In today’s world it is absolutely necessary to have a website.
But most business owners aren’t technically savvy enough to build their own. That’s why the popularity of website builders has become so widespread. Like content management systems (CMS), they offer an easier way to get up and running online. In fact, website builders are probably the easiest way to get a professional site built today. But it can be hard to understand the difference between a website builder and a CMS, and more specifically for this article, the pros and cons of website builders.
So, let’s dive. This article will help you understand what you can and cannot do with them. And hopefully by the end, you will understand if a website builder is right for you company’s needs. Click here to see our list of the best website builders.
Website Builder Pros
Easily one of the most important pros to using a website builder is the ease of setting up most of these products. Almost all of the most popular website builders will allow you to be up and running within minutes, literally. They take a lot of the complexity out of the initial design and setup of a traditional website. Things like logos and images are easily handled through website builders (although you do have less flexibility in this area).
The best website builders out there today are going to come preloaded with a library of templates. Those templates are going to be sufficient for a lot of businesses looking to start a website. Going one step further, the best website builders are going to provide the ability to modify those templates with a drag and drop functionality. That means you do have some limited ability of customize the look of your site. But there are definitely limits, as we discuss below.
All of these templates are going to come with a standard set of pages like a contact us, and about us pages. In other words you don’t need to worry about creating these standard pages, you just need to create the content. For someone with no technical experience, this saves a lot of time.
It shouldn’t be surprising, but for those who don’t look at the stats regularly, you may not realize how much activity is now over mobile devices. Just in the last few years the amount of traffic going to most sites has significantly increased from mobile devices as opposed to desktop devices. That’s why many of the templates that website builders use are already mobile responsive. That eliminates the need for a developer to ensure each page is mobile responsive independently. This can save a great deal of time working between different types of devices to ensure consistency across them.
When you first sign up for a website builder you may think it’s more expensive than something like content management system. That’s because you can download an open source solution like Wordpress.org for free. But in reality your costs are likely to be lower for the website builder because you’re unlikely to need any development assistance. Whereas with a more complicated CMS at some point it’s likely you will need to hire a developer.
All in one package
Another great advantage of the website builder as compared to the content management system is the all in one aspect. This means that you don’t need to find hosting separately from your website building application such as you would with word press for example. For somebody with little technical expertise, this can be a major bonus.
The support that website builders provide can vary greatly by company. The good part about most website builders is this support comes as a part of the overall package. The best companies offer support via email, online chat, and by phone. Not to mention almost all have online forums and help sections where you can search for common questions.
Support can often be easier navigated through website builders because it’s all consolidated with one company. If you choose a CMS instead, you’ll find the need to work with multiple companies for different support issues. That said sometimes those individual companies may have more expertise and slightly better support for that particular piece of your website.
Cons of Website Builders
3rd party app stores
One of the best parts about a great CMS is the access to an enormous number of 3rd party apps. You literally can find an app or plugin to do almost anything these days. Think forms, email marketing, advanced eCommerce needs, etc. That’s not to say that website builders don’t have any additional features available. Companies like Wix actually provide a decent amount of functionality through their App Market. It’s just not anywhere close to some of the best CMS out there. So if you foresee the need to build out your site extensively from the basic template, you may want to look elsewhere.
One of the biggest drawbacks to website builders is the inability to fully customize your site. Many other solutions allow you access to the code so you can make whatever changes you feel necessary. Yes, this may lead to higher costs in the future, but many business owners want that flexibility. However, with the website builder you’re pretty much stuck with the general format they have set out. That said, the best website builders do offer as we stated above the ability to drag and drop different elements to different parts of the page. So, for websites that don’t need an overly complex design, a website builder is just fine.
Free website builders
You might be asking why this is in the cons section since free is normally a good thing. The reason is that some website builders will offer a free version which may be good for testing purposes. But in terms of actually building out a professional website with its own domain name there really is no free option. If you’re using the free option simply see if there is enough functionality for your business needs, that’s ok. But be prepared to upgrade quickly to a paid plan since if you decide to move forward with the product. Free always sounds good, but you get you pay for, and free version just won’t give you a professional looking site.
The bottom line
Website builders are undoubtedly a valuable tool especially to those without a lot of technical experience. They are also great for companies that will never have a heavy online presence, and are communicating simple information.
In terms of complexity, a website builder is much easier and faster to setup than a custom site. It’s also significantly easier than dealing with a CMS. You do sacrifice flexibility and the ability to fully customize your site when using a website builder. If you have a simplistic business that you don’t think we’ll need a lot of online presence in the future beyond providing standard information to customers searching for your business, a website builder may be for you. But if you foresee a greater need to grow your business online You may want to leave more flexibility by opting for a content management system with more robust capabilities.