Building a website these days boils down to the two most popular options: using the content management system, WordPress, or any of the popular website builders on the internet.
Businesses and individuals might be faced with the dilemma of choice when it comes to picking between these two options to create their website. After all, they produce the same end result, right?
But of course, it’s not that simple, anyone with half a knowledge of website creation knows that these two options, WordPress and website builders, have at least one major advantage over the other.
In the case of website builders, it’s that they have hugely simplified the process of website creation. Anyone that can read, write and use the internet can create a good website with a website builder in a few hours.
WordPress on the other hand is a bit more complicated and takes a longer time to operate. Its unique value proposition (UVP) is that its way more flexible and functional. It provides a wider array of options that users can take advantage of for any number of purposes.
At this point, the choice is usually left to you, the user, to pick what option appeals to you the most, but I’ll do you one better. I’ll let you know why WordPress is the most preferred option among internet users.
The Popularity of WordPress
WordPress powers over one-third of the world’s websites 43.2% in 2023, significantly more than the market share of other CMS platforms and website builders.
While you may argue that the number doesn’t necessarily speak for itself (since WordPress has been around long before these website builders), as someone that has created several thriving websites, I can testify that it actually does.
WordPress keeps on growing in market share, projected to reach 50% in a few years’ time. That only proves that more internet users are beginning to see the advantages of WordPress over website builders.
But what exactly are these advantages? What would make anyone (technical savant or not) consider using WordPress over an easy-to-use website builder?
To properly answer these questions, you need to understand how these two platforms work and the difference in the range of their features.
WordPress vs Website Builders
The WordPress vs website builder debate is fairly recent, coinciding with the period website builders started becoming more popular. Your answer to this debate depends on what either of both platforms can do for you.
They are both useful, but one is clearly more powerful than the other. Let’s provide context here by briefly looking into them:
What is a Website Builder?
A website builder lets people build websites by using a simple drag and drop tool. All you need to do is choose a template, then add and rearrange elements to build your preferred layout.
No need for code. No need to bother about hosting and maintaining your website. All that’s taken care of by the website builder. You just need to complete a domain search, choose your preferred domain and plan, have a great sense of layout and knowledge of design trends, and you can have a pretty impressive website just in time for dinner.
Also, with a website builder, you don’t need to download software. As a SaaS (Software as a service) tool, you can simply access it on a “.com” site and start building.
Most website builders are similar in function, but some are geared towards specific purposes. For instance, website builders like Shopify or its alternatives are particularly used to build eCommerce stores.
Website builders like Wix or its alternatives can be considered as multipurpose platforms.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system. It came into existence as primarily a blogging platform but has evolved into a powerful tool that can be used to build the most unique websites.
With WordPress, you’re usually in charge of your own hosting. You also have more control over the features and maintenance of your site.
WordPress is typically downloaded as a software that you can install on your own web host. But there is a SaaS version of it that’s similar to website builders. As a ‘‘.com’’ site, it can be accessed on the web and it shares some key differences with the ‘‘.org’’ version which is the original, open-source WordPress.
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The “.org” version is more powerful and flexible than the “.com” version in case you were wondering. It’s the “.org” version I’ll be talking about in this article.
Why is WordPress Better than a Website Builder?
Here are 7 reasons why you might consider using WordPress instead of a website builder:
- No Limit to Customization with Plugins
Plugins are one of the most powerful assets of WordPress. They are also a feature that website builders are much limited in comparison.
Plugins are extensions you can use to add new features or processes to your website. For instance, live chat plugins would add a live chat feature to your website.
Other features you can add to your website with plugins include a contact form, gallery, social media integrations, and so on. A plugin can also optimize your content, like your media and blog posts for instance.
With WordPress plugins, you can add almost any type and level of content to your website. Podcasts and slideshows, for instance, are examples of unique content that can be embedded.
Whereas WordPress has thousands of plugins users can choose from, website builders’ available plugins usually range in the few hundreds and are limited in their range of functionality.
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This means there are almost no limits to the type of features you can add to your website with WordPress compared to website builders.
