If you're brand new to website building and still into the research stage, it will probably appear that a hosted website builder is the easier option. And you'd be right, but there are many reasons why you should go with a WordPress website over hosted website builder options.
In this article, I'll take you through the reasons you should go with a WordPress website over a website builder.
Online Website Builders versus Website Platforms
What you'll find is that website builders are hosted on a company's platform and you will only have access to their features. On the surface, this may look good, but it can quickly become quite limiting. You may have to pay extra for features that are free on other platforms.
Having a site hosted by a company with a web builder means that you're locked into their hosting fees. These may start off with a lower introductory price. They can quickly become expensive.
This is a common trap for newbies and one that I've fallen for myself, so I'm speaking from experience here. You can get your website up and running quickly using a website builder, but then you'll find you have limited options.
It often means that you have to start from scratch again at a later date. This tends to happen after you realize that you need more flexibility than the website builder can provide, or as domain and hosting fees become more expensive.
It's not unusual for the Support services on web building sites to be slow in responding - especially in comparison to good hosting companies.
How is a Website Platform Different from a Web Builder?
Website building platforms such as Joomla or WordPress let you decide which hosting company you want to use to host your site.
WordPress (my preferred website platform), also comes with many different free themes to choose from. Themes are what gives your website its overall look.
You then add extra functionality to your site with Plugins. Plugins are basically extra add-ons for your WordPress website. There are thousands of plugins, and most of these are free. They can improve articles with things like easy Contact Forms, a Table of Contents, or product Comparison Tables, but also provide important Security measures and Spam Protection.
If Website Platforms are better, why are Website Builders so Popular?
Organisations such as WordPress.org provides all the documentation you need, but honestly, it can take weeks to get through it all - who has time for all of this?
There is a learning curve to website platforms, which will initially make website builders look more attractive. Yes, it is generally easier to get up and running with a reasonably good looking website using a Website Builder. This is a trap for newbies.
I had used website builders until I came across an online training course a few years ago, that insisted we set up a WordPress website. While going through the site set up process, I realized how it would have been easy to miss a step if I hadn't been guided through this, and had tried to do it on my own.
The thing to remember is that most of us will only ever set up one website. This is why you don't need to know what everything does - you really just need to go through the set up steps, and then forget about most of it.
My Experience with Wix, SquareSpace and Shopify Web Builders
Having used Wix, SquareSpace and WordPress to build websites, I believe WordPress wins hands down.
I had fun with Wix initially because I could easily customize a lot of the general the look of the site. Unfortunately, not many of us are great designers and it's also easy to completely lose yourself, taking some design choices too far. It's also too easy to hit the wrong button and lose a lot of work.
Squarespace has more of a learning curve to it than Wix, and I didn't enjoy paying extra for nice themes. All WordPress themes and most of their plugins are free, and the few that I do pay a small amount for, are so worth it.
Shopify looked good as an online store but it has ongoing monthly fees, and every extra bit of functionality costs you. It starts off as just a few dollars here and there, but the costs quickly adds up. I didn't enjoy having a website that needed on-going monthly fees on top of everything else.
I was thankful that I paid to be guided through the initial set up of my first WordPress site. After the site build was done, I was able to add my own articles, and off it went.
To sum it up...
You can get a website up and running quickly using a website builder. This is a big Pro, but the Con is that you're locked into that web builder, their fees, and their limitations. You may think it's all good to start with, but after a few months and lots of work, you will probably realize it's not giving you what you want, or is costing too much.
WordPress is a free platform that comes with hundreds of free themes (the overall website look) and plugins (which add functionality). WordPress also gives you the choice of hosting site.
Yes, there is a learning curve when it comes to getting a WordPress site up and running, but that's why I have made a video course. You only do the set up once, so don't spend hundreds of hours watching videos trying to do it yourself.