As a business owner, you’ll already understand the importance of which your website has in terms of your success. Any customers or clients who are interested in your business and working with you will visit your website, so whether you’re a brick and mortar company or an online retailer or service, getting your website right should be a top priority.
However, when it actually comes to how to build a website from scratch, you’ll soon notice there are two approaches you can choose between; using a website builder vs web developer. The question is, which one is right for you?
In today’s guide, we’re going to explore everything you need to know when it comes to figuring out the winner of the website builder vs web developer fight, and which you should choose for your business.
Who Actually Needs a Website?
Just so we’re on the same page, everyone in the modern age who wants to succeed will need to have their own website. Think about your own life and how you approach using new businesses, companies, or services.
Do you dive straight in and make a purchase, or go into town and look around? The chances are, like many people, you probably don’t. Instead, you’ll take to Google, you’ll have a little look around, you’ll get some ideas of what you’re looking for, where to go, and then you’ll make your decision and spend your money.
This is what the vast majority of people will do, and if they access your website during the research stage and it’s not ticking the boxes of what they’re looking for, they’ll go elsewhere.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an online store, a retail business, a service website, a freelancer, a restaurant, a sports gear shop, or even a charity organisation, there’s no denying that getting your website right is essential.
Building Your Website
All websites need to be built, and once they’re built, they need to stay updated, fresh, and looking their best. Just like your business itself, having a website is all about giving your customers the very best experience you possibly can.
The two approaches we’ve mentioned above is the classic website builder vs web developer. One approach is where you can build the website yourself, whereas the other is hiring a professional to do the job for you.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to ensure you’re taking your time as a business to make sure you’re spending your money, time, and other resources in the right places, so let’s dive into both.
What is a Website Builder?
A website builder, also commonly referred to as a CMS (Content Management System), is a platform that aims to take the stress out of building websites yourself. Whereas in the past you would have had to code your website from scratch using HTML coding, something that would take years to learn properly, you can now just drop your content into the boxes however you like, rearrange your boxes based on themes and templates (or create your own), making it easier than ever for anybody, even people with limited technology skills, to create great looking websites.
Typically, using a CMS platform will take you three to five days to create a website from scratch, and you’ll simply need to follow the process it provides you. You’ll be creating a homepage, several sales pages, a contact page, and then you’ll usually have a space to upload things like store items you want to sell, or for writing your own blog posts.
Of course, while this may seem basic, you’ll always have the opportunity to take things as far and as advanced as you would like. This includes investing in more advanced templates that add more functionality to your website, adding an online store where you can make sales or make bookings, or just create sales pages as you please.
What makes using a website builder so special is the fact that the entire website creation and launching processes are handled, and you’ve taken step by step from start to finish. All you need to do is fill in the boxes, add your own content, optimise your website, so it ranks highly in the search engines, and then launch.
The Dos and Donts of Using a Website Builder
When it comes to creating and launching websites, generally speaking, using a website builder is the most affordable approach. Since you’ll be doing most of the work yourself and you’re simply using the resources and assets that the website builder provides, the cost is minimal.
In fact, the only things you’ll really need to pay for is the hosting for the website, in which prices can start around the $3.50 per month mark, and then the price of the assets you use. Some assets are free, whereas others can cost several hundred dollars, depending on how professional and how many features these templates offer you.
The truth is that you can always start with a free template and then build it up and invest more and more as you grow over time, which is another advantage since the cost of your website can be spread out over time, and you can invest as you grow steadily, rather than paying one risky lump sum.
Of course, there are some downsides to be aware, the most obvious of these being that you need to do everything yourself. From setting up the accounts and hosting to writing your website content and filling out all the space, you need to have the patience and time to carry out these tasks.
It can easily take a week to get everything how you want it, especially if you have a large website and you want to make edits and perfect your content, and if you don’t really know what you’re doing, this can take much longer. What’s more, if you’re trying to run a business at the same time, you may not have a ton of time to invest, which may make it take even longer.
What is a Web Developer?
A web developer is a professional person or company who has the ability to create your website from scratch. Typically, web developers will be fluent in programming languages, such as HTML, and will have the experience to know what works with a website and what doesn’t.
