We see many Free Websites and site builders advertised promising to get you online in minutes. Are they any good? Are the websites as easy to create as they promise? Would free websites suit a business?
The answer to all those questions is “Yes”, but some free websites are better than others. They all run on databases containing the content of your website which is displayed in web pages using templates which you choose. They are known as content management systems (CMS).
According to a recent survey by W3Techs, WordPress has a content management system market share of 65.1%. The next is Shopify: 6.7%, Wix: 3% and Squarespace: 2.7%.
So WordPress is the most widely used content management system.
WordPress seems to have far more choices of themes or templates, tens of thousands of themes on the WordPress site and many other independent sites.
A big advantage is the number of “plugins” covering every possible requirement by a web master. These extend the functions of a website. Plugins include ecommerce, forms, galleries, media, SEO, cache and needful things you have never even thought of. There are tens of thousands of plugins.
Would WordPress suit a business?
Because of a number of high quality ecommerce plugins, WordPress will suit a business. However a large business with over a million products would justify a custom designed website with custom designed ecommerce.
The WordPress themes or templates are all customizable so no two websites will look the same even if they use the same theme.
A large business would employ its IT department to customize its content management system. Many businesses use WordPress in that way.
Easy to install
The well-known content management systems can be installed with a few clicks from inside the hosting control panel. Less popular systems may need to be downloaded from another site and uploaded to your site.
It is true that a default home page of your website will be online in minutes, but that is before you add your content.
Easy to use
WordPress is the most popular CMS because it is easy to use, but they all work in similar ways. You just type or paste your content into the editing screen for each web page. Images can be uploaded from within WordPress and sized to suit.
In WordPress, if you get tired of a theme, you can switch to another without losing any of your text or images.
Plugins can be installed from the WordPress dashboard. But if changing from one ecommerce plugin to another the product details may need to be exported first and imported into the new plugin.
Are websites portable?
Because they are all on databases from which the content can be exported and the images that you upload can be downloaded, all CMS websites are technically portable.
You can transfer your website to any host who uses the same CMS.
However it may not be possible to obtain the content and templates from such sites as Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, MrSite, etc. who own the templates.
Site builders and CMS allow people to create websites without any knowledge of HTML coding or programming.
Every modern website should have a content management system so that the web master can easily keep the website updated. It does not matter whether the CMS is free or you pay a web designer to provide it. You should have one.
These articles were first published on www.platywebs.com.au and have been re-published on many other websites and ezines over the years. New readers are still finding them to be of value and up to date with today’s conditions. We believe they illustrate common sense and the value of thinking through situations. Please check out the other articles advising on small business, web design, search engine optimisation, web hosting and domain names.