Reasons to start a website may be numerous. Whatever type of project you intend to set up, you will initially face the same challenge: the choice of the best platform to get started with ease. The modern web design niche offers two major types of systems you can use for website development. These are CMS and website builders.
The platforms differ a lot, when it comes to their implication, integrated functionality, pricing policy, target audience and level of expertise required. Thus, it is crucial to review and compare them in details to see what they have to offer and what option will work best for your web development needs. To simplify the task, we will compare WordPress (as the leading Content Management System) with standard website builders to cover the major distinctions of both types of systems.
The right choice of the web design tool does not seem complicated at first sight as WordPress is mainly used to set up complex and feature-laden projects. As you get closer to the task, you realize that some website builders come with professional features meant for web design pros.
At the same time, there are systems, which offer intuitive web design approach and simple tools geared towards the needs of beginners. To decide which service works best for your individual project creation requirements, take your time to read the comparison.
WordPress vs Website Builders: General Overview
WordPress is a world-popular Content Management System, which is used for myriads of web design projects – both personal and business. It is known for its powerful design customization tools and numerous integrations to add to your website performance. The use of the platform does not require obligatory coding expertise yet it is desirable to have at least baseline programming proficiency to launch professional projects with the system. With WordPress, you will be able to design quality web projects, customize their design, integrate media files and external plugins, upload and manage content etc.
The CMS was launched in 2003 as a solely blogging system yet it quickly developed into a large-scale multi-faceted platform to set up business websites, landing pages, portfolios and even huge eCommerce projects. According to recent statistics, WordPress now powers over 30,462,105 websites. This is an impressive number, which speaks for itself.
Website builders are easier alternatives to WordPress, which can also be used to launch all kinds of personal and business web projects. Users may choose from all-in-one and specialized systems, which cater to diverse requirements and web design objectives. The most popular all-in-one website builder is currently Wix, which powers over 7,043,216 web projects, while the best sample of a specialized software is Shopify that is used for eCommerce website creation.
Website builders differ in their application, expertise rate, cost and integrated functionality. There are systems, which target non-techies and there are also quality options for web design pros. However, the majority of these services offer a simplified approach to the web creation process with no coding skills required. They frequently come with drag-and-drop functionality, blogging/eCommerce engines and a set of customizable templates that refer to various niches. They are also available in free and paid plans, letting each subscriber pick the solution to fit his/her budget.
Both WordPress and website builders are used for the same purpose – creation of web projects. However, the systems offer a diverse approach to the web development process and they also target diverse user audience types. As a CMS, WordPress works best for complex large-scale projects, DIY website builders can be chosen to start simple and feature-rich sites. The systems also differ in pricing policy, tech nuances, template choice and special features available in stock.
WordPress vs Website Builders: Ease of Use Aspect
WordPress is the open-source CMS, which doesn’t look complicated at first sight. Letting you set up and customize quality web projects for commercial and non-commercial use, the platform grants access to myriads of integrations and design editing tools. They are available both in stock and on the web, which notably extends user choice.
To start working with CMS, you initially need to download and install it. Right after that, you may proceed to the sign up process and exploration of the control panel, which is not that simple. You will come across multiple sections, elements and tools that can be picked for the completion of certain tasks. This abundance of features may seem somewhat overwhelming for first-timers. It definitely takes time to explore and master them.
The CMS implies a professional approach and knowledge of programming basics to develop large-scale web projects. Users have to deal with powerful plugin integrations to give their websites advanced functionality as well as with the selection of templates suitable for the niche they work in. Additionally, you need to handle hosting nuances to go live with your project and to make it accessible on the web. This definitely requires awareness of the system nuances and baseline web design proficiency.
As an open-source CMS, WordPress does not have official customer support. Instead, it boasts an extensive and powerful user community, which will help you figure out the required issues. The community involves multiple forums, manuals, video guides, YouTube tutorials, FAQs and other sources of WordPress-related info needed to get started with your project.
Website builders provide all the required features out-of-the-box. The range of tools and special features depends upon the system specialization and complexity. If you work with a specialized eCommerce software like Shopify, for example, you will get access to multiple tools required to set up, customize and promote a web store. In case you pick a standard all-in-one system, you will be offered a feature set to launch any web project you need.
To get started with your website, you will have to register, pick a template from the collection available in stock and proceed to its customization. There is no need to bother about hosting and domain choice as most website builders include these features into their subscriptions by default. Likewise, the process of design customization does not require programming proficiency as it is intuitive and hassle-free for everyone. This is quite convenient for beginners. All in all, the process of starting a website with a site builder is faster and simpler as compared to that with WordPress.
Speaking about customer support, website builders mostly include versatile options. These are live chats, FAQs, blogs, tutorials, video guides, educational lessons etc. These options may be free or included into premium plans, which depends on the service you will go for.
