Page Builders vs Website Builders: Everything You Need to Know

Page Builders vs Website Builders: Everything You Need to Know

Do you know the difference between a page builder and a website builder? It’s subtle, but there is a distinction. And, in the best interests of your business goals, it’s one you should understand completely before making any decisions about building and maintaining your website.

The ability to distinguish between website builders and page builders is the only way to know which one is best suited to your website strategy. Otherwise, you risk developing a site that can’t scale as your business grows. Or, just as bad, you could waste a ton of money on a website that’s far too complex for your current or future needs.

It’s hard to make sense of all the terms being thrown around, and that might make your decision difficult. Aren’t page builders and website builders the same? How do they work? What’s the difference, and what are the advantages or disadvantages of each? Who knows what’s what?

We do, and we’re here to clear the confusion between “page builder” and “website builder.” We’ll also break down why you might want to choose one of these tools for designing and maintaining your business website.

Content Management Systems

First, let’s talk about content management systems like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. A content management system (CMS) is the software program used to create and manage your website. It contains your site’s digital content and publishes it to the internet.

Since WordPress is the most popular CMS online today, powering over 31% of all websites, it’s the one we’ll discuss in this overview.

WordPress (WP) is extremely powerful and flexible. It’s easy to learn but does take some study. You’re responsible for choosing a hosting environment. That’s the server where your website’s data is kept, and there are several options available.

WordPress.org is what’s known as a self-hosted solution. That means that in addition to selecting your hosting environment, you’re also responsible for everything else needed to set up and support your website. That includes your domain name, theme, plugins, and services such as security plans and ongoing maintenance fees.

Because of its limitless customization options and flexibility, self-hosted WP is more hands-on. It’s potentially a more expensive choice, though, as costs can add up quickly. It’s also the selection that affords you the most control over your website and digital assets.

Managed WordPress options are available to provide much of the back-end development and maintenance of your site, for a higher fee. Managed WordPress hosting includes all the optimization, security, and maintenance your website needs.

Managed plans are more expensive and limit some of your technical control, but the trade-off is that you get premium support and the security of having your website in expert hands.

With WordPress.com, one of many managed plans available, you can set up a business website for $25 per month (billed annually), and upgrade to a self-hosted site as your needs change.

Page Builders

Page builders are easy-to-use themes or plugins that work on top of a CMS to make visual, drag-and-drop page and post creation easy for any user, with or without knowledge of code (computer developing languages like HTML and CSS).

These tools allow for automations, optimizations, and other enhancements that add functionality to the basic WordPress CMS. Even beginners can change things that are not included in their theme of choice, like adding multiple columns or content sliders, without knowing how to code.

Website Builders

A website builder, such as Wix or Squarespace, is a drag-and-drop interface that allows for the complete building of a website. The CMS and hosting platform use proprietary software that cannot be easily reconfigured or managed by the user (that’s you, the business owner).

Website builders are cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms. You don’t have to download or install anything on your own computer or server, as you would with a CMS. One monthly fee includes everything you need to build and maintain your website.

That means everything you would buy and/or download separately to get a WordPress website online is part of the package. A domain name, hosting, CMS, themes (called templates for website builders), functionality enhancements (instead of plugins), and/or services (security and management), are all bundled for you.

Since 1.4% of websites use Squarespace and it has overtaken Wix as the most popular website builder, we’ll use Squarespace for this comparison.

While creating websites from scratch is easily managed using a website builder, the end result — your business website — is fully controlled by the platform’s owner. In this case, that’s NOT you, the business owner.

This can pose a challenge for entrepreneurs: Should you go with an easy solution like a website builder, leaving the maintenance and authority in someone else’s hands? Or would you be better off using a CMS like WordPress with a page builder system? Let’s break it down here.

Page Builders and Website Builders Compared

Ease of Setup & Use

WordPress is sometimes thought of as more complicated as opposed to the website builders that do it all for you. You may find it beyond your area of interest or ability to set up and maintain a proper WP website. Running a business while handling website security, updates, optimizations and monitoring growth is often overwhelming. That’s why some people find their websites difficult to use.

A CMS becomes complex very easily if you don’t understand what you’re doing on the back-end and why. But unless you opt to handle it yourself, a WP website will require that you get a separate contract to cover professional ongoing maintenance. It’s up to you to investigate the options and make the best choice for your business.

