Choosing between WordPress or a website builder is a fork in the road that many small business owners have to navigate. And rightfully so – building a website for a small business is crucial and can get demanding quickly. So the decision has to be good to tick all the right boxes from the start.
You probably know that website builders are easy enough and produce good results, but what about WordPress? It’s considered the best in the CMS market, and with it, website development is enjoyable and flexible.
What might feel like a simple decision has many aspects that need considering, such as flexibility, ease of use, maintenance, scalability, and customization. To find out which of these two platforms you’ll need, we made this blog post answering every possible question you might have down the road. So let’s get started!
- What Is a Website Builder?
- What Is WordPress?
- What’s the Difference Between WordPress and Website Builders?
- Things to Consider Before Choosing
What Is a Website Builder?
A long time ago, designing and maintaining a website required a deep understanding of computers and coding. It’s gotten progressively more accessible over the years.
Thanks to full-featured website builders and the site design help they provide, anyone can now create and maintain a website with little or no technical expertise.
Website builders are designed to help less technically apt people by giving them a graphical user interface (GUI) for the code that runs a website. Instead of manually writing lines of code, a website builder allows you to choose the components you want or use a template and drag and drop to move things around the way you like them.
There are many options surrounding that particular market like Squarespace, Wix and many others, sometimes antagonizing with the same features.
What Is WordPress?
WordPress is a CMS that provides a robust infrastructure for designing and maintaining your site, composing your content, and editing your pages. It gives you access to site design and implementation tools, similar to a website builder, but adds more sophisticated and centralized control over your site’s content.
What’s the Difference Between WordPress and Website Builders?
Let’s start with the differences between WordPress and website builders by looking at each category below.
- Ease of use
- Learning curve
Flexibility gives options to manage your website well.
WordPress – Flexibility
WordPress excels in that area featuring thousands of plugins that expand its functionality greatly. Of these plugins, many are free, while others are paid solutions, sometimes offering many options and features to the well-known CMS. The installation process is straightforward, and you can also install them from inside the WordPress dashboard.
The official WordPress plugins repository is the place to start if you want something in particular. Read the plugin reviews, and check what people say about them before downloading them to your website.
Website Builders – Flexibility
Website builders mainly offer integrations with popular applications and online services like all the Google products. While these builders focus on inexperienced users, they have more spartan features and fewer templates to play around with.
You can integrate applications and snippets into specific parts of your website, like Google Maps and YouTube videos. At the same time, mobile versions are something you should consider checking before buying. Still, almost every website builder out there has excellent support for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
Ease of Use
This is another vital factor when creating a website. Ease of use means the options are well-explained, the menus are easy to navigate, and there’s plenty of documentation available to get you started.
WordPress – Ease of Use
WordPress has a great community, and its documentation is well-written and thorough. But, for some people, this might not be enough, and they’ll need more time to settle in before creating content for their website.
In WordPress, all the options are available, and you can get more functionality through the plugins above, but once you learn where everything is, it becomes a nifty creation tool.
Website Builders – Ease of Use
This is the website builders’ first selling point. With no setup, web hosting, storage, domain names and other costs, website builders take on that for you, so you can focus on uploading the content.
However, focusing on ease can be a double-edged sword, and website builders have faced tough competition in recent years from the CMS market and web hosting companies with their great website builders.
Maintenance is a key part of a new website. It not only unlocks new features, potentially expanding your feature-set, but core updates can also give you performance boosts that help in SEO and a better user experience.
Updating your website will also bring you the latest security updates, which could be one of the most crucial reasons you need to be on top. Also, don’t forget about malware. With WordPress being one of the most well-known CMS in the market, it gets in the hacker’s crosshairs for this particular reason, so run regular checks with the help of trusted malware plugins.
WordPress – Maintenance:
In WordPress, you need to manually stay on top of the updates. There can be updates to the WordPress core or plugin updates you must tackle while constantly checking if the new versions support your version of WordPress.
Updating live WordPress websites is generally not recommended, so if you want to update, you first must do a complete website backup or one of the automated backups your web hosting company creates. Consider reading our Why You Need Automated Website Backup blog post for more.
