When you google “how to create a website” you will get thousands of results which make you confused which platform or service provider fits your needs and budget this article gives you a clear insight of how websites work and essentially compare all available solutions.
Nowadays you can create a website yourself with few mouse clicks without coding or special technical knowledge. Many modern solutions let you create a website yourself visually by drag and drop contents to your website pages in minutes.
The problem is the variety of available solutions and platforms. Each one has its own pros and cons and some disadvantages you will never know until you subscribe and stick with one of them.
Even experts may face future weaknesses when they try a new platform so they enforced to carefully read each tiny detail in new platforms features and terms of service.
While you don’t have the time and space in mind to scan hundreds of web pages and articles to get the best for your needs I crafted this article for you to easily determine which solution is your hero.
I made a complete comparison between all available solutions according to essential factors like budget, usage, usability, restrictions, monitizations, business growing…etc.
Before we go with this comprehensive comparison you need to know how websites work for you as a website owner.
What do you need to create a website
- Domain name
- Web hosting
- Customized business emails
- Visual page builder
- Apps to add extra functions to your website (also known as Addons or Plugins)
How websites work
Let’s assume that we want to visit CNN website, so we have to type cnn.com in our browser address bar and hit enter key to view the website.
[image of address bar]
Also they are paying for a hosting company to host their website contents (text,images,videos,…etc) on a super powerful computer called hosting server which makes their website up and accessible 24/7/365 for millions of visitors around the globe.
When we type cnn.com in our browser it directs us to their hosting server and shows us the CNN’s website contents.
If you decide to contact them or they emailed you they are using custom business emails integrated with their official domain name. for example firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com ..etc
Note: CNN emails mentioned above may be not exist I used it for clarification purposes only.
They are hiring web designers to post their news in readable and elegant look pages for their readers.
Also they and most of websites owners usually need tracking tools (addons) to get reports of their websites visitors info like gender, age, countries,interests, browsers they are using and many much more.
Although You may not intend to create a complicated functions website like CNN’s one, these are the most common things websites need to be up and usable.
In your situation as a small or medium business operator you need an exclusive domain name like yourbusinessname.com or yourbrandname.net and you need an online disk space called web hosting to store your website contents in. and make it available around clock to every person in the world. You also need custom business email like firstname.lastname@example.org to contact your clients, fans or website visitors. finally you need an easy to use and intuitive page builder to build your website yourself by drag and drop without using codes or hiring a web designer.
As I mentioned integrations as a one of website building requirements you have to know what the integration is:
Integration in website building means you can integrate third party service with your current platform. for example, you want to create a contact form to collect the mails of your website visitors and use it to build a mail list and send them regular and automated newsletters and updates.
So you have to subscribe a newsletter service and integrate it with your website.
You may need integrations for many reasons like
- Social media platforms integration
- Payment gateways like using PayPal to receive payment on your website
- Newsletter Services
- Live Chat Service
- Many much more according to your website needs
That’s all you need to know in this stage and now you are about choosing a platform to create your website with.
As I mentioned earlier there are dozens of platforms and service providers out there to choose from.
While there is nothing Ideal for everyone, the decision is very hard especially when you can’t predict your future needs as your business grow.
The modern technology which lets you create a website yourself visually by drag and drop with user-friendly interface page builder called CMS “Content Management System”. all platforms available in today market based on CMS technology.
The main feature of CMS platforms is called WYSIWYG “What You See Is What You Get” that’s mean you can see the result and final look of your website LIVE while you drag and drop elements.
CMS Technology became popular website building technology in today market. Consider following chart which shows us CMS market share against traditional coding technologies according to w3techs.com statistics in 2019.
[URL = https://w3techs.com/technologies/overview/content_management/all]
There are two types of CMS platforms Closed Source and Open Source platforms.
CMS Closed Source Platforms
Most of today CMS platforms are closed source platforms which provide you all website setup requirements and manage most of aspects themselves in behave of you.
We will take Weebly platform as an example of closed source platforms. They offer you domain name, web hosting, Pre-made templates, Page builder, Addons,integrations ,and technical support in one place. This is the meaning of closed source platform.
