So you’ve decided you need a website. You’ve done the research and come to the conclusion that for your small business there are at least two great low price options. You’re now at a crossroads wondering WordPress or Website Builder? Both have strengths and drawbacks of course, but which one is the right fit for you? There are a few things the small business owner needs to consider when deciding which direction to go.
The Bottom Line
Your first concern is probably How much is this going to cost me? While it can be difficult to nail down an exact amount depending on your individual circumstances, there are three expenses to consider that are generally associated with a new website.
- The Buildout (design and coding)
- Domain Registration
- Web Hosting
With WordPress you are responsible for all three of these. While the WordPress core software is free, it is merely only a platform and to make it work for you as a business website is going to take a few steps on your part. The price to have a custom design can get pretty spendy if using a professional web designer. Thankfully this is not the only option, as there are thousands of WordPress themes available in a wide range of price points. If you find a theme you like, you can also hire a designer to make necessary edits, which could save time and money rather then starting from scratch. Once the design is nailed down it will need to be developed. It is highly recommended you have knowledge of at least the basic HTML and CSS if you are going to attempt this yourself. If you do not posses these skills, it may be time to hire a developer. If you hired a designer, it’s worth asking them if they also employ a developer as they often offer a package deal. The cost of developing a site is usually directly related to how complex it is and how intricate the design elements are to code. Once the site is ready, you will need to purchase a domain name and a hosting account for your website. Some hosting companies even offer a free hosting service to help get you up and running quickly as explained in our post here on “The Best Free Web Hosting Sites“. If you choose to use one, be sure to ask if they support WordPress installation.
With a Website Builder though, these three expenses are usually combined into one low monthly payment. They include a large selection of design elements, as well as a start-from-scratch option for professionals. As trends change you can update or even completely redesign your site at no additional charge, potentially saving you thousands.
Ease of Creation
Time is money, and nothing is more important than when it’s your time, or your money paying for someone else’s time. How easy a website is to build is critically important for that reason. While both options shine in this department, there are some key differences;
Right off the bat some people get confused looking for the free WordPress software at WordPress.com. This is the commercial side of WordPress that sells sites, custom design & hosting and is not to be confused with WordPress.org where you can download the WordPress core software for free. Upon initial installation, WordPress is a blogging platform. So any other type of website, such as your business website, will neet to be modified to fit it’s functionality. This is usually done by selecting one of the ubiquitous themes and then installing it into WordPress. However, with newer, more intricate themes these days, sometimes this is easier said than done. It is highly advisable to have a working knowledge of basic coding such as HTML and CSS when changing a theme style. You will also want to familiarize yourself with the back end management system your chosen web hosting company is using, such as the popular cPanel.
This is where Website builders like IMCreator truly shine. They use what is called “front end” building or WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) to get the job done. All of the design elements are visual and can be dragged and dropped into place, making it easier and faster to create a uniquely customized site that works. There is no need to know any coding because it’s built into the platform, meaning once you are done dragging and dropping, it’s ready to go!
Theme vs. Template
Themes and Templates are pre-designed layouts that are installed to each platform. These are effective solutions for helping decide what you like, what’s trendy, or simply guiding the designed challenged individual. They can save you time and money by giving you a professional feel without the custom price tag.
Themes are pre-designed layouts for WordPress. They also change the functionality from a blogging platform to its’ new intended use. There are literally thousands of themes available all over the web. While that means there is a good chance you will find a design you love, be vigilant to check that it is compatible with the current version of WordPress you are using. WordPress updates frequently, leaving some third-party themes unusable if the author isn’t continuously updating them. Overall, one of the most attractive reasons to pick WordPress as a platform is it’s complimentary widget capability! These tools, installed directly into WordPress, can offer a myriad of useful functions to a website. The same rule applies when selecting them though, to insure that they are still compatible. It is also advisable not to go “widget crazy” when shopping around. The more widgets you install, the more likely they are to interact negatively with one another or possibly break the entire site. Not to mention bogging it down for slower load times.
With a Website Builder, you can select a pre-designed template or you can start designing one from scratch. While it is true that a Website Builder may not have the sheer number of layouts that are available for WordPress, all of a Website Builders templates and widgets will work. The other big difference is that if you find a template that you like but just want to change something small, it can usually be changed with just a few simple clicks.
We have all done it before. Reading about all of those awesome new features coming out and then clicking the update button without even a second thought. You wait in anticipation as the update loads and…what? It’s broke???? What went wrong?
The WordPress team is dedicated to making quality updates and keeping the platform at the top of its’ game. Updating WordPress is usually as simple as a single click of the mouse. Any problems that arise usually come from third party plugins and widgets. For example, if a provider doesn’t keep up with the WordPress updates, it can become incompatible and even cause the site to break. There are however some precautions you can take to help keep this from being a problem. If budget allows, you can keep a running test site up with a copy of your live site and install the update there first. After testing and insuring everything works as intended, you can then upload those files to your live site as time permits. If this isn’t an option, at least ALWAYS keep a backup of your site files in a safe place so they can be reinstalled following a crash.
Fortunately for those who pick a website builder, this is a non-issue when it comes to keeping their sites current. All of the updates are completed “under the hood” by professionals. There are no required actions from users, essentially keeping you headache free.
Ok, now your website is up and it looks great! But you are running a one week special next month. How easy it is going to be to manage your content? As a small business owner, this becomes a major factor to consider when choosing between these two platforms.
WordPress is famous for its’ content management and for good reason. But it’s built as a blogging platform where users are assigned a role by the administrator into various groups such as author, editor, and moderator. The content is entered “blog style” and then published. Posts can then be managed or deleted by those who are assigned to that specific role. Once you are comfortable with each of the roles permissions, this can be an invaluable tool to allow multiple users to create content without having access to unauthorized portions of the site.
Another great aspect when using WordPress is the freedom to build a multi-level organizational heiarchy that can be customized from within the administrator dashboard. Editing the Permalink structure allows you to set preferences for your URLs. This is often used to boost SEO, an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. Most small businesses don’t need that much content capability, however to easily manage a large scale of content, WordPress is the go-to choice.
The beauty of WYSIWYG cannot be understated in this regard. You get to see exactly what your site is going to look like as you work on it, managing your content from the front end. This makes easy work of changing or updating as needed.
Technical Help or Customer Service?
Both WordPress and Website Builders are strong platforms for building your business website. Should you need some help with technical problems the solutions differ greatly between the two.
With the WordPress core software available online for free, it should come as no surprise that it doesn’t include customer service in the traditional sense. However WordPress does offer technical help and troubleshooting guides, as well as a nicely moderated forum where you can search for any other users experiencing the same problem. Often other users will chime in and offer up some experienced advice and know-how. If you can’t find the answer, or the answer seems to be too tech-savvy, there is always the option to hire a developer to help you with your site. Most charge a small diagnostic fee, then will provide an estimate for repair. Depending on the specifics, the time and price can vary drastically.
With regards to Website Builders, the difference can be like night and day. When you sign up with a Website Builder company you are their paying client, and they want to keep you happy. In the unlikely event something does go wrong with your website, you can simply reach out to their customer service department. Since the site is built within the framework of the builder, there are far fewer variables to go wrong. The customer service agent is usually able to fix most problems within twenty four hours.
Making the Most with the Least
As the owner of a small business, you are no stranger to stretching the resources you have at your disposal. A polished and professional website can be a valuable team member, working for you even after you close your door for the night. But regardless of which platform you choose, it’s important to have a polished site. Nothing says you’re a professional better than a strong web presence, and in today’s competitive market, that matters – a lot.