Everyone is surely familiar with the open-source version of the well-known blogging CMS. Even if you haven’t used it yourself, you’ve at least heard anything about it. Using WordPress is considered trendy among web developers, who are just starting their careers.
But what about the SaaS platform – a website builder based on this service? Conjunction of WordPress + hosting, a commercial version with the paid plans and the services connected with it – is this a standard website builder or there are certain nuances? Who may be interested in WordPress cloud website builder and why? Let’s test it now to make the conclusion.
1. Ease of Use
Basically, cloud WordPress is a light version of the open-source platform with simpler settings. The text editor used to add notes is simple, understandable and comes with a set of basic options like adding HTML code, contact forms, payment and media files buttons.
WordPress post editor
Interface design with the note-adding option is clear and appealing. Generally, WordPress website builder is a functionally simplified version of a professional CMS tool. It is a bit easier and optimized for newbies, but it still remains an effective blog management tool.
2. Feature Set and Flexibility
The features and options of the commercial SaaS version of WordPress differ a lot depending upon the plan chosen (there are 4 of them here, we’ll discuss them further). This is the major thing you should understand, when you start working with the website builder. The functionality of the service differs by the set of installed plugins, an opportunity to add new ones, support of advanced settings etc.
The main sense of feature differentiation is as follows: the plans come with the distinct WordPress assignment and provide everything you need to realize the required tasks.
However, it should be mentioned that the initial open-source version grants all the features at once, without the need to set up and sort out the plugins. You are not restricted by anything, but you won’t be given any hints as well. The WordPress website builder, on the contrary, will provide you with all the resources needed for proper realization of your task. You’ll be offered visual tips explaining the major nuances and steps. This is the main difference.
The dashboard is also somewhat simplified. It is more user-friendly, although, the main features of the original system are recognizable here. The interface is smooth and comes with more appealing buttons, pop-up tips, detailed instructions on how to use the sections. Thus, it’s impossible to tell that the developers have just put the open-source WordPress to hosting and subdivided all the features into plans. Optimization, work with interface and settings structure are apparent.
The links for quick addition of new posts, access to versatile notifications and personal profile are available in the upper right corner. By the way, you can change the website password, notification parameters in profile settings and download an application for Windows, Android or iOS. Yes, you’ll be able to edit your blog directly from your mobile phone.
There is also something you should know about the order of post publication:
- You can specify the date and time of scheduled posts, which is useful, when it comes to content upload planning, while you are on a vacation, for example.
- When creating an article, you can select a category, tags, format, add an icon, allow or forbid the comments as well as track the links to your article on other resources, display the location during the publication etc.
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The commercial WordPress variant comes with 288 high-end templates. 76 of them are available on a free plan, the rest can be bought separately (from $36 and up to $79 per a theme) or by unblocking a premium plan with a payment.
There is no sense in buying the templates separately as their cost can be compared to that of the annual plan, which grants much more privileges than a mere access to the extended assortment of themes.You can filter out the templates by their paid or free feature. There is also an opportunity to filter them by structure, style, theme and other parameters. Each template has its own page with a detailed description of its options (available widgets, menu types, settings, specifications, instructions, special features etc.) and screenshots of the selected theme with demo content.
You can activate any free template and proceed to its settings, the number of which is impressive. This option is called “Theme Configurator” here. The list of available options may vary with regard to the activated design.
Generally, default design customization options are average in WordPress. You can work with widgets pretty good. The rest are the basic things you cannot go without. You won’t be able to avoid using the basic template design, so, you should choose the suitable theme right from the start. New template customization settings (ready made color schemes, CSS editing access) and full access to the entire collection of premium templates are provided on a Premium plan.
4. WordPress SEO
Free version of the platform focuses on integration with social networks by means of using a popular Jetpack plugin. This means that you will be able to duplicate blog notes in other media sources automatically.
You can connect Google statistics collection, although, the integrated WordPress tools are decent, understandable and simple for newbies as well.
Generally, the advanced search engine optimization features are provided by the plugins, installation of which requires the paid version of the system. If you wish to get full control over the promotion process, you’ll have to upgrade to the Business plan.
5. Pricing Policy
We have finally approached the most interesting part of the review, in which we will display the differentiation of the stock open source WordPress, analyzing the plans of its commercial version. It’s worth mentioning that you’ll have to pay the annual cost of any plan at once. Payments and credit cards are accepted via PayPal. So, there are 3 paid plans here:
- Personal ($48/year), which offers 6GB of disk space, individual domain connection, email and live chat support, removal of WordPress ad in the footer.
