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Website Builder Comparison and Who Should Use Them

Website Builder Comparison and Who Should Use Them


Chris Queen
April 21, 2023

Trying to decide which CMS is right for your website?

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In the early days of websites, the main people who made them were coders with expertise in HTML and CSS. They created some absolutely wild sites that are nearly unrecognizable to what we see today (Fun Fact: The original Space Jam website is still live in all of its 90s glory). Since then, the internet has grown into an immovable pillar of all aspects of our lives. That ubiquity means that the website design industry is now a 58.4 billion dollar industry in 2023! While many of those coders are still around to help you make a site, it has become even more important to allow people without that same skillset to work on their sites. There simply are not enough available people to meet the nearly infinite amount of demand for website work.

Luckily, many companies and products have been created to let you take your website into your own hands. All of these platforms have their benefits, issues, and use cases which can be a bit tricky to understand if you are not familiar with them. I wanted to talk a bit about my experience and what uses you may have for them.

Disclaimer: These are my opinions and are based on my own experience. Your mileage may vary when using them for yourself, and I reserve the right to be completely wrong.

 

Build It Yourself Tier: Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, etc.

What are they?

It feels a bit odd to start by wrapping up so many of these into the same category, but I think it is fair, so hear me out. These are all the builders you can use to get up a site quickly and with minimal headaches. These are typically the cheapest options on the market and require minimal knowledge to begin using. They have some advanced features you can use, but you probably won't.

What's it like using it?

These website platforms are generally easy to use. They rely on a WYSIWYG editor and pre-built templates that will provide the skeleton of what you need to get started. As long as you have some aesthetic sense and decent images, you will be able to get a good-looking site with a bit of elbow grease.

I have the most experience using Squarespace, and I can attest that it is what it says on the tin, easy to use. I had a friend's mom who needed to get their volunteer group a website, and I recommended it as the solution for them. After a little bit of work by me to get the basics set up, they were able to fully take over managing it and keeping it going without my input.

Who should use it?

🚨HOT TAKE ALERT🚨 I think there are very specific use cases for these kinds of builders and that it is more limited than what they advertise themselves as. These kinds of builders are incredible for:

  • Building an online portfolio
  • Running a small store
  • Very small businesses making their first brochure-style website
  • Specific local interest groups (like the volunteer group above)

I do not think that a business that is relying on its website to be a major part of its marketing and sales strategy should be using one of these platforms. Their services in those areas are much less fleshed out and are not going to meet the needs of you or your business.

 

WordPress

What is it?

I have written before about how I am not the biggest fan of WordPress as a website platform, but there are so many people using it that I cannot deny the value that it brings. I think Matt from the HIVE team does a really good job of explaining the pros and cons of WordPress β€” he also gives some spoilers for the next website builder I am going to talk about, so I will let him do the talking on what it is.

What is it like using it?

WordPress is a bit harder to pin down when looking at the experience because you can configure it in so many different ways depending on your plug-in setup.

Your experience is going to be different, but there are a lot of styles to pick from, and there are solid options for making your website editable. I have found the systems I used, like Elementor, to be workable, but the finer customization can be tricky. I could get done what needed to be done, but it didn't always work the same way.

The biggest problem to me, is that you have to rely on the plug-in system to get anything done. These will handle any of the more specific needs you have in WordPress, which is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you can add functionality as needed. On the other, you are now beholden to the update schedules of the developers and what other plug-ins they can work with. If a plug-in stops being updated or does not work with another key element, you are going to have to go right back to the drawing board.

Who should use it?

WordPress is a solid option for businesses looking to upgrade beyond the start tier of web platforms. You are going to be able to easily expand the options you have when it comes to using your site and should be able to get one that fits your needs. While there are options for smaller businesses and personal users, I think you would be better off staying in the previous tier until you get your feet under you more.

I think updating and maintaining your site is something you would be able to do on this platform, but I would recommend using an agency or developer to help you get started on a strong base. Doing so also has the added bonus of giving you a resource in case you need some help if anything goes wrong.

 

HubSpot

What is it?

If you have found your way to this blog post, I feel like you have a good idea about what HubSpot is. I'd rather link to this post I wrote before in blatant self-promotion than just restate the information I laid out there. πŸ‘‡

3 Reasons You Should Use HubSpot CMS

What is it like using it?

The HubSpot CMS has changed a bit over the years and, in some ways, has gotten a bit harder to use but with good reason. The different tiers of HubSpot allow for everyone, from beginner (drag and drop modules) to advanced (endless possibility), the ability to manage their own websites at their current level and grow.

The old template system was very limited, but it did have some positive aspects. I think it made understanding how a website functions much easier because it turned the Bootstrap-based system into a solid visual representation that made a lot of sense. Unfortunately, that changed a bit when things moved over to the new theme system.

While the new themes open up a ton of opportunities for customization and advanced features, they also have a significantly higher barrier of entry than the old way of doing things. You are going to have to learn a lot more code if you want to work directly with the underlying systems, and for most people, that is not going to be worth it.

Fortunately, for those of us who are not fully versed in the underlying code, we have the marketplace to give us access to all the themes and modules we could ever need. One thing to be wary of, however, is that the quality of products on the marketplace can vary wildly, and you should do some research into the company offering the theme you are interested in.

Who should use it?

Though, the CMS Hub Starter package gives you a lot of bang for your buck I think it is important to look at HubSpot as a future option if you are a small business and instead go with one of the other options to start. It helps to get your feet wet on a different platform as a starter option so that you understand what your needs are and if you are going to get the ROI you need from moving up to the HubSpot system.

Now, if you are a larger company with a more complicated online presence, I think HubSpot would be the platform for you. You simply have access to so many options that will allow you to really supercharge your online efforts. If you can fit the price into your budget, you should seriously consider it.

πŸ‘‡ If you are still unsure, check out our HubSpot vs. WordPress CMS comparison guide! πŸ‘‡

HubSpot vs. WordPress CMS Comparison Guide

This concludes my possibly incorrect take on what you can do with these different website platforms. Before I go, I do think I need to engage in a shameless bout of self-promotion and give you some helpful links. If you are looking for a solid base for your website, you can check out the Cell Theme here. For those of you looking for more detailed help with your website and/or marketing efforts. Talk to us about it so we can help you get started!

Download HubSpot One-Pagers

 

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