WordPress is a very widely used site builder or content management system (CMS), but is it right for you?
You probably found this article as you want to find what choices are available to you when creating a website or you are not sure whether to choose WordPress or a website builder.
Personally, when I am trying something new I like to profit from a free trial, to really get a good idea if the product is suitable for me or not.
When looking at website builders on the internet, you will find most offer a free website. Nearly all of these site builders use drag and drop editors, which are easy to use for beginners. To be honest, all site builders have their pros and cons, so you have to find what suits you best or more importantly what suits your site.
With WordPress on the other hand, you don’t see many offers for free websites, but it is possible to find. There is one site builder for this CMS, that offers a free site and in my opinion, is better than the competition.
In this article, I will be highlighting what I consider to be some of the downsides and strengths of site builders and how they compare to WordPress. I will also give you an idea of why my chosen site builder is better than the rest.
A little history
The first website was produced in 1991 by Tim Berners-Lee. These early websites were difficult to build and the work was usually carried out by professional programmers. You can see below what the first website looked like.
After that, software was created, such as Dreamweaver, that allowed you to build your site from your own computer. This required knowledge of coding and took a long time before you could finally upload your site to your chosen hosting.
At the end of the 1990s the online site builders started their development and have evolved into the companies we know today, like Wix or Weebly. Now, building a website has been made easy with no need for coding. Today everyone is capable of creating a website.
What is a website builder?
A website builder is software with the aim of making it as easy as possible for people to start a website.
No knowledge of programming is needed, you just have to choose a template and get started.
Drag and drop the different elements on your page, such as text, graphics, images, etc. so it looks exactly how you want it. With most of these editors, the hosting is included, so you don’t have to pay for any extras when you start.
Who are website builders for?
If you want a cut-price website the drag and drop builders are probably best for you. These editors are also renowned for being easy to use, although whether they are easier to master than WordPress is debatable.
Overall you can get a decent-looking site, quite cheaply and it’s easy to get started. These website builders are good for people with no knowledge of site-building.
Pros and Cons
- Websites can be created rapidly
- Easy to use drag and drop editor
- Most website builders can be tried for free
- Everything you need to build your site is in one place
- No technical skills or coding know-how needed
- Free sites with a subdomain domain name
- Relatively low cost for a small site
- Hosting is included with the best-known site builders
- Updates are carried out automatically
- Support is provided on the site, often with extensive knowledge bases
- Suitable for a very basic small business site, personal site or portfolio
- Ads on free sites
- Not as much choice for templates as with WordPress themes
- Your site may not look unique
- Functionality may be limited due to the low number of plugins or apps available
- Large sites can be expensive
- Number of affiliate links may be limited
- May not be able to export your site to another host
A free website with the site builders
The free website builders used to be a little basic, but have progressed to offer many features. A free site on one of these platforms might meet your goals for a personal site, but for a business or a revenue-generating site, you will need to opt for a paid option.
If you’re thinking of using a site builder, this post from websitesetup.org is worth reading. A case study of 14 well-known site builders, comparing – price, speed, uptime, and usability. A very useful resource!
Having a free site means you have to make some concessions, typically you might have some of the following restrictions:
- Subdomain name, e.g. yoursite.weebly.com
- Ads on your site
- Limited support
- Limits on the number of products you can advertise
- No analytics or statistics
- Limited bandwidth – this might not be a problem when you start, however, if your site is successful, this may mean that your visitors won’t be able to access your site. Consequently, you will have to upgrade to a paid option.
- Limited storage – again this won’t be a problem when your site is just built, but as you continue adding content you may not have any more space on your hosting server to store your content which means you will have to upgrade.
- Limited functionality
Online website builders all tend to be slightly different, although there are certain things that they have in common. The main point they all share is that they want to convert their free members into paying members, and they all have different offers and features to entice you to become a premium member.
Whether you choose a free or a paid site from a website builder, will depend on what you need. Always bear in mind if you are promoting a business you need a site that looks professional, which means you will require a paid membership.
The website builders are promoted as being quick and easy to use, which may be true. Building a website is a long-term project, so a few minutes or hours saved now may not be too important.
Most of your time will be spent writing content, the time passed setting up your website is a very small part of the time you will be devoting to your website. Therefore, it’s important you take the time to choose the platform that suits you best.
Some website builders are quite good, nevertheless, there is one field I think they could improve, that is by offering some training in the basics of setting up a website to earn money online. It’s true some of the platforms have a few ideas for improving search engine ranking but that’s about it.
Wouldn’t it be useful if they included training on keyword research, writing a blog post with a call to action, or pay-per-click marketing!
There is one platform that includes all of this, however, it’s a site builder with the WordPress platform. Let’s have a closer look.
What is WordPress?
WordPress was originally created as a blogging platform in 2003 but has now developed into a content management system that is used by more than 30% of all websites.
