When it comes to building personal websites, Content management systems (CMS) and SaaS website builders are often mentioned in the same breath. That is understandable as the two facilitate the creation of both simple and complex individual websites that can be used to showcase what a professional has to offer.
However, although they often overlap, CMSs and website builders are entirely different tools suitable for different scenarios. In this guide, we'll help you understand the difference between the two and determine the best tool for your personal website.
What is CMS?
A CMS is a software that lets users create a website as well as manage and modify content on the website. Once installed, it gives you a simple way of creating a website through templates that can be manipulated and customized.
However, CMSs are not known for their simplicity. This is because they provide an opportunity for users to express themselves and create completely unique websites by editing underlying code or even creating new designs from scratch. They are also mostly open-source, something that translates into flexibility and a huge plugin pool as there are many developers. Examples of CMSs are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
What is a SaaS Website Builder?
A SaaS website builder is a tool that provides the ability to easily and quickly create websites on the cloud by putting together different components. The builder provides a template that can be manipulated by adding and removing components and functionalities then customizing it with your brand’s own elements, content, and offerings.
Unlike CMSs which focus on flexibility, website builders focus on ease of use. To create your website, you don't need to have any technical skills, as everything is done through a drag and drop editor. While editing the site, a user can see what the final product will look like, a concept referred to as WYSIWYG, or "what you see is what you get." Examples of SaaS website builders are Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace.
CMS: Who Is It Best For?
A content management system is the best way to create a personal website for:
Users who need to update content often
Just like its name suggests, a content management system goes beyond creating a website to manipulating content. Therefore, it is the best option if you need content updated frequently like in blogs, news sites, or e-commerce stores.
Users who want to choose their hosting provider
CMS software is often open-source, and most web hosts let you install any CMS with a single click of the button. This means you have the freedom to choose a hosting provider in terms of security, pricing, features, perks, etc. Even after publishing, you can always migrate your site to another hosting provider.
Users who have technical skills
CMSs give users a lot of customization freedom, which includes editing underlying code. This means that you can give a theme a custom look by changing most of its elements. You will however need HTML and CSS skills to do this.
Users who want a custom website
If you want to create your own theme, a CMS is the best option. It allows users to create a theme from scratch or hire a freelance/ design agency to do the job. You can then add the functionalities you need from the hundreds of available plugins.
Users who want stronger SEO tools
Search engine optimization is a core part of any website. Both website builders and CMSs provide the capabilities, but the CMS SEO structure is much more advanced. Thanks to being open-source and having the ability to edit underlying code, users can build from the bottom with SEO in mind and later install various SEO plugins.
Users who need flexibility
CMSs generally offer more flexibility as they are not limited to what is available within the platform. There are very many developers who create open-source CMS products, giving users the option to switch between products. This flexibility allows users to scale their website, revamp the design, and do much more. If you are rebranding, you can even change your theme completely and get a brand new look!
Website Builder: Who Is It Best For?
Website builders are also great tools for creating a website, and they are suitable for individuals who:
Have no technical skills
This is one of the biggest selling points of any website builder. To create a website, most website builders ask the individual a few questions then present them with a semi-edited template that can be customized further using drag and drop. Users won’t have to deal with any code during the entire process.
Are on a budget
Website builders are far much cheaper than having to pay for web hosting, registering a domain, and then buying a theme or paying a developer. For example, Wix, the most popular website builder, allows individuals to create an ad-free site with a free custom domain for just $8.50 a month. Normally, that would be less than what you’d pay for the domain only!
Need a website quickly
A website builder allows users to come up with a complete site within just a few hours. This is due to the fact that users don’t have to do complicated editing or customization.
Don’t need to worry about maintenance & support
Website builders have everything “in-house.” This means that all processes are integrated, and so there's nothing much to worry about. In most cases, security and backups are handled by the company. Apart from that, you don’t need to look for outside support whenever something goes wrong, as the support team can handle everything concerning your website.
Both CMSs and SaaS website builders are great tools for creating a personal website. However, although both of them help users accomplish the same goal, they are very different software and are suitable for diverse individuals. Before you choose one, you can consider your skills, budget, schedule, and long-term goals.