What to consider before buying a website builder

Imagine you are building a website using a content management system such as WordPress and you come across an advert offering an easy to use a drop and drag website builder and you are tossing up if it is worthwhile to switch to a website builder service like Jido or SquareSpace. There are some benefits to using a WYSIWYG website tool to create your website.

  • Requires little or no knowledge of HTML or CSS to create
  • Allows you to create a website in a short space of time
  • You typically have access to pre-loaded templates that offer detailed website layouts that you can easily implement and use.
  • Using a website builder tool gives you an accurate representation of what your website is going to look like.
  • Website builders usually have stability with elements you add to your site that scale for mobile sites.
  • Some website builders have plugin extensions that allow you to add your own e-commerce functionality and contact forms etc.
  • Service providers that provide website builders typically offer some kind of customer service support for their users.

Overall using a website builder can help you get started with a basic website that you can get up and running in a day or two. We recommend website builders to people who are wanting to build a website on a tight budget.

The disadvantages of using a website builder

Website builders are useful however they do have their limitations and you never really own your website. You pay a monthly or yearly fee for your website and your website is held to ransom virtually because you don’t have the ability to take your website elsewhere.

There are a few issues with website builders.

  • Premium cost to have your website
  • You never own your website and you need to pay monthly or yearly fees to retain your website to be accessible.
  • You can’t export your website to another platform or host it elsewhere.
  • If you want to implement your own features to the site you are heavily restricted by what the service provider provides lets you have access to.

So should you use a website builder?

If you are running a simple business and only need a few pages of information then you could find that using a website builder service be very beneficial especially if your business is just starting out. However keep in mind that you will have problems down the track if you plan to implement advanced features like an online store, booking system or implementing your own payment method using your chosen provider. We recommend researching and comparing each website builder service and shop around to get the best deal. All website builders are typically made to be easy to use so in terms of ease of use all website builders are the same.

Where website builders start to become unique is what they offer in addition to the visual website builder such as:

  • Check how many pre-loaded templates they have for you to select from.
  • Do they have their own API that allows you to implement your own features more easily?
  • Do they have integrations accessible via Zapier that allows you to export or import user data to and from your website builder backend?
  • If they allow exporting and importing of user data so you can take your data elsewhere.
  • Most website builders have restrictions on how many pages you can have on your site.

Alternatives to using website builders

You can alternatively have a website built by a web design agency and have the proper search engine optimisation work done. A website built by someone who specialises in web design would be the ideal scenario and the website would be looked after and maintained uniquely for the specific needs of the website but we understand websites can be expensive.

But there is a middle ground solution we recommend over any visual website builder and that is by using a content management system like WordPress.

Benefits of using WordPress over a standard website builder application

  • WordPress is a powerful CMS that allows you to install themes (templates) and plugins and install them to your site.
  • WordPress is free to download WordPress powers over 30% of all websites on the internet
  • The WordPress community is huge and most problems are documented or you are able to find help on Google.
  • Most web hosting providers like WebJex have a one-click WordPress installer that allows you to bypass the fiddley database settings. cPanel typically offers this feature out of the box in the standard cPanel installation and if they don’t have the installer cPanel makes it easy to install WordPress.
  • Many of the WordPress themes and plugins are free to install
  • WordPress themes and plugins have their own “App store” styled menu that makes it easy to sort apps based on ratings and reviews and install them in one-click.
  • WordPress is a universal CMS that is used in multiple languages so even if English is not your primary language you will be able to find support in your own language.
  • WordPress is open source. This means that you can edit the code and have full rights to editing your website files providing that you don’t breach their trademark and user service agreement.

In closing we recommend WordPress CMS for building most websites and we do want to stress that WordPress does only power 30% of websites on the internet. This means that WordPress isn’t a fit for everyone and some websites with complex integrations may be better off being coded from scratch.

But generally speaking, it is technically possible to alter WordPress and create your own custom variant of WordPress that can handle a high level of custom coding. But editing the WordPress codebase risks you having to manually add WordPress patch updates manually which may create more problems than solve them.

We hope our article on ‘What to consider before buying a website builder’ has given you some insight into the pros and cons of using a website builder platform and our recommendation to use WordPress.

WebJex Blog

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