A website is an instrument that can be successfully employed for diverse purposes, whether it’s a portfolio to show off your works of art or a full-featured online business.
Anyway, the less expertise and knowledge you have in constructing a site from scratch, the more difficult and time-consuming it will be to achieve your goals.
First-time users can’t help but confront such troubles as choosing a proper domain name and hosting provider, setting the site’s layout, ensuring the front end looks great while the site’s backend is properly coded, etc.
Factors for Comparison
What makes building a website from scratch or even using a pre-designed template difficult or easy? First and foremost, an uncommon group of skills is necessary. If you don’t entrust the task to a professional, you must branch off into the design and development aspects and code the site from zero.
If one website building method requires such proficiency, with another method, you can skip off all coding processes and simply plop in content into set layouts or themes.
Another factor that makes a website-building process challenging is the sense of style and comprehension of trends. A website represents the brand and must perfectly transfer its unique style and signature. If you fail, the site won’t work for your brand.
So, as long as the chosen platform provides a sufficient diversity of templates and design widgets, it will be easier to achieve perfect website aesthetics. Worthwhile website-building software will support sliders, carousels, complex layouts, complex web forms, mobile-specific content, etc.
Aside from building a website, you must think about its hosting. If your chosen solution includes hosting services (like Wix, for example), it will be easier to work with it.
Otherwise (if you choose WordPress or any other open-source CMS), you will have to search for a separate site hosting company and manage your site hosting at an extra charge, which may appear costly and pretty complicated for an inexperienced user.
And finally, its pricing is whether this or that site-building solution is considered appropriate for the mass market. First-time site owners may have limited budgets and must restrict themselves in choosing a premium-level service. Luckily, there are plenty of reasonably priced services within anyone’s solvency (examples: Wix pricing, Squarespace pricing).
So, as you can already judge, the main factors categorizing a website building solution type by complexity are coding vs. drag-and-drop functionality, the availability of diverse and quality templates and design tools to suit every possible business niche, the inclusion of hosting in the purchased package, and pricing.
Website Building Methods
In today’s digital world, having an online presence via a website is essential for any artist, business, etc. However, building a website can be scary unless you have chosen the most appropriate tool per your skills and purposes. In all cases, regardless of the site-building method you stick to, the overall process is as follows:
- Planning: In this phase, you decide your website’s content, including the core pages, the About Us section, contacts, etc.
- Development: At this phase, the functionality of your future website comes together. You must include all necessary features like customer interaction means, the search function, etc.
- Testing: Before going live, a new site must be tested (see the reasons). In particular, you should test your new website in desktop and mobile browsers worldwide.
- Deployment: The last stage of building a website is its employment.
Using Website Builders
The major benefits of using this option include the following:
- SaaS website builders don’t require prior knowledge of coding. They have a drag-and-drop interface for users, which lets them develop a well-schemed and attractive site within hours, as the backend coding has already been made by professionals. Still, some coding skills can also give the user extra options here.
- Another crucial benefit of online site builders is that they come with pre-designed 100% mobile-responsive templates, most of which look professional and attractive, and most of them are free (though the best ones often come at an extra one-time fee). Various designs are available for every possible niche, and an extended toolbar of features to add by just dragging and dropping them wherever you wish on the site. Furthermore, some website builders have predisposed areas for every element possible to add so that inexperienced users with no solid layout idea won’t ruin the template’s aesthetics.
- SaaS site builders are all-in-one software, so there’s no need to manage hosting and domain separately, as they are already included in the plan. This is definitely a major plus for novice users. Besides, individual SaaS platforms provide users with a feature to export their already-working sites (Webflow, for example).
Nevertheless, there’s also a distinct disadvantage of choosing a website builder for your project, and it’s the limitation of the provided services, particularly of customization options. Check the basic cons of using a SaaS website builder:
- Unlike self-hosted platforms, most SaaS site builders don’t provide source code access, so you must use only the suggested templates and design configuration options. For instance, if your chosen solution doesn’t allow giving your website a parallax layout, your business site may end with a cookie-cutter layout.
- Also, most site builders’ lower plans limit the number of pages per site. If you aim to set up an eCommerce platform and need a page per product, you may encounter a problem and pay extra to upgrade to a premium plan.
- Another limitation comes in the form of restricted SEO functionality. Search engine algorithms read and scan through different sites to check for optimized data. Most site builders, especially those offering free services, provide only basic SEO features like hashtags, image alt texts, etc. However, the extensive approach to SEO to make your site visible to target audiences becomes either impossible or available through third-party tools.
