Gone are the days of paying thousands of dollars to build a website from scratch. Indeed, custom-built websites remain prevalent and continue to serve a purpose in certain instances. However, with the advent of DIY services that allow for full websites to be created with little to no hands-on coding, entrepreneurs and content creators are no longer dependent on large development teams and drawn-out projects to get their message to the world. In most cases, all that is needed is a computer and access to the internet.
The leader of these DIY services is WordPress. It is one of many tools that allow non-technical laymen to build websites. As an open source content management system, or CMS, WordPress offers easy installation and navigation, access to numerous in-house and third-party themes and plugins for appearance and functionality, and tons of community support that help users to quickly build powerful and interactive websites.
While WordPress’s ease of use and extensive list of themes and plugins make it a logical first option for content creators, it is far from the only one. In fact, you don’t have to use a CMS at all. A category of tools known as website builders offers drag-and-drop capabilities that can help you get your website published even faster. As a result, the choice you make will depend on your needs and experience as there are several alternatives that can deliver similar or better results.
Content Management Systems
Content management systems allow users to have the most control over their website without having it entirely custom built. While the specific capabilities can vary greatly, the majority of content management systems allow you to build a fully functioning website using a combination of themes and plugins with few limitations.
Joomla is the second most popular content management system after WordPress with over 63 million downloads. With millions of users worldwide, from small businesses to government agencies, Joomla has built quite a reputation for itself. Like WordPress, it offers a base software that can be extended using in-house and third-party plugins.
It comes with a simple installation process and an intuitive interface and is powerful and flexible enough to handle almost any functionality, although some of the more advanced customizations will require some level of technical expertise. Joomla is written in PHP and uses MySQL as its primary database management system. The software can be installed easily in 10 minutes, and many hosting services provide a one-click installation.
Here’s how Joomla can be of benefit to you:
Drupal is the third most popular CMS with over 15 million downloads and works well for all websites, both large and small. It’s a powerful software, and as a result, it requires more technical ability and more of a learning curve than WordPress and Joomla.
As with WordPress and Joomla, Drupal is serious about security.
However, it goes one step further by publishing a list of security vulnerabilities on their website as they are discovered and when they are patched.
Here’s what you can expect from Drupal:
Ghost is a lighter CMS and fills a void for those who want to use a CMS without all the extras that come with WordPress. If you want to publish content and are willing to do without all the plugins, then Ghost is ideal for you. It’s not as flexible as WordPress and it doesn’t care to be.
Here’s what you can expect from Ghost:
While it’s not as popular as the other content management systems, Craft CMS is still used by big global brands such as Salesforce and Netflix. Given that it doesn’t offer any front-end themes, it’s much more targeted to developers than content owners with little to no technical skill.
Here’s what you can expect to get from Craft CMS:
Website builders are different from content management systems in that you don’t’ have to install anything. The service provider hosts the software on your behalf, and you build your website using their interface.
In terms of ease of use, Wix is a strong challenger to WordPress and other content management systems. It is a great tool for beginners with no technical skill as it allows for an entire website to be created using drag-and-drop functionality.
Here’s what you can expect from Wix:
Squarespace is another website builder and, just like Wix, it is designed for beginners to be able to quickly and easily put up a website. Unlike Wix, Squarespace does not offer a free plan with its lowest priced option starting at $12.
Weebly is another drag-and-drop editor. Beginners will find it easy to use while those with some coding experience will like the fact that it allows for design customizations to be made within the code.
Google Sites is a quick way to build small websites for free. It offers a simple interface and provides free hosting, even when using your own custom domain.
For those who are only interested in building an e-commerce store, Shopify is the way to go. Users can have a full online shop up and running in minutes with its interactive interface. Users can choose between a variety of free and paid themes as well as a growing list of third-party plugins.
Once upon a time, WordPress was known as a blogging platform. Many users prefer the simplicity that blogging platforms offer and have navigated towards blogging services.
Tumblr is a free platform that combines blogging with social networking. Once a blog is published, other Tumblr users can like or share it, allowing it to be seen by more people. While Tumblr does allow users to create pages and choose from free and premium themes, it is not intended to be used for building complete websites. It is a hosted solution, so there’s no need to download any software.
Blogger is a free blogging service provided by Google which was intended to compete with WordPress. While not as popular as it once was, it offers all of the basic features needed to create a blog, including a commenting system and social capabilities. You can customize your blog by choosing from different templates and using a custom domain name. Since Blogger is owned by Google, it’s easy to make money off your posts by adding AdSense to your blog.
Medium is another popular platform primarily used for publishing blogs. It’s straightforward and doesn’t offer the variety of templates and plugins as other sites. You can choose to publish your blog within Medium’s network, allowing it to be liked and shared, or you can publish under your own domain for a one-time fee.
Which One Should You Choose?
Given how flexible and easy it is to use, WordPress is likely the best option for most website creators. However, if you need specific capabilities such as e-commerce and don’t want to search for plugins, or if you’re a newcomer looking for an even simpler user interface like drag-and-drop, then there are certainly other alternatives available. Otherwise, you’re better off sticking with WordPress to take advantage of its large number of templates and plugins and its huge support community.