Squarespace, like most SaaS providers, is an attractive alternative. You can have a beautiful website up and running in as little as 30 minutes using professionally designed templates. The platform does all the behind-the-scenes work for you, too. Get your domain name and hosting included for free in your payment plan of choice. Updates and security are also managed by your website builder’s team.

But these perks come with drawbacks for website owners looking to have much more control over their greatest business asset. Some customizations are limited; functions and optimizations are regulated or restricted. If your business outgrows the platform’s offerings, you could end up with a site that no longer meets your needs.

Because they are proprietary, you aren’t allowed to make certain changes to the look or functionality of your site. Although Squarespace is better than some website builders in providing you with information and statistics to analyze your site’s performance, you won’t be able to optimize for speed or search engines beyond the capabilities of the platform.

Conclusion

There are specialists in every development environment that can take care of setup for you, and with website builders, you have the added value of built-in security and updates. If you’re not interested in what’s going on behind the scenes with your site, it’s likely that a website builder is for you.

WordPress provides useful features that are unavailable on most website builders. If you enjoy tinkering with your website and can devote the time and effort to manage it properly, you’re probably a candidate for a CMS with page builder solution. Even if you decide to work with a website pro for setup and/or ongoing maintenance, you’ll still have primary oversight.

Customer Support

WordPress is open-source software, so users are free to integrate their own solutions with plugins and code changes. There is no dedicated support system. If you’re running your own website and need help, troubleshooting is up to you. You’ll need to consult the user forums for similar problems and piece together your own remedy.

Using WordPress with a page builder solves this problem neatly. Our choice is Divi by Elegant Themes, a completely visual page builder. They also offer a plugin that can be used with any theme. The developer supports all their products with 24/7 live chat, and tries to respond within 30 minutes.

Squarespace, a proprietary platform whose inner workings are off limits to users, provides support via live chat during weekday hours and 24/7 email support within one hour.

Conclusion

Both website builders and page builders used with a CMS can provide the right amount of service and support for you. It’s a matter of researching what each has to offer and determining how that matches up with your business needs.

Costs Comparison

WordPress software is free, and basic website hosting is usually $3-10 monthly. Larger or more complicated sites can command as much as $40 per month. Purchasing a domain name, premium themes and plugins, plus additional optional services, can also drive up a WP site’s costs.

Squarespace charges about $15 monthly for a basic website and can go up to $40 or more for added features and functionality. Although the website builders are proprietary and don’t require you to select and maintain your own hosting platform, they do offer a range of payment plans to fit a variety of needs. These platforms also accommodate e-commerce options.

Conclusion

Depending upon your website strategy, you may find that one solution or the other is best for your budget and requirements. Determine your upcoming campaigns and growth plans when taking costs into account. And take advantage of less-costly resources as long as they’re available and practical.

Content Ownership

With WordPress, you’re completely in charge of and responsible for your site’s content and performance. It’s your intellectual property, so there’s no chance of confusion.

Note that Squarespace controls all your content, along with the domain name and hosting platform. Should their hardware or software become compromised, you have no responsibility, but no recourse, either. Your domain and digital assets are under the authority of your website builder’s platform.

Conclusion

Because the website builders must accommodate so many users, they have to maintain a high level of security on the development side of the sites they host. That means a lot less control for you, but it also frees you from the responsibilities of maintaining a self-hosted website. It’s your choice.

Time to Decide

It’s all-important to have a well-designed, user-friendly website these days. While many entrepreneurs still follow the traditional route and work with a developer to set up and maintain their sites, many more are opting to try their hand at using today’s popular website builders instead.

Both website builders and page builders create sites suitable for entrepreneurs and small businesses. The differences in costs are negligible. You may have as much or as little hands-on activity as you wish with either choice. The final decision comes down to how much control you want to have over your most important business asset.

I suggest you consider how much involvement you plan to have in your website’s daily management. Also, think about your needs as your business grows. If you don’t expect to sell a number of different products, for example, you probably won’t need the same power and functionality as an online retailer would.

All in all, Squarespace is my recommendation for those who prefer a website builder. It does allow a certain degree of flexibility and content ownership. The platform offers a variety of professionally designed templates that create beautiful websites. And Squarespace is one website builder that allows you to change your template, or theme, whereas some others do not.

They have an upgraded suite of SEO tools and integrate with Google Analytics, as well as providing real-time performance reporting. By offering unlimited bandwidth across all their payment plans, Squarespace has an edge over other website builders that are more restrictive. And Squarespace allows full export of your website to WordPress if or when your site outgrows their platform, an unrivaled feature.

