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Website Builders vs. WordPress: Which Should You Use?

websiteIf you’re considering launching your very first website, then there are a lot of factors to consider. Mainly, which service should you use to host and build your site?

For beginners who want to go the do-it-yourself route, there are two common options: website builders and WordPress.

Start by considering the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision.

Website Builders

Website builders are services that host your website and provide drag-and-drop software to make it easy to launch your small business website or portfolio. Best website builders include:

Each comes with their own pros and cons. For example, some charge extra for email services or for hosting an eCommerce store. Some have more—and better—themes than others. Each site builder’s uptime and activation time varies. But what do they have in common? Let’s take a look.


Pros of Website Builders:

  • They’re affordable compared to hiring a designer. A designer could run you several thousand dollars while these website builders usually cost around $100 per year.
  • You have access to the backend of your site and can tweak your content and design as you please without contacting support.
  • They’re easy to learn and have visual page editors. You can easily see how your changes will affect your design before implementing them.
  • There are (typically) a lot of themes to choose from. (Bold Grid has one of the largest selections with over 3,000 options.)
  • You can get your site up and running in minutes.
  • Some website builders are specific to certain kinds of businesses, so not only are they easy to use, but they’ll cater to your needs. For example, Shopify is a website builder that allows you to build a site you can sell products on. It has the tools to track sales and manage your inventory.

Cons of Website Builders:

  • Customization options are fairly limited. This means your site may look similar to others and that you Many website builders tack on additional costs for things like email.
  • Website builders often lack the search engine optimization (SEO) power that WordPress has.
  • Load times can be slow because you’re sharing your server with other sites. While this can be equally true of WordPress sites as well, there is more flexibility with third-party hosting to upgrade your hosting package and speed up your site.

WordPress

WordPress is not a website builder. Instead, it’s a content management system (CMS). It’s free open-source software that you can install onto your site through various web hosts. (You can also use the software hosted on your own servers, but chances are you’ll rent server space through another company.)

The good news is that most web hosts are cheap—similar to the price points of website builders. But it also means there are many packages, prices, and services to choose from to meet your needs.

WordPress doesn’t have the same drag-and-drop functions as the website builders mentioned above, but because of that, it’s a more powerful option that can suit the needs of anyone from a hobby blogger to a large corporation. Even big sites like Time and Xerox use WordPress.

Pros of WordPress:

  • The customization options are practically endless, allowing you flexibility in your design. As an open-source program, developers are constantly designing new web themes you can install on your site. There are both free and paid options.
  • There are countless free and premium plugins—or pieces of software that expand your site’s functions—available from various developers. You can use these plugins to build a site suited to your needs, whether you’re launching a blog, portfolio, ecommerce website, or university site. Plus, with competition between developers, there’s an incentive for them to create the best web tools available.
  • WordPress is built for blogging, so it’s a good platform if you’re looking to start blogging. It features tools like post scheduling, and there are tons of plugins available for creating beautiful social media follow buttons, newsletter subscription forms, author bio boxes, and more.
  • You’ll have access to the backend of your site so that you can tweak design elements and content on your It’s SEO-friendly. Not only is the basic system good for SEO, but you can install SEO plugins that will boost your SEO results.
  • As one of the most popular platforms, there’s a huge community around WordPress. That makes it simple to get your questions answered quickly.
  • With the right responsive theme (and there are lot of them available for WordPress), you can build a site that’s mobile-friendly and looks great on desktop computers.
  • Being so popular, it’s easy to integrate other services into your site, such as the newsletter service MailChimp.
  • Because WordPress is a CMS  there’s a learning curve. It takes some time to become familiar with the system, and you may have to learn some basic HTML.
  • Being an open-source platform with its code easily available online, there are security concerns. However, with a secure webhost and additional security plugins, it’s easy to add extra layers of security to keep your site free from hackers.
  • Due to these security concerns, updates are frequent for both the main software and for any plugins you’ve installed.
  • Since anyone can create themes or plugins compatible with WordPress, these plugins may at times cause conflict between their codes.

One aspect that may come as an advantage or disadvantage depending on how you look at it is that high-quality themes and plugins come at an extra price. If you have a tight budget, you may see this as a drawback. (Although, to be clear, there are plenty of free options available as well.) However, premium themes and plugins come with extra perks. They typically look better, have better security, are better for SEO, and are more customizable. This allows you to create a more high-quality and professional site with practically unlimited possibilities. You’ll just have to budget for these extras.

