By: Gittan Alicica | Contributing AOJ Journalist
Building your first website can be a difficult process when you do not know what website builder is best for you. It is no secret that someone starting a business is looking to start a different type of website than a personal blogger, and depending on your desires for your website, you are going to want a different website builder.
Before you even begin looking at the different options for a website builder, you are going to need to ask yourself a few questions to narrow down what you are looking for. Ask yourself, am I developing a website with multiple pages? Am I selling products on my website, if so, are they physical or virtual? Do I offer services, if so, are they in-person or online? How much money am I willing to put towards my website? How much time am I willing to put into my website? Do I want something user friendly, or am I more concerned with doing exactly what I want to do? Do I want to have access to programming portions of my website? Am I okay with downloading additional plugins?
Perhaps write down the above questions and write out your answers so you can effectively decide what is best for what you are looking for. If you are unsure about any of the above questions, no worries, perhaps with some insight into the various website builders, the answer will become clearer. All website building platforms mentioned will be based off the questions presented above.
WordPress is the most widely used website builder, and that is because it can do just about everything! Whether you are building a website with one or multiple pages, WordPress works great with hundreds of themes to choose from so you can get the look you want for your website. If you are selling products on your website, regardless of whether they are virtual or physical, WordPress lets you do just that with its WooCommerce plugin. WordPress also comes with a catalog of plugins to choose for your website developed by other WordPress users so you can meet your websites needs, so if you are a service-based site, there are surely WordPress plugins for you.
In terms of price, to get the most out of WordPress, it is not free, but you can start out with the free version to test out a variety of features and the paid version of WordPress is fairly cheap, starting at $4 a month, not including the domain name, which will be about $18 per year.
In terms of being user friendly, WordPress dominates over other website builders. Everything you need to use for WordPress is neatly organized in a sidebar on the backend of the site, and WordPress has recently improved user-friendly features for posts and pages. Furthermore, there are tutorials for WordPress if you need help learning to use the website builder.
If you are a programmer like me and you are looking for a website builder that gives you the option of coding in your own additions to the site, WordPress is a viable option for you. The WordPress website builder is largely PHP based, so you will need to know PHP if you want to make any major additions. There are, however, some options to code in additions to posts and pages with HTML using WordPress. The only downside to using WordPress if you wish to code in your own additions is that you may need to setup a child theme so WordPress updates do not erase your code.
Overall, WordPress lets you do just about anything you want to if you purchase a version of it. If you are looking for something user-friendly that allows you to do exactly what you want to, WordPress allows just that, however, you will likely need to be willing to download plugins. For those who do not want to spend a million hours developing their website, WordPress is a good option, but it does require you to manual update plugins, themes, and WordPress itself. However, from experience, the maintenance takes very little time at all, max 5 minutes, unless it is a major WordPress update, which is not too often. You can also schedule when you would like to post on WordPress. A potential problem WordPress poses for those with little time is learning to use WordPress itself, but regardless of which website builder you use, there will be some kind of learning curve.
GoDaddy is another website builder that allows for the development of a website with one or multiple pages and offers a variety of templates to choose from for developing your website. However, if you wish to sell products on your site, starting on GoDaddy is kind of pricy. To include ecommerce on your GoDaddy website, you will need to purchase the ecommerce plan at $25 a month, which includes options for businesses providing services. In addition, you must pay for a domain name on the GoDaddy website.
Depending on the version of GoDaddy you get, GoDaddy will automatically update and maintain your site, so you may not need to take out time for site maintenance. There are also scheduling features to schedule your posts whenever you would like on GoDaddy. Unlike WordPress, GoDaddy is not as plugin based, but you can include plugins on your site with GoDaddy Pro.
Overall, GoDaddy is similar to WordPress, but its services are a little more in depth and pricier. GoDaddy allows you to centralize all your site needs in one place, which makes it a bit pricier. You can purchase your SSL certificate and manage it from GoDaddy, get your webhosting from GoDaddy, choose and manage your emails from GoDaddy, and build your website from GoDaddy. On top of that, GoDaddy gives you the choice of either using WordPress or GoDaddy as a website builder.
Wix takes a more modern and user-friendly approach to website development and allows for one or multiple pages. Website building with Wix includes a drag and drop feature, which certainly reduces some of the customization options to make the website exactly how you want it. However, if you are a programmer, and want the website to turn out exactly how you wish, Wix may just be the right option for you.
In terms of selling products and services, Wix is a viable option, but just like GoDaddy, it will cost you extra, at least $23. You will also need to pay for a domain name with Wix and have the option to purchase web hosting by Wix as well, just like GoDaddy. In terms of time management for your site, designing a site with Wix should be relatively time efficient, assuming you are not coding. Also, your purchase of a premium Wix Plan comes with Wix Webhosting, which will setup your site for you and manage your sites security.
Given the descriptions and information about these website builders, hopefully you have somewhat of an idea about what website builder you would like to choose. If you are wondering, the AOJ website you are reading this on was built using WordPress, which from my own personal experience, I would recommend for its vast amount of available customization so you can design your website exactly how you want. WordPress’s plugins are also very useful for adding features that may not be built into the WordPress site. For more information on using WordPress to develop your website, check out my article How to Setup a Website Like We Did.
Good luck on your website building adventures!