If your plans are to scale your business rather quickly, you may prefer to avoid the concern of eventually moving your online presence from a proprietary solution to a content management system that you control. In that case, start with WordPress using a page builder from the beginning.

Although you may not wish to devote the time and energy website development and maintenance requires, you’re free to contract out much of the daily routine management so the behind-the-scenes aspects run just as smoothly as with a proprietary solution.

You’ll be better off with WP and a page builder because it gives you more control of your digital assets and a greater degree of flexibility. As your business grows, you may find that a necessity.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between a website builder and a page builder can be a challenging decision. It all comes down to your personal preferences and business needs.

Both create attractive, functional websites; both are relatively easy to learn and use. Excellent customer support can be found with either solution. And although they use different pricing models, the overall costs work out to be about the same.

Whichever you choose, make sure your website reflects your business in the best possible light.

Secrets of Website Design: We Love Divi

Secrets of Website Design: We Love Divi

Selecting a website design for your online business is both exciting and challenging. Whether you’re just starting out or it’s time to revamp your existing site, there are so many options available you might not know where to begin.

For starters, you have to decide between free and premium themes. Is it better to shell out hard-earned cash, or can you get by with an inexpensive or even a free alternative?

Then, how can you tell which theme is the best for developing your site and implementing your business vision? The sheer number of themes available can make your decision confusing and frustrating.

What if you make the wrong choice and your site looks unprofessional or functions poorly? How do you know if a particular theme will end up being difficult to implement and maintain?

Not to worry! It is possible to avoid analysis paralysis and move ahead confidently. Even if building or maintaining a business website is more involved than you thought it might be, using Divi by Elegant Themes is the best way to simplify your web design, maintenance, and constant improvement.

VAWW Online uses Divi exclusively for all our web design projects (including our own!), so I’ll explain why it’s the framework of choice for plenty of other businesses as well.

Introducing Divi

Among the most popular WordPress themes in use today, Divi is extremely easy to use with little learning curve. You know it’s safe because the developers partnered with Sucuri.net to certify its security. And purchasing Divi is an extraordinary value that comes with even more bonus perks.

The team at Elegant Themes has been around for over 10 years and is committed to maintaining their products. Rest assured they’ll still be available to offer support for the foreseeable future.

And although it’s their flagship theme, Divi is not the only product included with every Elegant Themes subscription. Another 87 (not a typo!) more themes and plugins are provided as well. (Speaking of plugins, the Divi Builder Plugin works with any theme!) You also gain access to any new items created during your enrollment.

Website designers are not restricted to a certain number of uses, either. You’re free to use any of your Elegant Themes products on as many websites as you choose. Also of value to developers, Divi offers a split testing tool and can be translated into 32 languages.

It’s Incredibly Popular. Some may take Divi’s popularity as a negative because it’s currently being used on over 1 million sites worldwide, without considering the very reasons why it has become a favorite. Elegant Themes provides a value-packed bundle. Divi has numerous positive features that justify its huge and devoted following. Here’s a sample.

Divi by Elegant Themes is perfectly customizable.

Divi by Elegant Themes is perfectly customizable.

It’s Responsive. Right out of the box, Divi allows you to create sites that adjust to different screen sizes on the fly. Even better, its Visual Builder allows you to toggle between smartphone, tablet and desktop views while editing, and remains fully functional in all three modes. You can easily specify different settings for each view to completely customize your site for various screen sizes.

It’s E-Commerce Ready. Divi is fully compatible with WooCommerce, one of the web’s most popular e-commerce platforms. If you plan to do online selling, integrating Divi with WooCommerce is practically seamless and allows you to professionally showcase your products and services.

It’s Constantly Upgraded and Updated. Elegant Themes works hard to create the ultimate WordPress theme and make Divi the only one you’ll ever need. That means constantly refining and improving all their products to make them the best on the market. Significant Divi upgrades are routinely announced on the Elegant Themes blog and are instantly available to users.

It’s Infinitely Customizable. No two sites built with Divi look exactly alike — unless that was the intent. It’s so simple to personalize every aspect of your website, from layouts to fonts and colors to sizing and spacing, that you can achieve your true vision and have it online working for your brand in a few easy clicks.

Elegant Themes also provides innovative Layout Packs for a variety of industries, helping to kickstart your design with fully adaptable page layouts you can use as starting points to develop your brand’s website design.

