WYSIWYG website editor

What don’t you own on hosted website builders?

Ownership on hosted website builders such as Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace is a completely different beast from on an open source CMS platform such as WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal. While they can help small businesses find their footing, they quickly become inadequate for a growing company. Here are a few things about ownership on hosted website builders that you should keep in mind as you make your decision about where to build your new website.

You don’t own your template

A lot of website editors will advertise their services by showing off sleek design templates. And if you’re comfortable sharing that template with hundreds—if not thousands—of other users, then fair enough. But sooner or later, you’re going hit a point where you want to do something specialized to fit your needs. And your template won’t flexible enough to accommodate. And because that template isn’t yours, neither you nor anyone you hire can get into the code to adjust it. You’re stuck.

As we’ve blogged before, there’s nothing inherently wrong with template websites: we offer some ourselves. But because they are our own templates which we’ve built using WordPress, we have full access to the code. And because we work with you directly, we can adjust that code to suit your needs. And if you wanted to take your website elsewhere, or bring your web support in-house, others would also be able to access and edit that code as well. Isn’t transparency great?

Hosting is out of your hands

Is your site slow? Many times this is a hosting issue, and that’s not something you can control on a hosted website builder. The cause for your slowdown could stem from a number of sources. Your website could have large images to load, a high volume of traffic, or spam bots probing for vulnerabilities. Without control of your hosting, you’re left at the mercy of wherever your website builder host has decided to place you on their [generally overcrowded] servers.

On the other hand, if you are in direct contact with your web host, they can look into these issues and address the problem for you. Slow sites drive people away. You want your customers to experience your brand without any lag time.

Good luck with those custom features you need.

Is there a custom plug-in you’d like built for your website? If you’re working with a developer on a self-hosted CMS platform like WordPress, they could easily install a plugin that fit your needs, or custom build one themselves. That kind of functionality isn’t supported on a hosted website builder. If you really need something, you could be waiting months or years for the feature you want to make it to the top of their development queue. They can take their time, but your business can’t wait.

You own your content, but you may have trouble taking it with you.

At the end of the day, the only thing you fully own on hosted website builders is your content. And even that is not fully in your control, because there are rarely tools in place to export it when you’ve outgrown your template. Some websites, such as Wix, don’t allow for content migration, meaning it stays trapped on your old site.

On the other hand, open source CMS platforms are readily equipped with tools to help you migrate content from an old site to a new. And the same goes for your user data. So can make the best choice for your company today and are free to make a new decision in the future as technology changes without worrying about loss of content or data.

At build/create, we build all our sites using WordPress’s open-source software. If you think we’re the right company to build you business, we’d love to talk.

Published 09/09/16 by Laura Lynch