What is a website builder and how to use it?

Index

What happens when you decide to create your own site? During the early days of the internet, only large companies and people with computer skills could have websites. Eventually, the need to have an internet presence spread to people without website building skills. Today, it only takes a few minutes between the idea for your own site and its launch.

What is a website builder and how does work?

To create a website in the traditional way requires that you have the necessary technical and programming knowledge (HTML, CSS, JavaScript). You can register a domain and hosting vendors on your own and then upload and program how your content is displayed.

This way you have 100% freedom on your site because you can modify the code of the website and you can save some money at the expense of the time spent designing and maintaining your website.

To program the web, you need to know the following programming languages: HTML, CSS and ideally Javascript

In this case, programming skills as well as the knowledge of web design and web security are a must. Maintaining and updating the site will also take up a lot of your time.Time you could spend creating and promoting your content. 

Obviously, this way of creating a site has disadvantages and is not for everyone. This fact opened the door for the creation of website builders as alternatives.

Imagine a website builder as a program or application that allows you to create pages just as Powerpoint allows you to create a presentation. 

The intuitive interface allows you to create pages and customize their appearance. Everything can be controlled with only the mouse. Usually, you can see the result of what you are creating as you create it. These website builders are known as “What you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG).

Why use a website builder? What are the pros and cons?

Starting a website is often an important step and you want to make the right decision. To help you decide if a website builder is the solution for you, we have summarized the main advantages and disadvantages.

Pros and Cons of website builder

Pros of website builder:

  1. Simple control
    • Website builders are ideal for people with little to no technical skills. The user friendly interface allows you to easily navigate. Drag-and-drop technology enables you to type text, upload images, or to add and move any element with a simple click and drag.

  2. Modern designs 
    • Website design today requires at least basic graphic design skills. A huge advantage of a website builder is that it allows you to choose a template for your site created by professional designers. Of course, you can customize the template to suit your needs and style.

  3. Accessibility
    • Website builders are mostly online today so your web files are hosted on a service provider’s server. This allows you to create and manage your site anywhere from any device connected to the Internet.

  4. All in one
    • Thanks to the website builder, you have everything you need for your website in one place (hosting, domain and email account). You do not have to deal with each service separately from multiple providers.

  5. Automatic security update and maintenance
    • With a website builder, you don’t have to worry about technical updates or the security of your website. The provider will take care of everything for you and you can be sure that your website is secure and with the latest updates.

  6. Quick to use
    • You don’t start from scratch. Website builders simplify the whole process of creating a website. You start with pre-designed templates, pre-filled websites, and ready-to-use tools. All you have to do is add your own content and your site is ready. Thanks to the website builder, you have more time for other important activities such as content creation, SEO and PPC.

  7. No big investments
    • Creating a website using a website builder does not require an initial investment. You don’t have to pay expensive programmers and designers. Thanks to a variety of service plans, you can choose what will suit you best and how much you want to spend. There are also free plans.

Cons of website builder:

  • Not 100% freedom
    • On one hand, a template is a great thing and will allow you to quickly build a quality website. On the other hand, templates come with certain limitations. For example, it may come with a pre-designed layout or colors that cannot be changed. Website builders do not allow complete freedom when it comes to personalizing your website.

  • Limited features
    • Website builders usually offer a large number of common features. Thanks to the fact that they are integrated into the tool, you can use them quickly and easily. If you need a feature that is very unique and specialized, it might not be on offer. In such cases, you might try to integrate the feature through a third party solution or wait for the tool development to add it in the next update of the website builder. There is no guarantee a website builder will add a feature, as there has to be enough demand for it from their customer base.

Are you still undecided about whether to use a website builder after weighing the pros and cons? The main question you need to ask yourself is: How much freedom do you need?

Consider that 99% of the websites of small and medium sized companies have the same features. The same goes for blogs and online stores. Having 100% freedom to do what you want is not always good, as it leads to design and usability errors as well as time management challenges. (Have you heard of the paradox of choice?)

If your website does not need unique and specific functionality, using a website builder will allow you to benefit from professional design. In addition, having all the technological elements (hosting, domain, website builder) on the same platform avoids compatibility issues.

At the same time, you benefit from the continuous development of the tool. You can count on any usability, security, or functionality issues to be actively investigated and resolved.

What kinds of sites can be created with a website builder?

The usefulness of the website is unquestionable today. If you are reading this article, it is almost certain that you fit into one of the groups below.

  • You have a business (offline or online) and you need to be present on the Internet to attract new customers and also to provide firsthand information about your company to those who already know you (opening hours, services offered, etc.).

  • You are not considering starting a business, but you are looking to create an online portfolio or blog to share your work and knowledge. Your idea is to develop your “personal brand” to help you find employment, introduce yourself to the community on a specific topic, or even earn a little extra income.

