The Global Web has grown into a huge digital environment with over 200 million websites operating online. Regular users like you launched the majority of those sites without in-depth coding or programming knowledge. For many years, the process has been the matter of endless trials and errors, experiments, failures until website builders made their revolutionary debut on the digital arena.
New website building tools made the tables turned especially for newbies. They appeared to be a simple instrument to come up with a ready-to-use site and go online effortlessly. While traditional website building tactics required some technical background and at least minimum web designing experience not mentioning other essential issues like managing hosting, registering a domain, etc. website builders deliver an all-in-one solution out of the box. In other words, you do not have to care about any technical issues, security or updates but focus on the content, promotion, and marketing.
Of course, website builders cannot be considered as an ultimate solution to create and promote sites. However, they certainly put an ease on then process letting you focus on the key objectives while technical issues are handled by the platform. Despite the level of efficiency and productivity, some users still look for a chance to create a site without a website builder. In this guide, we will describe all steps as well as stumbling blocks on the way to deployment.
Why You May Need to Make a Website Without a Website Builder
Despite all perks delivered by website builders, some users avoid them in order to benefit from some crucial issues they think would work out. However, their rush for advantages appears to be nothing but an obstacle racing. When people choose CMS platforms and open source tools instead of website builders, they usually crave for:
- Independence. The ability to switch between platforms, change website specification, move to cheaper hosting, etc. Of course, being stick to a single software might look like a trap. On the other hand, if the trap has everything you need to build, run, and market your site, is there really a need to change it? Website builders may look a hit restricted in terms of templates or migration capabilities, but if you build a long-lasting site, those will be of no use.
- Backend control. Certainly, this factor is of great importance letting users create a truly unique site. They can access systems HTML/CSS as well as implement their PHP knowledge to bring any web design idea to life. But is there really the need to uptake all those skills and knowledge while website builders come up with ready-made templates that are easy to customize? Moreover, each and every change may influence the way your website will run on mobile devices while ready-to-use layouts are optimized for mobile users no matter what type of device they use. Of course, website builders do no deliver as much creative freedom as you may need. On the other hand, that freedom requires deep technical knowledge that most users lack.
- Enhanced flexibility. Thousands of free and paid plugins, add-ons and app ensure unlimited customization capabilities. You are free to use any widget you need. However, you are the only person responsible for their operation, compatibility or updates.
- Affordability. Some users still think using a website builder is more expensive. Well, you should consider hosting costs, domain registration, paid themes and plugins. Any of those can make your project cost much more if compared to sites created with the help of website building software.
The main problem about making a site without website builders is the fact you need to handle each and every step from setting up a website to plugin updates. In this case, we should not underestimate the value delivered by all-in-one convenience in the face of website builders. If this does not sound persuasive. Let’s have a look at steps you need to complete when building a website totally on your own without the help of website builders.
Getting Started Without a Website Builder
Choosing between website builders and traditional CMS platforms mostly relies on user’s skills, budget, and goals. Almost half of all sites is created without website builders at least for now. But before you dive deep in the world of HTTP files, website settings, domain registers, and hosting providers, we would like to clarify some fundamental issues.
If you create a site without website builder, you are responsible for creation and organization for its digital content, security, and operation. It is not an all-in-one solution like most website builders. In other words, you will handle domain registration and hosting separately unless you decide to buy a package that includes both hosting and domain name. The process is actually not as hard as you might think. On the other hand, it requires some time making you feel a bit uncomfortable with separate technologies you need to switch between from time to time.
As for the steps, you will need to do the following.
Step #1 – Pick a Platform
Live websites operating by:
• WordPress – 27,165,799 websites;
• Wix – 3,383,125 websites;
• Joomla – 2,245,565 websites;
• Shopify – 1,259,029 websites.
Data provided by BuiltWith.
Deciding on the platform is a stage that will define the success of the project. It depends on your website goals and objectives. Is it going to be an online shop, a blog or a small business website? Although CMS platforms are much of independence as well as unlimited customization capabilities, they also serve various purposes.
