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Though the Internet has been in our lives for a relatively short time, around 30 years, it is hard to imagine the way life was before it appeared. It has had a significant impact across all industries bridging geographic distances and allowing brands to reach a global audience. Those were the early days of technology. Powerful computers and high-speed connections were nonexistent, so websites mostly comprised text with obscure graphics. There was no page layout, the subsequent building block of web design. Nevertheless, the World Wide Web has since become a competitive market, with businesses showcasing their goods and attracting customers using high-quality websites. It’s getting more and more crowded, and professionals are becoming more innovative in creating original solutions to overtake their biggest competitors. Still, the question remains: should you establish your website using website builders or hard coding?
Table of Contents
- The websites of today are far more functional
- The pros and cons of website builders
- Hardcoded websites
- Content management systems (CMS)
- Sage WordPress theme
- Final thoughts
The websites of today are far more functional
Over two decades have passed since the first website went live. Back then, a relatively novel networking tool became a crucial part of business as we know it today. During that time, websites had to be built from the ground up. Business owners who wanted to have a website had to either hire a developer or learn how to code. This brought new sorts of challenges, both technical and financial. Making and maintaining a website was highly time-consuming since making even the slightest changes required numerous steps.
As time passed, many of these challenges disappeared. Today, there are many affordable tools available to virtually anyone who wants to have a professional website without having to write a single line of code. Unfortunately, we live in the age of website builders, hosted drag and drop solutions and pre-built templates.
The pros and cons of website builders
People find website builders appealing for multiple reasons:
- Ease of use – Website builders tend to be as user-friendly as possible. You can easily arrange visual elements on the page thanks to drag-and-drop features.
- No coding required – Mastering coding requires years of learning. You don’t have to learn to code with website builders since the system is already built with an editor. This saves an enormous amount of time, which is crucial if you are anxious to go live as soon as possible.
- Pre-built templates – The average visit to a website page usually lasts for 10 to 20 seconds. A professional website design is what makes your visitors want to stay longer. However, designing an engaging and visually appealing website is often harder than it sounds, and website builders come bundled with numerous pre-built templates to choose from.
- Step-by-step wizard – A step-by-step wizard guides you through the entire website creation process, from selecting a template to uploading a photo.
On the other hand, website builders have disadvantages that are hard to overlook:
- Inability to export code – Most website builders don’t allow you to export the code or make changes to HTML or CSS files. Some offer limited export functionalities, but this still makes it extremely difficult to migrate to another platform. This means that you’ll have to start all over again should you decide to switch to a content management system.
- Limited storage – Website builders limit your allotment of bandwidth and storage. This may not seem like a huge problem at the beginning. However, as your business starts to grow, so will your website, and not having enough storage can create a bottleneck for large websites.
- Restricted features – Most website builders offer different plans suitable for business or personal use. Depending on the plan you opt for, some features are likely to be restricted ( such as limiting the number of pages you can create) or removed altogether unless you decide to upgrade.
- Pre-built templates – One of the biggest advantages of website builders is also one of their biggest undoings. No matter which template you choose, there are already thousands of websites using it, so you can forget about having a unique brand identity.
- Transaction fees – Some website builders even go as far as charging transaction fees for selling your products online. Weebly, for example, charges a 3% fee for each transaction you make using their Starter and Pro packages. Though this may not sound like much initially, these fees add up very quickly.
Hardcoded websites rest on the opposite end of the spectrum. Hard coding means coding a website with CSS and HTML from the foundation up. No step-by-step wizard or pre-built template. No back-end to log in to. Everything is done using software like Dreamweaver or a text editor and then uploaded.
Here are some of the advantages of hard coded websites:
- Complete control – Hard coding gives you full control over your website. It offers flexibility and lets your website grow along with your business.
- Better security – Hackers praise the day website builders were invented. Using the same code across all templates makes your website an extremely attractive target. In fact, Weebly was attacked in 2016. The attack resulted in stolen credentials from over 43 million accounts and left millions of user accounts vulnerable.
