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What is the best tool to use when building a website?

what is the best tool for building a website?

i’m going to be pretty upfront here. The answer is WordPress. As much as I want to go through teasing the conclusion, let’s be real. You don’t have the time for that! This article is really about why you should be using WordPress, and if you are using another tool why you should switch.

i’m still going to discuss the pros and cons based on the features, costs, limitations etc. of each Content Management System (CMS), because I think you still would like to know how WordPress stacks up compared to the competition. These are the CMS tools I will discuss:

the following is the criteria I will use to rate each web tool and essentially argue my case for WordPress as the best option for you and your business.

i like to call this the 4 C’s of Website Building Tools:

01

community

is there a community that creates continuous improvements and answers all possible questions you might encounter?

02

customization

can I customize the website easily and have the appearance represent my company and brand?

03

capabilities

are there unlimited or advanced features and capabilities that I can apply to make my website more functional and fit my business?

04

cost

are there any monthly costs or is it a free open source product that I own and not another 3rd party tool i’m paying for?

So enough of this intro, let’s get started!

#1: Community + Continuous Improvements

one component you want to recognize when looking into which website tool to use is the community that surrounds that product. You want there to be a sizable user base that is going to be continuously improving the tool, developing new plugins/apps, trying new methods and techniques of using the site with different business models, etc. It is also helpful in terms of testing – the more users using the product the more times it gets tested. And so, any roadblocks you may encounter will already have been met and fixed beforehand. There have been countless times where I am interested in adding a quite unique functionality onto a website and there is somebody, somewhere online (usually Stack Overflow or GitHub) that has figured out how to accomplish this. You can also go to the WordPress Support Forums, where the developers of certain plugins and tools have answered questions about their products.

as of June 2019, these are the following market shares of the top website CMS tools:

WordPress Market Share
market shares of the top website CMS tools

you can clearly see that WordPress is the front runner with nearly 61% of the market. Wow! Joomla is in second place with only 5%, and the list dwindles even further after that.  WordPress is the biggest CMS leader with over 60 million sites and counting. 50,000 WordPress users are added each month and here you can see a map of all of the WordPress activity across the world.  Over 500 WordPress websites are built each day compared to Shopify and Squarespace, which are 60-80. WordPress is constantly being improved and hundreds of version of the software have been updated through out the years. WordPress truly has a power in numbers when it comes to website tools and there is a massive user and developer following. When you are selecting a CMS to use, don’t you want to use the industry leader? Users benefit from using Google or Facebook, rather than Bing or MySpace, because the service is better and the large community enhances the product. The more and more that get added, the stronger it becomes.

another important element to note is that from the list above only WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are open source, which means that developers can have access to the code and are able to develop the products further by adding more features, fixing bugs, developing more products etc.

Websites Based on WordPress
notable websites using wordpress

there are many notable websites that are built with WordPress, including Disney, CNN and Mercedes-Benz. Essentially, if your logo is either black or red there’s a high chance you’re using WordPress. And come on, if both James Bond and Beyonce are using WordPress, then it must be pretty sweet!

#2: Customization

another very important aspect when deciding what tool to build your website with is the flexibility you have to customize and tailor the site to fit your brand and business. Below shows a comparison  between ease of use and flexibility.

Content Management System Comparison
ease of use vs. flexibility of the top website CMS tools

as you can see, some website tools may be easier and simpler to use, but they compromise on the customization flexibility you will get. Wix for example has a very user-friendly page builder, but doesn’t leave so much room to add additional features and grow the site. The standard WordPress page builder used to not have as simple of a user experience as Wix; however, they have released a new easy-to-use page builder called Gutenberg and there are additional exeptional page builder plugins, such as Elementor and BeaverBuilder, which may be even better than the page builders of tools like Squarespace or Weebly.

there are also specialized website tools, such as Shopify and Magento, which are specifically used to building eCommerce websites and online shops. Magento and Shopify are solutions specific for eCommerce and online shops, and so you do not want to use these tools for blogs, service related businesses or other businesses that don’t sell products online. There is no coding skills required to use Shopify, because Shopify is a Software as a Service (SaaS) product. You therefore have no ownership over this product and you must pay to use this on a regular basis. The moment you stop paying for the product, you lose your rights to the website. This is not flexible and I suggest avoiding this restriction.

although Shopify requires no coding, there is really no actual coding required also for WordPress (if you don’t want). If you do want to get fancy there are opportunities to do so with code, but it is very easy to get by without performing any coding. WordPress also has one of the most popular eCommerce plugins, WooCommerce, which is used by 14.7% of WordPress websites. This is a great alternative to the eCommerce capabilities of Shopify and Magento. And its free 🙂

another flexible attribute about WordPress is that since it is open source and free, you can install as many websites as you want and you can even install multiple websites on the same platform to create a network of sites (great for multiple blogs with many writers).

when using Squarespace, Wix and Weebly, you can only install one website. For more sites, you need to upgrade you service and pay more.