Ability to Create Custom Websites
Because there are so many plugins with a wide variety of functions, and you have the access to tweak your underlying code in WordPress software, you can create almost any type of website that meets your imagination.
Using an eCommerce plugin from WordPress, you can create an eCommerce store. Naturally online stores are the eCommerce platform’s specialty but it shouldn’t be surprising to know that WordPress plugins are one of the most popular ways to build an online store.
It is with good reason. Leading eCommerce enterprises use WordPress because they are able to evolve new practices and have more unique features that push them ahead of the competition. Website builders are much limited in this regard.
Unique but very practical websites that can be created with WordPress include job listing sites, event directories, real estate directories, and membership sites.
You can create membership sites like online courses and private communities using membership plugins. Some website builders offer membership services, but the configurations are limited and owners could struggle when it comes to user management and content restriction.
If you even want, you can design your website using a drag and drop interface just like in website builders by using a drag and drop plugin.
So, as you can see, the options with WordPress are pretty much limitless. If your business is a unique venture and you require a custom website whose type you’ve probably haven’t seen before, then WordPress is your go-to.
- Full Control Over Your Website
WordPress gives you 100% access to your site’s database and underlying code. You have much more accessibility when it comes to the technical management of your site.
However, this also means that WordPress requires some technical maneuverability to operate.
The technical aspect is what scares most people away, as it requires more effort and a bigger commitment to learning than website builders. Since a website builder doesn’t need a single piece of code to operate, it seems like the most convenient option to most people.
But what WordPress lacks in its ease of use, it more than makes up for in terms of accessibility and ownership. This might not mean anything to you if you’re only rushing to quickly set up your business as easily as possible.
A serious business owner with long-term goals will appreciate the concept of owning the whole of their structure. Since the underlying structure is managed by website builders, there’s a possibility that they own part of your website.
The terms and conditions of some website builders state that they retain the rights to some of your content. That’s something for you to think of long and hard as a business owner.
It might seem harmless but there’s a chance that this type of arrangement might not favor website owners in the long run.
- More Scalability for Your Business
WordPress is the ideal option for a flexible business that intends to scale and adapt to consumer behavior and market trends.
You can always add new features to your website to meet customers’ demands. For instance, you could add a chat or support forum if at some point your customers begin to clamor for such.
Features like custom post types and custom fields can be used to add or morph different content structures on your website. This provides the leverage to accommodate and support several types of details, depending on the type of content or feature you were looking to add.
Add to this to the multi-functionality of WordPress plugins and the ability to edit your code and what this means is that at any point of your website’s existence, you could make major changes to it and adjust the entire structure as you wish.
This is not so possible with website builders, which are usually less dimensional than WordPress. It would be pretty hard to change a regular website into an online store with a website builder but not so much with WordPress.
WordPress also has integration capabilities which means it can work well with other platforms to streamline processes in your website. If you had a pretty convenient platform that made an aspect of your business easier and you wanted to synchronize it with your website, chances are there is some WordPress plugin somewhere that could integrate it.
For example, with a WordPress online store, if you were looking to streamline your bookkeeping functions with your website, you could integrate bookkeeping platforms like Quickbook or its alternatives with a WordPress eCommerce plugin like Woocommerce.
Possibility to Migrate to Web Hosts
One of the most important advantages WordPress provides is the ability to change web hosts. Since you’re in charge of your own web hosting, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to migrate your website to another host, then that’s pretty doable with WordPress.
There is a myriad of quality web hosting services that offer WordPress hosting, like Cloudways or SiteGround, just to name a few, all of them with different plans to suit any number of specific hosting needs.
With website builders, your website comes pre-packaged with a web host, so you have little control in that area. Sure, you can upgrade your website over time with higher pricing plans and your website builder automatically upgrades your hosting plan but you can’t change hosts.
If you want to move to another preferred web host with a website builder, you might have to rebuild your website.
This aspect of website builders limits your options and your control over your cost of production. Because WordPress doesn’t automatically select a host for you, you have the freedom and access to cheaper, better hosting platforms that will be better suited for your website.
