There are plenty of options for building a website. Some of the most popular ones are WordPress or website builders like Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace, or GoDaddy websites. Here’s a rundown of some of the main differences between WordPress and website builders.
I’ll start with an analogy . . .
Think of WordPress as owning your own RV home. Once you buy it, you can do whatever you want with it. You can paint the outside purple with yellow stripes if you want to! And, you can move it from place to place. And, since it’s your place, you’ll be responsible for fixing things.
IMPORTANT: There is a specific type of builder that can be used with WordPress. Some of these are Divi, Beaver Builder, Elementor, and Visual Composer. When I refer to builders below, I am NOT referring to these.
Using a website builder of these is like renting a home. You’re free to move all your stuff in (your content) but no purple and yellow stripes! Plus, you’ll have other restrictions on what you can and can’t do. And, if you decide you want to move, you have to pack all your stuff up and find a whole new place to live. On the other hand, the landlord will be responsible for fixing anything that goes wrong.
These are standalone builders such as Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, GoDaddy, and others. You do NOT use WordPress with these. Instead, you use proprietary software and pay a company to use their software and host your website.
Here’s a breakdown of some of differences between WordPress and website builders:
For me, this is the most important difference, and I’m putting it first in case you don’t read the rest of this blog post!
WordPress websites can be moved from one hosting company to another. And quite often it’s fairly easy – some hosting companies will even do it for you when you’re moving to them. There are many reasons you might want to move a website: performance issues, customer service problems, lack of hosting features available, or even a hosting company going out of business.
Website builders use proprietary software, meaning it belongs to the company that made it. This means that if you decide you want to switch to a different hosting company, you will not be able to simply move your website like you can with a WordPress website. Although there are some tools that can help convert a website to WordPress, they don’t always work. In most cases, you will have to build and entirely new website.
Consider the worst case scenario of a website builder company going out of business. This would put all of their customers in a tough spot having to scramble to figure out what to do with your website.
- WordPress is free software
- Need to purchase hosting and your domain
- Most hosting companies either have it already installed or easy click to install feature
- Some may have a free option, but this will include having their branding on your website, and a domain that includes the name of their website.
- You can upgrade to remove branding and use your domain
You’ll need to manage updates to WordPress, themes, and plugins. If you don’t want to do them yourself, you can sign up for a service like ProtectYourWP. They will manage all updates and even backups for you.
They do this for you.
WordPress is open-source, which means developers can access the code WordPress is built on. Because of this anyone can write plugins and offer them for free or for a fee to the public. As a result, there are thousands of plugins that can be used to add new functionality to your website. Currently there are more than 55,000 WordPress plugins.
Website builders are proprietary, and while people can (in some cases) write additional software for them, they can normally only be used with the company’s permission. This limits the number of plugins and templates available.
WordPress allows you to fine-tune your website, customizing most details to suit you. This means you can create a website that is totally unique.
With website builders, you’re limited in what you can do within the parameters of their templates and plugins. And, depending on the number of templates available, there many be many websites that look the same.
For most, WordPress does present a much longer learning curve than website builders. However, some themes that use their own built-in builders (like Divi) can make it much easier to learn. Keep in mind, that this longer learning curve results in more options to customize your website to suit your needs.
Many website builders have drag and drop features, which make them quite easy to use.
I prefer WordPress. I realize there’s more of a learning curve but the fact that it’s more flexible in so many ways is extremely important to me and my clients. And, being tied to a proprietary platform is the biggest deal breaker for me. I want to own my entire website and have the option move it from one hosting company to another if I feel the need.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.