Starting your own website is easy. There are a lot of resources that can help you get started in just a couple of clicks. You don’t even have to spend a lot of money on professional web design services, especially now that there are so many online website builders and content management platforms to choose from. So, what are the differences between the two? Which one is suitable for you? We are going to find out more about them in this article.
Online Website Builders
Thanks to the wonders of the World Wide Web and the technologies behind it, you don’t have to install desktop software or purchase a complicated web design tool to be able to start creating your own website. Online builders such as Wix, Weebly and PrestoWebsite are so easy to use you will be designing professional-looking pages in no time.
One of the advantages of using online website builders is the drag-and-drop interface. You can arrange web elements such as text, images and even forms or other advanced elements by dragging them to the page directly on the design interface. This is all done on your web browser too; there is no need to install additional tools at all.
If you are not sure about how your website should look, there are thousands of templates and themes that will help you get started. You can either use the template of your choice as is or modify it further to better suit your personal preferences.
There are also advanced features you can integrate to your website. Building an online store is easier than ever now that you can create product catalogues and an entire checkout process in just a few clicks. You can even integrate payment gateways such as PayPal and Authorize.net to the page to make everything fully automated.
Photo galleries and a Blog section can be added too. Whether you are creating a personal page or an entire website for your business, you can definitely do it easily with your online website builder of choice. Once the design is finished, you can then use the free hosting service provided or simply export the project to put it on your own hosting account.
Content Management Systems
Content management systems or CMS are on the other end of the spectrum. They may look complicated at first, but they are just as easy to use. The main focus of CMS, as the name suggests, is content management. Instead of having to design individual pages manually, you can simply enter the content you want and publish a page right away.
WordPress is a popular content management system you may want to try. It is available as a free service at wordpress.com or as a downloadable script at wordpress.org. Most hosting services support WordPress out of the box and even offer one-click install for this CMS.
Joomla is another good example of a content management system. Whilst WordPress is geared more towards personal users and bloggers, Joomla offers comprehensive content management features for all kinds of websites. You can create a personal site, a fully functional web portal, online directories and of course online stores with Joomla at the core. Once the site is set up, you can then add more pages and manage your content easily.
Although content management systems lack the drag-and-drop interface and general ease of use offered by online website builders, they are just as flexible as you can imagine. You can get great designs using themes – both free and premium ones. Customizing the theme to achieve a particular look or design that you want is also very easy to do.
Plugins, on the other hand, offer added functionalities. Want to integrate an online store? There is a plugin for that. Want to run games and capture user-generated content? There is a plugin for that too. You can do virtually anything with the right content management system and a set of plugins. Some of the larger, more established websites – including big names such as the New York Times and The Next Web – are using the same CMS platforms you can use to run their sites.
Which one should you use?
Before you decide on a particular route, ask this simple question: what kind of a website am I creating? Depending on the answer to this question, one option can be better than the other.
For example, you don’t need to run a full CMS platform if you just want to display an online resume and a gallery of your previous work. You can create a static site using one of the available online website builders, customize it to suit your personal preferences and have the site live right away.
If you want to start a blog or if you want to be able to update your website often with fresh content, on the other hand, a CMS website might just be what you need. Pick one that you are comfortable with the most and start developing a content-rich website just as easily.