The only thing you can use from outside Weebly or any other closed source platform is your domain name, they let you connect your private domain to your account on their platform.
Weebly and most of CMS closed source platforms offer you two main kind of plans, PAID or FREE plan.
Process of creating a website using closed source platform
- Subscribe to a one of paid or free plans
- Purchase a domain name or connect your own one.
- Choose and customize a premade template
- Add your website contents using build-in page builder
- Install third-party addons or apps if you want to add more functionalities to your website
Using CMS closed source platform can be Ideal solution for some kind of business owners and most of available closed source platforms have same pros and cons
Here you can find CMS closed source platforms pros and cons for PAID PLANS
- Ease to use for beginners
- save time and effort with their built-in tools
- You will not have to worry about your website’s updates, security and backup
- While it is a paid service they commit to offer you premium support along your subscription period
- Completely hosted platforms which means subscription includes hosting fees (it also considered as disadvantage)
- You get one or more business custom mails integrated to your domain name like email@example.com
- They do technical tasks in behalf of you
- All in one solution (domain-hosting-emails-templates-page builder-Addons-support-Ecommerce and payment management)
- One team handle all your issues hosting-templates-builders-apps
- They consider some of legal affairs for example helping you make your site compilat to GDPR “General Data Protection Regulation” which became required as EU law as of May 25th, 2018.
- Cost is very high compared to self hosted open-source solutions
- You don’t really own your website but the platform does.
- Completely hosted means you can’t move or migrate your site to another hosting service provider
- You are limited to themes, templates, builders and apps they offer
- You are limited to third party integrations they support for example MailChimp is known as world’s largest marketing automation service provider but if your closed source platform has no integration with MailChimp you can never use it.
- Limited page builder features and abilities compared to open source variety
- Some platforms don’t allow you change your website template after installation, which means you can’t switch your real estate website to a blog or any other type in the future.
- Some platforms don’t support e-commerce or membership sites
- Some platforms support e-commerce sites only.
- You have to stick to their hosting plans which may not come in competitive rate or features
- You may pay extra fees to receive payments on your online stores
- You will be compelled to pay for each new website you want to run (one website per plan)
- Most available hosting plans are limited file storage and bandwidth
- Less control of SEO which became an essential factor today (WIX platform is known as terrible with SEO)
- Over the time Many users tend to move their websites to self hosted open source platforms
- Limited apps and many of Apps and Addons require extra payment
- Some platforms can’t support the growing of your business
- Paid does not mean it’s perfect
CMS Closed source platforms main advantage is peace in mind
CMS Closed source platforms main disadvantage is limitation
Some of closed source platforms offer FREE PLANS. Which are good for testing and drafting purposes.
Here you can find CMS closed source platforms pros and cons for FREE PLANS
- You can build your site yourself with visual drag and drop page builder
- It is totally free
- They offer you a free sub-domain like username.weebly.com
- You don’t get a real business domain but subdomain like username.weebly.com
- Most of them prohibit you connect your site to your own domain name
- Most of them force your site to show their branding to your visitors
- Some platforms restrict you monetize your site (e.g. , you can’t show google Adsense ads)
- Some of them don’t let you integrate third party service
- Limited or poor page builders like (Google site) one.
- Some of them don’t give you any obligations and they can shutdown your site or cancel service at all without warning.
- Some platforms are running their own commercial ads on your site
- Small and limited file storage and bandwidth
- While it is a free service there is no support at all.
- Most of features are closed to premium plans
- It is not good to your customers, fans or site’s visitors knowing that you use free service. that shows less credibility to your business
Now you have realized what the CMS closed source platforms are and how and when to use it with one of their two main options FREE or PAID
List of most popular CMS closed source platforms
- Squarespace (paid)
- Blogger (free)
- Weebly (paid/free)
- Shopify (paid)
- Bitrix (paid/free)
- Google Site (free)
- Yola (paid/free)
- Webs (paid/free)
Now it is the time to speak about Most Popular and Widely Used platforms which are open source platforms.
CMS Open Source Platforms
Unlike closed source one it is not all in one solutions which means you need a web hosting before you can go with the free open source platforms that’s why we name it self-hosted platforms.