And not only is the design customizable, the interface can be configured to your preferred specifications as well. That means you’re able to design your pages and content with effortless, intuitive controls that YOU tailored for your own ease of use.

It Inspires a Generous Online Community. Maybe it’s because Elegant Themes itself provides such value to its users, with great online support and documentation. Maybe it’s because Elegant Themes hosts a forum where users can connect to further explore common issues. Whatever the reason, the Divi community is engaged and helpful, with online groups and offline meetups to help one another solve problems and network.

But Divi is Not for Everyone

Some prefer and can afford a bespoke solution, and others simply need a quick and dirty premade template site.

Others think that Divi is hard to learn or difficult to work with, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Visual Builder shows you the results of your actions in real time, letting you see your website as it will look live. You don’t have to know any behind-the-scenes coding, but you can use advanced techniques as you gain familiarity and confidence.

You may be wondering if using Divi makes it difficult to switch themes later. It’s true that you’ll deal with a series of challenges any time you change themes. That’s why best practice is to work offline, in a staging environment, before taking any major updates, upgrades, or theme changes online.

Price is not an issue either, since Elegant Themes offers annual and lifetime subscriptions at a reasonable rate. Access to all their themes and plugins, as well as theme updates, premium support, and unlimited website usage, is available for $89 per year or a one-time $249 fee.

So don’t let any objections keep you from experiencing the ease of use Divi offers when developing your next website design.

Take Divi for a free test drive at this demo page!

Sign up for a 30-Day risk-free Elegant Themes membership here.

Or let us design your website for you! Contact us here for more information.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I will be paid a small commission — at no extra cost to you — if you choose to click a link and make a purchase. This allows me to continue providing information and resources to you at no cost. And I only promote products that I use and trust.

INFOGRAPHIC: Must-Have WordPress Plugins for Your Business

INFOGRAPHIC: Must-Have WordPress Plugins for Your Business

WordPress plugins, add-ons that enhance functionality and optimize your website, are sometimes cited in complaints that WordPress is not perfect. And of course, nothing is. But it’s not the CMS of choice for close to 30% of the internet without reason.

Because WordPress is open-source software, developers are free to create solutions that address any number of website issues. This leads to the overwhelming array of plugins available. How to know what you really need to get WordPress to work at peak performance for YOUR particular business needs?

WordPress dominates the market due to its versatility and the ability to add almost unlimited features. You can create a robust, optimized website using your perfect combination of tools.

The sheer number of plugins available on the WordPress repository (55,241 and counting ) can produce confusion and frustration, though, unless you have a plan. And the candy-store approach might negatively impact your site’s performance if you install too many incompatible plugins.

Please don’t install a treasure-trove of unnecessary plugins! Cut through the clutter and address the most vital issues with these suggestions and the best available solutions to address the needs of your website.

Why WordPress Plugins?

WordPress plugins are essential to enhance the performance of your business website.

WordPress plugins are essential to enhance the performance of your business website.

The multitude of websites is what drives the abundance of plugins. They’ve been designed to solve almost every WordPress website’s needs. Because of this, so many plugins exist that exploring the WordPress plugins repository can seem daunting.

But there are several reasons to stick to the basics, especially during the first stages of your website’s implementation.
1. Don’t overwhelm your site with too many plugins at any one time. Just like themes, disable and remove any that you aren’t using to keep your site clean and optimized instead of bloated and slow.
2. The more unnecessary plugins you install, the more likely you are to experience an incompatibility issue. Again, keep your site lean and clean for optimal performance.

Free vs. Freemium vs. Premium Pricing

With some 643 pages of free plugins, you’re pretty sure to find the perfect solution to your website’s needs at no cost.

These days, though, many plugins and themes are offered under a “freemium” pricing plan. A limited set of functions is available for free, then you’ll pay to upgrade for more capabilities.

Often the premium plan is worth the cost, but a word of caution: Some “free” offerings are so stripped of any real functionality that they are basically worthless.

So always fully investigate any plugins before committing to a solution. Read the reviews, note the number of installations, and be sure the developer offers support and updates.

All About Automattic

No, of course that’s not a typo! Automattic is the development team behind WordPress itself and many of its complementary elements. Their products are prominently featured in the repository, highly rated, and well-regarded in the WordPress development community for a reason.

Always “passionate about making the web a better place,” they have developed a number of options to do just that.

