Are website builders worth it? Is coding your website yourself as hard as it sounds? Who should use website builders? These are all questions people commonly have when they are trying to build a website today. It can be a bit confusing at first, but this guide will help you find the perfect website building platform for you. Keep reading to learn about website builders, CMS platforms, hand coding, and the pros and cons of each for building a website.
Website Builder vs CMS vs Hand Coding
When you are just getting started on your website, you will probably run into a few different site building options: website builders, CMS platforms, and hand coding. Let’s go over what each of these actually is and how it compares to the other site building options. This will make it much easier to determine whether or not website builders are worth it for your site.
Website builders are essentially drag-and-drop site building kits. They have prebuilt themes and building blocks that anyone can customize as they wish. You can build an entire site without ever seeing a line of code. Think of website builders like a LEGO kit complete with an instruction manual – you get everything you need to make a certain product.
A Content Management System, or CMS, is similar to a website builder but with more freedom. WordPress is the most well-known and widely used CMS today. These platforms provide web hosting with some site building tools. However, you also have the option to go in and code the website yourself or customize any prebuilt code on your site. A CMS is like a box of LEGOs with no instructions – you can build whatever you want with the tools provided.
Finally, hand coding or coding a website from scratch is the traditional way to build a website. In the early days of the Internet, coding was a rite of passage to have a website at all. Website builders and CMS platforms allow you to bypass that today. However, coding your website from scratch is definitely still worth considering, especially for business websites.
Are Website Builders Worth It?
Site builders sound really convenient and easy to use compared to CMS platforms and hand coding. Are website builders worth it, though? Sometimes.
The biggest advantages of using a website builder are convenience and speed. You don’t need to have any coding knowledge to use a website builder. Most website builders are full-service platforms where you can also get web hosting and buy your domain. The biggest website builders, like Wix, offer hundreds of different themes you can customize for your site, as well.
This type of setup makes it possible to realistically get a website up and running overnight. If that sounds too good to be true, though, that’s because it does have its disadvantages. One of the biggest disadvantages of a website builder is the lack of customization.
Think back to the LEGO set analogy mentioned above. With a website builder you are essentially using a kit of pieces and directions to make a specific product. You might use different colors or arrange the pieces slightly differently, but the truth is that this kit-style setup is not going to be very unique. There will be hundreds or thousands of other websites with a similar theme and style to yours.
Is Coding Your Own Website Worth It?
Are website builders worth it compared to coding your website from scratch? This can be a tricky decision for many people. Learning to code a website can seem like a daunting task if you don’t have any prior experience in programming. Plus, if you need a website in a hurry, taking the time to learn how to code may seem like a hassle.
However, for many people it is definitely worth it to code your own website. Coding your own website is often less expensive and gives you complete control over your site. You have complete creative freedom to make your website look and operate exactly the way you want it to. Plus, you have control over what’s going on under the hood. You can code your website to have strong security and speedy loading times, improving your visitor experience.
Building a custom website is often the best option for business in particular. If you are building a business website, you want it to have a unique identity that matches your brand. You want it to be set up to run as fast and securely as possible. Building your website from scratch is the best way to get these results.
The main downside of coding your own website is the significant amount of work required. You need to get your own web hosting and purchase your domain name independently. You will also need to know or learn how to code your website, design it, and test it out. If you are creating a site where people are going to be creating accounts or buying things, you also need to create a secure login system and ecommerce features.
Good, Fast, and Cheap: Pick Two
Is coding your own website worth it? Usually this is the right choice for businesses. Are website builders worth it sometimes, too? Yes, there are definitely cases where a website builder is the right choice for creating your site. So, how do you choose?
The decision comes down to the rule of two out of three. Everyone wants something that is good, fast, and cheap, but no product is ever truly all three. Pick the two features you want to prioritize most and that will help clarify the best option for you.
For example, a website builder is fast and cheap but probably won’t result in the best possible website design. Coding your website from scratch will create a good website for a cheap price, but it will take much longer to build and launch. You could even pay a web developer to code a custom website for you. This would result in a good website with a fairly quick turnaround time, but it would come at a high price.
There is always the option of CMS platforms, as well. A CMS is a great option for people who want the benefits of both website builders and hand coding. WordPress is a good example of what a CMS can do. You could get your website started using prebuilt themes that are easy to set up and customize.
Since WordPress and other CMS platforms allow you to access your website’s code, you can also go in and customize your site manually. While you are learning how to code, you can still have your basic website up or customize bits of the code over time. Conveniently, CMS platforms also offer web hosting and domain purchasing services in one place.
Are Website Builders Worth It: Our Conclusion
There are several different ways to build and launch a website today, from complete DIY to prebuilt themes that are ready to go in minutes. Are website builders worth it, though? Ultimately, website builders are a good choice for certain people. If you just need to get a personal or basic website up and running quickly, a website builder could get the job done with little trouble.
However, businesses and those looking for more customization should consider coding their own website. You get significantly more control over your site when you code it yourself. If you are on the fence, CMS platforms like WordPress offer a great middle ground with some helpful features of both hand coding and website builders.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.