Thinking of building your own website from scratch but not sure what tools to use? Well, there are two main paths you can take: using a multipurpose content management system (CMS). (Opens in a new tab)) or use our beginner-friendly website builder (Opens in a new tab).
Either way, you’ll get a great website building solution that has made this time-consuming and cumbersome task easier than it ever was. However, it should be noted that these tools usually demand an entirely different level of technical know-how.
As a rule, less experienced users are attracted to site builders because they use an intuitive and easy-to-use user interface (UI), drag-and-drop functionality, and many attractive ready-made templates.
On the other hand, tech-savvy users with coding skills will not be intimidated by the complexity and overall capacity of a CMS as it offers them the freedom and flexibility to shape their site to their heart’s content.
So, on a surface level, CMS and website builder differ in terms of complexity, but it goes beyond that.
To help you decide which solution is right for you and your online project, we’ll explain what these pieces of software are, what their main advantages and disadvantages are, and what separates them from one another.
What is a content management system?
A content management system (or CMS for short) is software that can help you build a fully functional site without having to write all the code from scratch – it can be a lifesaver if you have no coding skills at all. As the name suggests, its primary purpose is to manage the content in a database – create it, delete it, store it, modify it, publish it, and so on.
Currently, the most popular content management system on the planet is WordPress as it powers over 43% of all websites on the web. However, there are many content management systems on the market and some are more suitable for specific websites (such as e-commerce stores) than WordPress (Opens in a new tab) Like Prestashop (Opens in a new tab)Magento (Opens in a new tab)and BigCommerce (Opens in a new tab).
Some of the advantages of using a CMS include ease of use, simplified site maintenance, cost-effectiveness, extendable functionality (via plug-ins, for example), and community support.
However, there are some drawbacks as well. They are the time consuming aspect of maintenance, hidden costs, and reliance on plug-ins, extensions, and tools. Also, while a CMS can give you complete control over every element of your site, it also places a lot of responsibility on your shoulders – especially when it comes to security.
What is a website builder?
As its name suggests, a website builder is software (whether it is a standalone program or part of a platform) that will enable you to create a website together. Plus, you’ll be able to do it in no time.
With so many ready-made themes, templates, and layouts, almost anyone can create an attractive site without any designer or developer skills — or without hiring a designer or developer when we’re at it.
Being the most beginner-friendly website builder, the website builder will provide you with an easy-to-use editor that allows you to customize the elements on your site pages. For example, Wix (Opens in a new tab) It offers over 800 designer-designed templates and they’re all customizable, which means your site should stand out from the crowd — if you have a stab at the editor, that is.
While a website builder can be a great time saver, it does come with some strings attached. First of all, your site won’t really belong to you, which makes migrating to other platforms somewhat difficult. Also, since you don’t have full ownership of your site, if you forget to renew your subscription before it expires, you risk losing your site and its content.
With ongoing costs and add-ons (eg marketing, SEO (Opens in a new tab)or advanced analytics) will have to be purchased separately, as the total cost can add up quickly.
What is the difference between a CMS and a website builder?
While usability will vary from solution to solution, most website builders are created with beginners in mind, which is not the case with CMS. Also, the website builder acts as an all-in-one platform that simplifies the website creation procedure but also throws in other cool things as well.
For example, most professional website builders include web hosting services (such as Weebly (Opens in a new tab)Square Space (Opens in a new tab)and Shopify (Opens in a new tab)) while most CMSs are self-hosted, which means you will have to find hosting services elsewhere.
Also, the standard CMS is pretty bare-bones at first but can be customized with plug-ins, extensions, and modules. In contrast, with a website builder, you usually start out with more features, but they can’t be customized that way.
In addition, tech-savvy users who know how to write custom code can enjoy endless customization with CMS, which is not possible with closed systems like website builders.
However, site builders are stronger in terms of standard customer support (such as 24/7 live chat), whereas with most CMSs you’ll have to settle for the support offered by the community that is committed to the software.
Last but not least, with a CMS, you will have complete ownership of your content, which is not the case with website builders – sometimes, you won’t even get a chance to use your own domain.
Similarities Between CMS and Website Builder
CMS and site builders share their primary goal of making it possible to build, manage, and maintain a site without coding skills. In addition to being beginner-friendly, both solutions will allow you to customize the look of your site and make it stand out.
Also, with both a CMS and a website builder, you’ll get some SEO tools. However, due to its high customizability, the CMS gets stronger in this case.
As for pricing, while both CMS and website builders can be free, pocket-friendly, and premium, the cost of using a website builder is more predictable than a CMS.
In terms of security, a website builder is a safer option than a CMS due to its closed and proprietary nature. By contrast, the security of the CMS software is as solid as it gets – you’ll have to take care of all the security updates, backups, and site optimization.
Which is better?
Since there is no direct answer to this type of question, we cannot give you an answer. Some users may feel completely at home with a CMS while others prefer the security, stability and support they will get with a website builder.
On the other hand, a CMS will give you more control over your site and its contents, which is a top priority for some users. So, it all depends on your own needs and preferences.
For example, while a site builder is generally more secure if you are willing to put in your time, effort, and energy to make your CMS site more secure (and use all the right plugins), it can be just as secure for a site built by a builder. Property.
Also, while the demo site builder provides you with some SEO tools, if you pair your CMS with the right plugins, you can improve your site’s performance to perfection. However, even if you’re using a free and open source content management system (like WordPress), the best plugins won’t be free.
So even if a CMS site is a cheaper option in the early stages, once you start bundling paid plugins, you might be surprised at the total cost.
Should I use a CMS or website builder?
If you have development and designer skills (or at least a desire to learn) and want complete control over the direction of your site – then a CMS is an obvious choice for you.
However, if you are a complete beginner and do not have enough time to invest in developing new skills – a website builder might be the best option for you.
We should also note that once you have chosen one of these solutions, it is best to stick with it since switching between these solutions after creating your site is highly impractical.
By now, you should have a clearer idea of which of these website building solutions is the right choice for you.
Since most of these tools offer either a free tier or a free trial, it’s a smart strategy to try them out for yourself before reaching a final decision.
Also, once you’ve chosen a specific solution, take some time to do a background check on the company behind it and do some hands-on reviews. Only then can you be sure that you made the right choice.