Maybe you’ve asked yourself WordPress vs Custom website question before? It’s a big decision to make and can result in lost time and money if you make the wrong decision.
In this blog post, we’ll compare WordPress and custom websites, and discuss some of the key factors to consider when deciding which option is right for your business or blog.
I’ve worked on many WordPress websites (including this WordPress website). I’ve also worked at startups and built custom websites from the ground up. I’ll give my perspective on both platforms below.
Table of Contents
- Building a WordPress website
- Building a custom website
- Factors to consider when choosing a website platform
- Advantages of the WordPress platform
- Advantages of a custom website platform
- Final Thoughts
What are the factors to consider when evaluating custom website vs WordPress? I’ll tell you soon but first I need to explain the two common platforms to choose form: WordPress and custom built website.
Building a WordPress website
WordPress is a Content Management System commonly referred to as CMS.
Content Management System
a CMS is a software application that allows users to collaborate in the creation, editing, and production of digital content: web pages, blog posts, etc
Why would you use a CMS for a website?
A content management system allows easy creation and management of website pages and blog articles. It provides user management so you can employ contributors, editors and admin accounts. It provides management of digital assets such as images and documents.
Some benefits of using WordPress for your website
create pages easily
WordPress lets you easily add, edit, update and delete pages from your website.
Defining navigation between pages is also easy to do.
simple to create BLOG ARTICLES
Blogging is natively supported in WordPress.
Categorise and tag your blog articles. Set your homepage to show your blog articles.
WordPress has a media manger to support adding, editing and deleting images.
Easily access uploaded images from your blog articles.
1000+ FREE & PREMIUM PLUGINS
Plugins provide new features such as carousels, sliders, SEO support, improved security etc.
Thousands of free and premium plugins can be installed for WordPress.
1,000+ FREE & PREMIUM THEMES
Themes define the visual layout, fonts and colors used on your website.
Thousands of free and premium themes are available for WordPress.
MANY HOSTING PROVIDERS TO CHOOSE FROM
Your website runs on a server from a hosting provider.
WordPress is supported by many different hosting providers.
WordPress is a popular and user-friendly platform that is used by millions of websites around the world.
Using WordPress for your website
I’ve used WordPress for building websites for over ten years. WordPress will do whatever you need and far quicker to build than a custom website.
Super easy to create web pages and blog articles
Visual editor for creating content and media library for managing images
Fast and cheap to start blogging
Highly recommended unless you have special requirements
Building a custom website
A custom website is a website that is built from scratch using custom design and development. This option allows you to create a completely unique website, but it also requires more time, effort, and resources to create and maintain.
For a custom website you will have to:
- Write all the code or employ / outsource a team of website developers
- Design and code all the visual layouts, fonts and graphics for the website
- Test on all supported platforms and browsers including mobile browsers on iPhone/Android
- Build and maintain the security of your website to protect against spammers and hackers
- Provide all the SEO features for the website if your website needs to be visible to search engines
- Provide a “backend” system for adding, editing and deleting all content on the website
As you can see from this non-exhaustive list it requires a great deal of development time and expertise to build and design your own website.
I’ve worked at startups building custom websites and my experience is that months of time are spent testing the website to get a bug free version that works on all supported devices.
Developers usually give optimistic timelines that are not realistic so if you planning a custom website expect it to take a long time to complete.
Building a custom website is hard. Ensure you have enough time and resources before selecting this option.
Factors to consider when choosing a website platform
Which platform to use depends on the answers to the following factors. Let me explain:
Goals – what is the purpose of your website?
Define your goals. It could be:
- generate leads
- provide information about your business and services (brochure website)
- sell your products or services online (e-commerce)
- provide customer support for your products
These are just a few examples of why you would build a website.
Having a clear understanding of your goals will help you decide what is the most appropriate platform for your business.
What is the budget for your website?
Custom websites are typically much more expensive to build and maintain than WordPress websites. In addition each new feature you add will cost additional time and money.
Everything on a custom website will need to be built from scratch. A great deal of time will be needed in testing to ensure your website works correctly.
Your website needs to work on all supported devices and browsers. This can be very time consuming and expensive.
When does your website need to be completed? If you have a fixed deadline then a custom website is not ideal. From personal experience the time taken always expands due to unforeseen issues, technical problems, bugs etc.
Going live on a new custom website without the necessary time to test will likely result in many bugs and broken features appearing.
A faulty website will result in a bad experience to end users. Likely resulting in loss of credibility with potential customers or clients.
Static or dynamic content?
Does your website change often?
If not you could avoid using blogging software and all the complexity that comes with using software. Instead just use static HTML pages.