To sum it up, it takes more time and effort to start a project with WordPress, which is explained by the system complexity and degree of coding awareness required. At the same time, the chances to launch a large-scale powerful project with the CMS are higher as well. Website builders are generally simpler and more convenient to use for all categories of web designers yet some platforms may lack functionality to let you create a feature-laden project.
WordPress vs Website Builders: Ease of Use Aspect
WordPress and website builders can equally be used to launch various types of web projects for commercial and non-commercial use. The thing is that the systems use different approaches to the process of website development, customization and their further promotion. As a CMS, WordPress implies more time/skill investment, while website builders unveils more opportunities for DIY project creation. This triggers the indeed to compare the design and flexibility aspects both types of systems offer to make the unbiased decision.
Blogging and eCommerce
WordPress has much to offer in terms of blog and web store development. As mentioned above, the CMS was created with a blogging focus in mind, which means that it comes with a powerful integrated toolset geared towards blog creation. There is no need to pick and integrate any third-party extensions to set up a quality project here – all the features as well as blog templates are available in stock.
The eCommerce feature is realized via plugin integration here. Users may choose from multiple eCommerce extensions (free and paid) available both in the system plugin collection as well as on the web. The most feature-rich and powerful eCommerce plugin, though, is WooCommerce. This is the open-source shopping cart extension, which allows setting up, customizing and promoting large-scale web stores. What you need is to integrate the plugin into your WP website and then proceed to settings configurations. By setting up product/catalogue parameters, geolocation tags, product/inventory management options, shipping/tax settings and other project nuances, you will be able to get started with your digital store. By the way, the range of eCommerce templates is quite extensive here as well to cover a prevailing amount of users’ needs.
Website builders generally come with built-in blogging and eCommerce engines. You can also select and use specialized systems like Shopify, BigCommerce or Portfoliobox, for instance, to launch a niche project like an online store, portfolio etc. Along with blogging and eCommerce tools, website builders frequently offer quality customizable templates that belong to various categories based on users’ web design objectives and types of projects they work on. The choice of tools and features you will avail mainly depends on the system you will go for. So, take your time to analyze your requirements and aspirations to make the best choice.
Thus, blog and web store creation are possible, irrespective of the system you use. The only difference is that WordPress requires more time and niche knowledge to get started with your projects, while website builders are simpler and more convenient for everyone.
Third-Party Apps and Extensions
WordPress abounds in integrations, which make it possible to bring your project performance to the brand new level with regard to the goals you set. The CMS has a large choice of plugins in stock yet hundreds of them are available on the web. You can pick from versatile apps based on the website settings you would like to improve.
Third-party plugins available for WordPress are free and paid. You can find plenty of options for website development, editing, customization, SEO, marketing etc. There are also lots of plugins for different types of projects you may intend to start, be it a blog, a web store, a portfolio, a business website or a landing page. When making the choice, however, make sure to select safe plugins that adhere to your special requirements. In this respect, premium extensions will be more preferable as they are developed for WordPress projects by trusted web experts.
Another thing to keep in mind is that most WordPress plugins require regular updates. This, correspondingly, requires a certain coding background to make sure they comply with your project parameters and to be able to create your website backup versions, when required. Non-techies may find this feature quite challenging.
Website builders mostly include all the required extensions and applications in its packages. These add-ons generally adhere to the system niche specification, which allows extending your project functionality via their integration. Some of the best examples of such collections include Wix App Market, SITE123 App Market, Shopify App Store, Weebly App Center and many more.
Having integrable applications available in one place allows solving a variety of tasks within a short period of time as there is no need to look for the required extensions out there. Some applications may be free, while others may require extra payment. This depends on the type of widget you pick and the system you subscribe to.
When it comes to third-party integrations, WordPress grants access to more plugins and widgets needed to extend the functionality of your project. The CMS offers hundreds of extensions available in stock and online – just browse them to choose suitable samples. Website builders also allow for external widget integrations, but their features are still more limited here.
WordPress excels at design customization. The software has a collection of templates available in its built-in gallery and there are also multiple themes you can find online. All the designs fall into categories with regard to the topics they belong to. To pick the right theme, you can use the search filter option. The templates are also absolutely customizable, letting you edit their settings right from the start.
The system has two design editing options for diverse user categories. Newbies may switch to its visual Gutenberg Editor, which is more intuitive and easy to use. Likewise, it is possible to integrate external plugins like Elementor to create unique web page design, if required. Web design experts, in their turn, may apply their code editing skills to completely customize the selected templates and to give them a high end look. Whatever option you will go for, you will have an opportunity to work with a diversity of settings – general, editor, typography, layout, lightbox, homepage, menu and many more.
WordPress templates are free and paid with the latter being more secure. The thing is that free themes may come with malicious codes that may eventually have a negative impact upon their performance. To avoid this, you should either choose premium templates or work with trusted web developers, who will design unique themes for your WordPress websites, if required.
