Three types of tools to build websites

Nov 15, 2023 3:56 pm

For nearly a decade, I have used a simple 3-level model for considering your website build options. The different approaches you can take are based on your current goals, future plans, and budget:

Page Builders (Do It Yourself)

Page builders like Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, and GoDaddy Page Builder are perfect for those who want to get started quickly and easily without coding knowledge (or necessarily a web developer involved). These platforms offer user-friendly interfaces and pre-designed templates, making it possible to create a basic website. But as your website grows and requires more advanced features, you may encounter limitations. The cost for these page builders typically ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars annually.

Off-The-Shelf (Customized)

If you're looking for more flexibility and customization options, off-the-shelf platforms like WordPress, Shopify, and select HTML/CSS frameworks are a great choice. These platforms provide a solid foundation with a wide range of themes, plugins, and extensions that can be customized to fit your needs. Setting up and customizing these platforms will usually require technical expertise or the assistance of a developer. This means they cost more to get off the ground and maintain. The cost for off-the-shelf platforms can range from thousands to tens-of-thousands of dollars annually, depending on the complexity of the site and the features required.

Custom Code (Webapps)

Custom code is the way to go for those with specific and unique requirements. With custom applications scoped and built to your exact needs, you have complete control over the functionality and design of your effort. This is usually reserved for the start-up or business doing something new or unique. This option is more expensive and time-consuming as it requires advanced coding skills and the involvement of experienced developers. The cost can range from tens-of-thousands to hundreds-of-thousands of dollars annually.

So, which should you consider for your next website project? Page builders are suitable for beginners and those with limited budgets, off-the-shelf platforms offer more flexibility but may require technical work with related costs, and custom code provides the ultimate flexibility but comes at a high cost. Consider your needs, budget, and long-term goals when choosing the right approach for building your website.

Need help with web projects or decision-making? Let me know! I've assisted with and built hundreds of websites going back to the 1990s. Send me an email with your questions anytime.

Yours in tech,


P.S. Have a current website and what to see if it needs to be refreshed? Try my free Website Self Assessment Checksheet.