By far the biggest benefit of using a web developer is the fact you can have whatever you want. Whereas with a website builder, you’re somewhat restricted to the templates you have access too, especially if you have limited know-how on how they work, a web developer can create whatever you ask for.
Whether that means having a basic website with a few pages or a fully integrated online store where you can manage everything from shipping and inventory to blogs and marketing, a web developer can create it all.
Another benefit a web developer has in the website builder vs web developer conversation is that everything is handled on your behalf. This means that you don’t need to do anything except telling the developer what you want and what you want things to look like.
They’ll come back to you time to time with a plan for you to approve, and asking you if everything is okay, but this will just involve you looking over your project to choose what you like and whether you’re happy with the final outcome.
This gives you more time to focus on all the other aspects of your business, and the website will take care of itself. Moreover, web developers tend to be much faster at delivering you a fully operational website in a couple of days, making this approach great if you’re in a rush for a website fast.
The Details of Using a Web Developer
While beneficial in many ways, this doesn’t mean that using a web developer doesn’t come without its disadvantages. Perhaps the most important you’ll need to think about is how much hiring a web developer is going to cost. Even for a basic website with hosting, several pages, and perhaps some kind of custom functionality, such as a manageable online store, this could end up costing thousands of dollars.
What’s more, once the website is built, web developers tend to close the contracts stating the job is complete. This means that if you want to update the website or make changes in the future, you’ll need to pay to have it changed. However, more commonly, you’ll still be able to edit website content, add blog content, and change basic information yourself whenever you want, and a web developer should tell you how to do this.
You’ll also need to think about how you’re marketing your website and gaining traffic. There are plenty of ways to do this. Still, while a CMS platform like MOTOCMS will help you with certain techniques, if you use a web developer, this is all in your hands, unless you hire a marketing company, which is easily going to cost you another couple of thousand dollars.
When you consider that using a website builder is probably going to cost you a maximum of $400 for a pretty standard website with a lot of functionality opportunities (a really basic website of just pages of content costing around $200), this is definitely the most expensive approach.
Defining Your Approach for the Future
It’s important to think about your approach to your website. So far, we’ve focused on building your website from scratch, from zero to a fully functional website. However, if you’re not building from the ground up but rather updating your website, you’ll need to think about what you’re doing and how you’re approaching this in the context of website builder vs web developer.
If you’re completely overhauling your website and you’ve used a web developer, you’ll need to pay for a completely new website to be designed, which is going to be very expensive. Of course, if you’re just updating certain aspects, such as content and images used, you’ll be able to do this yourself or pay a small fee for the edits.
However, if you’ve used a website builder platform, completely overhauling your website to get it a fresh new look has never been easier. Especially if all your content is in set places, you can simply pay for and upload a new theme or design template, and all the changes will be made automatically, with perhaps only a few small edits needed to tidy things up.
When you’re looking into the long-term for your website, this is such an important point to consider, especially when you consider the fact this is something you’re going to want to do at some point.
Website Builder vs Web Developer; Which is Better?
All in all, the approach you take in the website builder vs web developer comparison really depends on what kind of website you’re after and how many resources you’re able to invest.
If you’re ready to invest thousands of dollars on a custom website, you know exactly what you’re after, and you need the website delivered quickly, then go for a web developer. This is ideal if you’re an established business looking to rebrand or update their website, or you have the investment ready to go, and a website is a core part of your business.
However, if you’re a smaller business, a freelancer or you lack investment and want to grow steadily over time, always use a website builder. Website builders like MOTOCMS have come a long way over the last few years, and never before have they offered so much variation and customisability in such an easy and affordable way.
It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have, or for what kind of purpose you’re creating your website for, a website builder can help you achieve it. This is also such a great approach because you can learn the process of what goes into making a website and what people like and don’t like, which is an ideal business skill to have when it comes to running businesses in the 21st Century.
At the end of the day, narrowing down your website creation options to just the website builder vs web developer approach is the best way to move forward, but it’s important to take your time to see what works best for you. Choose what your priorities are and make the best decision that maximizes your investment and gets you the best result.
Molly Crockett is a marketing blogger for Ukwritings and Boomessays, who focuses on how businesses can protect themselves from industry, advancement and legal threats. She is always seeking ways to help develop writing and research skills in young people, and contributes to the Essayroo.