- Premium ($96/year) that provides 13GB of disk space, the features implied by the Personal Plan plus full access to premium templates, extra design customization tools, extended post management in social networks, website monetization tools, VideoPress support, PayPal button for payment collection.
- Business ($300/year), which grants the unlimited disk space, individual tech support by the manager, SEO tools, an opportunity to install any plugins, upload of personal themes, Google Analytics integration.
The features implied by the paid plans make it possible to understand that the users of a Free version and those of two cheaper plans are devoid of notable benefits. Activation of standard SEO settings on a Business plan only is impressive. A notable difference in the cost of the latter two paid plans also triggers many questions. The developers of the system, probably, imply that a user will start uploading terabytes of video content to the hosting right from the start. In this case, this will be a reasonable investment.
On the other hand, the ideal blogging platform with decent optimization and tech support can cost $300/year. You’ll be even offered a personal manager. Yes, the open source WordPress will cost you less (hosting+domain+template), but no one will guarantee you anything there. When it comes to the website builder, though, everything is clear, convenient and well-structured. Is WordPress worth the money in this case? Yes, definitely.
6. Pros and Cons
The major WordPress advantage is the convenience of publishing new posts. This is the perfect tool to demonstrate your thoughts, ideas and views of the vast audience. You can start writing a post, publish it anywhere you are even from your mobile phone and it will be immediately displayed in your social account feeds.
Mass posting with no restrictions available to everyone is what most users like WordPress for. If you need detailed website builder advantages, here they go:
- Impressive interface understandable to everyone;
- Convenient and quite detailed statistics presentation;
- Flexible management of posts, comments and synchronization with social networks;
- Access to the broad range of plugins for millions of templates (this is available for $300 only, but that’s another question);
- Nice template quality, which especially concerns premium themes;
- Conveniently-structured template customization settings;
- Availability of mobile apps for website management;
- Lots of manuals, tips, quick tech support.
Right after you connect and set up WordPress plugins, you can avail dozens of benefits, but we intentionally don’t focus on this option. It’s better to use the service for blog creation.
This is exactly what it was created for and this is an ideal option. It doesn’t work well for the development of other website types, although, you can build everything here, if you have such a desire – a forum, an online store, a portal etc.
The thing is that only the specialists of the open source WordPress version can deal with this task. It is unavailable for a website builder. This variation works well for blog management organized by newbies. The disadvantages of the SaaS WordPress version are as follows:
- Some of the major options are available on the most expensive plan only;
- There could be more templates as the original platform offers several thousands of them;
- The stock text editor is poor, while installing TinyMCE in a simple way is impossible;
- There are no fields for meta tags for default notes and web pages.
The general essence of disadvantages is that you have to upgrade to the Business plan to compensate them. If you are not going to do that, you may be disappointed with WordPress. A list of alternatives will come in handy in such cases. There are no many platforms that allow working with a blog effectively. The most obvious and correct variant is Wix. It is affordable and does not lag behind WordPress in terms of functionality, if not even exceeds it (SEO, work with user groups, website design settings). Other systems with visual editors are less suitable for convenient blog realization. So, there is no sense to recommend any of them.
Newbies are frequently scared by the necessity to install classic open source WordPress and set up hosting for it. They have read multiple complimentary articles in favor of this system and would like to try using it, but they are simply afraid of the challenges they might encounter. They are not sure whether they will be able to cope with all those FTP, php MyAdmin, DNS, configuration files and other suchlike things.
WordPress.com is the best choice for this very target audience. This is the same decent platform, which is based on the SaaS model that simplifies cooperation with it. You can just access the system and start using it. There are no installations, preliminary settings – there is nothing like that here. The options, however, remain the same – the system allows creating quality blogs. You can launch personal blogs or those for further monetization – the options are unlimited.
Even a basic plan is enough to design a pretty decent blog. This will be more than enough for a great start. You’ll be able to upgrade, get the plugins and other benefits later. You shouldn’t also forget about a rich set of widgets. You can eventually start writing even on a free plan, this won’t change anything. If you wish more – just upgrade and keep working with extra benefits.
It should be mentioned that experienced web developers don’t need this type of website builder. Yes, they will get some time privilege from the quick start, but it won’t be notable at all – just 15-20 minutes, not more. Thus, the system that is under review works well for newbies, who wish to join the blogging environment with WordPress in a quick and comfortable way.