Did you fit in either of those groups? Now it’s easier to set your goals and choose the right way to create your site.

Website builders are ideal for smaller websites.

  • Do you need a website for a growing company, shop, hotel restaurant or club?
  • Do you want to create a personal portfolio as a freelancer?
  • Do you sell your own products?
  • Do you need to create a community site?

If your case fits any of those situations, a website builder is 99% suitable for you.

Do you need to have a larger database on the web, for example for different categories of products, advertisements or personal profiles? In that case, you may find a website builder limiting and it may not be the right solution for you. 

You will never run complex pages such as Amazon or Facebook with a website builder. In cases like those, it’s better to hire a development team.

However, the decision is not always easy. Are you a small business and are you doing well? Do you expect growth and do not know if a website builder will be enough for you in 2 years?

You can use the website builder as a temporary solution. However, switching to another platform in the future might be complicated. 

You can take the risk and invest directly in a tailor-made solution. However, it can mean a loss of money. It is always necessary to take into account future plans and evaluate risks.

How much should a website builder cost to use?

It depends. Website builders are usually paid in the form of a monthly or yearly subscription. The amount of the fee depends on the number of features you want to subscribe to.

Most providers offer various premium plans whose price depends on the features provided. Thanks to this, you should be able to choose a service at a sufficient level and at the same time pay as little as possible.

How much cost website with website builder

With a website builder, you pay an average of $50 – $350 per year for a website. The advantage is that you can often try the free version first. In some cases, a free version of the website builder may even be enough for you.

If you would like to create a website yourself, you must count on at least the cost of the domain and hosting.

  • Domain: $11 – $85 per year 
  • Hosting: $7 – $14 per month (Average price of the 3 largest hosting providers) 

However, if you do not do everything yourself, you must also add the costs for professionals (programmers, designers, etc.). In that case, you need to add an hourly rate to the price of the site, which is around $100 on average.

Depending on how much time a professional spends developing a site, the price can range from $1,000 to $3,000 for a small or medium sized site.

Site maintenance can represent additional cost. If you don’t maintain the website yourself, it will cost you an average of $100 to $1,000 per year for a professional to do it for you.

In conclusion, if you compare the costs between the highest premium package of any website builder to how much it costs to have your own custom made website, you will see that the web builder is much cheaper.

If you can’t make the website on your own and you don’t need specific functionalities, the best option pricewise is to make your website with a web builder.

12 criteria for how to choose the best website builder

Do you already know that a website builder is the right solution for you? Great, but how to choose the most suitable one? Of course, it always depends on what kind of website you want to create and what your goals are. There are also some general rules to follow when choosing the ideal website builder:

  1. Ease of use
    • The most important requirement. The purpose of any website builder is to simplify your work. Orientation in the interface should not take you more than one morning. If you get lost in the interface, still can’t find something or you are constantly forced to work with the HTML code, you should look for another tool.

  2. Quality of website templates
    • You don’t have to be a web designer to find out if the template is clear and looks good on mobile screens. It is important to find out if the website builder offers enough templates suitable to your type of website to choose from. It’s a good idea to have a list of requirements to see if the template contains all the elements you need. It is also important to verify that the template can be modified and customized sufficiently.

  3. Website analytics
    • You need data to be able to develop your site in the right direction. Some website builders may provide internal analytics tools. However, these are usually insufficient. Therefore, insist on compatibility with the most used data analysis tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console, which will provide you with everything you need to make the right decisions.

  4. Custom domain name
    • Owning your own domain is the key to success in today’s Internet age. Any website builder must allow you to use your own domain. You can even ask for more than one. Find out if the provider offers discounts or a free domain for a temporary period. This is a nice bonus that you will definitely use.

  5. Form builder
    • Forms are necessary if you use the website to offer services. However, forms are also useful for all types of websites. Your website builder should allow you to easily create forms and adapt them to your needs. You should have the option to add different types of fields and functions so that you can collect inquiries, reservations, email contacts, registrations and receive messages.

  6. Images
    • Images are an essential part of web content. You should therefore make sure that the website builder you’re considering has all the necessary functions for editing images. Does it allow you to create image galleries? Does it allow zooming? Can you crop or resize pictures? You can handle some adjustments in the image editor. It depends on your preferences and what makes your work easier.

  7. Video and audio content
    • Video and audio content are elements that people expect as standard features on websites these days. You should therefore be prepared to produce this type of content. The website builder should help you as much as possible. See if it allows you to easily upload or share this type of content from the most used platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, TED, Spotify and more.

