WordPress vs Web Builder

WordPress vs Web Builder
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WordPress vs Web Builder

What is the difference between Website CMS such as WordPress and Website Builder?

A regular question we get asked from potential clients is whether they should use CMS packages such as WordPress or if they should use Web Builder packages offered by myriads of hosting companies.

In most cases it all sounds simple financial calculation between upfront cost of setting up a website versus pay-as-you-go nature of Web Builder offers, however, there is more to this choice than just financial conerns.

To understand the pros and cons of the two systems we need to first understand what each option is and how they work.

What is WordPress CMS?

CMS stands for Content Management System, which are all based on open platforms and can be hosted on any server supporting Linux operating system. The most commonly used systems are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal although there are more options available on market.

CMS’s are mostly freeware and are installed on the hosting servers by either “Single Click” action via your Web Hosting Control Panel, or most Web Hosting providers will supply and install it for free.

The core CMS will provide website owners the ability to update content such as images and text, as well as adding new pages (or blogs) and delete old ones with little or no technical knowledge.

In general CMS’s are made up of 3 basic elements:

  • Core CMS
  • Theme or Templates for basic design concept
  • Add-ons or Plug-ins which add on functionality

For the purpose of this comparison we will be using WordPress as a representative of Open Source CMS as it is the most popular and widely used CMS on the Internet.

What are Themes or Templates?

Themes and Templates provide basic design for a website which can then be customised further to make your website unique in presentation and design. However to achieve any sort of customisation you need understanding of CSS, PHP, and HTML. If you do not have these skills, then you should employ services of a specialists which is usually pretty reasonable but remember costs depend on the level of customisation you require.

Whilst there are thousands of Free Themes, you must remember free themes are generally limited in their capabilities and support can be wanting for some. Premium or Paid WordPress themes have more functionality and generally have better support. However, before you select any WordPress theme, you should read their respective Reviews and Support logs carefully so that you can learn from other user’s experiences. It is also worth asking a “Pre-Sales” question from the supplier of the WordPress theme, just to assess how quickly and comprehensively they respond. This could be a good indication of their Post-Sales support.

What are Plug-ins?

Plug-ins (WordPress), Extensions (Joomla) or Add-ons (Drupal) are additional software to complement your theme or template which enhance the capabilities of your original theme. These could be additional functionality such as Payment Gateway, Social Media Sharing Tools, Sliders, Drag-and-Drop editing tools, SEO, Contact Forms, etc.

Once again before you select any WordPress theme, you should read their respective Reviews and Support logs carefully so that you can learn from other user’s experiences. It is also worth asking a “Pre-Sales” question from the supplier of the theme or template, just to assess how quickly and comprehensively they respond. This could be a good indication of their Post-Sales support.

If you have any doubts about the plug-in (or the theme), you should remember that there are 1000s out there and many do the same things and achieve the same end. This means if you are not happy about the response or functionality, then just look for another one as there are no shortage of options for WordPress users in particular.

Pros of using WordPress

  • Copyright – You own the copyright of your website design and content
  • Code – You own the code for your website
  • Hosting Choice – You can move your website to any Web Hosting Company that supports WordPress at Will
  • Design Choice – There are 1000s of WordPress Themes and Plug-ins that allow you to create a unique experience for your website visitors
  • Support – There is a large WordPress community outside of the theme or plug-in support service which enables you to get additional help and support.
  • Customisation – There are 1000s of skilled WordPress specialists that can help you customise your WordPress website and get the most out of your web presence.
  • SEO – Some WordPress themes may require SEO plug-ins, but in any event website based on WordPress can easily and successfully be optimised to deliver great performance in search.
  • Responsive Design – WordPress themes are generally Responsive so you do not need to create and maintain multiple versions of your website for Desktop, Tablets, and Smartphones. However, check your WordPress theme description and technical data to make sure you are buying a Responsive theme.
  • Ease of Use – Once the WordPress website is set up and customised you need little or no technical knowledge to add, delete, and edit your content including text, images, menus, blogs, etc.