Some are focused on simple websites while changes and modifications require good programming skills to turn a simple template into a digital store. Most systems offer a blank web designing environment where you have to do some coding in order to get a finished website that meets your initial requirements.
Compared to website builders: all website builders can be divided into several categories depending on your goals. Some platforms are designed to make small business websites and portfolios, others are good for creating eCommerce projects or landing pages. Users only have to choose the one that fits them and start editing.
Step #2 – Register a Domain Name
Another crucial stage that serves various purposes:
- Users’ Awareness – a domain name is the project representation and the first thing that can make a good impression. The idea is to make it as memorable and unique as possible.
- SEO Affect – a domain name is a website URL main. Just like other URL types, it might have a great SE impact. The idea is to use focus keywords in the URL name to make the site more SEO friendly and relevant.
- Build a Brand – a domain name helps you build a brand from the start and stand out from thousands of competitors. A sharp and exclusive domain will certainly increase your website recognition.
There are several ways to pick and register a domain name. As a rule, you will need to handle the process separately using special services that let you chose form brandable or generic names provided by domain generators. The best bet is to opt for brandable domains or so-called TLDs (Top Level Domains).
Most Popular Top-Level Domain Zones
Data provided by Statista.
First of all, you need to pick an extension depending on the website type. Digital content or location. Then you need to check its availability and finally purchase it with further annual renewal.
Compared to website builders: as we have mentioned before, website builders come as an all-in-one solution. It means free domains are already included in the package price. You can link your website with your own unique domain or use a custom name provided by the platform. Please, note that the second variant is not for long-lasting projects.
Step #3 – Select Hosting
World web hosting usage:
• GoGaddy – 29,275,259 websites;
• 1and1 IONOS – 7,908,743 websites;
• Bluehost – 2,060,268 websites;
• SiteGround – 1,950,133 websites.
Data provided by BuiltWith.
So, you already have a platform and a domain name registered. Now you need to think of a place where to host your website with all its files. Choosing a hosting is the same as choosing a fridge. You want all your products stored safely in proper condition with fast and simple access whenever you need.
Once again, the choice will totally rely on you. Users will have to decide on the hosting type. Whether it is going to be a shared, dedicated or cloud hosting. How much bandwidth or storage do you need? Does hosting have good performance and security features? Is it flexible enough to handle seamless integrations? How much does it cost? Those are the question you need to answer on your own.
Good performance, uptime rates, page load speed, security means, customers support are vital issues you need to keep an eye on. Moreover, most platforms are pretty difficult to use. You will need some time to figure out how it works not mentioning website settings. Good hosting is not as cheap as most people think. The price may range from $1 to $20 depending on the platform and features it delivers.
Compare to website builders: once again, website builders come as a ready-to-use web solution with no need to care about hosting, performance or security. Simply pick a plan and website hosted with all necessary anti-spam and DDoS protection means in one place. Moreover, some website builders are even cheaper than a single hosting solution not including the domain and template prices.
Step #4 – Find a Theme
This is where some website builders look a bit more restricted if compared to CMS platforms. If you decide to make a website without website builders, you will get access to an endless selection of themes for all types. They include free and paid layouts divided into categories. You are free to choose a future digital store. Online magazine, portfolio, etc.
While free themes look almost the same with some slight differences, millions of users are already using them. In other words, making a truly unique website might be a hassle especially if you do not have enough technical background. Paid templates might be a good solution to the problem. They look more stylish and professional. However, they require extra cash. The price may vary from $20 to $500. This fact does not make the process as cost-effective as some may think from the start.
Make sure the theme is mobile-friendly. Do not rush to pick the first one. As a rule, some layouts are available in the preview mode. Have a look at how your future site will look like on various mobile devices with different screen dimensions.
Once you have chosen a theme, you will not be able to instantly edit and customize it. Users need to download it and then transfer theme files to their hosting. The editor will be available in the control room or dashboard with all necessary website settings and instruments. There you can change themes any time as well as use layouts offered by default. Log in and start making a website.