With the thousands of plugins and themes, it is now possible to build a website to suit any purpose and to add more or less any feature you can imagine. Creating and editing pages is easy, much like using a text editor.
Who is WordPress for?
If you require an original-looking site with lots of functionality and flexibility WordPress is for you. The learning curve is perhaps slightly steeper than the other website builders.
It is an advantage, but not a necessity, to know some HTML and CSS code. This website has been built without me having to touch any coding.
In general, WordPress can give you a great-looking site with lots of capabilities for a very reasonable price.
Pros and Cons
- Software is free
- Relatively easy to use
- Low cost to get your site online
- Suitable for any site
- SEO friendly
- Thousands of free and paid themes
- Thousands of plugins to add functionality to your site (many are free)
- Change your hosting when you want
- Frequent updates and improvements
- Support – large community with lots of information in the form of tutorials, videos, and guides or you can post a question on WordPress forums
- Customizing your site can be hard and some coding knowledge is useful but not essential
- WordPress must be updated regularly
- Updates can cause problems with themes and plugins if they are not also updated regularly
- You must find your own hosting or be limited on WordPress.com
- Security can be a problem
- Compatibility between plugins and themes can cause complications
Although I have listed a few cons, after using WordPress for 5 years, I haven’t experienced any of the problems with compatibility or security. If you keep everything updated you shouldn’t encounter any complications.
Drag and drop exists in WordPress
If you are worried about setting up and building a WordPress site, or you’re used to drag and drop website builders, there are now plugins and themes that make it possible to drag and drop when building your WordPress site.
To be perfectly honest, I am quite happy with the good old WordPress editor, but it seems many people are trying this drag and drop option. One of the best selling plugins on Code Canyon is a drag and drop plugin and among the best selling themes at ThemeForest is a theme that includes a drag and drop page builder.
Whether or not this is a good alternative is a little uncertain, as most of the drag and drop page builders and plugins add shortcodes to your content, this could be a problem if you decide to uninstall and it could also possibly make your site slightly slower. But if you want to try it, there are one or two free themes that include this option.
Free WordPress site builders
Normally to set up a WordPress site, you will need hosting and a domain name. Although this may not be too expensive (anything from $70 to $120 per year), there are a couple of free alternatives for setting up a free site – WordPress.com or SiteRubix.
On the WordPress.com platform, your free site comes with many restrictions and constraints, a little like the free sites with the online site builders:
- Subdomain name, e.g. mysite.wordpress.com
- Limited storage space
- Only 200 themes to choose from, this may sound okay, but there are thousands of free themes available with WP
- WP.com may show advertisements on your site
- Affiliate links not allowed
- Google analytics not allowed
You can overcome these constraints by paying for one of their two paid options. To have everything you need for a business will cost you $299 per year.
SiteRubix, on the other hand, comes with only one restriction:
- Subdomain name, e.g. mysite.siterubix.com
- 2 free websites
- Training – with the free option you receive 10 lessons that will teach you how to start your online business. Click the image to the right to see what is included in the free lessons.
- 24/7 Support
- No limits for bandwidth or storage
- Plus other features not found elsewhere
With all the features I have noted above, it’s not surprising that SiteRubix is my choice for a website builder. You can build any sort of site on this platform, although the training is more aimed at business sites, this is the ideal place to:
- Start an online business
- Try WordPress
- Build a personal website or blog
SiteRubix is the website builder at Wealthy Affiliate, an online internet marketing training platform.
If you watch the video below you will see just how easy it is to create a site on this platform.
Did you like that? Wasn’t it quick and easy! Now you have your website built you can start adding content.
We saw above what is included in the free membership, however, if you want to continue your training and put all the chances on your side to earn an income online there is further training available.
This training, which includes hosting for 25 free sites and 25 premium sites has a reasonable price of $49 monthly and includes everything you need to get going.
There is absolutely no obligation to become a premium member, you can remain as a free member with 2 free websites as long as you wish.
The website builders may be slightly easier to get started, but as I pointed out in the article setting up your site and writing your first post is just a tiny part of building your website.
Therefore, there is no point in saving a few minutes when you start, building a website is a long-term project. Take the time to find the best platform for you. Try some of the different alternatives
I would recommend trying one or two site builders and also WordPress. If you choose SiteRubix you will even benefit from the free lessons, which will make setting up your WordPress site really easy. It’s this training that really makes this platform outstanding and sets it apart from all the other site builders.
Perhaps you’re worried that setting up a website with WordPress is difficult, believe me, it’s not! I remember when I first came to Wealthy Affiliate, I was used to building sites with HTML and I had tried a couple of the site website builders. Now I would not change, it’s so much quicker than HTML and I find it easier to use than the drag and drop editors. The WordPress sites look more professional, have greater flexibility and functionality.
If you want to give the SiteRubix site builder a try, choose a domain name in the box below and get started. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!
What do you prefer? If you would like to share your experience with website builders or WordPress please leave a comment below. I would really appreciate your feedback.