#3: Capabilities

for whatever reason you are building a website, it is most likely that you need more than just a plain landing page or one of these boring templates. That is why it is so important to make sure your website has the most options and variety for capabilities and features. Most CMS tools will allow you to add on features you need in the form of plugins or apps (packets of software). That means you install a pre-made piece of software onto your site, usually with a couple clicks of a button, which then adds the functionality. For example, if you want to be able to add Pop Up Boxes to your website this may not be a standard feature and you will need to install a plugin or app to enable pop ups on your website. Below is a breakdown of the plugins and apps depending on the website CMS tool (numbers are rounded):

plugins + apps

WordPress is again the clear winner here with over 54,000 plugins and counting! As I mentioned earlier, this has a lot to do with the massive number of users and developers using this tool, and these individuals are constantly creating new features to add on to WordPress. Below are some of my favorite WordPress plugins:

my favorite plugins

WooCommerce adds an online store functionality, WPML adds multilingual functionality, Yoast SEO allows you to optimize keywords for search engines, WP Multisite allows you to create a network of websites, Advance Custom Fields enables any addition fields you need, Elementor is a robust page builder, Astra Pro is an incredible theme with pre-built websites, Custom Post Type UI allows the creation of custom post types (ex. projects, teams etc.), LearnDash create portal for selling online courses, MemberPress allows you to sell online subscriptions and memberships, OptinMonster makes it easy to collect email subscribers and market to them and UpdraftPlus automatically backup your website and regularly saves it to DropBox or Google Drive.

#4: Cost

this is relatively straight forward. Some tools cost money and some are free. Keep in mind that for the free products, you will still need to pay for the web hosting in order to run the website and make it live, but these costs can be as low as $3/mo, when using services like SiteGround, Bluehost or HostGator just to name a few.

average prices

free

free

$0 – $21/mo

$5 – $30/mo

$11 – $36/mo

$0 – $250/mo

$30 – $300/mo

the prices are reflective of which tools are open-source and which tools are SaaS products. The open-source tools are free which allows developers access to the code to further advance the capabilities of the tools. The SaaS CMS tools cost money and you must pay a monthly subscription in order to use them. And again, developers do not have access to the backend to make new plugins or apps for the CMS tool. For example, products, like Shopify and Magento do not give users access to all of the code and therefore are able to charge strict access for the use of their products.

WordPress is like a set of Legos. You have the instructions, but you can build whatever you want. The alternatives are like buying Legos that are glued together.

conclusion

in conclusion, your choice of CMS tool depends if your are looking for a quick and easy website or one that you can grow with. If you only need a simple site and you don’t mind giving up some features and flexibility, go with Wix or Squarespace. If you want a quick and easy eCommerce or online shop, go with Shopify (bigger enterprises go with Magento). But if you want the most powerful, customizable tool that will allow you the most flexibility, lowest-cost and highest level of capabilities the choice is without a doubt WordPress. WordPress is like a set of Legos. You have the instructions, but you can build whatever you want. The alternatives are like buying Legos that are glued together. It’s only the beginning for WordPress and as the community grows even further, the product becomes better and more versatile. 

below is a final comparison between all of the tools with a. scoring of 1 – 10 (10 being the best score).

comparison

community

customization

capabilities

cost

community

10

customization

10

capabilities

9

cost

10

community

3

customization

7

capabilities

3

cost

10

community

2

customization

6

capabilities

6

cost

10

community

2

customization

2

capabilities

1

cost

6

community

1

customization

2

capabilities

1

cost

8

community

2

customization

1

capabilities

4

cost

3

community

1

customization

2

capabilities

4

cost

3

community

1

customization

2

capabilities

1

cost

7

if you have questions about building websites or need a new professional website, feel free to contact us:

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