Compared to website builders: website builders offer ready-made template with all necessary sections. You do not have to download files or transfer them to your hosting. Choose a template you like and start editing it right at once. No daunting dashboards or control panels. Inline editing means you see all the on-page changes at once. Most platforms are based on drag-and-drop functionality while template prices are already included in the plan.
Step #5 – Build Content and Pages
This is where you will need to pick up some skills and understand the difference between static and dynamic pages. In other words, each of your website sections, blog posts or articles is a static page. Every time you want to create a new one, you will need a separate page. And every time the editing process will be repeated.
reTraditional CMS platforms are pretty complicated. It is not just your copy and paste text and go online. While creating new posts might be easy, the situation with other sections is different. Sometimes you will have to keep an eye on the appearance, add media content or other page elements including shortcodes, scripts, work with headers and footers, create menus, tags, categories, etc. All those processes you will need to handle manually.
Compared to website builders: creating new pages and editing existing ones with website builders is very easy. You already have a ready-made template. All you need is to change the location of the blocks, remove the ones you do not need or add sections. Then you simply paste in texts, drag-and-drop media files and here you are! Your page is ready.
Step #6 – Customize Your Website with Plugins
Your website is supposed to be functional enough. Otherwise, visitors would leave it for a more user-friendly alternative. Apart from functionality, different plugins and add-ons let you achieve prior goals like user acquisition, growing subscribers list, analytics, and more. They might work well whenever you need to bring your project to a new level.
The plugin is bits of software that help you build more vibrant and up-to-date pages. As a rule, plugin installation is very easy. However, you will still need to handle it on your own. You will have access to a huge marketplace and find the one you need. Some are free while some are paid. You will obviously need the following at least to get started:
- Social Media Buttons – to let users share content and have maximum exposure from the content.
- Analytics – plugins are designed to let you track users, traffic channels, audience location, etc.
- Media Files – use plugins to create stunning galleries or sliders. Attach videos from major streaming platforms for more users’ engagement.
- Security – anti-spam systems, DDoS protections, special tools to prevent scamming and frauds.
- SEO – special plugins to let you set up your website SEO and make the content more friendly to search engine bots.
You will be able to manage all your plugins from the dashboard. At the same time, you are the only one responsible for their operation and prompt updates. Some plugins may contain virus code or malware. So, you’d better opt for trusted developers and products.
Compared to website builders: although website builders cannot boast such a huge variety of plugins, some have their custom app markets and stores with enough add-ons and widgets to customize your pages. There you may find everything from simple calendars and event managers to more complicated contact and pop-up widgets. Moreover, most website builders offers simple integration with analytic and eCommerce third-party services.
Step #5 – Go Online
The stage is set the green flag drops. Now you have your website ready to publish. Simply press the “publish” button and overview your site online making it available to users. You might think this is actually it. However, a website requires constant support and maintenance.
Those who decide to avoid using website builders are literally left on their own. If a plugin works with errors, there will be no one to help you. If the theme works badly on tablets., there is no one to help you. CMS platforms do not have customer support. Prepare to browse tons of pages and forums in search of users with the same problem. Maintenance and support are all your responsibilities, as well as website operation.
Compared to website builders: website builders offer several ways to resolve different issues. The platform takes the sole responsibility for maintenance, support, and proper website operation. On the other hand, while being an all-in-one solution, if something goes down, the website goes down entirely.
The Bottom Line
Making a site without a website builder is a long and complicated path to the final deployment. You will have to prepare for challenges and obstacles on the way to going online from finding a proper hosting and theme to website editing and customizing. Users will have to handle each step on their own without professional assistance. For this reason, the task might be risky unless you have enough technical background. Even in the case of great coding and web designing skills, the process will turn into numerous trials and efforts.
Website builders were designed to make the building process easier. This is the goal they serve while providing an all-in-one solution for both rookies and experienced website owners. Although they do not reserve as much space for customization and web independence, they come as a simple but powerful digital environment with literally every feature you might need despite the website type and goals.