Jetpack offers brute force attack protection, malware scanning, and downtime alerts. Marketing tools include social media sharing and connection to the WordPress ad program. They even offer a WordPress theme marketplace and a helpful blog!

That said, the free and personal pricing levels are, frankly, not comprehensive enough to optimize a small business website. However, the Premium plan, at $9/month or $99/year, is generally a good fit. And it includes integration with the next two tools, too.

Akismet filters out comment spam so you don’t have to do it manually, and works seamlessly with other WordPress plugins as well as Jetpack.

And even if you don’t install Jetpack you can still get Akismet for a reasonable $5 monthly per site, with spam protection and priority support, on their Plus pricing plan.

VaultPress provides an extra layer of security on top of Jetpack and has partnered with Akismet to address spam sitewide. So once you buy a Jetpack Premium plan, you’ll get the complete package of protection.

WP Super Cache is a top-rated plugin for increasing page load speeds and optimizing overall site performance, but unfortunately is not included with Jetpack.

I use the Premium plan and honestly have never needed to call on customer service or support for any issues or problems. In researching this article, though, I’ve learned that I’m not taking advantage of nearly enough of what they have to offer, so I’m setting aside some time to fix that!

Security Plugins

Well that’s all covered above, right? Not exactly. Harden your business website using a variety of tools. To stay ahead of trespassers, here are three more highly recommended security WordPress plugins.

Sucuri offers a free plugin to complement your site’s security, in addition to premium services and pricing. You can also scan your site for issues using their free online SiteCheck tool.

Wordfence Security is a comprehensive suite of security features specifically designed for WordPress. It provides even more protection with premium features and pricing.

All In One WP Security & Firewall is a free security solution offering an extensive feature set.

And best of all, these products give you added peace of mind, knowing that your most valuable business asset is protected from multiple threats 24/7/365.

Backup Plugins

How would your business recover should your website be damaged or compromised? Always have a complete backup available. Try any of these three top-rated WordPress plugins for backups:

All-in-One WP Migration does double duty. Store a complete site backup in your choice of locations. Premium selections include Dropbox, Google Drive, and more. This nifty plugin can also migrate a complete clone of your site from one environment to another. Clone a site and download it to staging, then upload it to the URL to give a seamless redesign.

Updraft Plus WordPress Backup Plugin is quick, simple, and safe. It backs up to more cloud services at no charge than some plugins and can restore as well as back up your website even on its free plan.

BackUpWordPress is super simple to use and backs up your entire site on a schedule that you decide. It also supports offsite storage to Dropbox and Google Drive, among others, at no extra charge.

Having a complete, pre-disaster backup of your site in case of disturbances is sure to help you sleep better at night.

Search Engine Optimization Plugins

SEO is the first improvement most people think of to maximize their website’s overall performance. That’s because being easily located by search engines gains importance every day.

Yoast is probably the best-known WordPress plugin when it comes to SEO, and for good reason. Their free version is quite robust and can help your site rank higher in Google, Yahoo, and Bing searches. The premium version is even more comprehensive and might be worth checking out for your website at $89 for one site for one year, with free updates and support during that period.

Google XML Sitemaps is another solution in the marketplace. It creates sitemaps to help Google, Bing, Yahoo, and even Ask.com better index your site. It also notifies major search engines when your site creates a post about new content. Google XML Sitemaps is completely free on personal and commercial sites.

All in One SEO Pack provides video tutorials on its downloads page to walk you through every aspect of configuring its general settings through performance options. The Pro feature set includes advanced support for WooCommerce.

Optimization Plugins

W3 Total Cache enhances your SEO tactics and mobile responsiveness by increasing page load speeds.

Smush Image Compression and Optimization reduces image sizes to meet the same goal if your site is image-heavy.

WP-Optimize automatically keeps your WordPress database clean and functioning at peak performance.

Analytics Plugins

Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights, Sumo Analytics, Slimstat Analytics and Google Analytics Dashboard for WP are all superior alternatives for understanding website traffic.

Conclusion

This brief round-up should give you a good idea of the most essential WordPress plugins you will need to begin optimizing your website.

WordPress plugins work for every business goal and enable every website to perform at its highest level. Take some time to review your company’s needs and decide how using some of these solutions might improve your bottom line for the better.

Which WordPress plugins have helped your business website excel? Let us know in the Comments!

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Essential WP plugins for business.

Essential WP plugins for business.