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Web hosting vs WordPress vs website builder: Which one is the best?

Web hosting vs WordPress vs website builder - laptop open on desk displaying data
(Image credit: Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash)

When you first build a website using one of the best website builders, you must choose how much of the work you’ll do yourself and how much you’ll outsource to contractors. The best approach to take depends on how much time you can spare, the level of control you want over the project, and the amount of technical knowledge you possess. 

Website builders are one option for making websites when you don’t have any technical experience. With the simple drag-and-drop interface, you can make a website even if you don’t know HTML, CSS, or JavaScript code - the website builder will create the underlying code for you.

In turn, when you buy web hosting from one of the best web hosting services, you’re simply renting disk space on a remote computer server. You upload your website files onto that disk space and then people can access them from around the world. You still need to create the web pages yourself or pay a web design company to make them for you.

If that sounds like too much work, content management software makes creating web pages easier. WordPress is one such content management system (CMS), with a focus on blogging sites. Even if you have no web development experience, you can make a WordPress site in a matter of minutes.

Here, we’ll discuss these three options for creating a new website—web hosting vs WordPress vs website builders—and their relative pros and cons⁠. You can use these methods together so they’re not mutually exclusive, but it’s useful to define what they are so you know where to start.

Web hosting vs WordPress vs website builders: Web hosting

Web hosting vs WordPress vs website builder - HostGator's homepage

A web hosting service offers maximum flexibility but expertise is required (Image credit: HostGator)

When you buy web hosting, you get online storage space, and the rest is up to you. Buying web hosting gives you the greatest control over how your website will turn out, but it invariably increases the amount of work you must do to get your website off the ground.

Having your own web hosting from the beginning makes it easier to add additional features to your website when your business grows. You’re also not locked into using any one piece of software.

Hosting providers often have one-click installers for popular CMSs that can save you lots of time. Most companies need not reinvent the wheel, so it makes sense to use tools that make building and managing your site easier instead of creating everything from scratch.

Pros:

  •  Maximum flexibility
  •  A huge number of providers
  •  Scales well 

Cons:

  • Requires technical expertise
  • Longer development cycle
  • Increased maintenance and management

WordPress

Web hosting vs WordPress vs website builder - WordPress.com's homepage

WordPress has good flexibility and is relatively easy to use (Image credit: WordPress)

You can install the free WordPress CMS via one of the best WordPress hosting providers, or you can host your WordPress website on WordPress.com.

The best thing about WordPress is how easy it is to create a website through its browser-based editor. Thousands of themes exist for WordPress so you can quickly have a professional-looking site, and there are over 55,000 WordPress plugins you can install that add functionality to your website. Read our WordPress review to see what we made of the company's website builder.

WordPress is an excellent choice to get a fully functioning website up and running quickly. However, security is a concern on WordPress sites. The software itself is considered relatively secure, but themes and plugins are all developed by distinct people, so bugs and security holes are often introduced. WordPress is the most hacked CMS in the world.

While WordPress itself is free, premium themes and plugins are not. You must also update the software regularly as security holes are patched, which can inadvertently render a theme or plugin on your site unusable until it has been updated. 

Finally, although selling goods on a WordPress site is possible, WordPress wasn’t built with ecommerce in mind. If you’re selling goods online, consider a more ecommerce focused CMS like Shopify.

Pros:

  • Thousands of themes
  • Powerful plugins
  • Easy multi-creator blogging

Cons:

  • Cost of plug-ins can mount up
  • Better options exist for ecommerce sites
  • Security is a concern

Website builders

Web hosting vs WordPress vs website builder - Wix's homepage

A website builder like Wix is fast and simple to use but has limited scalability (Image credit: Wix)

Website builders such as Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace create website code for you. You need not know anything about website development to use a website builder, as all you do is drag and drop the elements you want onto the page. 

The other major advantage of using a website builder is speed. You can make a website much more quickly using a website builder than if you were coding each page yourself.

Unfortunately, website builders are rather simplistic, so you’re restricted to specific, generic templates. Adding functionality to your site that isn’t inherently part of the website building tool is challenging, making scaling your site up later a problem. 

Finally, the created website code is machine-generated so it can be difficult for a web designer to work with. This makes transferring your website to other platforms difficult, essentially locking you into using the website builder forever. 

Website builders are a fine choice for small, basic websites that won’t need to grow into something bigger in the future, but their limitations make them a poor choice for everything else.

Pros:

  • Fast website creation
  • Low cost
  • No technical knowledge required

Cons:

  • Difficult to transfer code
  • Cookie-cutter designs
  • Poor scalability

Web hosting vs WordPress vs website builder: Which is best?

In conclusion here, you can see that despite comparing the three different areas of web creation, elements of each are better than those of the competitors, but all three allow for website creation in one way or another. It depends entirely on what you and your business are looking to achieve, whether it be ecommerce, blogging, a high-capacity webpage or all three.