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 – 28,183,568 websites;
• Wix – 4,565,423 websites;
• Joomla – 4,177,493 websites;
• Shopify – 1,537,580 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.
To find out what exactly website builders and CMS can offer you, it makes sense to review some of them now.
WordPress – The Best CMS
WordPress – is the world-popular Content Management System (CMS), which makes it possible to start all types of simple and complex websites. The open-source software is flexible and feature-laden enough to launch and manage personal and business web projects. It takes some time to get used to the platform and to master it, although, the service does not imply deep coding knowledge.
The main WordPress features encompass:
- Powerful Integrations. The system allows integrating third-party plugins (free and paid) to boost website performance.
- Versatile Themes. There are multiple templates designed for WordPress available on the web.
- Blogging Engine. The platform lets you start powerful blogs for more effective user attraction.
The CMS is absolutely free for download and installation. To get access to advanced features, you’ll need to invest into plugins/themes integration as well as into hosting/domain name. The most affordable and feature-rich hosting provider is Bluehost – the one officially recommended by the CMS. The cheapest fee it charges for its services constitutes $2.95/mo.
Wix – The Best SaaS Website Builder
Wix – is the most popular cloud website builder in the modern web design niche, which is used for the development and customization of full-featured websites to cover various needs of users. The system stands out from the crowd due to its simplicity, convenience, intuitive web design approach, flexibility and affordability. No coding expertise is required to launch projects with it, which makes the service a great pick for beginners and web design experts.
The major Wix highlights encompass:
- Editing Options. The system offers an advanced Wix ADI tool and Standard Editor to different user categories.
- Rich Template Gallery. The platform encompasses over 550 mobile-ready, free and customizable themes divided into niche categories.
- App Market. There are dozens of widgets you can pick and integrate into your website here to boost its performance.
Wix offers a generous pricing policy to adhere to various needs/budgets of users. There is a free plan that lasts for the unlimited time interval and two types of paid subscriptions for Standard and Business/eCommerce application. The cost of premium plans starts from $13/mo, which is more than affordable for any user.
Joomla – World Known Open-Source CMS
Joomla – is quite a popular Content Management System, which has a rich user community around the globe. To be precise, it ranks second after WordPress in terms of flexibility and popularity. The platform requires preliminary download and installation, being a worthy solution for the development of professional personal and business projects. As a CMS, it is not quite easy to master for non-techies because of the necessity of code editing.
The most outstanding Joomla pros include:
- Multi-Purpose Application. The system can be used to start different types of web projects based on user requirements.
- Integrations. The CMS is known for its impressive plugin/template integration options available online and offline.
- Advanced Functionality. The system comes with a set of built-in designs, widgets and applications used to boost project performance.
Joomla is a free open-source software that targets both newbies and web design pros. The use of the platform implies plugin and template integration as well as hosting/domain choice. This requires extra financial expenses.
Shopify – The Best eCommerce Software
Shopify – is the world-popular eCommerce software, which is currently the best in its niche. The system is used to start and manage feature-rich online stores – from small and up to large ones. It delivers outstanding eCommerce functionality required to customize and promote your digital shop. Along with extensive collection of niche templates, one can set up shopping cart, web store management, SEO and marketing parameters here.
Other distinctive Shopify features are:
- POS Software. The platform comes with high end Point-Of-Sale software that allows selling products in online and offline storefronts.
- High End Integrations. The system lets you pick and add widgets/add-ons from its App Market for improved web store performance.
- Synchronization Feature. Shopify lets you synchronize your Shopify account with those created with global marketplaces and accounting software.
Shopify has a free 14-day trial used to test the entire integrated functionality of the platform. To launch a full-featured web store and to go live with it, you will have to upgrade to one of the premium subscriptions. Their cost starts from $9/mo.
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.
Step #3 – Select Hosting
World web hosting usage:
Bluehost – 2,194,971 websites;
HostPapa – 131,867 websites;
HostGator – 770,756 websites;
SiteGround – 147, 741 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.
To pick the hosting provider that corresponds to your needs and requirements most, it could be useful for you to find out more about the most functional systems now.
