You’re finally ready to carve out a space for yourself on the web. Maybe you’ve decided to take your small business online or open an online shop to sell your artwork. Perhaps you want to start a blog about your kitchen misadventures on the road to crafting the perfect soufflé. Whatever brought you to this point, you’re now in need of a website. But how do you even get started creating one?
When making a site, your options generally fall into two buckets: using a website builder or developing a website yourself. Now, you might have some knowledge of HTML and CSS from your MySpace days or a course on coding basics — but is it enough to build yourself an entire website from scratch? While there are advantages to learning how to code, it takes quite a bit of time spent on tutorials or certificate programs to master, and you simply may not have the bandwidth or desire to do it all. That’s where easy website builders like Namecheap’s can help. This option is quick and simple, meaning your website will be ready in a matter of hours instead of weeks or months.
The truth is that both coding and website builders are excellent options, and each has its pros and cons when it comes to creating your own site. Let’s break them down so you can make an informed decision.
Website builder vs. coding: What’s the difference?
The main difference between using a website builder and coding from scratch is how much work goes into creating the final product. The website builder is a step-by-step, relatively simple process that comes complete with drag-and-drop elements for easy assembly. When coding, you essentially start with a blank canvas, even with the help of pre-designed themes that need to be tweaked to work for your company.
Pros and cons of a website builder
Some of the reasons you may want to opt for a website builder — or avoid it altogether — include:
Website builder pros
There are obvious reasons to go for a website builder, like time and convenience. However, those aren’t the only perks.
- Ease of use. A website builder is designed to be user-friendly — these tools exist because people saw the demand for website-building accessibility. Since they are intuitive by nature, the average person can easily navigate this step-by-step process to website creation. Plus, there’s a lower chance of error because you aren’t coding the site yourself.
- Affordability. Website builders are on the lower end of the price point spectrum when it comes to website implementation. Usually, you can spend $100 or less for an annual package, or you can pay monthly for the service. This is a huge plus for any small business owner — you can spend less on your site and use the money you saved on other parts of your business.
- Existing templates. There are tons of available templates to choose from when creating your site on a website builder. This perk allows you to select a premade design and layout that you can customize based on your specific needs.
- All-in-one package. A website builder is typically a one-stop shop for getting your site online instantly. It allows you to select a domain name and includes hosting and essential security features, like a secure site license (SSL). Instead of purchasing these items separately and connecting them yourself, you can pay one price and get everything you need to keep your website online and running.
- Drag-and-drop interface. A huge advantage to website builders is the ability to simply select what you want and pop it onto the page just the way you like. This user-friendly experience makes creating your site as easy as dragging and dropping different elements onto each page.
The cons of website builders
While there are some awesome pros to using a website builder, there are also a few cons to consider.
- Limited capabilities. You don’t need to know how to code for most website builders, but this has the drawback of limiting your site’s abilities. You’ll be confined to the capabilities of the tool itself, which can be frustrating if you need a specific function integrated into your website.
- Potential security vulnerabilities. Websites developed on builder software are more susceptible to hacks. While this point is noteworthy in the cons section, it’s critical to remember that all websites have the potential to be hacked, and this is certainly not a threat unique to website builders.
- Personalization limitations. When working with a website builder, there’s a cap on customization. Sure, you can make it your own to an extent, but at the end of the day, you’re working with the builder’s tools, not a blank canvas. This can feel limiting if you have a very particular vision for your website. Still, most people don’t need the highly customizable potential of coding for their websites.
Pros and cons of coding a website
Now that we’ve covered the benefits and drawbacks of website builders, it’s time to get an idea of the pros and cons of hand coding. This way, you’ll have a thorough understanding of your options and you can adequately evaluate both.
Pros of hand coding a website
Just like website builders, coding a site by hand has its advantages, too. Some of the biggest benefits of hand coding a website include:
- Complete ownership. When you code your own website, you started with a blank screen and made a masterpiece. It’s similar to breaking ground on a plot of land to build a house — the overwhelming positive is that it’s completely and totally yours, tailored to your unique needs.
- Endless possibilities. Personalize, personalize, personalize! When you code your own website, customization is the name of the game — and the possibilities are endless. You can make your website a true one-of-a-kind gem, standing out from the crowd in a sea of similar sites.