- Less maintenance – Once your hard coded website goes live, you won’t need additional updates or regular backups. While most builders require a paid subscription to use this feature, your website can run on cheaper servers, reducing your costs in the long run.
The only downside of hard coded websites is that they require extensive coding knowledge and a lot of time invested. Now, web developers possess the technical knowledge needed to code and maintain your website. It is how they make a living, after all. But, it is not your job as a business owner. Your job is to manage your customers and fulfill their orders, right? You don’t have that much time to spare.
So, the main question here is whether to go with hard coding or a website builder. And the answer: Well, it depends. Follow us on this one:
If all you need is a simple site with no more than a few pages and you lack the technical know-how, use a website builder by all means. It may turn out to be the perfect solution for your business.
On the other hand, if multiple features and enhanced functionality is what you are looking for, choose a custom coded website on and never look back.
No matter which approach you choose, you are sure to get your business online, but we advise you first to consider all the tradeoffs.
If there were only a solution that offers a balanced compromise between hard coding and website builders… Enter: Content management systems.
Content management systems (CMS)
Content management systems are applications that streamline content creation on the Internet. They are much like website builders in the way that they offer an intuitive interface. There is a higher learning curve, but CMS allows you to make fully functional websites even with limited technical expertise.
WordPress is widely considered the most popular content management system globally as it powers 27.5% of the top 10 million websites around the globe. And these numbers go up if we look at the market share of the top million websites.
WordPress is an open-source platform, which means everyone can download it. It is backed by a large community of developers that constantly provide new features and security updates. And best of all, with WordPress, you get a fully functional website for just the cost of a domain name and hosting. No hidden catch, no strings attached.
Here is why WordPress is such a popular software:
- Ease of use – This open-source platform offers an intuitive interface that makes it easy to add new content or edit an existing one. All you need to do is write your content and click Publish to make it live. Just like that, no need for coding or FTP programs.
- Flexibility – Though primarily built to be a blogging platform, this content management system is highly flexible and can power anything from personal blogs to large university websites. WooCommerce even lets you transform any WordPress website into an eCommerce store.
- Professional themes – WordPress offers an abundance of free themes to download and install directly from the dashboard. Still can’t find the design that rocks your world? Then switch to one of the numerous paid options available or hire a WordPress developer to build you a custom one.
- Plugins – Whichever functionality your business website needs, it is highly likely that WordPress has a plugin for it. Want to add social sharing buttons to your website? Or perhaps you need a contact form for your homepage or ADA compliance plugin? WordPress has got you covered. Simply download and install an appropriate plugin from the dashboard.
Sage WordPress theme
Among thousands of WordPress themes out there, there is one that our web development agency finds extremely valuable. That one is the Sage WordPress theme. Sage is an open-source framework that perfectly fits our philosophy of open-source development.
Finding a fully mobile theme and Google Lighthouse can be a daunting task even for the most persistent among us. Most template customizations come with tradeoffs that can slow down your website and damage your SEO rankings. And making an uneducated theme choice can do your business more harm than good as it can overcrowd your website with unnecessary components and poorly structured code that takes forever to execute.
Sage Framework brings the opposite: A semantically structured system backed with a clean code to maximize mobile speed and drive premium PageSpeed Insights results such as ours.
Also, the implementation of Blade from Laravel as a templating engine provides a streamlined development process. You can either use its two front-end framework options, Bootstrap and Foundation or select an entirely new framework and style in case you want to do things from scratch.
WordPress is a content management system as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Yes, there is a slight learning curve, as opposed to website builders, and you do need a certain level of coding expertise if you wish to tweak your themes. Also, unlike with hard coded websites, you’ll have to install security updates as they get released. But overcoming these initial obstacles will reward you with greater control and flexibility, features necessary to any business website set for growth.