Website builders come with integrated template collections. They include dozens or even hundreds or ready-made designs to adhere to various needs of users and different types of projects. Most themes are responsive to be viewed well on all types of mobile and desktop devices. Availability of the preview option (if any) makes it possible to view all the details of the selected template before choosing it. This is especially important, when it comes to using systems that do not have the template switch option (Wix is one of the samples here).
Templates offered by website builders may also be free and paid. Likewise, they differ in the degree of customizability and web design background required. This also depends upon the type of platform you choose. Professional website builders like Webflow, Dreamweaver etc. imply deeper customizability and more powerful coding expertise required. Simpler platforms like SITE123, Webs, Blocs, uKit, Strikingly Ucraft or IM Creator offer an intuitive web design approach, ensuring a more comfortable web design experience to all user categories.
There are also website builders like Wix or Jimdo, which come with built-in editors powered by Artificial Intelligence. Such an approach notably simplifies the process of website creation, bringing all the hassle to the minimum. What you need is just to provide the required info or answer the questions they systems generate to let them automatically create a project for you. As soon as it is ready, you have an opportunity to customize them by using the toolset available in stock.
As to design editing, you actually have more options when using WordPress. The choice of templates is also more extensive and versatile here. However, get ready to invest your effort and time to work with the CMS. Website builders also come with numerous themes applicable for versatile types of projects. Their customization is generally simpler and more understandable as no deep coding expertise is required here.
WordPress vs Website Builders: General Pricing Comparison
WordPress is a free CMS, which means that you don’t have to pay anything to download and install the software. As you proceed to the process of website creation, you will face the need to invest into extra plugins, themes, domain name and hosting. These factors will affect the final cost of your project.
WordPress plugins are numerous and you can find hundreds of them on the web. The more plugins you integrate into your project, the higher its cost will be. There is an opportunity to pick free extensions as well, while the price of premium plugins may range between $47 and $200.
As to the themes, their choice is quite extensive as well and you can pick from free and paid samples with regard to your needs. Free designs are available in stock by default, while premium templates can be purchased on the web. A standard template cost available in the ThemeForest is around $59 per one sample. However, there are also more expensive designs, the price of which may reach up to $1,500 or even higher.
The choice of hosting and domain also matters a lot when it comes to the price formation issue. As an open-source platform, WordPress requires hosting to store and publish your project. There are multiple hosts out there, but not all of them are cost-effective and functional at a time. Bluehost proves to be the most reasonable option to go for. What’s more, this is the top host officially recommended by WordPress for its projects. It offers several types of packages to comply with versatile needs of users. The cheapest Bluehost plan currently costs $2.95/mo.
To sum it all up, the price of launching a website with WordPress may constitute around $150-$200 during the first year of use, but it may increase with regard to the number/cost of plugins/themes chosen.
Website builders are mostly subscription-based, which makes it simpler to calculate the financial cost of your project. Each plan includes multiple features in one place depending on the project type you run and functionality you wish to avail. What’s important, the majority of web design platforms offer built-in hosting and domain name as a bonus for the first year of use. This allows saving big when registering with the system.
To calculate the average cost of starting a project with a website builder, let’s take Wix as an example. The system occupies one of the top positions in the list of the most popular and feature-laden DIY website builders. It has a free plan that works well for testing the system. You can use it for an unlimited period of time. As you decide to create a large-scale project and to go live with it, you will need to upgrade to one of the premium subscriptions.
Wix has two groups of them – Website and Business/eCommerce. Each group includes several more detailed plans that differ in terms, cost and features included. The most reasonable of them – Business Unlimited plan – currently costs $27/mo, but Wix lets new subscribers cut down the cost by 50%, if they sign up for the system from Tuesday to Thursday. This is a regular offer viable for all first-time users. As a result, your Wix plan will cost $13.50/mo only. The overall budget of your Wix-based plan will constitute $162/year.
When it tackles the pricing aspect, the cost of launching a website with WordPress may be higher as compared to that of a project created with a website builder. It will depend on the number and price of plugins/templates you will integrate. Website builders generally charge fixed prices for their plans, which are frequently more affordable to ordinary users.
WordPress vs Website Builders: Which One Is the Best for SEO?
WordPress SEO functionality is mainly realized by means of integrating specialized plugins. There are many of them out there and it’s only up to you to decide which extension exactly will comply with your project specifications and business requirements most. If you cannot adopt the decision for different reasons, it makes sense to opt for Yoast SEO plugin, which is one of the most popular extensions of this type. The plugin allows adjusting baseline SEO parameters to boost your project positions in the search engine results. What you should do here is specify titles, descriptions and keywords in corresponding fields. Likewise, it is possible to edit your website code here to make it user- and search-engine-friendly. Mind that this step may require extra coding knowledge and web design proficiency.