Cons of WordPress

  • Upgrades – Like all software and operating systems they require updating including security updates. This is not for the faint-hearted and required practice and knowledge. However, by following the instructions and watching videos which there are 1000s on YouTube most people can get this done without too much trouble.
  • Interoperability – Plug-ins and themes are not pre-tested to ensure they work together. This means sometimes you have to be the test bed. Some combinations can break the website, although removing the plug-in should restore things. As there are more than 1 plug-in available for any given function it means you can try different one until you find one that works with your theme and other plug-ins in use in your WordPress site.
  • Security – As with all open systems, WordPress can be prone to security vulnerability. With so many people knowing about the system you need to be vigilant and take security measures such as Secure Passwords, Regularly Changing your Password, Hiding the Admin page, and keeping your software up-to-date, etc. There are many guide recommended “Good Practices” for WordPress which you should read up on and follow, to ensure security and integrity of your WordPress website.
  • Support – Depending on the WordPress theme and plug-ins you choose, support quality can be patchy and hit-and-miss. Reading reviews and feedback on themes and plug-ins are a must before you commit.

What is Web Builder?

Web builders are proprietary software provided by web hosting companies that enable users to create, maintain, and manage the content of their website. There are numerous systems such as Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, as well as those uniquely supplied by Web Hosting companies such as GoDaddy.

In general these systems provide a drag-and-drop solutions enabling non-technical users to create a website quickly and without any coding knowledge.

Web Builder software are either supplied by hosting companies as an optional extra to their regular web hosting services (GoDaddy or our own hosting package!), or they are supplied as complete package that includes hosting as well as the system (Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, etc.).

Either way, your monthly fees include usage of the system as well as the hosting service which is more like a Pay-as-You-Go service instead of upfront cost of developing a website and then annual fees for web hosting.

Pros of Web Builders

  • Low Initial Cost – There is no upfront cost as you pay a monthly fee for use of service
  • Ease of Use – No technical knowledge is needed as they are mostly drag-and-drop based.
  • Themes Selection – There are numerous themes that you can select to fit to your needs
  • Optional Functionality – Some systems (but not all) allow you to select optional functionality such as Online Payment, Social Sharing, Sliders, Gallery, etc., but you need to check if they support everything you need in advance.
  • Upgrades – No need as this is taken care of by the supplier.

Cons of Web Builders

  • Copyright – You do not own the design, but you own the content only.
  • Code – You do not own the code for your website as the code belongs to the supplier of the system, which means you cannot move your website to another service provider.
  • Hosting Choice – You cannot move your website to any Web Hosting Company as you do not own the code.
  • Limited Choice – Only themes, templates and Plug-ins (Add-ons) offered by the Web Builder provider is available to you. You cannot use 3rd party products.
  • Support – Only available from your Web Builder supplier and owner.
  • Customisation – Customisation is limited to the template and the parameters that the specific Web Builder allows you to do. You cannot go beyond the limits set no matter how skilled you are at coding.
  • SEO – This is the major failure for Web Builders as On-Page SEO is very limited and you have to rely on Off-Page SEO. This is why you do not find any Web Builder sites in first page of any competitive Keyword. Before you commit, you should do a search for your target keywords and see how many of the 1st two pages of the Search Results include websites that are Web Builder based.
  • Responsive Design – Most Web Builders have limited capabilities, with some redirecting the visitors using Tablets and Smartphones to a different version of your website. You have very little control over the looks and presentation of these versions.


The question you have to ask yourself is “Why you are setting up a website?”.
If you are just intending to have a online brochure that you can point your potential clients to via traditional marketing activities and non-Internet advertising, then Web Builders are as good as any product you could use.

If you want to generate revenue or leads from your website in a competitive keyword environment such as Hospitality, Insurance, E-Commerce, etc., then you need to use CMS based websites such as WordPress. You need the flexibility and SEO performance so that you can attract traffic to your site. You may have the best looking website and the cheapest (or in some cases free) website from a Web Builder vendor, but if nobody can find you via Google then your online business is dead. You have the best looking shop in Tumbleweed Town High Street, but nobody comes to visit as nobody will ever find Tumbleweed Town!

Your website is your most important tool if you hope to generate business on the web. If you do not invest time and money in it, then you are expecting to win F1 race by entering a production car in the race!

Fully Managed WordPress Hosting

At Cognisant Hosting we offer Fully Managed Hosting services which includes updating WordPress or Joomla, Themes, and Plug-ins. Contact us for pricing for your website.

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