When first developing a website, one of the primary decisions to make is where and how to create your site.
Most people will stumble upon choosing WordPress or a Website Builder like Wix, Squarespace or Weebly, to name just a few. The choice will ultimately come down to your level of comfort and expectations for your website.
Let’s dive in and ask the question: What is the difference between WordPress and an Online Website Builder?
What is WordPress?
To understand the difference between WordPress and a website builder, we must first look at what WordPress is exactly. By definition, WordPress is a CMS or a Content Management System. Basically, it is a place to manage your digital content.
It is also a hosted system, meaning you will be hosting your website on your own server or hosting account. Typically with a CMS like WordPress, many people can collaborate together to create web pages, graphics, and other online content.
The beauty with WordPress is that the user needs to understand very little about coding and other nerdy website programming languages. WordPress allows for a visual form editor that makes creating pages very easy to accomplish.
Very soon, WordPress will be introducing a new visual interface called Gutenberg. Aptly named, Gutenberg is set to revolutionize the ability for users, especially those with limited skill, to customize web content easily and effectively. Get ready to code like the pros without knowing how to code a single line.
Besides the upcoming release of Gutenberg, you can currently use a paid, third-party visual editor plugin like Visual Composer, Beaver Builder, Elementor, Divi, Page Builder by Site Origin, & Themify Builder.
Additionally, when using WordPress, it will require using a web hosting service. This service basically makes your website available and accessible on the world wide web. For WordPress to run, you must use PHP & MySQL. The benefit here is that you can move your website to a new host if necessary.
While many aspects of WordPress are user-friendly, there’s definitely more of a learning curve. The ease of use with WordPress may require an intermediate to an advanced user to design and develop a website. You may need to hire a hosting company to build a WordPress website if this is not your expertise.
However, WordPress is flexible and will allow you to use many 3rd party plugins to extend the functionality. There are endless features, third party themes, and plugins that are both free and paid. Also, you can hire a development company to create features that extend WordPress. The biggest benefit is that you can create exactly the kind of website your business or brand needs for right now and in the future.
What is an Online Website Builder?
An Online Website Builder is slightly different than WordPress. They are proprietary software that allows you to build a website.
Similar to WordPress, Online Website Builders usually offer a drag & drop visual interface. This allows you to visually see what your website will look like before publishing it. Coding for an Online Website Builder is typically not required.
The Online Website Builder may give you free access to templates and stock photography libraries as well. Support may be offered and included by the company providing the software to assist you, should you get stuck.
One difference is that Online Website Builders include hosting, and sometimes a domain name. This may reduce the cost of hosting and maintaining a website by bundling or offering a package deal.
Another difference is that Online Website Builders may be limited in terms of flexibility and overall features. You may not have all the tools to create the website that fits your business or brand. Usually, additional development or software cannot be added to the Online Website Builder because it is proprietary software.
In a nutshell: You get what you pay for.
WordPress vs Website Builders: Which Platform Is Right for You?
If you are a small business or startup with a limited budget, the Online Website Builder route may be the most cost-effective in the short term. On the other hand, if you plan on growing your business online, starting out with WordPress is the best investment.
If you don’t have design experience, using the included templates with an Online Website Builder will make building your website a lot easier. The templates may be limited and not allow you to change them, which is why you might want to consider using WordPress with access to third-party themes.
If you have never coded or programmed before, WordPress may seem intimidating and difficult to use compared to most Online Website Builders. Just ask yourself, how much of the work of building your website do you plan on doing versus hiring a WordPress Design and Development company?
If you do not require a lot of features initially or don’t anticipate ever needing a lot of features, using an Online Website Builder may be the right choice. But if you ever want to introduce new features or functionality at a later time, you will have to rebuild your website in WordPress.
If you plan to use WordPress, make sure to include monthly or annual hosting into your budget. Likewise, if you use an Online Website Builder, make sure to consider how much the overall cost versus using WordPress with a hosting company. Some DIY Website Builders could cost more than using WordPress.
The difference in choosing WordPress or an Online Website Builder generally comes down to expertise, functionality and you. WordPress typically attracts users who are confident in their technical abilities and desire nearly limitless functions of their website. However, you do not necessarily need those abilities to choose WordPress to build your website.
If you are new to building and hosting websites, you may want to ask some questions first before making a final decision. An expert in this decision-making process is the WordPress designers at Golden Oak Web Design. Contact us for a free consultation.