Bluehost – The Most Popular Web Hosting
Bluehost – is a renowned hosting provider, which has gained extensive popularity with users due to its reliability, flexibility, reasonable entry cost, high end add-ons and applications as well as advanced integrated functionality. The company is officially recommended for hosting WordPress websites, which also gives privileges to the users of other Content Management Systems.
The main Bluehost features currently include:
- eCommerce Features. The system allows starting a professional digital store, which abounds in niche-specific tools and features.
- Extensive Marketplace. The platform grants access to dozens of apps, scripts and add-ons available in its integrated Marketplace.
- Free WP Website Migration. Users, who already have WP-powered websites, can seamlessly transfer them to Bluehot with zero fees.
Bluehost doesn’t have any free plans or trials. Instead, it offers several types of subscriptions for shared, dedicated and VPS hosting options. The cheapest plan costs $2.95/mo only. When subscribing to any paid plan, you will get a free domain name for 1 year as a bonus. The 30-day money back guarantee lets you get a budget refund, if required.
HostPapa – Popular American Hosting Company
HostPapa – is a top hosting located in North America, which offers a broad range of nche-related advantages. The system comes with multiple services and features required for successful hosting setup, website building, domain registration and project marketing. As a full-cycle company, HostPapa makes it possible to start, maintain, manage and promote your business from scratch. It is possible to choose from several server solutions that come with high end performance, WP website hosting, advanced security measures, integrated eCommerce tools.
The most remarkable HostPapa features are listed below:
- Custom Website Builder. The system comes with a website builder to let its users start and host full-featured web projects.
- High Uptime Rates. The average utime rate the company ensures for their clients reaches 99.9%, which is a splendid parameter.
- Hosting of Two Websites. HostPapa allows hosting two websites at once with a single starter offer.
HostPapa doesn’t have a free plan or trial to test the integrated functionality. There are also several subscriptions here to choose from depending upon the range of services included. The cheapest plan costs $3.95 and includes two websites and unlimited bandwidth. Each user additionally gets a free domain with every plan selected. There is a 30-day refund policy that lets you get your money back in case you are not satisfied with the terms/services included.
HostGator – Cloud-Based Hosting + Website Builder
HostGator – is a well-known cloud-based hosting provider that differs a lot from its shared server competitors in terms of integrated functionality, flexibility and website safety. Due to the use of several servers within one ecosystem, the system ensures smooth website performance without overloaded servers and traffic leaps. The platform stands out from the crowd due to its excellent performance, unchanged speed and high uptime rates.
Other advantages of HostGator include:
- Website Builder. Integrated Gator Website Builder allows starting and customizing web projects with no special skills and tech expertise required.
- WP Hosting. The system is well-optimized for hosting optimized WordPress websites, ensuring seamless CMS integration and free website migration.
- High End Security Guarantee. The platform comes with integrated security tools, which include CodeGuard, G Suite, Domain Privacy Tool and SiteLock.
HostGator offers several pricing options depending upon hosting type and services provided. The most affordable cloud-based hosting subscription costs $2.75/mo. All the plans encompass fee 1-year domain and SSL Certificate connection. 30-day money back refund is available here as well.
SiteGround – One of the Fastest Hosting Providers
SiteGround – is a trusted hosting provider, which allows hosting different types of web projects, irrespective of their integrated functionality, feature set, niche specialization and flexibility. The service comes with a broad range features that make it stand out from the crowd. These include strong uptime rate (up to 99.99%), above-average load speed, multiple tools and other features geared towards needs and requirements of newbies and professional users.
Some other impressive SiteGround highlights are as follows:
- Website Builder. With SiteGround, you can start and customize a personal/business web project using the advantages of its built-in website builder.
- Multiple Applications. The hosting provider supports over 500 apps that contribute to smooth and enhanced performance of all hosted websites.
- Free WP Website Migration. The system offers a free WP migration plugin that allows transferring a website without any fees at all.
SiteGround currently offers three pricing options, the cost of which starts from $5.99/mo. There is also an opportunity to connect a free SSL Certificate and CDN here yet there is no free domain connection feature here. The hosting provider also offers a full 30-day money-back guarantee on all the shared hosting plans.
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.
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.
Traditional 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.
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.
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.
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.