- More integrations. Customization is not just limited to appearances. When you hand code a site, you can build and establish far more functions than you could with a website builder. For example, you can create integrations with some of the most powerful sales and marketing tools available on the internet. On a website builder, you may be limited to the partnerships and integrations offered by the website builder, giving you fewer choices.
Cons of coding a website
While there are some amazing pros to using a website builder, there are also several cons to consider, especially when you factor in that most of us aren’t professional website developers. Here’s what you need to consider:
- More time and resources. A lot of the pros to coding a website are enticing, but they rely on assumptions about your coding experience. Most people don’t have website development experience, so coding your own site will probably involve learning the skill and additional help from a professional. This leads to the next point…
- Higher cost. If you opt to code a website by hand, you’ll end up paying much more than you would have to with a builder. This is especially true if you have to hire a professional web developer. This can be a deterrent for solopreneurs and other small business owners with slim marketing budgets.
- Time consuming. While you can be up and running in quite literally minutes or hours with a website builder, coding takes much longer. You can expect your site to take weeks or months from conception to launch if you opt for this route. Keep in mind that time is money, so even if you end up coding it yourself, the time spent on it may simply not be worth it in the end.
- Harder to update. In the pros, we discussed how it’s easier to adjust a code that you wrote — but what if you didn’t write it or had help writing it? This could present a problem when it comes to making changes to your site as your needs evolve.
- Dependent on the developer. If you do hire a web developer, you’re banking on a third party to build and modify your site. If you’re unsure what you want out of your website, this may make it more difficult for developers to execute your vision.
Website coding vs. website builder: Which method is best for you?
After witnessing the battle of coding vs. website builders, it’s safe to say that the best avenue for you and your business is wholly dependent on your circumstances. Both of these options have compelling benefits and drawbacks that could push anyone into either decision. But since we’ve explored both choices in detail, there are several important themes to consider when deciding which method is best for you.
If you’re still wavering between the two, here’s how you can decide:
- Think about your business needs. If your website is a simple source of information, like restaurant hours and menus or contact details for your sales team, you may not need the advanced functions that can come with a coded website. However, if you rely on external software that requires advanced integrations, you may want to work with a web developer.
- Consider your priorities. Every business owner has their own set of priorities for their website. Think about the most urgent needs and highest priorities for your business. Are you more concerned about aesthetics or functionality? How often do you plan to add new photos or change text? These factors should play into your decision to either use a website builder or to code your website.
- Note how much time you have. Did you need to go live online yesterday? If that’s the case, a website builder may be the better option for you.
- Decide how much you value personalization. While you can create beautiful results with website builders, you have to take into account how much change you’ll want to make from the examples you see on the screen. Keep in mind that your site will look quite similar, and if you want advanced, custom features, they may not be supported by the website builder.
- Consider your budget. Finally, think about the costs you want to allot to your website. What is the best for your budget without bypassing your business’s needs? If you truly don’t have thousands to invest, you may want to opt for a more affordable website builder.
Hand coding allows for more autonomy and creative freedom. You aren’t reliant on a tool or single platform, so you can be the captain of your own ship. The drawback to that is you really have to know what you’re doing to code a great site — and it will take you a few months to get the site live. Now, maybe you don’t want to learn to code, but you still need a highly customizable site. Hiring a web developer is expensive, but if you have the budget, it could be worth the investment to take your growing business to the next level.
Website builders, on the other hand, don’t offer endless choices in design and customization. They impose limitations on design and site options. However, what they lack in infinite possibilities, they make up for in a user-friendly interface, accessibility and cost. Using a website builder also requires far less time, which is a very valuable thing when you’re a small business owner who needs to act fast.
Look to Namecheap for an easy, all-inclusive website builder
A lot of people looking to build a website aren’t web developers — they’re business owners or bloggers with something to say. With easy website builders like Namecheap’s Site Maker, you can get the job done fast and professionally. A website builder allows you to get online instantly without sacrificing security, speed, or customization.
When it comes to making any decision for your business, only you know what’s the right move. So, think it over, explore all of the pros and cons for each option, write out the needs of your site — the must-haves and the negotiables. Then, when you’re ready, you can decide which is the best option for you.