Securing your WordPress website is something you need to do yourself. Scanning for malware is essential as it can uncover things that might have slipped your mind. Still, if you don’t want to fiddle with your luck, HostPapa has you covered with its Managed WordPress Hosting. With that, you can use all the benefits of WordPress without worrying about malware, performance and security.
Website Builders – Maintenance
Maintenance on website builders like Squarespace, Wix and many more is not needed, and the services are already doing that for you.
With custom code, the website builders’ developers are on top of things themselves, maintaining their code, fixing bugs and keeping the platform secure so you don’t have to.
When building your website, you must factor in the learning curve required to familiarize yourself with all the platform’s options and features.
WordPress – Learning Curve
WordPress learning curve can be more challenging for a beginner, but you can become more knowledgeable on how WordPress works in under a week. Once you get a feel of where each option is, you’ll find that navigation in WordPress is a piece of cake.
For instance, to create a new post, you need to know how to navigate inside the WordPress dashboard. Go to Posts > Add New to start writing your first post. To change the site’s look, go to Appearance > Themes > Add New to search thousands of online themes for you to get started.
Website Builders – Learning Curve
Website builders are a great deal for people looking to start right away, and as such, no coding or maintenance is required.
A big advantage website builders boast is that working within a graphical interface is more accessible than using code. Arranging content in a website builder user interface is much more efficient and attractive because you can already see the results as you work.
While this is all accurate, it’s worth noting that WordPress brings similar functionality through separate plugins, with some being completely free.
Things to Consider Before Choosing
Of course, this showdown may be very close, and even though you can already see which platform is best for your small business, there are some things you need to consider before choosing.
While scalability is closely related to flexibility, there’s one key difference. Scalability can refer to how many things you can do with it. WordPress excels in that area as it can serve millions of pages to your site’s visitors and simultaneously supports thousands of logged-in users. Search queries are another area where WordPress can do great, with the ability to search post titles and post content on thousands of posts.
For website builders, you should consult with your plan because there might be traffic caps you’re not aware of that limit the number of page views your website can reach.
The customization element is a fundamental part of a website’s development process. Customizing every aspect of your site gives you the freedom to experiment with different colours and designs while also creating an engaging experience for your visitors.
Customization is WordPress’ forte, and while you can find thousands of themes online, you must adjust them in your content. Nothing works great out of the box, but the abundance of themes presents a great variety in picking the right one for your website.
The customizable templates that website builders offer are a great way to start, and they offer pretty cool designs that need close to no editing, apart from the colours to bring it according to your taste.
While website builders are easy to work with and tend to have multiple good templates that need little fiddling around, this can create another issue.
A website’s character is hidden in plain sight. The unique design means that your website stands out from the crowd, and it’s unlikely that you’ll find another one matching your design.
A “trained eye” can spot differences and plugins used just by looking at your website, but that’s not how ordinary people look at websites online. WordPress themes are very good at masking themselves out to hide the underlying WordPress code, while most website builders will show off their name at the website’s footer. Going with WordPress is your best bet if you want a clean image with no unnecessary information, a process known as white labelling.
Proprietary software is closely maintained and checked by the website builders’ engineers, so no user input is necessary. They ensure you have the latest version of their software; they update SSL certificates and fix any vulnerabilities detected without “damaging” your website.
On the other hand, WordPress needs user input to do these tasks, but only if you’re not already enjoying the benefits of using a trustworthy Managed WordPress hosting plan, where experts check and update your website as necessary.
Search engine optimization is crucial if you want people to find your website in the search results. Most website builders include SEO options like image alt text, custom post slugs, meta tags and support for Google Analytics, among other tools.
Having superior performance on smartphones also boosts SEO performance, and in that particular area, website builders are doing great.
WordPress needs a little push regarding SEO performance, and you’ll need to install extra plugins to boost your performance online. By default, WordPress supports alt text and tags and custom slugs, though meta tags and descriptions, among others, will need plugins like Yoast SEO to unfold.
By winding up this versus, you should’ve decided which of these platforms is best for you. WordPress can be a clear winner regarding flexibility and scalability, while website builders are more suited for people looking to start immediately without wanting too much out of their website.