CMS vs website builder | Tech Radar

Thinking of building your website from scratch, but not sure what tools to use? Well, there are two main routes you can take: use a multi-purpose content management system (CMS (opens in a new tab)) or using a beginner-friendly website builder (opens in a new tab).

Either way, you will get an awesome site builder solution that has made this tedious and tedious task easier than it has ever been before. However, it should be noted that these tools generally require a whole different level of technical know-how.

Generally, less experienced users are more attracted to site builders because they use an intuitive and easy to use user interface, drag and drop functionality and tons of attractive ready-to-use templates.

On the other hand, tech-savvy users with coding skills will not be scared off by the complexity and overall capability of a CMS as it gives them the freedom and flexibility to shape their site as they see fit.

So, at the surface level, a CMS and a site builder differ in complexity, but it goes beyond that.

To help you decide which is the right solution for you and your online project, we will clarify what these software are, what their main advantages and disadvantages are, and what separates them from each other.

What is a CMS?

A Content Management System (or CMS for short) is software that can help you create a fully functional site without having to write all the code from scratch – it can be a lifesaver if you don’t have any skills in coding. As the name suggests, its main purpose is to manage the content of a database – create it, delete it, store it, modify it, publish it, etc.

Currently, the most popular CMS on the planet is WordPress as it powers over 43% of all sites on the web. However, there are many other CMS on the market and some of them are more suitable for specific sites (like e-commerce stores) than WordPress. (opens in a new tab) – like Prestashop (opens in a new tab)Magento (opens in a new tab)and BigCommerce (opens in a new tab).

Some of the advantages of using a CMS include user-friendliness, simplified site maintenance, cost-effectiveness, extendable functionality (via plugins, for example), and community support.

However, there are also some disadvantages. Namely, the tedious aspect of maintenance, hidden costs, and reliance on plugins, extensions, and widgets. Additionally, while a CMS can give you complete control over every element of your site, it also places a lot of responsibility on your shoulders, especially when it comes to security.

wix website builder

(Image credit: wix)

What is a Website Builder?

As the name suggests, a website builder is software (whether a standalone program or part of a platform) that will allow you to create a site. Plus, you’ll be able to do it in no time.

With tons of ready-to-use themes, templates, and layouts, just about anyone can create an engaging site without any designer or developer skills – or without hiring a designer or developer when here we are.

Being the most beginner-friendly site building tool, a site builder will provide you with an easy-to-use editor that allows you to customize the elements of your site’s pages. For example, Wix (opens in a new tab) offers over 800 designer-created templates and all of them are customizable, which means your site should stand out in the crowd – if you have a stab at the editor, of course.

While a site builder can be a great time saver, it does come with some strings attached. First and foremost, your site will never truly be yours, which makes transitioning to other platforms somewhat tricky. Also, since you don’t fully own your site, if you forget to renew your subscription before it expires, you risk losing your site and its content.

With ongoing costs and add-ons (such as for marketing, SEO (opens in a new tab)or advanced analytics) that you will need to purchase separately, the total cost can add up quickly.

What is the difference between a CMS and a website builder?

Although usability varies from solution to solution, most site builders are created with beginners in mind, which is not the case with CMS. Moreover, a site builder works as an all-in-one platform that streamlines the site creation procedure but also adds other great things.

For example, most professional site builders include web hosting services (like Weebly (opens in a new tab)square space (opens in a new tab)and Shopify (opens in a new tab)) while most CMSs are self-hosted, which means you’ll have to find hosting services elsewhere.

Moreover, the standard CMS software is quite simple to start with, but it can be customized with plugins, extensions and modules. In contrast, with a site builder, you usually start with more features, but they can’t be customized that way.

Additionally, tech-savvy users who know how to write custom code can enjoy endless customization with a CMS, which is not possible with closed systems like site builders.

However, site builders are stronger in terms of standard customer support (like 24/7 live chat), whereas with most CMSs you’ll have to settle for the support offered by the engaged community. software.

Finally, with a CMS, you’ll have complete ownership of your content, which site builders don’t – sometimes you won’t even be able to use your own domain.

Similarities Between a CMS and a Website Builder

CMS and site builders share their main purpose and that is to make it possible to create, manage and maintain a site without coding skills. Besides being beginner-friendly, both solutions will allow you to customize the look of your site and make it stand out.

Plus, with a CMS and a site builder, you’ll get search engine optimization (SEO) tools. However, due to its high customization, a CMS is stronger in this case.

When it comes to pricing, while CMSs and sitebuilders can be free, user-friendly, and premium, the cost of using a sitebuilder is more predictable than with a CMS.

In terms of security, a site builder is considered a more secure option than a CMS due to its closed and proprietary nature. On the other hand, the security of CMS software is as solid as you claim – you will have to take care of all security updates, backups and site optimization.

What is better?

Since there can be no direct answer to this kind of question, we cannot give you one. Some users may feel right at home with a CMS while others prefer the security, stability, and support they will get with a site builder.

On the other hand, CMSs will give you more control over your site and its content, which is a top priority for some users. So it all depends on your particular needs and preferences.

For example, while a site builder is overall more secure if you’re willing to put your time, effort, and energy into making your CMS site more secure (and using all the right plugins), it can be equal in terms of security to a site created by a proprietary builder.

Additionally, while a regular site builder will provide you with SEO tools, if you pair your CMS with the right plugins, you can optimize your site’s performance to perfection. However, even if you use a free and open source CMS (like WordPress), the best of its plugins will not be free.

So while a CMS site might be a cheaper choice at first, once you start hoarding paid plugins, you might be caught off guard by the total cost.

Person editing a WordPress site

(Image credit: Pixabay)

Should I use a CMS or a website builder?

If you have development and design skills (or at least a desire to learn) and want complete control over the direction of your site, then a CMS is an obvious choice for you.

However, if you are a total beginner and don’t have enough time to invest in developing new skills, a site builder might be a better choice for you.

We should also note that once you’ve decided on one of these solutions, it’s best to stick with them, as it’s extremely inconvenient to switch between them after you’ve created your site.

final thought

Now you should have a clearer idea of ​​which of these site building solutions is the right choice for you.

Since most of these tools offer either a free tier or a free trial, it’s a smart strategy to try them out for yourself before making a final decision.

Also, once you’ve settled on a specific solution, take the time to check the background of the company behind it and go through a few hands-on reviews. Only then can you be sure that you have made the right choice.