Website builders mainly come with built-in SEO tools provided out-of-the-box. They are quite effective, when it comes to different types of web projects. The range, specifications and functionality of these tools also differs with regard to the software you work with. There are platforms, which allow adjusting standard SEO parameters directly in the dashboard. Likewise, there are systems, which make it possible to integrate third-party SEO tools to ensure advanced results.
In terms of SEO, both WordPress and website builders make it possible to configure the major settings. The difference is in the approach and tools they use for this purpose. While WordPress realizes its SEO potential via integration of niche plugins, website builders let their subscribers independently fill out the major parameters for worthy search engine optimization or use special tools to effectively complete the task.
Key Differences Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
|Ease of Use:||WordPress is a powerful Content Management System, which needs to be downloaded and installed. It takes time to master the software. Coding proficiency is also required to work with the system. Thus, the service can hardly be considered simple, especially for beginners.||Website builders are DIY cloud web design platforms, which have much to offer to diverse user categories. They are simple, convenient and intuitive for everyone. They make it possible to create different types of projects for commercial and non-commercial use.|
|Functionality:||The CMS excels at functionality, integrations and customizability of projects it powers. Users may choose from hundreds of third-party plugins to be integrated into their projects as well as from multiple tools to enhance website performance. The plugins are free and paid, but their integration implies a certain coding background.||The systems are quite feature-rich, but their functionality and toolset mainly go down to their implication and niche specialization. They offer high end integration options, marketing and SEO tools, promotion and analytics tracking parameters. Many services come with blogging and eCommerce engines as well as other features to create personalized web projects with no coding required.|
|Design:||WordPress has a template gallery with multiple themes provided by default. There is also an opportunity to choose designs on the web. They are free and paid, being created by third-party web developers. Free samples are less secure than premium ones.||Website builders offer collections of ready-made themes. They are often niche-specific, responsive and customizable. The designs may be free and paid. Some website builders allow switching between the templates, while others do not have such an option.|
|eCommerce:||The software makes it possible to set up and customize small-to-large digital stores. The feature is realized via eCommerce plugin integration. The most popular shopping cart plugin to be used for this purpose is WooCommerce.||The majority of contemporary website builders come with built-in eCommerce engines. This lets their subscribers launch and customize web stores that differ in size and integrated functionality. There are also specialized eCommerce platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce, which focus on the creation of online stores only.|
|Blogging:||WordPress was initially created as a blogging platform. It has a powerful integrated blog-related toolset as well as an opportunity to integrate third-party plugins for effective blog creation.||Website builders generally include blogging platforms. Everyone can connect and manage a blog with the systems of their choice. It is possible to pick blog templates here and use built-in tools to customize them as required.|
|Small Business:||The CMS can be used for small business website creation. It allows integrating plugins suitable for business project customization. There are many extensions to pick based on your niche specialization and special project requirements.||Website builders include tools, features and integrations needed for small business website creation. They differ in complexity and cost (sometimes), which lets users pick the options they prefer.|
|Pricing:||WordPress is a free CMS, but you should still be ready to pay for extra plugin integration, hosting, domain name and templates, if any. The most cost-effective Bluehost plan currently costs $2.95/mo only, while the prices of plugins and themes may differ.||The systems offer free and premium options. This depends on the service you will go for. The plans include domain names, hosting as well as special features, integrations and tools.|
|SEO:||Websites launched with WordPress generally rank high in the search engines. The software allows choosing from several popular SEO plugins, integration of which allows boosting search engine positions of projects. Yoast SEO plugin is the best plugin to choose in this respect.||Website builders often come with built-in SEO features, making it possible to independently adjust SEO parameters. They also frequently offer extra tools to boost website ranking and to check project statistics.|
|Customer Support:||No official customer support, powerful worldwide user community, lots of tutorials, text and video guides, forums etc.||Reliable and helpful customer support team, live chat/phone/email assistance, powerful Knowledge Base, video tutorials, manuals, guides, FAQs etc.|
Comparison Conclusion: Which One Is Better?
WordPress and website builders both work well for starting and customizing commercial and non-commercial projects from scratch. The systems deliver exceptional functionality and customizability of websites they power yet they offer diverse approaches to the entire web design process.
As a Content Management System, WordPress requires download, installation, hosting/domain name choice and coding proficiency. It also takes time to master the system, explore its features and then launch projects with it. Thus, the software will work best for proficient web designers involved in the development of custom projects as well as for freelancers and web studios.
As opposed to the CMS, website builders are simpler and more convenient. They provide advanced functionality out of the box, charging fixed yet quite affordable rates for their plans. Users may choose from all-in-one and specialized services, depending on the projects they intend to set up. These features make them a nice solution for newbies, who need personal quality projects yet do not wish to bother about coding nuances and intricate web design issues.