This document answers the most common questions (FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions) that might come up when choosing a platform for your next website.
If you don’t find an answer to your question here, no worries! This website builder faq will be frequently updated, and it will help you to choose between WordPress and online site builder platforms.
Let me know if you have any questions and who knows; they might end up here at some point!
Choosing Between WordPress and Online Site Builders
In this section, I talk about the most common differences between WordPress and Online Site Builders.
Please note, that when I’m talking about WordPress, I’m referring to the self-hosted version of WordPress, not WordPress.com.
Which one should I choose, WordPress or an online site builder?
WordPress is the most common CMS (Content Management System) in the world and it is used by some of the most well-known brands, including CNN and TIME.com.
Especially if you are into blogging, you will find that many people are talking about WordPress as the only true option as their blogging platform.
You may think that since “everyone else” is using WordPress, you should start using it as well. But, whether to choose between WordPress or an online site builder, ask yourself these questions instead:
- Am I competent with technical issues when building a website?
- Am I willing to keep the site up-to-date with the latest security patches and other updates? Also, are you willing to commit to the maintenance of your website?
- Are you willing to “hunt your answer” when it comes to building and maintaining your website? What I mean is that sometimes you might have to visit forums or just use plain old Google to find answers to your questions.
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then you have two options: You can either hire someone to build and maintain a WordPress website for you (like me!), or you choose an online site builder for your next project.
Although WordPress is an easy CMS to learn, it is still more or less a DIY platform, where you end up doing a lot of the work yourself (registering domains, finding hosting for your website, doing maintenance work, solving technical issues …).
On the other hand, if you want more care-free platform, majority of these things just mentioned handled by an online site builder, out of the box.
Is WordPress is cheaper than an online site builder?
WordPress hosting companies give you the impression that WordPress is oftentimes a very cheap platform. However, what you see on the hosting company’s pricing table is just one part of the story.
While WordPress hosting is most likely cheaper, you still have to do some extra purchases on top of the hosting:
- Theme: free to hundreds of dollars.
- Domain: 9 dollars per year (although, you might get a free domain for one year with a new website).
- Plugins: free to hundreds of dollars.
In addition, you may have to invest into a backup system to backup your files and databases. Also, often the cheapest WordPress plans can also be the slowest from end user’s perspective. This means that you may have to purchase a plan, which costs more, in order to get a better performance.
In most of the cases, the site builders offer themes out of the box. Also, all your the technical things handled for you (backups, monitoring …).
So to answer the question (whether WordPress is cheaper than an online site builder) is somewhat difficult to say, especially if you are building just one site.
If you build many sites under one WordPress hosting account, this is definitely cheaper than when compared to online site builders. Take a look at the section “How many site can I build one one account?” to see more information regarding to this important topic.
What about features and extendability of WordPress?
At the moment, WordPress beats online site builder hands down when it comes to extendability and features that you can have on your website. This is because the abundance of plugins written for WordPress.
Also, WordPress runs as a blog, an ecommerce store or as an membership site very easily (although the same functionality is offered by some of the site builders as well).
What do you get out of the box?
With WordPress, you get the just the core package; The WordPress platform with it’s default themes. After you have made an initial installation, you’ll have to install the rest of the software (plugins, themes …) yourself, unless you can outsource all this work to someone else (let me know what I can do for you!.
On the other hand, with online site builders, you get everything: themes, tech support, backups, monitoring and the hosting as soon as you sign up.
There is naturally some work involved when using online site builders too, like writing the copy for the site, picking/tweaking the theme to adjust your brand and getting the domain for your website (these tasks are applicable for WordPress as well).
How many sites can I build on one account?
With WordPress, you can pretty much build as many sites on one account as you wish. However, this is different with online site builders.
Typically, with site builders, you can build only one site per subscription. This means that if you want to run multiple sites, they each require a subscription of their own. In this scenario, online site builders become way more expensive than WordPress sites.
For instance, if one site built with a site builder costs $8 / month and you want to run three sites, that is $24 dollars per month (compared to a WordPress, where running all these sites would cost just $8 / month).
So what is the catch here? Well, the online site builders have a lot more to offer out of the box when you sign up for them.
For instance, they have to get the money from somewhere to invest into infrastructure, pay for their customer support, pay for the developers to develop new features … you get the point. And all this costs money.
Online Website Builders
This section talks about the questions specific to Online Site Builders.
I haven’t tested each site builder there is. But still, these questions answer to the most popular site builders that exist (like Wix, Jimdo, Weebly or Squarespace).
Should I purchase domains through online site builders?
Oftentimes it is much more expensive to purchase a domain through an online site builder. However, this depends on the site builder you are using.
For instance, if you register a domain (.com) through Squarespace, the cost is at the time of writing 20$ per year (compared to Namecheap, where the price is approximately $9).
Even if the online site builders might give you a free domain for the first year as soon as you register with them, the subsequent year can be expensive. For instance, with Squarespace, the following years the payment is $20 (compared to Namecheap, where it is still that $9 - assuming of course that the pricing stays the same).
For this reason, I suggest that you register your domain elsewhere (rather than through an site builder), and then hook it up with your site builder account. I have personally used Namecheap successfully when registering my domains.
Which online site builder should I choose?
It is very difficult question to answer, and it depends solely on your needs.
What functionality would you like to see now and in the future in your website? For instance, would you like to run a blog? An ecommerce store? All these matter when you are choosing your online site builder.
Here is a quick rundown of the biggest site builders and their main strengths:
- Wix: Plenty of themes, most features.
- Squarespace: Plenty of themes, big and bold images suggest that this site builder is best for creative types like photographers.
- Weebly: Not so many themes available, but the user interface is the easiest to use.
- Jimdo: Perhaps you would like to run your site with many languages? In that case, this European site builder could be for you.
Can I build a website by my own?
Yes, you definitely can do that, and this is the goal with any site builder. Of course, your responsibility is to write the copy for the site, or change the images on your website template, to adjust them to your brand.
Then again, you should always ask for help if you run any issues when building your site. The knowledge bases provided by each site builder can offer you more help, so does the customer support.
Also, some site builders like Wix have a designer section, where you can hire an external designer to design your site.
Can I build multiple sites on one account?
You can’t. Of course, I haven’t reviewed every site builder there is, but usually this is the case.
This is one of the noticeable differences with the WordPress platform and I covered this topic already on the section “How many sites can I build on one account?” on this article.
I’m still stuck with building my website - can I get any help?
I’m here to help you!
So if you have any issues with building your site, let me know through the contact form, and I’ll see what I can do.
I can’t promise you any quick answers as I have a full-time day job and family. But I read every email and and I will reply back to you.