There are many tools available to build a website with, enough that I could spend all year researching them all and write a whole book on it. But let’s instead take a quick look at 3 of the most common tools. That’s hand coding it, using WordPress, and using Drupal.
You can program (code) your website by hand using a programming tool like notepad or Adobe’s Dreamweaver. While this approach does have its advantages, such as having full flexibility to do exactly what you want with your website and have it look exactly how you want it to, there are also several major drawbacks.
Hand coding is ideal for companies that have outgrown any pre-designed system and need something fully customized, or have such unique needs that nothing off-the-shelf will work for them.
Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of this approach.
Advantages of Hand Coding
- Can design your site to look exactly how you want it to look.
- Can add in any feature you want, all you need is access to the skills to write the code for it.
- Full flexibility, you can do whatever you want with your site as long as the technology to do it exists.
Disadvantages of Hand Coding
- You either need to invest time and money into learning the vital skills yourself, training an employee, or hiring someone who already knows how to do what you want. This can cost a lot of time and money.
- You need programming skills to many any updates to the site, unless your original design including editors that don’t require any knowledge of programming.
- Designing and implementing a system of no coding website editing and updates costs a lot of time and money.
Technical Skill Requirements: Highest
Time Investment: Highest
Monetary Investment: Highest
WordPress is currently the most popular system for building websites on. This is because WordPress requires the least amount of technical skill to build, run and maintain a website on. It is entirely possible to build a site from scratch, and run it with no programming or technical knowledge at all!
That being said, having technical skills, such as programming, is still a huge advantage and does open up opportunities to customize your site in ways non-programmers can’t.
WordPress is ideal for small businesses and individuals who don’t have access to much technical skills, nor the budget to hire technical people often. It’s a great start-up system to get you online fast and with minimal costs compared to other options.
Once again, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of WordPress
- Requires the least technical skills of the 3 options
- Is still customizeable through pre-programmed add-ons called “Plugins.”
- Programmers can code new custom plugins if no existing ones do what you need.
- Can run your site without any programming skills.
- Can easily change how a site looks by changing to a different pre-programmed theme.
- Has a built-in feature allowing you to easily add a blog to your website.
Disadvantages of WordPress
- It is a resource hog, and on a very busy site, it can quickly go over your bandwidth limits (how much data your site’s allowed to transmit), and lead to penalties or having to upgrade to a more expensive hosting plan.
- It is harder to program and customize on the back end, in the core files then other systems. This means added time and expense when customizing your site.
- If you need to have more then one user, you are limited in how you can set what features user can access to predetermined categories which you can’t customize at all.
- Because it’s so popular, it’s also one of the most attacked system by hackers and spammers, so you need to make sure you have protection against that and keep everything fully updated.
Technical Skill Requirements: Lowest
Time Investment: Lowest
Monetary Investment: Lowest
Drupal is another very popular web building system, and is in fact 2nd behind only WordPress in popularity. It does require more technical skills to build a site with it and maintain that site, but also does have the advantages of not needing to know much, if any, coding.
Drupal is ideal for a business that’s outgrown their WordPress site and is starting to run into the limitations of that platform. It’s a great compromise between the full flexibility of a custom, hand coded website or system, and the ease of use of WordPress.
So let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of Drupal.
Advantages of Drupal
- Easier to customize then WordPress.
- If you need to have multiple users on your site, you can fully customize what features a user can access, as well as create new types of users and give each type of user it’s own fully customized level of access.
- Has a similar way of adding new, pre-programmed features as the WordPress plugins called “Modules”.
- Like WordPress, you can change themes to change how your site looks.
- Is easier to code the back end then WordPress. This can save time and money when you need to modify some code in your site, or program a new custom theme or module.
- Uses less resources then WordPress, so can handle bigger and busier sites more easily, with less need to upgrade to more expensive hosting plans.
- Has built-in features allowing you to easily add a blog or forum to your website.
Disadvantages of Drupal
- While it doesn’t need as much technical skill as full custom hand coding does, it still does need more technical know-how then WordPress does.
- Because it is still a popular system, hackers and spammer do target Drupal weaknesses, meaning it’s still vital to keep Drupal, your modules, and your theme up-to-date.
- Can be more resource intensive then a well-designed custom system.
Technical Skill Requirements: Medium
Time Investment: Medium
Monetary Investment: Medium
Each of these 3 options has its own strengths and weaknesses, and which is best for you really depends on your needs and what resources you have available to you.
If you found this info helpful, please let me know in the comments below. If you still have any questions about these options, or want to know about another platform not covered here, please ask in the comments below and I’ll be happy to help answer your questions.