to different niches or industries, as well as offering eCommerce specific themes. They’ll also be fully responsive, mobile-friendly, and based on the latest web design trends.
Depending on the builder you’re using you might also have access to tools that allow you to turn your site into an eCommerce store, including shopping cart capabilities.
You’ll find dozens of different website builders to choose from. Some are purely built for eCommerce, where other’s let you create a myriad of different types of sites.
Right here at HostGator, you’ll find a website builder that’s perfect for beginners, that includes the option to add eCommerce functionality to your website.
Advantages of a Website Builder
Website builders are incredibly popular, because they make building a website almost too simple. Here are some of the biggest benefits of using a site builder:
1. Very Easy to Use
Website builders shine in how easy they are to use. Even if this is your first day on the internet, you could figure out how to use a website builder software. If you’re intimidated by things that are technical in nature, then a website builder is perfect for your needs. Not only are website builders created to be very intuitive, but you’ll find a wealth of tutorials that’ll walk you through building your site step-by-step as well.
2. Speedy Site Creation
Website builders are fast. Fire up the tool, select your theme, drag and drop your site customizations, then hit publish. With website builders, you don’t have to worry about things like domain name propagation, site maintenance, and other technical tasks that might slow you down.
3. No Technical Skills Needed
When you use a CMS like WordPress you’re responsible for all the technical tasks required to get your site online. Plus, things like ongoing maintenance and website updates. When you use a website builder all these things are taken care of for you from your web host. Also, when you’re building out your site, you’ll never have to adjust or code anything yourself.
Drawbacks of a Site Builder
Even though website builders are great for a variety of reasons, they’re not a perfect fit for everyone. Here are the most common drawbacks you’ll find when using a site builder:
1. Limited Site Functionality
With website building, you’re limited to the features that are included with the builder. Any new features or functionality need to be added and approved by the team who created the tool, so new features will be added at a slower rate. If you need to create a site with extensive features, you might want to consider using something like WordPress.
2. Stuck to a Platform
Depending on the website builder software you’re using, you might be stuck using that tool for the lifetime of your site. Most website builders aren’t cross-compatible, so if you want to move platform or hosts, then there’s a good chance you’ll have to rebuild your site from scratch.
3. Might Run Into Builder Limitations
If you want to build a content heavy site or a massive eCommerce store, then you’ll probably run into the limits of whatever website builder you’re using. Overall, it depends on how well your website builder can scale up to support larger projects. In some cases, you might end up paying a very high monthly fee just to be able to support a larger site.
When Should I Use a Website Builder?
Website builders are generally best suited for specific types of websites. Simple sites that don’t require too many pages or complex functionality are well-suited for website builders.
Generally, this applies to several types of websites you can create, like portfolio websites, small business sites, creative sites for musicians and other artists, sites offering your freelance services, and even simple eCommerce shops.
If you’re building a site like one of those mentioned above, and want to get your site online as fast as possible, then consider using a website builder. Website builders will help you save time and get rid of any complex tasks standing in the way of getting your site online.
Popular website builders often come with web hosting included, so you don’t have to worry about finding a host and going through the technical steps of configuring your hosting account to work with your new site.
What is WordPress?
WordPress originally started as a website builder, but in time has morphed into a full-fledged content management system (CMS). This makes it perfect for sites that either has a lot of content or are planning to scale up content creation in the future.
The single aspect of WordPress that trips up a lot of beginners is the fact that there are two different versions of WordPress available.
The first is a self-hosted version of WordPress, where you host a site using the WordPress.com subdomain. In this case, your URL will read something like “catsanddogs.wordpress.com”. Using this version will give you access to a handful of themes and some basic features.
However, taking this route isn’t recommended as your theme customizations and plugin access will be limited. Along with only getting access to a restricted feature set your domain name won’t be the most professional or sharable since you won’t have a branded domain.
The other version of WordPress is fully downloadable and you install the CMS on your own server. If that sounds difficult, don’t worry, most hosts have bundled software installers that make it incredibly easy to install WordPress and configure it properly within minutes.
