The Pros and Cons of Website Builders and Traditional CMS Tools

There are over 1 billion websites online right now and 571 new websites go live every 60 seconds. Thankfully, we have come a long way from the humble beginnings of the World Wide Web, with its flashing HTML, scrolling text, and distracting pop-ups.

Websites today are created in one of two ways; they are put together using a traditional content management system (CMS) tool, such as WordPress, Joomla! or Drupal; or they are assembled on a software as a service (SaaS) website building platform.

Currently, over half of websites have been built using the WordPress, making it the go-to CMS suite for most website creators. This industry-leader is free, it is recognized and it comes with a whole range of community forums, troubleshooting support and fierce advocates.

But these tools aren’t for everyone. If you don’t have a developer or the technical skills to code your backend, a SaaS website builder might be a better choice for you. This article breaks down the pros and cons of the two different approaches.

1. Customized Design Vs. Simplicity

A traditional CMS tool gives developers the opportunity to build a website from scratch. If you are blessed with a knack for programming languages such as JS or C, or you have a tech virtuoso in your founding team, then you can control every pixel of your new site. It will be more complex, but you can create a completely customized design and functionality, free from templates. Any part of the site can be altered as you please, this could be changing the design or style, adding sliders, contact forms and more.

For the less experienced business founder who wants a simple option, SaaS website builders do this for you. Users select templates, enter the website name and using simple drag and drop features to bring their website to life adding content to the platform. These paid services typically cost a fraction of the price of developer and design teams, so are ideal for a small startup, with less available resources or finance.

2. Hosting and Updates

When you build your own website you also need to worry about hosting. You need to asses all the options and to choose one which isn’t an easy task especially if you don’t have previous experience. This basically means you will need a third party server; this could be via a managed server, which can be time-intensive, or you could use a web hosting service. When choosing hosting provider it is best to compare their features by checking review websites and their comparison lists because they’re not associated with any particular brand.

The other responsibility that you’ll have with a CMS tool involves managing updates. Keep in mind the process of updating software is a constant responsibility, if you haven’t done these every five years it becomes almost impossible. Updates are accessible, but they are risky and if the CMS hasn’t been installed correctly it could harm the design, or even crash your site.

On the other hand, those working with SaaS website builders benefit from automatic updates, that are all included in the “service” aspect of a SaaS company. The site is hosted by the website builders and their tech team will deal with all updates. Most website builders provide reliable hosting, but make sure to check whether that is the case with the one you chose and always read the fine print to see if there are some restrictions.

3. Feature Requests

Top CMS tools benefit from a whole ecosystem that is built around them. When you sign-up with WordPress, for example, you are joining over 17 million other sites. This is a huge community of business leaders who will likely come up against the same needs and challenges as you. There is power in numbers, so if you want feature requests or integrations to be added — such as a Facebook login authentication, a shopping cart app, or Mailchimp mailing list enrollment — this is possible.

A large number of third party applications will create plug-ins, meaning you simply download a zip file and install this in your dashboard, following straightforward instructions you can add this new functionality to your site.

Furthermore, these communities boast forums and Q&A websites, so if you have a problem you can explore similar cases to find a solution.

On the other hand, most SaaS solutions typically provide one-to-one chat support for troubleshooting problems, however adding new feature can be trickier. These smaller services, grow at a slower speed, and while feature requests are possible — for example with Squarespace – they may take longer until they are made available.

4. Responsive Design

Making sure your website has a responsive design is essential in the mobile age. Responsive websites adapt their layout based on the viewing environment, making the website mobile friendly in portrait, landscape, or even on an iWatch.

Modern SaaS builders are responsive by design. However, that’s not the case for all CMS systems. Take a website hosted on an early Drupal CMS system, for example–if you want to make this responsive you would need to start over again on a newer platform.

Today CMS builders are integrated with frameworks, such as Bootstrap, that make them responsive. Website builders, on the other hand, come responsive out-of-the-box, they are mobile-oriented and many, such as Wix and Weebly also give you the opportunity to build an app on top of your site.

A growth of connected tech and surging online time mean any business’ digital image is incredibly important. Depending on available resources, the size of a business and how quickly this might scale, startup founders will need to opt for a DIY CMS tool or take an alternative route, opting for a SaaS website builder.

Those who are not restricted might choose to go all-in with a CMS builder, but if you can’t code, this isn’t really an option. Website builders are an alternative for this new entrepreneur. Understand the strengths of each before you make that big decision.

Gev Balyan is the founder of ucraft, a fast, easy website builder, headquartered in Armenia.

Featured Image: Designed by Freepik

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on RedditPin on Pinterest