  8. SEO friendliness
    • Your site should not only look nice but should also be searchable. Your website builder should help you with the basic settings so that you do not have to spend money on an SEO expert. Make sure the instrument allows you to edit the featured snippet. This means that you will be able to create a unique page title independent of the page name and to edit the meta description and the URL structure.

  9. Social sharing
    • If you also plan to develop your social networking profiles, make sure that the website builder supports the features that connect your site to your social network. Sharing or liking buttons are a must.

  10. Support of most common file formats
    • Content can appear on your site in a variety of forms and formats. Be careful and make sure that the website builder allows you to upload or view files in the most common formats such as .pdf, .csv, .xls, etc. Make sure the website builder you are considering and the file types you want to upload like each other before you start building a website.

  11. Customer support
    • Although the basic premise of a website builder is ease of use, you might run into a situation where you need advice or help. Quality website builders offer a clear, understandable and searchable manual that will help you whenever you encounter an issue. A tool that also provides active user support and allows you to ask questions directly is even better. The best ones have support services that are adapted to your language and local requirements.

  12. Price
    • Money is the last, but still very significant, factor that can influence your choice of a website builder. Always try to find the best bang for your buck. If you decide to choose a website builder that is more costly than its competitors, you should know why and what extra features you are getting for your money. However, price should not be the main reason for your decision.

How to pick a website builder for ecommerce

Of course, the quality of the eCommerce module is a decisive factor for you when creating an online store. However, be aware of this even if you are creating a different type of site. Think long term. What if your business grows or your blog becomes so popular that you decide to sell your own promotional products?

Build eshop with website builder

Examine the eCommerce features of the website builder thoroughly. You should be most interested in:

  1. How to add products and edit product pages
    • Is adding a product a matter of minutes or is it too complicated? Does the tool allow you to present your products the way you need them?

  2. How to create categories
    • Today you only offer dozens of products, but what if there are hundreds after a year? Think of the future; can you easily maintain and clearly organize your offer when your assortment grows?

  3. How does the shopping cart look
    • A shopping cart is a key element for your online store. Make sure it works the way users are used to. Does it allow easy addition or removal of products or changing the number of pieces? Does it remember the inserted items even after it is closed, abandoned or when you return to the store? Does it show the user all the important price information?

    • Also examine how the cart is connected to the order form. How many steps does the user have to take to place the order? Is every step clear? Can he move back and forth between them without fear of losing the data he has already filled in?

  4. What shipping and payment methods does the tool support
    • You do not need to offer all methods. However, be sure to find out if the website builder supports those payment and shipping methods that are common and popular with your customers.

How to pick a website builder for blogs

Blogging is a great way to promote or even monetize your site. A blog can also simply be used to share information or experiences.

Build blog with website builder

Remember that even if you are not creating a blog page, it is always useful to be able to add a blog to your website. It’s a great place to cover related topics that you won’t get on the main pages. Find out if a web building tool allows you to:

  1. Create blog posts
  2. Organize posts and create categories
  3. Manage comments.

How to pick a website builder for business

Build your business website with website builder

Website builders are generally a good choice for creating small to medium sized business websites. However, you must verify that the tool meets all your requirements. When creating a company website, focus mainly on:

  1. Usable templates
    • Do you need to be trustworthy and professional? Your site should reflect this. Explore whether the offered business templates are right for you. A good website builder should allow you to choose from several options.

  2. Usable forms
    • Forms are essential for business sites; especially if you need to collect inquiries, registrations or reservations. Verify not only that the website builder offers all the necessary types of form fields, also focus on usability and form design. You definitely don’t want filling out a form to be a step where users get stuck.

  3. Multi-language support
    • If your potential customers are from different countries or speak different languages, consider the ability to create different language versions of the site as a crucial factor. Creating a language version should be intuitive. You should be able to make not just a static copy, but a full version that you can edit independently.

  4. Email
    • Having an email with your own domain name looks professional. However, not every website builder offers email services. An integrated email account is a useful feature. You need domain based email addresses, especially if you’re setting up a site for your business.

  5. Password protected section
    • Do you trade in information? Is offering access to VIP content part of your business plan? In this case, the ability to create a private section of the website is an essential feature of the website builder. Verify that the tool supports this feature and that it meets your requirements.

What do you need to get started with a website builder?

Website builders allow you to launch sites really fast. Still, you need to make preparations before you start creating your website. Take a look at our step-by-step guide to help you prepare and build a successful website::

  1. Website goals
    • Determine what you want to achieve with the web and who it will target. This decision will help you choose the ideal type of site and allows you to sort website builder requirements by priority.

  2. Find the ideal domain name
    • Choosing a domain name is one of the crucial decisions, especially if you are creating a website for business purposes. You are creating your brand; don’t leave this to the last minute. The domain name should also reflect the goals of the site.