So, online website builders offer a bunch of benefits to new site owners. However, you should not neglect the limitations that come with these portals. Read my reviews of the most popular website builders in this blog category.
A CMS, which stands for content management system, is a software app that provides the basic infrastructure for building, managing, and publishing digital content, including websites. Using this method for building a website has certain clear advantages. Let’s clarify some:
- They feature the WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editor, which lets you build and edit content visually. Accordingly, you still don’t have to apply coding, though the knowledge of which will still make it way more effective. These solutions come with themes and templates to be customized to match any brand’s identity, thus eliminating the need for expensive and time-consuming custom development.
- CMSs provide streamlined content updates to easily and quickly fill your website with new content. When your site grows, and you need more pages and features, a content management system allows you to expand your site without any significant coding changes or redesigning. This includes adding new pages, features like chatbots and forms, changing the site structure, etc.
- Also, significant SEO benefits become at your disposal. Most CMSs feature in-built SEO tools like metatags and descriptions, navigation and structure, content optimization, etc.
While using CMS for building a website has benefits, a few downsides can’t be avoided. Particularly:
- Due to high flexibility and customizability, CMS users face a steep learning curve. Furthermore, the maintenance of your site, designed with CMS, requires much practice and effort as updates of both the platform and its add-ons are done manually.
- Furthermore, outdated themes and plugins you might be using within the scope of a CMS create security vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals can use them to attack your website, and the only help you get is the platform’s documentation and other users’ recommendations.
So, choosing a CMS for scheming your website clearly has many benefits, like scalability, cost saving, and SEO friendliness. And yet, don’t forget about the involved risks like security vulnerabilities, performance issues, and the steep learning curve.Read also: my review of the most popular CMS – WordPress.
Using Offline Website Building Programs
An offline website-building program is a downloadable software that needs to be installed and explored further. Although most systems of this type have a drag-and-drop feature, they are pretty complicated. Let’s pinpoint the pros and cons of choosing an offline site-building tool.
- Offline site-building tools don’t need an internet connection during customization and can be performed anytime.
- No recurring payments are to be expected. Most online site builders require monthly payments, which rise significantly once the initially purchased plan has expired. Unlike them, with an offline site-building platform, you simply choose a suitable package and pay for the license once to use the service for unlimited time.
Along with the several pros of using an offline site builder, several demerits may prevent potential users from choosing this option for website building. These are as follows:
- The level of complexity is high. You will encounter many problems and nuances when working with such site-building software if you are no coder. In fact, offline site builders are less intuitive and more complicated than their online counterparts. Also, all update installations are performed manually.
- No built-in web hosting is provided. On one side, you are free to pick any host you like, but on the other hand, it will pose a huge problem for newbies with no web design and hosting experience at all.
- Project access is from one PC only. You can only install and use the downloaded software on one PC with no possible access from other devices. This makes teamwork impossible.
So, if you want your site to look snazzy, stand out in the crowd, and possess the necessary skills, it’s worth considering this option. Otherwise, it’s too complicated.
The Easiest Website Building Method
So, with the parameters required to consider a website-building solution easy, the comparison between online website builders, CMSs, and offline site-building software goes as follows:
- Online site builders don’t require coding since the editor is of the drag-and-drop type. They come with plenty of templates (depending on the site builder) that meet all possible business niches and feature multiple tools for effective site customization. In most cases, hosting is included in all packages. As for pricing, it differs from company to company, but there’s definitely a suitable option for every user’s budget.
- CMSs have WYSIWYG editors and are more complicated than site builders. They provide a high level of functionality with multiple third-party widgets available. CMSs don’t cover hosting services.
- Offline website-building software provides unlimited tools yet requires deep coding knowledge. The pricing is the most affordable as long as you don’t have to hire a specialist, as the software is provided at a one-time payment.
There are plenty of popular CMS and offline site-building software, which may often come oversaturated with options. To understand them and develop any form of the project using a CMS, you must be well-taught and code-talented enough.
But if you are just stepping on your path to web design proficiency, employing CMS won’t provide the necessary result. In this case, you’d better opt for a website builder.
The latter can provide you with a real opportunity to develop a site quickly, with no specific skills and knowledge.
Building a site can be an undertaking, or you can turn it into an easy process. Using an online site builder is the easiest and quickest method.