Similar to a website builder, WordPress also relies upon themes that act as the foundation for the rest of your site’s customizations. You’ll find a ton of different free and premium themes to choose from that will give you endless customization options. You select a theme, install it, then customize it to make your own personalized website design.
The process of customizing your theme will depend upon the theme you’re using. Some themes will operate in a drag and drop fashion, while others will handle there customizations via a theme setting panel, or the use of shortcodes.
Plus, you have access to a massive library of popular WordPress plugins, which will allow you to add even more features to your site.
Overall, WordPress gives you a lot of control over how your site looks on the web. However, all of this control and flexibility means that there’s a much steeper learning curve when compared to using a website builder.
Advantages of WordPress
WordPress is a powerful and flexible tool.Here are some of the most common reasons people choose WordPress::
1. Incredibly Flexible
WordPress really shines in its flexibility. You’re truly only limited by your own imagination (and your technical skills). With WordPress, you not only have a massive theme selection but a nearly endless plugin library as well. Since it’s an open-source platform, there’s no limit to what can be built to unlock the power of WordPress.
However, with this added flexibility and ability to create to your heart’s desire there’s a steeper learning curve and a lot more things you’ll need to master to get your site up and running.
2. Gives You a Lot of Power
WordPress has a powerful internal engine. It has everything you need to get to where you want to go. That means you can build virtually any kind of site you desire. Plus, it has the necessary technical foundation to scale with you as your site grows. Some of the largest sites in the world, including TechCrunch, BBC America, and the HostGator blog, utilize WordPress to power their sites.
Drawbacks of WordPress
Still, WordPress isn’t perfect. Right out of the gate it has a higher learning curve. Here are some of the most common reasons people will opt for a simpler solution:
1. Higher Learning Curve
WordPress is a beginner-friendly CMS. But, there are a bunch of technical tasks that you’ll need to accomplish before your site will be online. And the more features you want to add to your WordPress site, the more technical it’ll be to setup your site the right way.
Luckily, you’ll be able to find extensive documentation, tutorials, and how-to guides that can walk you through almost everything. However, it might take some trial and error to get your site how you like it.
2. Might Need to Edit Code
If you truly want to get the most out of WordPress you might have to edit some code. For some, this can be a very intimidating process, but others won’t mind getting their hands dirty and learn a bit about how their site’s work.
You won’t have to write anything from scratch. But, sometimes you might need to copy and paste existing code, or fire up the HTML editor and add WordPress shortcodes and more.
When Should I Use WordPress?
WordPress will help you build content-heavy websites. The range of sites you can build using WordPress is quite vast, from basic blogs to massive highly-trafficked sites with thousands of pages of content. Put simply, it’s quite scalable.
If you’re building a very simple website, then you might not require the power that WordPress can provide. However, if you have plans to scale up your website, or you simply want a higher level of control over your website, then WordPress is worth considering.
You still might be wondering, is WordPress a website builder? At its core, WordPress doesn’t fit the traditional description of a site builder, but yes, it does help you build a website.
Using WordPress will take more effort and technical knowledge. But, even if you’re starting at zero, you’ll be able to get a grasp on WordPress without spending too much time.
Website Builder vs WordPress: Which Is Right for You?
If you want to get a website online this afternoon and you don’t need any advanced features, then using a website builder can be a great option. By using a website builder all you have to do is select your template, make a few modifications, and publish your site. The entire process is very simple and straightforward.
However, if time isn’t your biggest concern, and you want to use a platform that can grow with you and support any kind of site you desire, then using WordPress is a great idea. WordPress gives you more control over your site, and with access to the nearly endless supply of themes and plugins, you can create any kind of site you desire.
Overall, a website builder will allow you to quickly build a beautiful and functional website without any coding skills. On the other hand, WordPress affords you immense flexibility and gives you a very powerful platform to build any kind of site. However, you can expect to put more time and learning into the building process. Hopefully, you have a better idea of how using a website builder vs. WordPress compare, as well as the right direction to take for your new site.