While pressure is mounting globally for everyone to become adept techies and programmers, there comes a time when we need to evaluate, among the noise, which solutions are best suited for our needs. In addition to what tasks we pour our precious time into. Depending on your background, objectives and resources, a kit with every tool imaginable may prove overwhelming and useless while a minimal approach is precisely what you need. Or, you may be gearing up to build something that requires a selection of features an aerospace engineer would be proud to use. It’s all about defining your needs then specifically filling them in the most efficient way possible.
This leads us to the analysis and comparison of self-hosted website solutions versus managed packages that website builder service providers offer the professional or hobbyist, ready to get their ideas up and running for the web. Choosing the right option means fewer headaches, money spent efficiently and less time spent on unnecessary tasks.
Let’s compare how feasible it is to use either option with IM Creator as our website builder guinea pig to determine which option is right for you.
The Main Differences
Technically, from the perspective of delivering a website builder service and a hosting provider, both services are similar. They are both delivered via web servers designed and developed to create and serve pages to site visitors. The major differences are found in service delivery and the actual experience for you, the end user.
While a premium web hosting provider such as Hostgator or NetHosting, which provides a powerful suite of products ranging from dedicated and virtual hosting servers, cutting edge mobile application hosting providing database, scalability and high bandwidth support, may be perfect for the large corporation; a designer, marketer or blogger may never require such a strong feature set.
Ease of Use & Technical Aspects
Website Builders are built and continuously maintained for ease of use for the average web user. User-friendliness is a hallmark on which the service is delivered and this is proven by the fact that a website can be launched in a mere matter of 30 minutes with this kind of service. IM Creator’s interface, for example, presents users with a drag and drop canvas that allow the user to focus on building out their inspired design with a workflow that specifically caters to launching the website.
The user does not have to decide which hosting or server product is right for the website or which web technology is best suited for building the site. All of this is taken care of by the website builder and the user needs only to determine the desired domain name, branding and how to pay for the service.
Self-hosted means that the user will need to plan in advance the technology and programming languages being used to build the site, confirm if the hosting provider supports these, handle site backups, upload and test the site, will be responsible if the site should break due to code errors and plethora of other scenarios.
The typical hosting provider’s main goal is delivering a working hosting account with performing servers and services that maintain maximum uptime and availability. Launching the website is up to the resources and skillset of the user.
Winner: The winner here is the website builder. While hosting providers offer a rich set of tools for developing websites, you’re pretty much on your own with the final product. Website builders typically provide free to use and complete templates built into a platform that handles all coding and implementation necessary in the background.
How Quickly Can You Launch?
Depending on how quickly you type, you can go from the start screen, choose a template, add widgets and personalize the content and have a finished product up and running in about an hour using a website builder. Since all technicalities are handled in the background by the service, your focus is on choosing an appropriate design and hitting the launch button.
Hosting providers place the power into the hands of user. However, this is not a bad thing for experienced developers but can be a nightmare for the untested online publisher.
The design, testing, coding and implementation of the site will need to be done by an experienced programmer or at least someone who is familiar with ready to go solutions like WordPress or Drupal. Even in these cases, building a personalized website can take days and in the case of a completely custom built solution, weeks and months, depending on the desired features.
The Winner: Website Builders win as the workflow is usually streamlined and geared towards helping non-coders launch beautiful and functional websites. Builders remove the challenge with coding and the learning curve is gentle.
Focusing on delivering the base product, the cost of launching websites via a hosting provider and website builder are pretty much the same. The differences that come to light depend on the path you choose, whether you pay a developer and designer to build your website for the self-hosted solution or take on the task yourself.
The Winner: I’d say that this is a tie as both products out of the box pretty much cost the same.
Customization & Features
There’s a lot you can accomplish out of the box with a website builder like IM Creator. However, the service will not allow a complete overhaul to develop and design any type of website and functionality you can imagine. This is due to the fact that the core framework and database structures of website builders are solely managed by the service providers to ensure that users need not worry about the technicalities. The work horse is in the background making the magic happen.
Hosting providers offer a fairly free playground for the proficient developer. For example, NetHosting’s app hosting product means that you are free to create and launch a feature rich and popular app like Angry Birds without any limitations on features or resources.
The Winner: The winner here is definitely the self-hosted solution as it provides free reign regarding how you wish to build your site or even app.
The average website builder’s public web resources are monitored and managed in real-time by a dedicated technical team. It’s quite impossible for any user to exploit resources through our website builder to install and spread malicious scripts and links across the web. IM Creator’s and many similar platforms simply do not allow such implementations; and while some HTML can be inserted, there are vast limits on executable code.
On the other hand, with the freedom that comes with self-hosted packages, there also exists the risk of security compromise. This is due to the fact that almost any type of code can be installed and implemented within a hosting account. And although many hosting providers offer virus and malicious script monitoring and reporting, they usually detect them once the damage has already begun.
The Winner: Even in the instance of a compromise of a user’s login credentials, there is very little that malicious scripts can do within the average web builder interface.
The Overall Winner?
Website Builders reign victorious for the speed, security and ease of use are concerned as these services are designed for the shortest time to market while maintaining quality. Website builders not only provide a secure platform for absolutely anyone with any skill-set to launch websites in mere minutes, the design and implementation experience is unmatched; versus self-hosted solutions where the task of design, technical insight, maintenance and implementation are all handled by the user.
Ready to launch a killer website and looking for a user-friendly and powerful website builder? Try IM Creator for free.