What Is a Website Builder, Exactly?
Website builders are online software products that allow you to create and host a website in exchange for a monthly fee.
These online platforms function as “software as a service” or SaaS. All site makers provide access to certain software without granting ownership over it.
The monthly fee includes website building tools, web hosting, and technical support, so you get several services bundled up.
Once you create a site, you can publish it for the world to see. This site will be hosted on the servers of the website builder, which is responsible for keeping your web pages up and running.
Lastly, any technical issues are also handled by the support team of the site builder of choice.
One fee to cover it all.
Other than that, their most distinctive characteristic is that site builders are easy to use.
Still, for complete novices, the biggest hurdle with a new website builder is the interface and it’s functionality. There are many drag and drop website builders. But while at its core, moving elements around is the same, there are some palpable differences.
Menus, editing elements, aligning them, choosing a theme, and installing third-party extensions can differ noticeably from one platform to another.
All the same, learning your way around is easy.
In general, the website makers have trial periods or completely free accounts, so testing them is easy.
Opening an account with the likes of WiX takes minutes. Learning how to use a website creator well requires several hours of focused effort and is valuable knowledge you can benefit from all your life.
Nothing can match this accessibility.
What Are Website Builders Good for?
Website builders are excellent for people with limited time and no technical knowledge who want to create and manage their own website.
They are very easy to master, cost a few dollars per month, and require absolutely no technical knowledge. There is no need to learn how to use FTP and to write or edit code.
On top of that, website building platforms are considerably cheaper than hiring a developer. A custom-built website usually costs several thousand dollars, whereas the lower-end website builder plans are less than $10 per month and give you all the tools needed to craft a nice web presence.
The costs are beyond comparison because a custom-built website is not that easy to maintain if you know no coding. And if you pay your developer to do maintenance and updates, to create the additional section or page when needed, the investment will grow considerably.
One potential advantage of a good developer is that he or she should be able to create anything you ask for, whereas a site builder might not provide similar functional capabilities.
However, this is already part of the ease of use discussion.
Because negotiating with a developer and passing across your ideas is usually not all that easy, either. Designers and developers often have their own views on how things should be and might discard your idea, especially if you explain it poorly. And by poorly I mean not using their technical jargon.
Finding a developer you understand and trust takes time and effort. Finding the best website builder for your needs also requires some review reading and testing, but once you get it, you’ll have considerable creative power literally at your fingertips.
Don’t get me wrong.
If you can afford a great designer who will also be available in the future, go for it. If your site is going to be big and requires a lot of custom functions, hiring a developer will probably be the only way.
Website building platforms are excellent for small and medium sites with limited resources and tight development timeframes. They are all-in-one solutions that concede a certain degree of control to gain unmatched ease of use and utility.
Are Website Builders Better than WordPress?
Note: What follows is a discussion of WordPress.org or self-hosted WordPress. WordPress.com is another SaaS website builder with spectacular functionality.
The perennial question is whether a website creator is better than popular content management systems like WordPress and Joomla.
Many WordPress reviews speak about its prodigious ease of use, but, honestly, that is not the main distinction between classic site makers and the popular CMS.
WordPress sports two main advantages, neither of which happens to be greater ease of use.
Indeed, there are WordPress site builders that are extremely user-friendly, probably on a par with WiX and Weebly. However, getting started with WordPress is not nearly as simple as it is with the majority of quality site creators.
After all, WordPress is a self-hosted solution. That means that you, the site owner, must find a hosting provider for WordPress. There are many quality hosting companies that cater specifically to WordPress users, but that doesn’t mean that choosing the right one for your needs is very easy.
Here at Hosting Tribunal we have an entire section dedicated to WordPress for a reason.
After you find a host and have the CMS configured, you must install the WordPress site builder you wish to use. Provided you have found it already, that is.
It is obvious that the initial setup is considerably more complicated. With website builders, you simply create an account, purchase the plan you wish to use, and off you go to create catchy web pages.
Wait, Isn’t WordPress Free?
You might hear the mantra that WordPress is free. At its core, it totally is. You can run a WordPress site from your personal computer and pay nothing. You could deploy it on a free hosting package and pay nothing.
However, if you want quality site building tools, a nicely optimized theme, and plugins that are secure and updated regularly, you’ll probably have to pay. Many of the free WP themes available are excellent, but their premium counterparts are even better.
It is the same with free website builder software – it costs nothing, but the premium option is often better.
The main difference between WordPress and website builders is not the price but the scope and functionality. WordPress excels at functionality, largely thanks to its 50,000+ plugins. Without a doubt, it can do more things than the SaaS website builders.
The question is whether you are going to utilize this vast potential. In the majority of cases, you don’t need your site to do everything there is to be done online. Quite the contrary, you should start with a concept and build from there. Find the functionality you need, polish it, and thrive.
Limitless possibilities require time to understand how to use everything properly; not all WordPress plugins and themes are compatible with one another.
Overall, website builders are much easier to use than WordPress and present far fewer technical challenges.
DYI site builders can often compete with self-hosted WordPress in terms of price, too. Inevitably, building a site is an investment of time, effort, and often money. It is easy to create a free website but hard to make any meaningful impact with it.
Transferring Sites Between Website Builders Is Tricky
Apart from functionality, the second real advantage WordPress has over website building platforms is ownership. Since SaaS site makers provide the full package – site-building software, support, and hosting – you are not in complete control of your website.
It resides on the site builder’s servers, and you cannot really move it away if you decide to. Currently, very few website builders have the technical capability to allow realistic, trouble-free migrations.
In other words, website builders bind you for life. Or for as long as you are unwilling to start from scratch elsewhere.
WordPress sites can move from one web hosting provider to another without a problem.
So, there you have it.
If you’ve made it this far, you already know what a website builder is, how it works, and which the top choices are.
All that is left to do is read our impartial reviews, find the best website builder 2022 has to offer, and start crafting your digital place.
Also, check the FAQ section below for some common misconceptions about website builders.