It’s no secret that startups and small businesses are on a tight budget.
The cost of hiring a good developer can off-putting — and you can expect that cost to triple for a web agency!
It’s no wonder the ‘do-it-yourself’ option is a lot more alluring.
If you’re confident with computers and know your way around a web browser, great! Doing it yourself is likely to save you money (at least at first).
But before you decided whether to build the site yourself or hiring a web developer you still need to choose the right platform for your site.
The first option is a hosted website built with a Website Builder. The second option is to use a free Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress.
So what’s the difference and how do you choose?
What is a Website Builder?
A web builder is a platform to host and build your website for a monthly or annual fee. You will use their builder functionality (usually a drag and drop interface) to create pages, navigation, add images and text, and ultimately build your own website.
The most popular web builder platforms in the UK are Wix, Weebly and Squarespace.
Pro’s for a using a Website Builder
- Simple to set up – Once you sign up and add your domain you’ll be able to get building right away.
- Fixed payment – You’ll know how much it will cost every month or year.
- Themes and templates – Many come with free basic themes and templates, some have optional pay for templates.
- No code knowledge needed – You will be able to create a website with a drag and drop builder, change colours and fonts.
- Apps or add on’s for extra functionality – Add free or paid functionality for online stores, memberships, booking and more. Check out this great web builder comparison chart to compare.
Con’s for using a Website Builder
- Pay monthly options – Costs vary but you will pay from £8.50 to £30 a month (sometimes paid annually) for your website – be careful of introductory offers!
- SEO limitations – There are some limitations when it comes to SEO. Here is a great overview of the best website builders for SEO.
- Limited customisation – Themes are limited and you may be restricted with layout options.
- You don’t own the website – The beautiful site you spent time designing can’t be moved to any other platform. You will have to continue to pay for it as long as you want it live.
- Speed optimisation – You have no control over your website speed and if your website is slow to load this could affect search rankings.
- Slow admin at busy periods – UK users of some platforms have noticed a slower admin speed in the afternoon and evening — inline with US timezones.
Some Web Builders have a free version but these are not advisable as you will only be able to append your business name to the platforms URL. This would negatively impact search rankings.
What is WordPress CMS?
Content Management Systems (CMS) are a different kettle of fish. Namely one big fish, WordPress.
With WordPress.org you can create a self-hosted website, that is completely yours.
It may seem daunting to less computer savvy person, but there are tons of Youtube videos and free guides (see resources below) to help you set up and build your own WordPress website.
Pro’s for using WordPress
- Forever Free – WordPress is an open source platform meaning it is completely free to use.
- Tons of themes – There are hundreds of free (and paid) themes, many come with extra functionality too!
- Fully customisable – With most themes and builders you can change everything and also alter code.
- Plugins for extra functionality – There are free and paid plugins for everything you can think of from booking systems, event management, memberships, courses, ecommence and more.
- No code knowledge needed – If you use a free or paid theme with a drag and drop builder you can create a WordPress website without code.
- SEO Improvements – Plugins like Yoast SEO help you to improve your page content and set up meta so you rank higher on Google.
- You own the website – Once you’ve build your site it’s yours, you can change hosting whenever you like.
- Awesome blogs – This is where WordPress started, so it would only seem apt that WordPress is still the best blogging platform available.
Con’s for using WordPress
- More technical – WordPress isn’t as straight forward as some of the web builder so you may find you need a developer to help.
- Speed optimisation – Whist it is great that you can improve your page speed it can be a bit complex and many skip this step, which could negatively effect SEO. Again you may need a developer to help.
- You have to pay hosting – You still need to pay for hosting this can range from £40 – £100 a year (I highly recommend SiteGround which has one-click WordPress set up).
- Regular updates – In order to keep your website secure you will need to keep it updated. All updates should be tested on a development version of your website before you update your live site.
Web Builder or WordPress?
Well, it ultimately comes down to budget, time, functionality and confidence.
If you’re low on budget but somewhat tech savvy and have time to develop a site yourself, then building your own WordPress site will be the best option long term.
If you’re able to build it yourself then you’ll have exactly what you want and need, it will cost less (if you get the right hosting) and give you more room to grow in future.
If you’re less comfortable with tech, have a small budget and don’t require a lot of advanced functionality, then a Web Builder is a way for you.
When to Hire a Web Designer?
If you’re not confident with technology, have less time on your hands and need more advanced tech (functionality that is not available with a Website Builder) then you may consider hiring a skilled web developer.
Very often you can get a free trial if you prefer a Web Builder platform. If you find difficult or that it’s sucking up your valuable time, then getting someone else to build it may be the better option.
For a small business, most web designers will recommend using WordPress (it’s free after all!).
This next article explains what you should you look for when hiring a web developer.