Which Should You Use?

The question about whether you should use a website builder or WordPress comes down to one simple thing: your needs. If you’re a photographer looking to launch an online portfolio, then a website builder like SquareSpace should serve you well. If you’re starting a site for your business and need to go beyond the basics, then WordPress is likely the better option. Neither are very good at creating a network of users, although there are membership and forum plugins for WordPress if you want to gather a few users together.

A second thing to consider if you’re still not sure, is whether or not you are willing to learn. If you’re not very tech-savvy and are doing this alone, then a website builder might be better for you. If you’re willing to learn and do what it takes to create a unique, one-of-a-kind site, then try WordPress. You’ll get the added benefits like more customizable options.

It’s hard to say which option is better over the other because it all depends on you. The pros and cons listed above should help point you in the right direction, but don’t get hung up on the decision.

Sometimes all you need to do is test it out and see for yourself if it’s the option for you. Which option will you test out first?

robert-meningRobert  Mening is web developer and designer who helps small-businesses and non-profit organizations to build better websites. He created WebSiteSetup which has some wonderful tips and ideas. If you need his opinion or help, you can reach him at Twitter (@RobMening).

Note from Anne: All my sites are now on WordPress, even my prosite, www.AnneWayman.com, which looks, I think more like a static website – I use WordPress because it’s so darn easy to update and change.



{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Wordpress may be too hard for newbies, who have no experience in website building. Opposite to WP, website builders, like those mentioned it this post, have an easy-to-learn interface. Even if anyone can’t manage to explore some website builder options, there is a tech support team that may help users (in some platforms this is possible in the real time mode).

    • I don’t think WordPress is too hard… I’ve taught newbies to use it. But whatever the solution, what I hate to see is when someone hires someone to build their website and is then left stranded when the builder moves on… It would be great if that didn’t happen, but it does. I’ve no particular objection to a website builder… few of them, if any, however, have the huge installed base and resources to learn that WordPress does.

  • Yeah… I am using WordPress here as well. Much more control with all the themes and plugins. 😉
    Jayce Ooi recently posted..Sunvell T95K Pro Android TV Box ReviewMy Profile

  • Until now, I habe been using a Website Builder for some years und I’m very used to it. But I am considering to move my website to Wordpress for several weeks now…Which prevents me until know is the time I will need to get familiar with this content management system. But I really believe it might be worthwhile…

    • One of the things I like so much about wordpress is there is fantastic help out there… I can just google a question and there are a ton of answers. But obviously it’s not the only solution.

  • My vote is for wordpress. It’s more difficult to use than the builders, but does better job better.
    22Studio recently posted..7 porad jak zarabiać na sklepie internetowymMy Profile

    • That’s my sense too, although I’ve never tried the others. I hear good things about squarespace.

  • I like Wordpress, but I did considerable research before installation to decrease security concerns. Then I wrestled with spambots before installing a Captcha plugin. Having worked with website design since 1995, I’ve tried multiple options, and WP provides everything I need, including quick answers for questions via millions of Google search results.
    Kathy Steinemann recently posted..100 Ways to Avoid “To Be” Verbs in WritingMy Profile

    • Thanks Kathy… yes, there are security concerns… I use askismet and wp limit logins plugins… the latter gives a capcha code which is a real pita, but seems to work.

  • Hi Robert Mening,
    I have been using Wordpress for years and didn’t found the match for the same till now. Now I am using Shopify for my website but i am not getting the desired results.
    Although, thanks for sharing.
    have a great day.

  • Very nice post sir. But I have one qu. is that which one is easy to rank?
    I know that wordpress is one of the best platform for SEO because it provides many plugins. But what about website builders? Are those easy to rank in google?
    Rohan recently posted..Happy New Year Greetings Card, Images, Message, Quotes 2017 FreeMy Profile

    • I suspect the website builder allow for SEO too plus more and more google pays attention to the value of the content.

  • Sue Chehrenegar

    I once had a blog that used wordpress. One day I discovered that someone else was using blog as the site of their own blog. How could that have happened? That was in 2012, could it happen today?

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