How Should I Build My Website?
Should I invest in a custom website or use a website builder?
If you’re ready for a new website, one of the biggest questions you’ll have to answer is how you’ll build it. Should you hire an agency to develop a fully custom website? Or should I use a website building platform? There’s a big range of options for how your site can be built. Each option differs in how much functionality it has and how well it can serve your customers.
In this post, we’ll break down the most common website platforms to help you determine the best one for your business.
Websites are built using a variety of technologies. You may have heard of website builders like Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress.com. These tools allow you to create a functioning website rather quickly. As a plus, they also don’t require the assistance of a developer. Note, WordPress provides two solutions. The WordPress.com option is an all-in-one website builder, while WordPress.org is the open-source software that you can download and build your own website with (see below).
Best for: The DIY-er who needs a small, simple, informational website. Individuals and very small businesses who need to launch a site quickly and have a limited budget or technical ability.
Pros of website builders
- Smaller learning curve
- No website programming knowledge required
- A typical site built using one of these tools costs about $150/year
- Shorter time to build because of a simpler set-up
- Hosting is provided for you from the website builder
- Built-in functionality integrates with other systems such as email marketing and SEO
- Many templates are included with no additional cost
Drawbacks of website builders
- Very limited control over the design of your website
- You, technically, don’t own your website, and can’t just up and leave with all your site files
- Slower site performance that you really can’t improve
- Fewer options to optimize website performance
- Limited ability to customize the responsiveness of your template (in the case of Wix, only mobile and desktop versions are possible so your website isn’t really dynamic and responding to the sizes of different devices)
- Your website will look like other websites that use the same template
- Because you can’t implement anything more complicated and customized than the default functionality, more advanced functionality may be impossible (e-commerce, form applications, integration with other systems, etc.)
Another common technology for building websites is WordPress, the open-source software (WordPress.org). WordPress is what we call a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS can help you manage many types of content, from blogs and videos to images and home page offers. WordPress is a great option if you need more functionality, more design customization, and you need to optimize your site for performance, features, and functionality.
Best for: Individuals and small and medium-sized companies. Organizations who need their sites to look custom and professional, and who need the ability to update their own content without relying on a developer or agency for help.
Pros of WordPress
- With the help of plugins and custom themes, sites can be custom designed with vast options for functionality
- You own your website and all the assets associated with it, like source code, images, and so on
- It is relatively simple to move a WordPress website to another host
- It’s a stable, mature technology
- Integrates well with a variety of services, including e-commerce, calendars, scheduling, etc.
- Because it’s a common platform, you’ll have no trouble finding a developer to help make adjustments in the future
- You’ll have a stable, professional site that’s easy for you to update
Drawbacks of WordPress
- Requires a steeper learning curve to administer and manage content
- To enhance functionality and design, some knowledge of coding is required
- It doesn’t have a drag and drop editor (although Gutenberg is changing this)
- To upgrade to a more robust hosting solution that can handle a larger number of users, you will need server administration, or help from someone who does
You can take advantage of all WordPress has to offer–without the drawbacks–by working with a firm like USDP, who can build and manage your site for you.
We love WordPress for its ability to add functionality, customize designs, optimize site performance, create new features, and maintain site security. And, it empowers our clients to easily keep content fresh on their own. Hiring USDP to create your website not only gives you access to our expertise and experience with building WordPress websites–it gives you a Brand Boost.
Working with us gives you the ability to create better content, optimize your site for SEO, create search engine marketing campaigns, and integrate with email marketing systems like MailChimp, Cinchmail, and Campaign Monitor. You’ll get help with video production and mobile app development if you want it, too.
An alternative to a CMS is to hire an agency to build your website from the ground up. This option is ideal for companies that need custom functionality, complicated integrations with other systems, logins and authentication systems, and interaction with complex APIs.
A custom-built site requires developers with extensive knowledge of different types of programming languages, operating systems, and more. Developers have greater flexibility in creating high-performance and custom websites that serve a specific purpose for the business if they’re building it from scratch.
Best for: Websites that require highly specific functionality, integrations with many other systems, and the highest level of customization and control. Large corporations and companies in highly regulated industries often rely on custom-built websites.
Pros of custom-built websites
- Built for a specific purpose and optimized for your business’s needs
- It can sometimes be quicker to develop because you can skip the modifications to an existing CMS
- Developers have ultimate control over the design, performance, extensibility, and functionality of the website
Drawbacks of custom-built websites
- Harder to update content. Because of the site’s complexity, you would need to work with your agency or developer to update visual content. This can increase costs tremendously if you update content frequently.
- Can be more expensive long-term depending on the number of changes needed over time
- It can be hard to find a developer with expertise in the code your site was built on
Determining the right technical foundation for your company’s website isn’t something you need to do alone.
We’ve been building sites for over 17 years, and we’re happy to help you consider all of your choices. Our team can help you identify the one that best achieves your business goals.
Take our free website assessment to get started.