- Access to Vast Support Community
Due to the popularity of WordPress, it has a pretty large support community. There are several support or developer forums anyone can reach out to solve any number of problems.
So if you have a unique problem you just can’t seem to solve, there’s a huge chance there’s a developer in one of those forums waiting to help you with it.
WordPress’s popularity also means you have access to a lot of help with your website if you want. If you’re scared of the technicalities or you just want to improve your website, there are thousands of WordPress-specialized developers, editors, designers, and writers you can hire.
WordPress uses open-source code. This means there are several developers, whether hobbyists or professionals, that have access to its underlying structure and are constantly working to upgrade and make it even more powerful.
So WordPress users are privileged to software that keeps getting better and adding more functionalities. This is one of the reasons why WordPress keeps growing bigger and more popular than all the website builders.
Website builders don’t have WordPress’s level of support and as a result, can’t enjoy the level of scale WordPress does. They say there’s power in sheer numbers, and in this case, that statement couldn’t be truer.
- Better SEO
SEO is at the core of any website’s growth, therefore boosting your SEO and using better SEO techniques to increase organic traffic becomes a major task for a website owner.
WordPress is much better equipped for search engine optimization than any website builder. Website builders have their SEO options but these are great only if you’re at a beginner level.
Yes, they make the process convenient but if you’re truly willing to compete and appear at the top level then you need the more flexible options that WordPress’s several SEO plugins provide.
The most popular SEO plugins are Yoast and Rank Math and either of these is very familiar with Google’s ranking algorithm. These plugins would provide the maximum keyword optimization for your content.
Naturally, Google’s site crawlers are more familiar with WordPress’s structure so you automatically have a better chance of being ranked using WordPress than using a website builder.
- More Themes for a Unique Website Design
Website builders have some cool templates to choose from, and with the drag and drop tool, you can get creative and edit these templates to create a pretty website. But if you truly want power over your web design, then WordPress is your obvious option.
The thousands of themes, both free and paid, that you can utilize on WordPress to customize the look of your website make website builder templates look much more limited. With these themes, you could create really unique and astonishing websites.
And what’s more, finding the right theme to use is not much of a hassle, you just need to search using the right keywords and you’ll find several options for the particular design idea you have in your head.
- Better Optimization for Mobile
Mobile is a pretty strong force where websites are concerned. At least 40% of people won’t use a website that’s not mobile-friendly.
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It then only makes sense that having an optimized mobile version of your site becomes a major priority. And once again, WordPress trumps website builders in this aspect.
Some website builders do offer design templates that are fit for mobile phones but this feature can’t compare with the advantage WordPress has for agreeing well with Google’s criteria for mobile-friendly sites.
The implication is a bit obvious, your mobile website, if powered by WordPress has a head-start when it comes to ranking on Google’s algorithm.
WordPress also typically offers more options for mobile optimization. There are several mobile-responsive themes you can choose from, or you can install plugins to optimize your website’s performance on mobile.
The ability to edit your WordPress source code means you can add even more useful options to your mobile optimization arsenal. For instance, by tweaking some code, you can create responsive images that automatically adjust to fit perfectly on any device of any type.
So, WordPress, Right?
So which is better? WordPress or a website builder? While I believe I’ve answered this question, the truth is the choice of whether to use WordPress or a website builder for your website really depends on your needs and requirements first and foremost.
If you really just want to create a simple, nice-looking website as fast and easy as you can and you’re truly not bothered about scaling, growth, and any of that other stuff, then a website builder might be good for you.
For instance, a website builder is great if all you want is a portfolio website where you can creatively showcase your stuff or a cozy online store with unique products, and you don’t see your site being anything more than that.
But if you’re a serious business owner looking to scale and grow in a competitive era, then you need the flexible options and tools that WordPress has to offer.
Sure, it requires some code to operate and might take some time to learn, or even cost money if you decide to hire a professional because you don’t understand it. It also requires more maintenance and you have to be extra careful and deliberate about some actions and changes, like adding plugins and themes.
But while all these things might sound a bit demanding, in the case of WordPress, the gains far outweigh the pains.