  3. Web structure
    • The navigation structure of the website should reflect the main goal of the website. It is important to create at least a model framework of the web structure. It will help you find and select suitable web templates. The model may not be 100% accurate. However, the template should reflect the main requirements and should be able to adapt its own structure to it.

  4. Promotional plan
    • It’s important to plan what promotional channels you want to use. It is clear that you cannot be everywhere, at least not with quality results or without an army of expensive experts. Instead, choose only a few channels that you know you will have time for and that best suit your needs, experience and knowledge. Think a few moves ahead and also write a list of channels on which you will want to expand in the future.

    • Are you done? So now find out if the website builder supports functions for connecting to selected channels. Allows you to insert buttons for connecting to the required social networks? Does it support integration with the most common advertising systems? Does it allow you to insert banners?

  5. Select the appropriate website builder
    • Hurrah! You’ve reached the final step. After that you can fully focus on creating your site. Based on the previous steps, create a list of requirements sorted by priority. Compare the properties of website builders with the list of requirements and select the most suitable one. It is useful to create your own scoring system to help you determine the winner.

6 steps for how to use a website builder

Creating a website using a website builder should be a convenient, fast and intuitive affair. However, this is not a routine activity that you do automatically every day without thinking, such as taking a shower. Therefore, we have prepared a list of basic steps for using the website builder once you’ve gotten started:

  1. Register your domain and get hosting
    • You’ve already chosen a domain name during the preparation. Now it’s necessary to register it. A good website builder should help you with the process and allow you to register in its interface. Take advantage of the fact that you can solve everything in one service.
Register your domain and get hosting

In the administration you find suggestions of domain names

  1. Select the appropriate template
    • Now start selecting a suitable template. You already have the requirements for selection, so you know exactly what to look for. If you find more suitable candidates, carry out a second, stricter selection round for this shortlist.
Select the appropriate template

Webnode templates

  1. Edit the template
    • Adapt the selected template to the web structure you have designed. Create the pages, sections, or categories you want. You may need to make some adjustments to the design due to template limitations.
Edit the template
  1. Insert content
    • Now fill the prepared template with your content. It is not necessary and often not even possible to have all the content ready. Don’t be afraid to deploy only the most important pieces of content. You can deliver the rest later.
Insert content

Types of content you can add on your website

  1. Connect your website with analytics tools
    • Only link the web to the tools you actually use. It is useless to integrate multiple tools with identical functions. Don’t despair if you’re lost in web analytics. For a start, you certainly won’t make a mistake when you link your site to Google Analytics and the Google Search Console.
Connect your website with analytics tools
  1. Publish your website
    • It is here! Prepare a bottle of champagne, press the “Publish” button and your website is born. Hello online world!
Publish your website

FAQ

Now you know everything you need to be able to decide whether to use a website builder to build your site. You also know what to look for in the right website builder for you. We hope that this article helped you and that you will rank Webnode among your TOP candidates. Finally, we’ll answer some common questions you may have:

Should I register my domain name with my website builder?

If you already have your domain or want to register it elsewhere, your website builder provider should allow you to easily transfer it to their service. However, if you want to start a new website, including a new domain, it may be beneficial for you to register the domain directly with the website builder provider. Some services offer interesting benefits such as free hosting for a year, etc.

Who owns site content created by website builders?

Regardless of whether you choose to use a website builder or a hosted CMS, original content that you put on your website will always be your own personal property.

Who owns the domain of the site created in the website builder?

The domain you have registered is always owned by you, regardless of where you registered it. This also applies if you have a domain registered through your website builder.

Do I need install a website builder?

Typically you don’t. Website builders nowadays are mostly web services similar to google documents. There is no need to download or install any software. You just need to register on the provider’s website. However, the downside is that you can’t create and edit your site offline.

Do I have to advertise on my site?

It depends on which service provider you choose. Each has different conditions. In most cases, your site will not contain any ads if you choose one of the paid plans. However, there are providers that allow you to create and run a website for free and without any ads.

Can I change the template?

Thanks to the template, you can create your website quickly and without knowledge of coding. On the other hand, each template has its limitations and therefore its replacement is always difficult. It depends on the service, how much the templates allow you to edit or even replace. Therefore, always plan ahead and choose a tool that provides flexible templates.

Can you move or export your website away from a website builder?

Partly. As you own your content (that is, your text, photos, images, video, audio), you can delete, convert, or copy it wherever you want. However, you do not own the design and template of the website builder, so you cannot move it. Therefore, if you want to move your site to another platform, you must select another template that the new platform contains or program your own. You can then move your content to it. As you can see, it’s definitely not impossible. However, this is not a simple process such as transferring hosting or a domain, which can be handled with a few clicks.