Website builders: Pros and Cons

There are many different ways to create a website. You could hand-code it from scratch (or have someone else do it), use a website editor like Dreamweaver, or go for an open-source content management system (CMS).

Or you could use a website builder. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “A website builder? Isn’t that like a construction kit or a Lego set?” Believe it or not, many small to medium-sized businesses are using these systems to create their professional websites quickly and easily. Of course, not many people like to admit it, so these systems remain a well-kept secret.

Here are some of the pros and cons of website builders to help you decide for yourself.

Advantages to the building-block method

website builder prosEasy to use: No programming skills required.

One-stop shop: Everything is included – your hosting, the software for your website, blog or online store, and all your maintenance.

Low cost: Website builders rarely cost more than what you’d pay for a hosting package with a similarly-sized web space. And they’re often free.

Anyone can use them: Creating a website is almost as easy as setting up a Facebook or LinkedIn profile.

Feature-rich: A good provider will develop their website builder on an ongoing basis (much like our test recommendations).

Security updates: Your provider will install security updates too, avoiding the serious issues that have arisen in this area in the past with open-source CMS (especially with WordPress and its free templates). Now don’t get me wrong: WordPress is great and even the website you are on right now runs on it. It offers fantastic features but it is really complicated compared to a website builder. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for smaller websites. More details.

Spikes in traffic will not cause downtime: If you host your website yourself, be aware that a significant increase in traffic could cause your website to crash (e.g. if a popular website links to your site). That’s not the case if you rely on one of our recommended website builders — tools like Weebly, Jimdo or Squarespace can easily handle large amounts of traffic as their hosting infrastructure balances increased server loads.

Drag and drop integration: Widgets, Google AdSense, Paypal, forms, etc. – you’ll find there’s very little that you can’t add.

Support: Technical support is offered via email, live chat or forums, depending on the provider.

And the disadvantages of website builders

website builders consLimited flexibility: This is what it really comes down to. How much flexibility are you prepared to give up? For example, if you have to use a specific layout, you might find a website builder too limited. The only way to know for sure is to give it a try.

Relying on one provider: It’s important that your provider is well managed from a business point of view, because you could lose your website if it goes bust. That’s why it’s generally better to go with an established provider.

Data control: Your data is stored off-site. Some providers may be based in your country, others in Europe or further afield.

Installing server-side code: Programmers won’t like this, but website builders are a no-go zone for PHP, Java and SQL. Then again, if you use these languages you’re unlikely to be looking at website builders anyway. Nor are there as many add-ons as you’d find in an open-source system.

Large web projects: These systems are simply not appropriate for larger or more complex web-based projects.

So if you’d like to try a website builder, be sure to check out our tests reports first. All providers offer free trial periods.

 

Tip: Our Free Ebook

small business website ebookTo get you started, please feel free to download our eBook “Website Creation for Absolute Beginners,” completely free of charge. This will help you plan your business website and get things right from the outset.

Free Resources

To DoCheck out our resource page where you can find guidance as well as useful tools to create your own website.
Learn more