We will take the well known WordPress platform as an example of open source platforms. Being free and running since 2003 made it the most used platform among the entire web. Millions of websites are built with WordPress platform.
Being an open source platform encouraged developers to create world’s largest themes, page builders and plugins library to add any imaginable function to your website and create any kind of websites.
All third party service providers can integrate their services with WordPress without restrictions or waiting agreement from WordPress operators.
WordPress built-in marketplace contains about 6,879 themes and 57,190 plugins you can install any of them with one click.
There are many online marketplaces for WordPress themes and plugins like Themeforest, CodeCanyon,TemplateMonster, Mojo Marketplace and many much more.
That’s why WordPress platform is the most popular platform in the world according to w3techs.com statistics in 2019.
[URL = https://w3techs.com/technologies/overview/content_management/all]
[wordpress market shares chart]
It requires you having a domain name and web hosting to install WordPress and start creating your website for free. That means you have to take one more step than closed source platforms to build a website yourself
Process of creating a website using open source platform
- Purchase a domain name and subscribe web hosting service from a hosting service provider
- Install an open source CMS from within your hosting control panel screen (Totally FREE)
- Choose and install a theme (FREE/PAID)
- Choose and install a page builder (FREE/PAID)
- Start building your website (FREE)
- Choose and install plugins to add functionality to your site (FREE/PAID)
Here you can find WordPress platform’s pros and cons
- Freedom and full control of your website
- You literally own your website so you can move or migrate it without restrictions
- Literally you can create any kind of websites
- You can freely make money from your website by ads, selling, membership,…etc.
- Easy to use and no codes or technical knowledge are required
- Over the time you will be familiar with the platform (easy to learn)
- Millions of users are using the same platform that’s mean you will never get lost with biggest helping community out there.
- There are thousands of free learning resources tutorials, articles and youtube videos to get help
- All issues that you may face are already solved by another users
- Unlimited available options themes, pages builders and plugins
- You can always install automated tools to handle update, backup and security
- Ability to add unlimited third party apps to add any imaginable functionality to your website
- Less costs compared to closed source platforms
- Regardless hosting and domain name, you can use full free tools themes, builder and plugins. See my article (How to create a website free)
- You control costs of your site and only you pay for what you really need
- Premium Hosting
- You can choose the best hosting plan that fits your needs
- Most of hosting plans enable you create unlimited sites on the same account
- Most of hosting plans offer you high or unlimited file storage and bandwidth
- Most of hosting plans offer you unlimited business emails like firstname.lastname@example.org
- WordPress is well known as SEO friendly
- You always can add automated tools and plugins to handle SEO
- Using specialized hosting service means high speed and performance which is a major factor to search engines to rank your site
- Whatever your SEO plan is, you can simply implement it without restrictions
- You are totally responsible of your website so you have to schedule update and backup yourself or install an automated tools to handle it
- Dealing with more than one party like hosting providers, CMS platform, theme and plugins
- You have to search for and install the best tools for your site yourself
- Support is depend on community users which means no obligations
- It takes a quit more time to be familiar with the platform than the closed source.
Open sources CMS platforms are the best choice of most of bloggers and websites owners. Especially WordPress.
Here is the list of most popular CMS open source platforms
Following info graphic shows you the full comparison between All Available CMS platforms in today’s market[CMS platforms full comparison]
Now it is your turn, choose the platforms that you can adapt with and start building your own website whenever you feel you are ready.
While I am always create websites using WordPress and also this site Mindonlinebusiness.com created with WordPress platform. I have write a detailed educational article to help you creating a website yourself in minutes using WordPress with totally free tools.
I crafted it for absolute beginners with illustrations, short videos, infographics and screenshots so it is suber easy to follow.In this article you will learn
- How to Get the best deal for domain name and web hosting
- How to subscribe a web hosting plan that fits your needs
- How to choose a best domain name for your website
- How to install and configure WordPress
- How to create your websites pages
- How to install and customize a theme
- How to install a page builder
- How to build your website pages with contents
I hope that I answered your question of, what is the best CMS platform to create a website yourself? I wish to see your live websites soon. Your opinions, comments and suggestions help me strengthen topics and writing new articles all comments are welcome ☺.
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