In today's digital age, having a website for your business, organisation, or personal brand is essential. However, building a website from scratch can be time-consuming and costly, which is why many people turn to website builders or content management systems (CMS).
Although the terms CMS and website builder are occasionally used interchangeably, they represent distinct concepts and have different methodologies for constructing websites. Both website builders and CMS provide a user-friendly way to create a website without having to learn coding or hire a web developer. But what exactly are they, and what are the differences between the two?
What Is A CMS?
A CMS is a software application that allows you to manage the content of your website. It provides a platform where you can create, edit, and publish content, such as blog posts, articles, images, and videos. CMS also includes features like user management, search engine optimization (SEO), and Ecommerce integration. Examples of popular CMS platforms include Webflow, WordPress, and Joomla. You can find out more in our Webflow vs WordPress blog.
What Is A Website Builder
On the other hand, a website builder is an online tool that allows you to create a website using pre-designed templates and drag-and-drop features. With a website builder, you don't need to have any technical skills, as you can choose from a range of pre-built designs and customise them according to your preferences. Popular website builders include Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace.
To better understand the differences between CMS and website builders, let's compare them in a few key areas.
Ease of use
Website builders are generally easier to use than CMS. The drag-and-drop interface of website builders makes it simple to create and customise a website, even for those with no technical expertise. CMS, on the other hand, requires some technical knowledge to set up and customise, although many CMS platforms now offer user-friendly interfaces.
Webflow is a web design platform that combines the ease of use of website builders with the CMS functionality. It offers a visual editor interface that allows users to create and customise websites with low coding knowledge. However, unlike most website builders, Webflow provides advanced features like dynamic content, complex animations, and custom interactions that enable users to build highly interactive and engaging websites.
Webflow's CMS functionality allows users to manage their website content more efficiently. With the CMS, users can create and edit content, manage their media files, and even build complex databases. The CMS also enables users to create dynamic pages that display different content based on user behaviour, such as location or previous interactions with the website.
CMS offers more flexibility in terms of customisation and functionality of your onsite content and data. You can use plugins and modules to add more features to your site, like Ecommerce, social media integration, and advanced SEO. With website builders, the options for customisation are limited to what the platform offers.
A CMS is generally much more scalable than website builders, as you can create a large and complex site with multiple pages and features. With a website builder, there are limitations on the size and functionality of your site.
One of the benefits of Webflow's CMS is that it is more scalable than many website builders. While Webflow’s subscription plans each have their own limitations, you are able to upgrade at any time in order to match your scalability. Webflow offers different plans to cater to the different needs of users as their websites scale up. The plans vary in terms of features, pricing, and the level of support provided.
For users who need more features and functionality, Webflow offers paid plans that range from basic to advanced and include the CMS and Ecommerce functionality. The basic plan provides users with access to more features and more project sites while the advanced plans offer even more features, including the ability to create and manage multiple team members and more advanced design and marketing tools.
While website builders can be great for creating simple websites, they often have limitations when it comes to creating large and complex sites with multiple pages and features. With Webflow's CMS, however, users can create sites of any size and complexity, with the ability to scale as needed. This is because Webflow's CMS offers robust content management tools, including the ability to create custom content types and fields, set up content relationships, and manage media files, making it possible to create large, dynamic sites.
Many CMS platforms start with an entry-level tier, but you will need to pay for web hosting, domain name registration, and any premium plugins or themes. Website builders often charge a monthly or annual fee, which includes web hosting and domain name registration, but there may be additional costs for premium features.
Every website builder and CMS offers a number of options, often ranging in price from $5 to $25 a month. Options for running an online business might cost up to $40 per month. Most website builders charge roughly $12 per month, or $144 annually, for a standard business plan. Webflow's plans start from $12 a month and they offer a free introductory option. So, if you're only creating for customers, there's a high possibility you can continue to use it for free for some time to come. We talk a lot more in depth about Webflow pricing in our How Much Does Webflow Cost resource, it contains a lot of useful information if you’re curious about the Webflow plan structures and breaks down the costs.
Which Option Is Best For You?
Deciding between CMS and website builders will depend on your specific needs and preferences. If you want a website that is highly customisable, with advanced functionality, and the ability to scale as your business grows, then CMS may be the best choice. However, if you want a website that is easy to create and customise, with a limited budget and no technical expertise, then a website builder may be the better option.
Paddle Creative are Webflow Experts and so it goes without saying that we prefer CMS - specifically Webflow's CMS. We trust and use Webflow for all of our sites because it enables us to build all of our websites from scratch. If we can dream it, we can build it. Have a look at our Webflow Websites and see what you think…
Both CMS and website builders have their advantages and disadvantages, and the decision between the two ultimately comes down to your specific needs and preferences. Whatever option you choose, remember that having a website is crucial for building an online presence and reaching your audience and so it’s always better to do the job right. If you have any questions about getting started in your website build, get in touch!