You can design the pages yourself or pay a professional designer. Then get a hosting account and upload the pages to your account.
If you require dynamic content, because your content changes frequently then you will have to use a CMS like WordPress or a custom website.
Static websites can be built quickly. Hire a designer to make the pages for you.
Does your website need a custom design?
Another factor to consider is the design of your website. A well-designed website can make a good first impression and help you stand out from your competitors.
Professional web designers can create a unique custom website to your exact requirements.
The design is usually provided as basic HTML and CSS files which can be used by your development team when creating a custom website.
With WordPress it is harder to build a highly customized website design. You will need to purchase a theme similar to what you want them modify to your needs.
What features will your website need?
Each feature you want added to your website can add a significant amount of development time and cost to your website for custom websites. For WordPress websites it will simply be a matter of finding the right plugin.
Features that would be very hard to develop from scratch can easily be added to a WordPress site in a few minutes. Examples are:
- E-Commerce features (products, check-out cart, online payment)
- Blog (built in to WordPress)
- Contact Forms or other types of forms
- SEO plugin (see my review of All in One SEO plugin for WordPress)
Expect the time and cost of upgrading a custom website to be much greater than with a WordPress website.
Advantages of the WordPress platform
Okay, now you know what factors are important for you to consider lets talk about the advantages of using a WordPress platform for your website.
WordPress can be installed in a few minutes and will provide you with excellent set of tools and features for building a website.
Any missing features can be found by installing a plugin, WordPress has many thousands of plugins you can add. Many plugins are free to install and you can always upgrade to the premium version later if you want the extra features.
Ease of use
WordPress is a popular and widely-used content management system (CMS), with millions of websites and blogs using the platform. It’s known for its ease of use and its flexibility.
Even people who are new to building websites can be productive in WordPress. It’s a great option for businesses and individuals who want to create a website without needing to have technical skills or experience.
Highly flexible and customizable
WordPress is highly flexible and easy to tweak the website according to your needs. Plenty of themes and plugins are available – many of them free to use. For special requirements you can hire developers to build a custom theme or plugin. This means you can customize WordPress to meet your specific needs and goals.
I prefer using a fast and lightweight theme, see my review of the theme I use here on this website: GeneratePress review: Fast WordPress theme in free and premium versions
Simple for users to navigate a WordPress website
WordPress themes include navigation, sidebars, search, headers and footers. Visitors have probably visited many WordPress websites on the internet already. They will be familiar with navigation and will be able to move around your website easily.
Completely unique website layouts, although visually interesting, can cause users to become lost and unable to find the content they are searching for. It can also cause search engines difficulty in finding and indexing your content.
You can create a fully featured WordPress website without writing any code. That’s not possible with a custom website platform.
Writing code is expensive and hugely time consuming. It’s much more likely to have bugs that can frustrate your visitors and provide access to hackers and other people who can exploit your website.
Another advantage of WordPress is that it is constantly updated with new features and security patches. This means that your website will always be up-to-date and secure, without you having to worry about managing updates or backups.
Advantages of a custom website platform
On the other hand, building a custom website has its own set of benefits.
Complete control of the user experience
A big advantage of a custom website is that you have complete control over the design and functionality of your website. With a custom website, you can create a unique user experience that perfectly aligns with your brand and goals.
Can be more completely optimised for SEO
Since the website is built from scratch, you can ensure that it is built with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind. WordPress has SEO built in and a number of plugins for SEO but it takes time for those plugins to be updated.
Google changes its algorithms constantly so you can gain a competitive advantage by updating your website SEO faster than WordPress websites can.
This can help your website rank higher in search engine results and attract more organic traffic.
WordPress can be resource intensive
WordPress can be slow and resource-intensive, especially if you’re using many plugins or running a large website. Slow websites provide a bad user experience and will harm your search engine rankings.
A custom website can be built for speed, an important ranking factor for Google. By making use of cloud services or no-sql data storage options you can build a website that outperforms a WordPress website.
WordPress is vulnerable to security threats
WordPress is used on a huge number of websites on the internet, this makes it a common target for hackers, spammers and ransomware gangs.
Failing to update WordPress, your themes and plugins regularly can result in a hacked website. In addition your contact forms and blog articles will be full of spam comments unless you take steps to stop this.
Overall, both WordPress and custom websites have their own strengths and weaknesses. WordPress is a great option for:
- Beginners and non-technical people
- People with limited budgets (only cost is your hosting plan, everything else is free to begin with)
- Need a website fast
Ultimately, the right choice for your website will depend on your specific needs and goals.
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